Carole (CeCe) “Stick Together to Survive”

Photo by  Randy Bacon

Photo by Randy Bacon

I was very young when I got kicked out of school for being pregnant. My son actually went to go live with his dad because I wasn’t old enough to hold a full-time job and take care of him. I got pregnant again with my daughter eight years later. Her and I did really good for a little while and then I got really sick with cancer, and I had a very abusive husband, so I sent my daughter to live with my mom. I finally managed to get away from my stalking, abusive husband, who I am still technically currently married to because he won’t give me a divorce. 

With a seizure disorder, the cancer, and the spinal fluid issue, I can’t get a full time job. And I’ve been denied for disability several different times and I’ve had my Medicaid taken away from me because I don’t have an eligible child in the home. I just recently got my Medicaid back, but it won’t cover my chemo. I’ve been through it twice already and had two surgeries but I’ve gotta go through it again, and the Medicaid only covers a portion of it. Without a job or any other kind of income I can’t pay the extra, so I can’t get my treatments. Without my treatments, there are days I can’t even get out of bed. So I currently couch surf. Thank God for the friends and family that I have, the street family that I’ve made being out here on the streets for the last five years, that let me sleep on their couch, especially when it’s cold outside.

My little girl, she’s fifteen now, was out here on the streets with me in the beginning… we stayed in the original tent city out by Walmart. We helped build that place. I had DFS called on me a couple of times out there but they told me she was better taken care of out there than most kids are on the inside. They never did take her. But then when the cops took that place away from us and bulldozed it down, and I was kind of floating around with no steady place to be, I sent her back to my mom because it’s better for her. The hardest thing about it being homeless is not knowing where your next meals’ gonna come from, not knowing if you’re gonna be safe each night. I’ve been raped twice out here in the last three years, and my little girl, matter of fact, was raped a year ago. It’s the fear of not knowing if you’re gonna be okay.

Society is judgemental to me, if they’re not part of our homeless community, and that’s what we call it, our community. Because if we don’t stick together, we don’t survive. We’ve lost several because they split off to go do their own thing and inevitably we find out that they’ve died somewhere along the way, you know, because they didn’t have somebody else there to help them. Society is very judgmental. And like I’m sure you’ve heard several times, we’re considered drunks, we’re considered dope heads. And don’t get me wrong, most of us have had our ups and downs with either alcohol or drugs of some sort. And when society shuns you, refuses to help you, you end up in the hospital, you look for something to kill the pain or something to keep you warm. And inevitably it’s the drugs or alcohol that does it. You know, I’ve had my ups and down with methamphetamines off or on for the last ten years, and I have to say it’s the only damn thing I found that helps kill my pain. The actual physical pain of the cancer, so that I can get up and function. You know, does that make me a functioning addict in some people’s eyes, yes. You know in other people’s eyes it makes me just a dope head.

I’ve learned that there are a lot of ways to survive off the land. You know, it’s not all about technology, it’s not all about what you can get from other people. Because God actually provides what you need if you just open your eyes to it. You know there are ways to get by with just what we are provided, and you just have to look for it, and know how to use it. And a lot of us have learned that. A lot of us, we live without our phones, we live without TV, we live without all that. And we get to know each other on a personal basis. You know you see these other people that were born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but we were born with a wooden spoon across our ass, pardon my language… but we don’t know how to just sit back and let things happen for us. We have to go out and get it.

I would like people to know that no matter what my physical ailments might be, or the hardships that I’ve lived, that I still do my best to show everybody an equal amount of love and do my best to help everybody else, whether I’m in a position to do so or not. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. Mankind helping mankind. I just wish to God that everyone could learn the things that we have without going through the hardships we’ve done.

The Road I Call Home Exhibition, Springfield Art Museum

September 14, 2019 - February 23, 2020

Please join us at the opening reception for our exhibit at the Springfield Art Museum "The Road I Call Home," portraits and stories of homeless individuals living in Springfield. This exhibit presents 46 brand new pieces art by award winning photographer, Randy Bacon and are accompanied by a narrative, as told by the subject, sharing their personal story of homelessness.

The Road I Call Home's mission is to build a new awareness about our relationship to homelessness and to each other - to give a voice to the voiceless and begin a conversation that will be a powerful inspiration for people to get involved with efforts to help the homeless and alleviating the problem within communities across the nation.

DONATE TODAY to be an important and necessary moving part of capturing the true lives of our friends on the streets, in all parts of the world, by donating. Every penny helps us continue to chronicle more stories and portraits and fund the framing and printing for the physical exhibit to expand and touch more lives.