This I Believe: Where is Home?

Feb 22, 2018

I believe that being “homeless” is a choice. Yes, that is honestly what I believe but let me explain. 

Growing up I’ve been physically without a home many times. At about the age of two my mom and I weren’t able to live in our house anymore because of financial issues and after that came years of struggle. We’d lived in homeless shelters, out of our car, in hotels, with other family members or friends and yet had no place to call our own most of the time. Even with the help of others, there were still times when those people would make us leave their houses or be so rude and ignorant of what we were going through, making us feel bad. But even so, you couldn’t tell by the way we acted in public. 

I still went to school every day, hair combed, in decent clothes, and ready to learn, even if it meant that morning I had to get ready in a gas station bathroom. My mom still continued to either look for work when she didn’t have a job or go to work and still find the strength to go to church every Sunday and even days in between. 

I remember one Christmas break when I was around 5 or 6 my mom was going to leave me with my family in Chicago because she said they could take better care of me, feed me, give me gifts for Christmas and etc. But I remember telling her, “It doesn’t matter that you can’t give me all of those things or anything for Christmas, I just want to be with you.” To many people, that statement doesn’t make any sense, especially coming from the mouth of a child. But to me, I wasn’t homeless.

It may sound a little cliché, but, to me, then and even now, home really is where the heart is. Going through a situation like that really brought things into perspective and gave me a different view of life. Looking back, without my mom, that experience could have been way worse, but being with her, constantly there for me and helping me get through, it wasn’t too bad.

Google defines homelessness as being without a home, and therefore typically living on the streets. However, with my mom by my side, home was wherever she was since the love she had for me and I had for her was so strong. She made my view of home a lot different than most and because of it I never felt homeless. So, the physical aspect of homelessness is definitely not a choice. But the way I see it, anywhere my mom and I are together is home to me.

Blessing Casey reading her essay at the Rotary Club of Springfield Sunrise meeting.
Credit CARTER STALEY / NPR ILLINOIS 91.9 UIS