A new meaning for “Silent Night”

Katrina Michell

Katrina Mitchell. 

As I write this piece it is New Years day 2016. I have been thinking about a young lady named Katrina Mitchell. Almost two years ago I had written and photographed an initial Blog post, but was not pleased with it. I suggested at that time I was going to follow-up with her. So over a year ago we caught up again. It was late November 2014 and the Holiday Season was upon us. I have had Katrina in my thoughts and prayers every day, but have not been able to actually help her find a job. It is extremely difficult to find employment when you live in a public housing project, have no transportation and are hearing impaired (deaf). I was again frustrated by the experience, and did not write at that time.

When we sit down in her tiny apartment to “talk” again, there is no sign-language translator as was available in the last conversation. After it is obvious she can’t read lips well enough, I am writing questions on paper for her to read. Aside from her voice in response, there is an eery quiet except for the many ambulance sirens in the background (we are close to a hospital) and the clacking of her rotating heater/fan. This occasionally broken silence is disarmingly symbolic of her plight. Clack, clack, clack, clack. As I listen to the recording of our conversation, I am struct by a sense of hopelessness.

Most of my scribbled questions about her life, surroundings and family engender answers that revolve around her desire for a job. She repeats this over and over. It is obvious that she wants to work and is frustrated. But there is an innocent hopefulness that is palpable in her spirit. She talks about her daughters and the desire to support them, though they live with her mother now. She says a job would help her move closer to them and get away from the projects where people are always trying to break into her home. I ask myself how hopeful would I be if I had experienced the adversity that she has over the years. Clack, clack, clack.

Please keep Katrina and others with situations like hers in your thoughts and prayers this coming year. And if you know anyone who can help, let me know. She lives close to St.Vicents Hospital and would work in food service or housekeeping anywhere if given the opportunity.

Sorry it took so long to write this Katrina. May you find warmth, happiness, the arms of family and friends, and a job in 2016!

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