How can I help this woman? Should I?
There’s a small park near my house where I go a couple of nights a week to shoot baskets until the lights go out (between 10 and 11 ). There’s usually very few people in the park at that time.
Last year a woman started showing up most nights and was there until at least after I left. Sometimes she had bags with her, sometimes she talked on a cell phone, I figured she lived nearby and came to the park to unwind, same as me. The first time I saw her she was staring at her phone after the park shut down, pacing around, and I asked if she needed a ride or anything. She said she was fine, thanked me, suddenly got a call and walked off.
Over the course of last summer I probably saw her a couple dozen times and caught pieces of her routine. It turns out she walks to the park sometime after dark, stashes her bags on the far side of a building, and then hangs out until the lights go off or the park at least clears out a bit. Then she grabs her stuff and goes into the women’s restroom, where she stays. I’m assuming she sleeps there.
She’s pretty careful so if I didn’t see her so often, and the basketball court wasn’t within 50 feet of the restroom, I don’t know that I ever would have noticed. I don’t know if anyone else is aware she’s there. We seem to be the only “regulars”. I don’t think the cell phone works, the screen doesn’t light up in the dark and she answers it when people walk by, but it never rings audibly that I’ve heard. I think it’s just a great prop to not have to interact, but who knows.
I haven’t approached her again and I really don’t want to bust up what is probably a pretty good spot for her under the circumstances. The neighborhood is safe, the bathroom is enclosed, and has a lock on the door so she should be safe there.
I wondered about her all last year, and tonight saw her again for the second time this year. I was really hoping she had found something better, like a house of her own. She’s tanner, but otherwise seems the same.
I’d like to do something to help her, but have no idea what it would be. I thought about just leaving some food outside the restroom, but it feels like feeding an animal rather than a fellow human being. Also, for all I know she may have all the food she needs. For all I know this may be the life she’s chosen. But it bothers me that an obviously able and intelligent person has to sleep in a bathroom when they’re surrounded by people who have so much more.
The last thing I want to do is make her situation worse by calling attention to her or her spot, so I’ve just stayed away, but it doesn’t feel “right”.
Does anyone have experience with the homeless? Any ideas how I could help without being intrusive and still treating her with dignity? Or is the best thing to do just to stay out of it? It feels so apathetic.
Sorry for the length, thanks for the help.
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