February 2016, and it was pouring cold rain and sleet outside. A young lady, maybe in her late 20’s, walked into The Upper Room. No coat, only soaking wet socks on her feet, hair ruffled, and damp sweat pants. Her story- “I was just released from jail this morning. I have nothing, can you help me?”
None of us knew who she was, but we knew our job was to help, not to judge. The first thing we did was give her three new pairs of dry, warm socks. Then a new winter coat, some blue jeans, a clean pair of sweatpants, along with a hooded sweatshirt and a pair of winter boots.
Kat had no family in Erie, and needed transportation to the Bus Terminal down on the Bayfront. We gave her bus tokens. “Off to Cleveland” she told us. We gave her some food, provided to us by Erie’s Second Harvest Food Bank, and some feminine hygiene items she really needed. We then told her, if she had problems making her connections in Cleveland, we would refer her to services that might benefit her in the Erie Area. One of The Upper Room’s missions is to work with other agencies, like Safe-Net for women, the Mental Health Association, or one of the programs in town for drug and alcohol addictions.
Kat thanked us and left soon afterwards. We haven’t seen her since, but we pray she is connected with loved ones in Cleveland. We told her that we will always be there for her if she ever comes this way again.