Personal Narrative: My Encounter with the Woman from the Homeless Shelter

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A feeling of regret spilled over me the first time I laid eyes on this diminutive woman as she made her way across the dirt street into the kitchen where I was working. She wore a sweatshirt, three sizes too large, with its hood drawn tight. Her jeans were wet, and her palms looked pink and raw. I was struck by her uncertainty and by the wariness of her eyes under the hood. Her small frame was shaking excessively, probably from the cold winter’s air. I stood speechless, while she stood in front of me hidden in the depths of her sweatshirt. When she spoke she had fire in her voice, yet she sounded exhausted, terrified, and sour. No one would have guessed that someone that looked so unpleasant could cause such a change in one person.
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From experience I learned that the women that asked for help had been abused before. Those same women would fall right back into the same ways that got them to my shelter, and they would find themselves on a Greyhound bus heading to another shelter.
This woman was different; she was able to laugh and to cry, and she was eager to give advice, not take it. She wanted to be different; she wanted to make a difference. That woman did not come to ask for money, food, or a lawyer, but she was there to offer guidance to the other women. Although she was only around thirty years old, her knowledge when she spoke flowed like she had lived two lifetimes. That woman explained to the women at the shelter about how much worse they would have it. She told them they could be living in the streets or worse still, with their abuser. She held her head as high as her petite, fragile body would allow, even in the worst circumstance. I learned so much from that woman not from her words, but by her friendly gestures. Never before had a woman that came to the shelter offered a helping hand. Her first day at the shelter this woman helped cook dinner for the other women, but she never said a word. She delicately chopped carrots for a stew she was making, but the whole time she hung her head to the side and let her eyes stare into the distance;

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