Remarks presented by Sharon Stone at the Compass Community Services, Spring Forward 2009 luncheon. San Francisco, April 23, 2009.
“I think so many people don’t really know what it is to be homeless, or how people get there. Many people hear the word “homeless” and they think of that guy cast in a movie who is kind of skinny and skanky and stinky and stands outside a bar begging. That’s not homelessness. That’s an idea.
Homelessness is what happens when you’re one paycheck away from losing your home.
When you have tried everything you’ve got. Everything. When you’ve leveraged everything, sold everything, sold your lawn furniture, sold your couch, taken your grandmother’s engagement ring to the pawn shop, given away your clothes, haven’t eaten, live on a dozen eggs for a week, fed your kids but you don’t eat, slept in your car, they’ve taken your car, you’ve lived in a pup tent, and now you don’t have that.
Homelessness is when your government job is gone.
Homelessness is when you’re a professor, and they don’t need you anymore at the school.
Homelessness is when your dental group is cutting down and they don’t need that many dentists anymore.
Homelessness is educated people.
Homelessness is when you’re a wife, and your husband wants a younger one. Or a different one. And not you and those noisy kids. Or that new baby, you bitch. “What the fuck did you get pregnant for?”
Homelessness isn’t some drunk standing outside of a bar.
And when children — good children, not drug users — but good normal children just like yours are in the street, innocent, pure, lovely, beautiful children just like mine and yours are in the street for two weeks, 14 days, and they have nowhere to live, and not a mother who is a tiger, who stands over them and gets them to school and keeps her head together, or something happens to that parent — in 14 days they are prostitutes to live, because that’s the only way they can eat. And that is a governmental statistic.
This is homelessness.
There are families in the street. It happens so much more. And because of Katrina, and our gorgeous government (yeah, and I’m not jokin’) — many people moved West because of the climate, because of the floods and the hurricanes, because of force majeure and global warming, people have moved West. And this is why homelessness has tripled. Not just the economic decline.
And I’m not so sure about this economic decline, you know. I don’t always buy into everything. Okay, we’re tightening our belts, but you know, a lot of us wanted to get tighter belts. So now that we’re tightening our belts, as so many of us still have so much. We’re tightening our belts, and we’re scared, and you know what, we still have fantastic shoes. We do. When we have so much less, we still have so much more than so many. Let’s not bullshit.
Even when we’re struggling we have so much more than so many. Even in our scarcity we have so much more than so many. That with grace and generosity and civility and familial kindness, first of all, we get to know somebody for a change, instead of sitting around with our heads up our butts.
We can be friendly and together, and with that generosity of spirit, that working together, we the people can decide what’s going to happen. We the people can change the curve of this economic crisis. Because we the people, with generosity and fortitude can change the curve of this economic crisis. With generosity and esprit de corps we can make a movement of how this economic crisis will go. Because we don’t have to buy into scarcity.
And the very first thing that we can do is be kind and gracious and generous to others. The sooner we get people off the streets and into the workforce the sooner that workforce will become strong. The stronger it gets the less economic crisis that will occur. So let’s get crackin’.
We must get people up. We must take what we have — because look around, we don’t exactly look like we’re slumming it in here — and become generous.
If you think you can give ten, give twenty. Be We The People. Treat those children as if they were yours, because they are.