A recent report on “60 Minutes” highlighted the struggle of many American children to survive in the midst of our current economic recession. Based on government projections, the number of children living in poverty will soon reach 1 in 4. One of the families interviewed, the Corfee’s, lived in their car for several months after both parents lost their jobs and the family was evicted from their home. The family of 5 lived in a van parked in a WalMart parking lot. Jorge, the oldest brother, recalled getting ready for school each morning: “We would actually go in WalMart and clean our self up before we’d go to school . . . I would like wash my face, and like, take a tissue and wash my arms and stuff.” Says his 11-year-old sister Destiny: “We would bring the toothpaste and the toothbrush and the brushes so we’d go brush our hair in the mirror and people would see us. And it would be kind of weird. But we worked through it.”
Like many people who live in their cars, the Corfee’s maintained a low profile. “I was embarrassed that maybe one of my friends might see me. I don’t want anybody to know that I was actually in there,” says Destiny. Shame is just one reason why those who live in their cars are almost invisible to the rest of us as we go about our daily lives. We may not see them, but we know they are right here in our neighborhoods — California is #3 in the nation for homelessness among children. At Shepherd’s Gate, we are working to bring awareness to the growing number of women and children living in their cars through our “24 in your Car” event, coming Fall 2011. This unique experience will allow people to better understand the challenges that people in our community are facing, while also offering opportunities to help those who are struggling. We hope you’ll join us. For more information as it develops, please visit www.24inyourcar.com.