Thank you Melrose

... a grateful veteran

from Crystal Dawn

I never thought I would end up a homeless veteran. By society’s standards, I did all the right things; joined the Army, graduated college, and published my first children’s book, ‘The Pet Mouse’ (available on Amazon).

But circumstances can change anyone’s life. On May 5th, 2015, a fire on
Arizona Terrace in Arlington changed mine. I lost all my clothes, furniture
and irreplaceable oil paintings. My sense of normality was gone.

For six months, I was displaced. My days were spent e-mailing and seeing apartments. It became my full-time job. I was so consumed with finding an apartment, time got away from me. I missed birthday parties, and even a funeral. I was in my own world.

I was withdrawn and anxious. I couldn’t deal with anyone else’s happiness or sadness, because I was ashamed at my life. Still, I pushed myself to keep going. Being disabled, I needed specific parameters so it took more time to find an apartment.

Thankfully, there were community resources I could turn to; The Ames Relief Fund of Melrose, Veteran’s Services of Melrose, and the Baptist Church food pantry.

These agencies helped me monetarily, food cards, but more than that, the people treated me like a valuable member of society again.

After I moved into my apartment, for six weeks, I slept on a leaky air mattress, and my new clothes were on the floor. My family, friends, and even strangers gave me monetary donations so that I could get really nice sweaters, the cozy fuzzy kinds of socks and winter boots.

I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people of Melrose. At Christmas, I felt such a peace at the knowledge that people donated gift cards to help someone in need.

Before the fire, I was a writer (mostly short films and plays) without a place to write, and now I have a great writing desk from the Mission of Deeds in Reading.

I am blessed!  I am grateful! I am happy! I am home!

I will pay it forward, perhaps by writing a best-selling novel on my new writing desk. Or more probable, another children’s book.

Thank you Melrose, Crystal Dawn

April 1, 2016

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