Virginia was a very nice woman that I met in front of the Rescue Mission. She was nice enough to share her story about being homeless and starting over.
She was working but the company went bankrupt and her unemployment ran out and then she found herself homeless.
What surprised me the most was the story she told me about still owing student loans after 13 years and having her income tax return intercepted for the last four year to pay for the past due student loan debt.
I’ll let you listen to the interview and the advice Virginia Crowder gives as she talk candidly about starting over.
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Interviewer: Okay, I’m standing here with?
Virginia Crowder: Virginia Crowder.
Interviewer: Virginia, you just told me that you’re homeless for the first time. Is that right?
Virginia Crowder: Yes, sir. I’ve been homeless now for two years.
Interviewer: And can you tell me what the tipping point was for you? You had a home before. You were renting. Is that right or you owned a house?
Virginia Crowder: Yes, sir. I was renting.
Interviewer: And then what happened?
Virginia Crowder: My company that I was working went bankrupt and then I went on unemployment and my unemployment ranned out and so I was unemployed, so I didn’t have anywhere to stay, so I’ve been here ever since.
Interviewer: Now what happened? You kind of slowly fell behind on the rent. Is that right?
Virginia Crowder: Yeah.
Interviewer: Until you get – did you get evicted?
Virginia Crowder: No, I had to move because my unemployment money ran out and I didn’t have a job.
Interviewer: So is it difficult to get a job when you’re living at the rescue mission?
Virginia Crowder: Oh, no. No, it’s not. I had a lotta temporary work in between the two years that I’ve been here, but it was just temporary with a contract of maybe a month or two of work, but now as of last week God has blessed me with a fulltime position, so –
Interviewer: What are you doing?
Virginia Crowder: – now I work for Helping Hand Mission on Rock Quarry and I’m kinda happy with that. I haven’t had a job in two years now and so I finally got employed last week.
Interviewer: And what are you gonna be doing there?
Virginia Crowder: It’s a big thrift store, so I like, you know, situate washing machines, irons, sports, clothing, TVs, furniture. It’s a great big thrift store warehouse.
Interviewer: Okay. And before you were displaced or however you say it (Laughter), replaced or something, did you have credit and debt? Did you have financial issues?
Virginia Crowder: Well, I do have – I am in debt in another state right now and so I’m like trying to like get my debt back in – now that I’m working, I can probably make some kind of arrangements to make payments for – I do have a student loan that I have to pay, so.
Interviewer: Besides the student loan, what else are you paying on?
Virginia Crowder: I have child support. (Laughter)
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. You have to pay child support?
Virginia Crowder: Yes, sir. Thank you. I have child support.
Interviewer: Why do you have to pay child support?
Virginia Crowder: Because I’m separated from my children. They’re with their father.
Interviewer: Oh, okay. And do you have a court order to pay?
Virginia Crowder: No, not yet. I might get one soon now that I’m working, but see my worker knows that I wasn’t working at the time and that I was here homeless because of my employment and with the economy and all that it was – you know how that was.
Interviewer: Oh, yeah.
Virginia Crowder: Trying to find work, man, and there’s still people trying to find work, so things are getting better, you know, and I just went to church and I prayed. I prayed to God, “Please come to me because I’m ready to get outta here and I wanna do better, you know. I need my own.” And so finally like last week I got this job and I feel so blessed.
Interviewer: The – you said that you owe a debt in another state.
Virginia Crowder: Yes, sir. It was a –
Interviewer: What kinda debt is that?
Virginia Crowder: Oh, God, that’s about – it’s about 13 years old. It’s a student loan –
Interviewer: Student loan.
Virginia Crowder: – when I was much, much younger than I am now, and I kinda like gotta get that in order – you know, to keep them from garnisheeing money from me in my income tax and –
Interviewer: Have they taken your income tax before?
Virginia Crowder: Oh, yeah, every year. Every year, I have no money. I have not gotten income tax money now in four years because everything that they find on computer, they just swipe it up because I owe this money.
Interviewer: Have you tried to work out an arrangement with them?
Virginia Crowder: I haven’t had work in two years.
Virginia Crowder: I’m just now getting work.
Interviewer: Okay. What does it feel like to live at the rescue mission?
Virginia Crowder: I tell you, I believe in the Lord and like I’m 56 years old, and I’ve traveled all over the world because my husband was military for ten years and so I’ve never been homeless in my life. He’s deceased now and so like this has been an experience to me because I get to appreciate the things that the Lord provide for people that get in these type of situations, you know, where they don’t have shelter or their finances or they can’t afford their rent and they need somewhere to go to take their children, you know. And we pray a lot here in the rescue mission, and I get to find out blessings and to learn to be thankful for the things in life so when I go back out here, I’ll know, you know, to take care of the necessities in life, you know, the things that I’m blessed with and be thankful.
Interviewer: Even in your current situation, you find things every day to be grateful for?
Virginia Crowder: I have enjoyed this Raleigh Rescue Mission. I’ve met some of the beautiful people. I’ve met some beautiful people here and I’ve enjoyed them, but I feel God has put in my life it’s time for me to go on, you know. I’ve been here long enough, so it’s time for me – I have a daughter that’s in college, and I’d like to go and get my solid foundations for her.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. Now you mentioned that your husband was deceased but your children are living with –?
Virginia Crowder: Yes, I have five children. I have two in the state of Massachusetts and I have three here.
Interviewer: Okay, so it’s the two in the state of Massachusetts which must be under 18, is that right?
Virginia Crowder: They’re over 18.
Virginia Crowder: As a matter of fact, I have one 34 and one 30.
Interviewer: Have your children offered to help you?
Virginia Crowder: No, they’re so far away from me. They don’t like the South, you know, and they feel like my mistakes I should deal with. (Laughter)
Interviewer: All right and –
Virginia Crowder: But you know what I’m saying. So God is with me. God is with me.
Interviewer: People that have troubles, whether they be housing troubles or financial troubles –
Virginia Crowder: Oh, yes, yes. A problem is a problem.
Interviewer: Many people feel that somehow they’re losers or rejects or bad people in some way.
Virginia Crowder: That’s not the way to feel. If you got the Lord in your life, He’ll be there for you. All you got to do is obey Him. Don’t disobey Him because He’s not there to help you, you know, and I’ve done it so many times, so I know not to do it, you know, at my age because it’s time –
Interviewer: Not to do?
Virginia Crowder: Disobey the Lord. I feel like it’s time for me to establish something so I don’t have to feel like I’m not going anywhere in life.
Interviewer: Mm-hmm. What do you have to say to the woman who is going to be homeless for the first time tomorrow?
Virginia Crowder: Oh, all I can say is have faith in herself. Please don’t get stuck in the same – stay stuck in the same situation. Look at it as a beginning –
Interviewer: What are –?
Virginia Crowder: – and you’re gonna succeed this beginning. You’re gonna overpower this thing that’s, you know, holding you back.
Interviewer: What are the dangers to watch out for?
Virginia Crowder: Drugs. Don’t get out there, drugs, alcohol on the streets or in the bad atmosphere. All you got to do is go to church, pray, enjoy the people, enjoy what the people here are here for to help you with. Let them help you. Don’t go out on the streets looking help. Let the people, the mission, the Salvation Army, the churches, the ministries, let these people help you and you will get there.
Interviewer: So there are good people out there.
Virginia Crowder: Beautiful people, beautiful people. I love them. They’ve been here with me now for two years, going on three years, and I love them, and I’ll never forget them my whole life.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.
Virginia Crowder: Thank you.Meet Virginia. Homeless But Hopeful. by Steve Rhode