Patrice Bryson is the founder and executive director of Martha Pearl, which protects the dignity of displaced, marginalized, and disadvantaged people.
I know homelessness because I've experienced homelessness. My children and I have been homeless, in and out of homelessness since their birth. I'm homeless now. Many of the people who I serve, I've laid next to. I've witnessed their addictions and their flaws, and they've witnessed mine.
I am empowered with voice despite my circumstances. I approach my homelessness as a means to help other people. There are people out there who don't know that their walk isn't just theirs, that they're also here to affect other people.
Yes, you have an obligation to be gracious and to appreciate what's being done for you. Yes. But you don't have to accept anything simply because you're in a state of poverty.
Allah talks to me every day. Every day. And He's reminding me of gratitude, of being grateful for every little thing, the good and the bad. I think I understand that concept now. He has reminded me of my joys in life. My two little boys—they're growing spiritually and mentally from this. They're not victims. They understand things in a real way. They're five and six.
I'm so blessed that Allah has given me the insight and the patience to teach them and explain things to them in a way they can understand and still be happy with.
So, thinking on those moments, and the gratitude I have for teachable moments to give to my children, the gratitude I have for every little thing, I'm happy. We get giddy just to go to Whole Foods and get our chocolate milk.
We get a half-gallon and we put it into cups and divide it, and that's like the best thing ever. The gratitude for the simple things. The ability to just connect with people.