A homeless shelter bedding area.
KOMUnews / Flickr

I wake up early morning from my bed on the sidewalk. It’s January and the temperature is below freezing. I start to feel the chill as I pack up my belongings. I head for the church 10 blocks away that serves breakfast and coffee that help to warm me up. 

After breakfast, I walk seven blocks in the freezing weather to the drop in center where I plan to take a shower and hopefully wash my clothes. When I get there, I sign up on a long waiting list for people who also want to take showers and wash clothes. By the time I am finished showering and washing clothes, it’s early afternoon and I have missed lunch time at the local soup kitchen. 

So I look for a place to stay warm, but then decide panhandling some change is a better option because the money I make there will help pay for a shelter to get me out of the cold for a night. 

I get into the shelter in time, and find a narrow dirty mattress as my bed. At least it’s warmer than the street. As I go to sleep, I think about how there are so many things I can and need to do but not enough resources. 

George Siletti is originally from Long Island, NY, and lived previously in Florida before moving to Washington. He has been homeless off and on for 25 years.