Five years in a shelter?

Over at New Advent, I found a story from CBS news that I think was meant to be an amusing sort of “feel good” story:

Manhattan Soup Kitchen Serves Caviar; Anonymous Donor Gives 150 NYC Needy a Taste of Luxury Life

There was something special on the menu at a New York soup kitchen Thursday.

Those eating lunch at the Broadway Community Inc. facility in Manhattan got a taste of the luxury life, thanks to a gift of caviar from an anonymous donor.

The caviar was served along with sour cream and egg whites and yolks and chives on cornmeal blinis. About 150 people showed up for lunch.
[…]
Diana Conyers, who received a meal at the soup kitchen, said, “I thought it would taste ‘yuck’ because I never had caviar. It was surprising, it tasted pretty good.”

Michelle Seliem and her 8-year-old daughter — who have been living in a domestic violence shelter for five years — loved it.

Seliem said,”It was delicious.”

But what did it taste like?

“Fish,” she said, laughing.

Though the $1,100 value of the caviar could have covered more meals for the needy, it was the experience that was priceless.

Hosna Seliem told Wallace, “I felt like a princess.”

Now, it certainly is a “feel good” story, and I’m glad to read that the down-on-their-luck folks being served felt a little special and uplifted by getting a taste of the glam. But I was struck the idea that a woman could be living at a domestic violence shelter for five years -that her 3-year-old daughter became her 8-year-old daughter while living in what is supposed to be a temporary support measure.

We certainly don’t want children spending five years in a violent and unsafe domicile. But do we want them to be spending five years in a shelter, and thinking of it as “home?” It seems wrong, to me. It seems like something that cheats the child, and the mother.

I wonder if anyone at CBS will look into how many women and children are seeking shelter from domestic violence, but never escaping the “temporary” safety of a shelter, or if they even think of it as odd, at all.

I know the Sisters of Life and the Good Counsel Homes help women and their children by giving them housing and support as the women take steps to become self-sufficient. Self-sufficiency should be the goal, shouldn’t it? Doesn’t that honor the dignity of the human being?

I haven’t slept yet, and I’m too bushed to think, but I will have to think about this when my mind is fresh. Am I wrong to be bothered by that casual acceptance of a mother and her daughter spending five years in a shelter? And isn’t this something that feminists -particularly the elite feminists in the media- should be examining? Shouldn’t the feminist organizations be looking into new, constructive uses for their energy and their money, besides the endless political campaigns and the endless abortion rage?

Yesterday we talked about finding ways to keep DC school voucher recipients in their chosen schools, now that the president and his party have done their worst. Looks like this is going to be the year of finding private and communal ways to help people who are not being optimally served by the big (and big-spending) government.

Perhaps 2010 will be the year of the Social Entrepreneur.


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