The first and only time I ever rode with Gus to school was the day of our community service project, Homeless Resource Day. We got up and hour earlier than on a normal day, it was raining and seemed to be starting as a very gloomy day. We talked about how we were nervous and didn’t know what to expect. We both thought it would be somewhat awkward, and that it was going to be a long four hours. After meeting my client, Liza (not her real name) I realized that not all homeless people are like Jeanette Walls alcoholic and absent father, Rex Walls from The Glass Castle. After reading the novel we have the view of a father who from the time Jeanette was born, was really not very stable and somewhat selfish, and never really provided for his family. The entire time we made our way through Homeless Resource Day, Liza was ensuring the retrieval of necessities for her husband. After meeting many of her friends I realized that these people had a different view than the Walls in the way they live their lives; from their levels of self-determination, willingness to help their families, and their attitude about accepting charities.
The first difference between my client, Liza and Rex Walls is their level of self-determination. From what we learned in the book Rex Walls has a serious drinking problem that is drastically affecting his family. At one point in the book Jeanette asks her father to stop drinking and he does but not for long (117). His method of breaking his addiction is tying himself to his bed for days without food and water (122). This being unethical of course, results in no positive change in his behavior and he returns to his old ways. During our time at Homeless Resource Day, Liza made sure to make it to every station. She was constantly reminding me to take her to every medical and dental station, and get at least one of everything. She was much more positive and upbeat hoping to gain something to benefit her and her husband. Furthermore, she is aware that she is homeless and she will do anything she can to accommodate her and her husband. Consequently, I came to the realization that some homeless people care about themselves and some don’t, the ones who do are more often than not more determined.
The second difference between Rex and Liza is their willingness to help their families. In the novel we are constantly reminded how Rex is regularly absent from his family. For example, Rex and the family receive a ride from a woman and she exclaims she couldn’t “leave those poor people out there.” When the woman dropped them off Rex left and three days later he returned (121). Instead of being there for his family when they may have felt uncomfortable about the comment just as much as he did, he disappeared, whereas Liza is there for her family. At Homeless Resource Day there were 4 different quads with numerous stations in each. Liza came prepared with multiple bags and after going through each quad, her bags had piled up and I had to help her carry all of her bags. So even though we were struggling with all he “luggage” she was still willing to do this for her husband, her family. Homeless people have the same choice as any person to be there for their family, it’s a personal choice and a matter of how you play the cards you’ve been given.
The third and final difference between Rex and Liza is their attitude about accepting charities. In the beginning of the novel we learn that Rex and RoseMary don’t like the idea of accepting charities (5). Contradictory to this, neither of them have jobs, thus forcing the children to provide for themselves. Further into the novel, we learn that the children have been saving their money for a couple of years and they hide it in a piggy bank. One day they check on it and it is gone, and coincidentally Rex had been gone for three days (228). Instead of getting a job to support his family or accepting charities that they could have received, he steals his children’s money. On the other hand, Liza was taking all she could get. Her attitude was if it’s here, I’m taking it. She said thank you at every station to every person. She was grateful and appreciative of everything she had been offered. The decisions made by Rex and by Liza will affect their families, and once again it is a personal choice for each person to rise above what has been given to them to improve the welfare of their families.
My day had most definitely brightened up after spending time with my client at Homeless Resource Day. From Rex Walls and Liza I gained knowledge that when being homeless you must overcome your insecurities and do whatever it takes to support your family; most importantly when you have little power to do much about it. Ultimately my outlook of homeless people had changed. I now understood that anyone can be homeless and either make the best of it, or just not deal with it. I felt like I had done an admirable deed, and that I had assisted her and made her Homeless Resource Day as great as she had mine.