"Good morning, how are you?"
"I’m blessed. Very blessed."
More often than not this is the response from our women as they enter our back patio gate every morning. They are often pushing squeaky carts with shaky wheels, overflowing baby strollers filled with all that they own, or tattered and torn suitcases that have seen better days.
One by one I wish them good morning, trying my best to remember each and every guest’s name, looking them in the eye as they beam with excitement when they are called.
"Good morning, Kathleen. It's good to see you."
"Hey now, it's always good to be seen!"
At this back gate every morning I am met with genuine smiles, with optimism that another day has come and strength that seems so effortless. But these women are coming in after long, cold, sleepless nights. It is not often that they have a night of sleep where they do not get woken up and asked to move by police officers or property owners. Or, a night in which they feel safe enough to even fall asleep at all for fear that may be physically or sexually assaulted.
Nevertheless, these women come in every morning, day after day, feeling blessed. Feeling gratitude for being seen for who they are despite experiencing nights many of us know nothing of. They are mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters and nieces, and homelessness does not define them.