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Friday, April 17, 2009

please please please let's help her

Please meet K., D., little K and baby M.


I met this beautiful family on my way home from a photo shoot today. I walked past them, just like the other people on their way home. I admit it. I saw her and sailed on by. I read her sign ($60 for a motel room... you know what kind of motel room $60 will get you in this city).

But I had seen the tears in her eyes, too, and so halfway down the block, I yelled at myself inside my head for being an asshole and went back. I had $30 in my wallet and gave it to her.

I'm not telling you this story so you can think I'm some sort of hero, 'cause I'm not.

And then we talked, and I learned her name was K. and asked her about the shelters in town. She rattled off the names of homes that I know are where abused women and children escape to when their lives are in danger.

None of the shelters had rooms for her and her children.

Then it dawned on me that maybe I could do more than give her $30 and hope someone else gives her another $30 so the young family can find a place to sleep tonight. I asked her if we could share her photos and her story so that somewhere, some of you might be able to help.


K's eyes are perpetually brimming with tears. She's tiny and her hands are chilled. Baby M is sleeping under a blanket on her chest. The two younger children, D and Little K, are relatively quiet considering their ages. At 7 and 9, they could be tearing up the sidewalks, but they're not.

When I explain to K about my blog and that I hope that maybe someone out there reading might have a way to help, she thinks it's a good idea and says it's okay to take the pictures. "It can't be any more embarrassing than what I'm doing now," she says.

I ask her if she lives in San Francisco and she says yes. But she cannot go home. It's too dangerous.


And then D and K want to take pictures, so I show them how to use the camera.

Baby M, taken by his brother D.

Me, taken by Little K.

Tall buildings on Montgomery Street, taken by D.

Me, taken by D.

Little K, taken by D.

D, taken by Little K.


I have K's voicemail number. But if there is anyone out there who can help get this woman and her children to shelter, a safe and warm place so they can be settled and happy, I can leave her a message with any information you might have.

Please, I am so serious about this.

We can do great things.

This might be one of those things.

Please contact me if you can be of any help at all.



will April 17, 2009 at 7:47 PM  

The world has too many tears.

Kelly Kilmer April 17, 2009 at 7:53 PM  

I don't live in SF, but want to help.
I googled abused women's shelters in SF and found-



If you go to CA there are several listed.


Asian Women's Shelter 3543 18th Street,#19 San Francisco CA 94110 Business #: 415-751-7110 Hotline/Crisis: 415-751-0880

Maitri San Francisco Area, Phone: 408-730-4049 Providing services to all, with emphasis on Asian women. Language translators available to all south Asian languages.

Family Violence Prevention Fund 383 Rhode Island St. Suite 304 San Francisco CA 94103 Business #: 415-252-8900

La Casa de Las Madres 965 Mission Street, Suite 300 San Francisco CA 94103 Business #: 415-777-1808 Hotline/Crisis: 415-33-1515

Rosalie House 5616 Geary Blvd., Suite 207 San Francisco CA 94121 Business #: 415-255-2754 Hotline/Crisis: 415-255-0165

Shalom Bayit P.O. Box 64048 San Francisco CA 94164 Business #: 415-241-8874

WOMAN, Inc. 333 Valencia St.,Suite 251 San Francisco CA 94103 Business #: 415-864-4777 Hotline/Crisis: 415-864-4722

Wendy April 17, 2009 at 8:18 PM  

Have you tried wishuponahero.com?

Is it possible for a battered women's sheltered in a less populated community take her? Sometimes even though a small town has less resources than a large town, they can help more because they aren't helping as many. (I don't know if that makes sense. I was about to go to bed when I saw this.)

I'll tweet your post and also repost on Spread Change.

Petunia Face April 17, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

What a beautiful post.

What about women's shelters in Marin or the East Bay? Does she need to stay in the city for work or for her kids' schools?

I wish I had more ideas, more connections. Let me think on this...

Carolyn R. Parsons April 17, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

I've posted on my blog with a link to yours. I am far away from San Francisco but I get traffic from all over. I hope an angel or angels come forward.

And special kudos to you my friend. You are special and a gift to this world.


www.breezedaze.blogspot.com (if you think of some other way I can help, please drop by and let me know)

J9 April 17, 2009 at 10:14 PM  

I can come and get her and her children and bring them to the East Bay. OR I can pick them up at the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station. I can get an infant car seat to help transport them as well.
In Livermore, there are two shelters
Tri Valley Haven:
Shepherd's Gate:

I've donated, done Christmas adoptions and other things for both, and they do alot of good. No clue if they have room right now, but I would think they do.

Unknown April 18, 2009 at 5:06 AM  

It sounds as if your post has found a few people who have an immediate handle on the situation and my hat is off to you and them for jumping on the bandwagon! Keep us updated.

paris parfait April 18, 2009 at 5:25 AM  

I tend to agree with the previous commenter that the East Bay or small areas around SF may have room in their shelters or temporary housing to assist Kelaya and her family. Or phone up Gavin Newsom and ask him why she isn't being helped and tell him (or more likely, his assistant) and tell him you'll write about K and what the City does or doesn't do to help. San Fran more than probably any major city has numerous facilities to help women in these circumstances; I can't believe a shelter would turn her away, without providing an alternate spot at another shelter.

Thanks for speaking up for K and her family. Love these photos of you! xoxox

Laura Doyle April 18, 2009 at 6:19 AM  

I wish there was something I could do...unfortunately I don't think there is. What I can do is send good thoughts so I'll do that. You're such an angel Julie. : ) Truly one of the most interesting and good-hearted women I've ever "met".

Just Jules April 18, 2009 at 7:31 AM  

Although we, out in blog land may not be able to help this strong lady (who can walk away from abuse with her family to face the street and not be strong?)

We can help in our own communities. Homelessness is resounding in SF but it is prevalent in all communities. Check out your own shelters- they are always in need of cleaning supplies, bedding etc. or, see where you can donate clothes. You may not be able to help this one lady but together we could help many just like her.

Educate yourself - it is too easy to keep your head in the sand.

I'm Katie. April 18, 2009 at 10:02 AM  

I think It's Just Me has an excellent suggestion.

I wish for this sweet family an easy and beautiful path off of the streets and into a secure, healthy life.

Char April 18, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

Julie - you are a gift, you know that. I wish I could help and except for the grace of my family, I could be in that situation. It makes it even more heartbreaking that children are involved. I hope she finds some shelter - it breaks my heart that there are not more spaces and that we need so many spaces for abused people.

d smith kaich jones April 18, 2009 at 11:27 AM  

Tango - If a few bucks will help, email me. It wouldn't be much, but anyone who has the strength of this woman needs to know that strength is worth something. Her kids to know it also.


Mari April 18, 2009 at 11:33 AM  

You have all had really good ideas- good job, tango!

your psycho ex-girlfriend April 18, 2009 at 5:17 PM  

i have been there and am still struggling to get my head above water at this time. i have spent time in a domestic violence shelter also. the waiting list is long and the idea of walking away from an abusive person seems so wise until you realize that there are no beds and the next available bed is months away. i wish we did not need the shelters but we do. she has made the best decision for her children and i applaud her courage.

i feel her pain, i feel the loneliness, the guilt, the shame, the fear. i am so sad for her.

i wish she was near vegas i would let her sleep on my couch. i have been there and i am sorry she has to suffer through this. those kids are clean and obviously loved. i want to cry.

how sad.

Gill April 18, 2009 at 10:03 PM  

I feel so sad. No woman should endure this. It is by far the most heartbreaking thing.
In Canada, there is an organization called "Shelter from the Storm".
My prayers are with her and her children tonight.

julochka April 19, 2009 at 1:45 AM  

i am, as ever, in awe of your ability and will to talk to strangers. i don't think i was ever that open and i know i definitely am not now that i've lived in cold scandinavian climes for a decade, but i so admire it in you and wish i as more able to do so.

i hope that someone has already helped this woman thanks to your plea (and to tara's mention of it on her blog yesterday). you are creating magic in the world around you, without a doubt.

but you really should submit that picture of her hand-lettered sign to that gratituous quotes blog... :-)


Gabby April 19, 2009 at 8:18 AM  

You never cease to amaze God.

Unknown April 19, 2009 at 9:24 AM  

Here via Tara...am far away from SF, but you have received many good ideas for help in the ares. Just wanted to add my thanks to you for stopping and noticing and doing.

sonorossa April 19, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

There are lots of resources (for shelter and beyond) listed here: http://projecthomelessconnect.com/AboutUs/index.php/homelessconnect/resources.html

Do you know if this family hangs out in the same general area during the day? As a social worker, I would love to help - I'm just not sure where to find them.

Elizabeth Brinton April 20, 2009 at 1:32 PM  

What about putting up a Paypal account? I know someone who needed help with uninsured medical costs, and they asked for one dollar (not more, and not less) sent to them. With so many people donating, it adds up. This could go through you TB and then get passed on to her? Just a thought.

The Pink Cowboy April 20, 2009 at 2:43 PM  

Fellow human: I am moved by your compassion. You have presented this unfortunate family with respect. You have identified them by name, that is dignity of the highest order. They have names like you and me. I sincerely hope help is on its way. We are not that different from them. Poverty and homelessness is but a second away for All of us. There are no guarantees in life.
May this beautiful family find safe shelter soon.

georgia b. April 22, 2009 at 12:51 PM  

being unemployed right now, i know what it is like to be in need.

what can i do?

christina April 22, 2009 at 4:03 PM  

I am praying that God watches over this family.

healthy ashley April 23, 2009 at 10:22 AM  

It is so great you are doing this. She has a beautiful family! I am donating now and will Twitter (tweet?!) this post too. Best of luck!

Logan April 23, 2009 at 3:50 PM  

Is there any update on this? A lot people posting before me had great, realistic ideas for this woman and her children...please keep us posted if possible.

Wanda April 23, 2009 at 7:07 PM  

May our hearts and minds joined together bring peace and safety to this family. God bless them--and you.

c April 23, 2009 at 8:10 PM  

Hello sweet dear helpful people. I am, by nature, paranoid (probably from watching too much Law & Order). I think it may be best if we do not post names of places where Kelaya and family can go. Sounds like her abusive ex is still in SF. Heaven forbid he find them again through this thread. I suggest emailing them to tangobaby herself.

Anna, The Lemon Lady April 24, 2009 at 1:45 AM  

Touching and inspiring. I hope you update your readers on where Kelaya and her children find a home. I shall pray it will be soon. I have household items that a young mother may need and can offer those when the time is right. I live in the East Bay.

Please check out my blog. I am a one-woman and toddler campaign against hunger. Every day I think about our poor. Prayers tonight for Kelaya and babies.


Anonymous April 25, 2009 at 5:27 AM  

No, it is obvious you don't think you are a hero, but I do. ~Mary

SE'LAH... April 25, 2009 at 6:57 AM  

I applaud your efforts to help this family and your level of consciousness. I am going to share with a colleague who specialises in domestic violence.

Prayers sent up for this family, and you.

david April 25, 2009 at 11:19 AM  

Put a link to this tragic story on my blog. The world needs more people like you that actually take the time to turn around on that sidewalk and do something. Thanks, please let this family know we are praying for them here in Houston, -d

Unknown April 25, 2009 at 10:39 PM  

In the words of our great President . No chid should be cold or hungry. What a beautiful family she has and bless them and you darling .My good flood down on both of you, 10 fold . hugs Julie

Lori April 26, 2009 at 5:49 AM  

I will pray for this beautiful family and the many others out there that are having difficulty. My heart goes out to them. It is so kind of you to have taken the time and talked to this woman and yes she has a story that should be heard.

Shana Janelle April 27, 2009 at 8:20 AM  

Thank you so much for posting this. I was deeply moved. I linked back and also posted to my Facebook profile for others to help as well. I will be praying for the safety of the family and also making a donation.

Joli April 28, 2009 at 4:25 AM  

You may not think yourself a hero, but you certainly are a Fairy Godmother working your magic!

Monsoon April 29, 2009 at 7:24 AM  

I stumbled upon your blog, and this moved me to tears. There's so much atrocity in this world, and families being homeless is one of them. I live in Norway, and I live in a small place, and I am not used to seeing homeless people out on the streets and stuff. It must be heart wrenching to see! And I guess if one is so accustomed to it, they become "invisible" after a while. From what I've read I've understood that this is quite a big problem in the US, and it saddens me so much to read that. I feel for all those families, struggling to make it through just another day. Bless them. I admire you for doing this, and I can say that I've donated some. I hope Kelaya and her family can be helped a little by it at least.

Take care, and I will pass this on

Hugs from Monsoon (that isn't my real name, but I prefer to not give my real name away) in Norway


Liz April 29, 2009 at 11:01 PM  

Donated and will pass on the link, too! Thanks for blogging this. I'm thinking of Kelaya and her gorgeous family.

- badgermama

Kelly April 30, 2009 at 6:19 AM  

Donated. And I will pray for that God will greatly bless K and her children beyond their greatest imaginings! He has already blessed her by placing her on your heart! I will put a post on my blog for K. It doesn't get many visitors yet, but maybe someone who visits will be inspired to action!

Blessings, Kelly

Operaton You May 1, 2009 at 3:43 AM  

Of course.. Consider it done. Also, Tango, please know that it was your Being - Your Spirit - A place of knowing that doesn't come from your head! You connected to the essence of who we are and that's why you stopped. Please do keep us abreast of K and her children. Thank you staying present and honoring Peace - That's God!

JoryDJ May 4, 2009 at 8:21 AM  


One of your peers nominated this post, and we've selected you as our BlogHer of the Week! We thought you really created something special here, and we've written about it here: http://www.blogher.com/blogher-week-tangobaby.

Thanks for the inspired post!


for Lisa, Elisa, and Jory, BlogHer Co-Founders

Unknown May 4, 2009 at 11:01 AM  

I am so glad there are still people out there that are brave enough to turn around and go back to see how they can help! To many times, people (me included) let their fears of an unsafe situation trump their desire to reach out and help fellow human beings. Its sad really. Stories such as this always remind me that sometimes it is OK to give a little help to someone with less fortunate circumstances. Thanks for being that little reminder.

loco guava May 4, 2009 at 11:24 PM  

Thank you so much for sharing. I will try to help out when I can and give what I can. Thank you for the moving pictures as well. God Bless them and you for sharing their story with the world.

Unknown May 5, 2009 at 8:57 AM  

This is such a beautiful, moving post. Thanks for taking the time to realize that they are people and not just something sitting on the sidewalk. My heart and our lives are spent in caring for people like this - and I am so glad to hear about others who are helping!

Anonymous May 5, 2009 at 11:33 AM  

Hi - I heard about K's story via Andi's blog and have posted a story on my blog about it. I plan to make a donation.

Ashley May 6, 2009 at 3:30 PM  

I walked by them twice. And after the second time, I thought, next time I'm going to try to help somehow. I wish I didn't assume there would be a "next time". Would love to hear any updates.

BabyonBored May 6, 2009 at 6:19 PM  

Hi. I would like to make a donation to K and her beautiful family. Where do I send it?

Anonymous May 6, 2009 at 6:23 PM  

Ashley (just above)That comment echoes with me too...the walking by.

tangobaby says: But I had seen the tears in her eyes, too, and so halfway down the block, I yelled at myself inside my head for being an asshole and went back. I had $30 in my wallet and gave it to her.

That's the EXACT moment when she ceased to be just another person and actually became a 'do-gooder'.
I'm not saying we should ever put ourselves in danger, or run around willy-nilly looking for people to save. But see what 'actions' can do? WOW!

Jo May 7, 2009 at 1:38 AM  

Hi Tangobaby, you're doing exactly what the Lord did when He walked this earth. He was in the streets and alleyways and had compassion for the homeless and defenseless. I am thousands of kms from SF but have added this precious little family to my prayer list. God will use more angels to do the practical things needed. He used you to tell the story and give this family back their worth. God bless you my friend.

L.A. Story May 7, 2009 at 10:41 AM  

Wow. What an amazing story. It's moments like this that give people -- all people -- hope.

susan May 9, 2009 at 11:10 PM  

I don't have much but have sent a little through paypal. I see this all began some weeks ago and hope the family has found a stable place by now.

All best wishes and thanks for what you've done.

Unknown May 10, 2009 at 6:19 AM  

Saw this on BlogHer this morning, and on mother's day, it fills my mommy heart seeing another mother struggling so to provide for her kids. Julie, thank you so much for sharing this with us.


The Rambler May 15, 2009 at 4:32 PM  

Julie....your amazing. This is a good thing.

I'm in San Fran next week visiting family and will ask them if they have suggestions.

It' been a bit since you posted this. How's she doing? Or maybe I need to go through the more recent posts and you have it :)