Time. To breathe. To think about what to do next.
For that and a safe place to park at night, 52-year-old Delores is grateful to St. Vincent de Paul.
Delores is no stranger to homelessness, especially these past four years, since a succession of illnesses claimed her closest relatives. She has moved around the West Coast, chasing opportunities that didn’t pan out. She has unrolled her sleeping bag in bus shelters and under canopies of both the metal and leaf varieties.
Delores knows well that feeling of being scrutinized, perhaps misjudged, for having nowhere to go.
“I think society just doesn’t want people hanging around,” she said. “Here, they are off the corners. Off the streets.”
“Here” is St. Vincent de Paul’s Eugene Service Station. “They” are the homeless adults who rely on the facility for basic necessities and something equally important: comfort.
“There’s no place in the world like it,” Delores said. “We can do laundry, which is good because it costs a lot of money. If we want food it’s here, and that’s good.”
Delores counts herself among the lucky because she has a car, purchased when she had a job in Bandon. She has worked as a cashier, in sales, and in various eateries. She would love to find a job that would last a few years.
That car is her nighttime shelter, parked safely under the umbrella of St. Vincent de Paul’s Overnight Parking Program. A partnership with the City of Eugene and area businesses, the program allows up to 90 days of legal parking with restroom facilities provided.
And to Delores, that’s precious.
“People who are homeless have different reasons,” she said. “They have lost homes, jobs… And they’re trying to get back on their feet.
“In spite of what people say, when you’re homeless you need time to sit and understand what’s going on. Deal with it in your head. Once you’re done, you can get back up and do what you need to.”