They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway.
They say there's always magic in the air.
But when you're walkin down the street
And you ain't had enough to eat
The glitter rubs right off and you're no where.
With many of the country songs that have been hits over the years, you often hear about marriages that are falling apart, people who are down and out, someone shot someone else's dog. The list could go on, but if you notice, we sing along with them, tap our feet and dance. They bring us pleasure where if you really analyzed the song, they should make us cry.
They say the women treat you fine on Broadway,
But lookin' at them just gives me the blues.
'Cause how ya gonna make some time
When all you got is one thin dime
And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes.
When I think of George Benson's tune, I remember it to be happy and upbeat, one that I looked forward to hearing when it came on the radio. One that I could sing along with while wearing a smile. It's a song filled with sadness, disillusionment, despair. So why do we sing it? Why are we able to hum the tune in our sleep?
They say that I won't last too long on Broadway.
I'll catch a Grey Hound bus for home they all say.
But they're dead wrong, I know they are
'Cause I can play this here guitar
And I won't quit til I'm a star on Broadway.
We love it because in the end, it brings us words filled with hope. It shouts from the roof tops, "I may be down now but I am not going to stay this way."
Has there ever been a city that does not have a street named Broadway? Maybe, but I haven't seen one yet. Kelso Washington is no different. What was different however is that it took a bit of doing to find what I was looking for there. The Internet had no listed shelters for the Kelso/Longview area. Did they not have homeless? I doubted that. Maybe they have just turned a blind eye.
It took a bit of searching, but I did in fact find Kelso/Longview's one bright light of hope for it's citizens who are down on their luck. Did you catch the key words there? One. In an area with a population of over 113,000 plus, there is only one transitional housing center and they face the possibility of closing. If there are others, the one we found does not know about them.
How many families do you have here? On any given night, between 12 - 20 families are housed.
How many singles? 30 or more.
What are the conditions in being able to stay here? You have to be clean and sober. We don't allow drugs or drinking.
What happens to those who are not clean and sober? Our responsibility is to the people here. The people who want to turn their life around. We have a half way house or two for those who aren't willing to live by the rules.
How do you get your funding? Well. We did get grants but we have families here with kids. We wanted it to be a safe environment, so because we won't allow somebody who's still drinking or on drugs, we don't qualify for grants anymore. So we rely strictly on donations.
How long can a family stay? Normally they can stay for a while but, we may be shutting down soon.
Why is that? Nobody can afford to give anymore. We don't have nearly the funding we used to.
So what happens to all the families and singles that are staying here? Wish I could say they could stay with me, but if we close, I'll be in the same boat as them. Homeless with no place to go.
What is happening to the Community House on Broadway, is happening to shelters all over the country. Donations are dropping everywhere. Shelters are closing and more and more people find themselves sleeping on couches of families and friends, sometimes complete strangers who were nice enough to allow them to stay a night or two, but many are found under bridges, in alleyways, sometimes just the alcove of a building will do.
I guess the question that keeps running through my mind is why? This is the richest nation in the world even with the recession. Why do we have so many people that don't have homes. Perhaps more importantly than "no child left behind" we should think about "no child without a roof of his or her own."
If you live in Kelso/Longview, please take the time to really consider helping this much needed housing center. For contact information or to make a donation please:
Write: PO Box 403, Longview, WA 98632
Visit: 1105 Broadway, Longview, WA 9832