For Rowena, it was quite a journey from a secure job and a warm house to the freezing streets of Omaha.
“I spent 2016 down and depressed,” Rowena recalls. “I was using drugs. I lost my job. I lost my housing. My relationship with my family was strained. They didn’t want me around anymore. Then my mother went through the legal steps to take custody of my son.
“I was homeless and completely on my own when the really cold weather hit last year. And when that weather came, every waking minute was all about surviving the cold. It was scary, not knowing if you’d make it through the night.
“You had to layer your clothing, at least three layers deep. You covered as much skin as you could. That’s why socks, hats, and gloves are so important. Any exposed skin could mean frostbite. You’d try to find a closed-off area that blocked the wind and wasn’t wet. Sometimes people would try to prey on each other just for heat, so it was important to find people you could trust. You could help each other stay safe.
“And cardboard. Dry cardboard between you and the cold ground can save your life. Cardboard can block the wind and even act as a blanket when you need it to.”
To be continued Thursday, 1/11.