Bea­con of hope to the home­less

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Living - By AARON MOODY

WHILE many of her peers waited anx­iously to find out where they would be ac­cepted to col­lege, Me­gan Fair­cloth didn’t know where she would sleep at night.

For most of her ju­nior year and the start of her se­nior year, Fair­cloth and her fam­ily were home­less.

“At one point, we were in a home­less shel­ter and then we were stay­ing with rel­a­tives a lit­tle while, and then we lived in our car,” said Fair­cloth, 17.

Fair­cloth re­cently grad­u­ated at the top of her class from East Wake High School in Wake Coun­try, North Carolina, the United States. This au­tumn, she will at­tend Stan­ford Univer­sity where she plans to ma­jor in English and mi­nor in ed­u­ca­tion.

Few peo­ple at East Wake knew about Fair­cloth’s ex­pe­ri­ence un­til she shared her story dur­ing a se­nior awards ban­quet. She said it felt good to talk about what she had been through.

Fair­cloth’s fam­ily was evicted from their home in Novem­ber 2015 af­ter per­sonal and fi­nan­cial trou­bles.

The fam­ily would spend hours each day try­ing to find enough money for a place to sleep.

“We’d be run­ning around all day and then we’d get a mo­tel room at 12 o’clock at night, and then I’d have to start my home­work,” Fair­cloth said. “It was phys­i­cally ex­haust­ing. We didn’t have much money for food or any­thing, ei­ther.”

When a mo­tel was out of the ques­tion, Fair­cloth would sleep in the car with her mother and two sib­lings. They looked for ar­eas to park where they thought they’d be safe. The car’s win­dows were jammed and wouldn’t roll up.

“It was re­ally cold in win­ter and then as it started heat­ing up, it got re­ally hot,” Fair­cloth said.

Fair­cloth had un­usual con­cerns for some­one try­ing to go to col­lege – she didn’t have an ad­dress when she sent in her ap­pli­ca­tions.

In Oc­to­ber, the fam­ily moved to a home in Wen­dell where they con­tinue to live.

Fair­cloth, who de­scribes her­self as re­served, said it was tough to speak in front of her class­mates.

“When I got done with the speech, I walked off the stage and looked to the side and every­one was stand­ing and clap­ping,” she said. “Af­ter­wards, kids came up to me and said they had gone through sim­i­lar things and that I had inspired them.”

More than 50 stu­dents at East Wake are home­less, ac­cord­ing to school lead­ers. The school be­gan col­lect­ing hy­giene items sev­eral years ago and has since formed a food pantry for stu­dents in need.

Lo­cal churches help sup­port the cause, said Stacey Al­ston, prin­ci­pal at East Wake High.

Fair­cloth’s mother, Melba Fair­cloth, said home­less­ness was hor­ri­ble.

“But when you hit rock bot­tom,” she said, “the only place you can go is up, right?” She de­scribed her daugh­ter as tough. “I think she can do any­thing she wanted to do,” Melba Fair­cloth said. “She has a lot of de­ter­mi­na­tion, and a lot of peo­ple would’ve given up, but not her. She’s a fighter. She’s al­ways been a fighter.”

Fair­cloth said she wouldn’t change any­thing about her ex­pe­ri­ences. “I’m glad I went through it be­cause it changed how I view hap­pi­ness. And it changed my view of my­self and other peo­ple.” – The News & Ob­server/Tri­bune News Ser­vice

‘I’m glad I went through it be­cause it changed how I view hap­pi­ness,’ said Fair­cloth, 17, who was home­less for a cou­ple of years. — TNS

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