My friend Joel Vernon and I handed Ms. Sheila a new sleeping bag in downtown Nashville and her response was nothing less than joyful. She held the bag in front of her and said, “A new sleeping bag for me? I got a new sleeping bag? This is for me?!?!”
She spoke as if she had to really concentrate on the words that came from her mouth. She spoke as if she had a disability from the past that tied her to the streets. However, she spoke with a happiness that can't be put into words.
After talking more with Sheila, she said that her birthday falls on Christmas Eve and she will turn 55 this year. I asked what she would like for her birthday or for Christmas and she said, “Some money so I can get a new outfit.” She smiled and pointed at her throw, “I got this for $4!” As she pointed, I could hear the sound of bells. Tied around her wrist were Christmas Jingle Bells that she told me she bought at the nearby Dollar General Store.
Perhaps instead of money, someone would like to stop by and give her a new outfit. I am not certain of her size, but I am positive she will tell you.
She sits at the intersection of Dederick Street and 5th Avenue North on the edge of the St. Mary’s Catholic Church parking lot. She said that she plans to be there on Christmas Eve too.
"Seven out of 10 Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless." - Pras Michel, record producer, songwriter and actor