Today was our third ReachOut to the Catalina Motel. To say that the Catalina is worse than the Delux Inn is an understatement. Even though it is run by the same owner as the Delux Inn, the people living there are, in my opinion, worse off than those at the Delux Inn. More people are living there than at the Delux Inn. If you didn’t know that the Catalina was there, you wouldn’t know that there are people living there. I say the word “living” loosely. They have very meager belongings. There is a tiny room with one washer and dryer that looks like it is older than dirt. There are no fast-food places within walking distance of the Catalina. There is a Dollar General store within walking distance. There is also ZoomZooms-a convenience store where a lot of shootings happen.
The Catalina was a nice Motor Hotel back in the 1950s and 1960s. It had a swimming pool-which was a luxury back then. The road that it was on, was the only road to the Dallas area. There were convenience stores, clothing stores, Mrs. Mead’s Bread Company, more Motor Hotels, and several car lots. Then, as time “marched on” the interstate was built and the stores began closing, the Motor Hotels began closing, and years later there is nothing left.
There are families staying there. A young mother with a sleeveless white shirt and red shorts barefooted with a baby stands at the door waiting for us as we deliver water, snacks and soap to them. Fortunately, we had some hygiene bags with a little toothbrush for the baby who had three or four teeth to give them. The baby had brown hair, and she was so cute. I was smiling at her, and I looked down at her little bare feet and could tell that she hadn’t been bathed in a while because her little toenails were dirty. If we feel that the children are in danger, we do contact the authorities.
Old men missing teeth smiled as they answered our knock: “Church Without Walls. We are handing out water, snacks and soap. Do you need anything?”
Ashley- who I haven’t seen in a couple of years was there today. I first met Ashley and her “old man” at the Circle Inn Motel around seven or eight years ago. He was much older than her. Ashley was probably in her late 20s or early 30s when I first met her. Several times when we went to the Circle Inn, she had bruises all over her body and black eyes. I lost contact with Ashley two or three years ago. Today, Ashley had put on quite a bit of weight and had bright red hair. She was talking at times incoherently, but she knew who I was. She hugged me, and she reeked of drugs in particular meth. She was jerking and making strange sounds. I thought of Jesus embracing the leper after I hugged her. She wouldn’t take any of the water, snacks or soap. She wanted to make sure that the mother and baby got what they needed. We were packing up, and she came to the car where I was. She was trying to have a conversation-something about not having COVID 19. She did want some water, snacks and soap. She hugged me again. I hope that she knew that we cared about her as she turned around and began talking to a man that we hadn’t seen before.
It is dismal driving into the motel area. The rooms are small and dark. There are mauve-colored chairs with the fabric-missing sitting next to some rooms. Restaurant sized empty cans serve as “water catchers” for the old air conditioners, and some of the cans serve as ashtrays.
I finally got the mother’s name with the two babies. Her name is Jordan. We bought Christmas presents for her and the babies. The children, even in the cold, never had socks on their little feet. We bought footed pajamas for them. We bought the little girl, Alice, a baby doll. When we would peer into the room, we only saw two pack and plays and no toys. I began to talk to Jordan asking if she needed anything. She said that Child Protective Services helped her with diapers. I asked about formula. Her little Alice was having a hard time digesting whole milk, so she was putting formula in with her milk to make it easier to drink. The little two or three month old baby boy, Nathan, looked so thin. I never saw a baby bottle, and the only sink that I saw was the one in the bathroom. We bought her two big cans of formula for the babies. Jordan, the mother, said that once the CPS case was closed that she was going to move to Houston to be closer to her dad. I did find out that the father of the children was a meth addict, and that Jordan begged him to go to rehab, but he would not go, so she told him to leave.
There is a new couple there-Dustin and Helen and Helen’s daddy. We first met them at the Circle Inn years ago.