We can call her Miss H. Amazingly Miss H. has lived outside in Princeton, New Jersey, for 20 or more years. I know for several years she had a tent in the woods behind MarketFair until they took the woods down. She lives outside sitting up in a chair from spring until she can’t bear the cold any longer and lets one of us takes her to the hotel.
Miss H. is getting older and frail, as I have been seeing in the past three years. The system has failed her! I have called HomeFront, Trenton and Princeton welfare, and many other organizations that say they can do nothing. The three of us who look after her and do all we can for her throughout the year are all struggling financially. I am sure other people in the shopping center do kind things for her, as well. For that I’m grateful for.
One of the three of us who look after her has been paying for Miss H. to stay in a hotel from December until the spring each year. The cost for this is about $3,000 or more. But this lovely woman, who has generously given her money for many years to keep Miss H. warm and safe through the harsh winters, can no longer afford to pay for her shelter for the winter.
It is September, 2011, and I am starting to worry about where she will stay this winter and what to do. If I cannot get help from all of you here in Princeton, New Jersey, to chip in and help shelter her, I will take the little that I have in my savings and pay for the entire winter for her myself. I have spent easily $3,000 or more on her throughout the years with hand warmers, chairs, hats, food, and other things. I take her for rides and out to lunch when I can.
I have tried to raise money for her on my Facebook page and through friends. I have run out of solutions. I also raised about $600 on my Facebook fundraiser site for things she needed. The questions below are the common questions I have gotten from people about Miss H.
Why don’t you take her to your home? The answer from Miss H when I have asked her: “My dead husband has told me to stay here.”
Why doesn’t she go to the shelter? Answer: If you saw what the Trenton shelters look like you would realize that she is safer living outside where she is but not in sub-freezing weather. The shelters are filled with crack heads, alcoholics, and dangerous people.
Why doesn’t she take medication? Answer: Have any of you been on an antidepressant? I have and to find the right one took years because I was basically allergic to serotonin so only one medication worked for me, Welbutrin. The rest of the medications nearly drove me crazy. This went on for years, and I was supposedly seeing good doctors! Please don’t think that taking the medication for schizophrenia is necessarily the best thing for her.
None of you know what it’s like for her each day. It is not like taking high blood pressure medication or high cholesterol medication. There are frightening side effects! Making these assumptions without knowing what it’s like to be in another’s pair of shoes is ignorance!
It has been about four years since I first met Miss H. I saw Miss H. sitting in her chair one day and I went up to her and said hi. I do not believe there is such a thing as a coincidence. I believe we connect with certain people for reasons we don’t always know. I think people come into our lives to teach us lessons, sometimes to connect us with other people, and sometimes just to pass by. Why do I think I met Miss H.? That’s easy for me to answer. I am not religious person but I am spiritual. I don’t think anyone I know — including myself — could survive for 20 years living outside alone. There is something very special about this little lady, truly!
I love Miss H. as if she were my mom. I sit and we have long talks. She is and has been such a gift to my life. Miss H. is also an inspiration of the human spirit. I would like someday to know enough about her to write a book.
I have yet to meet someone who has touched my life in such a profound way, with love, laughter, kindness, and sometimes anger, but for the most part a gentle soul. Please, please help me to help her get through another winter.
What I ask for from the people of Princeton is for everyone to donate as much as you can starting in September of each year. This money will go to Miss H. each December to keep her safe and warm for the rest of her time with us here in Princeton.
Please mail checks payable to Suzanne Newman at 1330 Route 206, Suite 103-110, Village Shopper, Skillman 08558.
Editor’s note: Newman is a Princeton-based massage therapist. Visit her website at www.gotcherback.com or call her for references at 609-683-1608. She promises to share a full accounting of money donated and how it has been spent.