Day 1: Sarah

For the next two years I’ll be running a legal clinic for homeless youth. Going to try and put down some thoughts about it. I hope you like it. More than that, I hope it helps.

It is 75 degrees in West Los Angeles.

Today I went to Safe Place for Youth, where I’ll be starting the legal clinic in a few weeks. Met a young woman there named Sarah. Sarah is like ball lightning – full of energy and laughter and wit. She’s also eight and a half months pregnant.

A few weeks ago, the police gave her two citations over two nights for sleeping outside. They gave her the tickets, and then they left. Sarah’s trying for a Section 8 housing voucher, but she’s nervous about the tickets and her application. She tells me that the folks at SPY have saved up diapers for when the baby comes.

I have to tell her that I was just setting up today and I couldn’t get started on her case yet because I can’t start working until September 28th. It’s the truth, but it felt like an excuse.

“That’s fine!” She shakes her head and her curls nod in agreement. “I feel better knowing, you know…”

“That you can move forward?” I have this bad habit of finishing people’s sentences.

“Yeah. Get a place to stay. Would be nice to not have to spend all my money on rent, right?” She laughs, grinning as she says this.

I’m struck by the contrast between the gravity of her situation and her light-hearted attitude. I wonder if it’s bravery or naiveté. I feel like I’m second-guessing her and I chastise myself. Honestly, it’s probably a bit of both.

“Well, let’s make this a priority when the clinic opens.” I take a breath and try to sound professional. “October 1 – that’s probably the first day I’ll be here working. Can you make it?”

She sees through me completely.  “Yeah,” she giggles. “I’m always here. Where else would I be?”