Another installment of the "Invisible Ones" of Washington DC.
When I met Flora she was sitting on the floor in a side hallway at Union Station. She was trying to avoid being seen by the Union Station security guards who would most certainly evict her from the building before she could panhandle enough money for some breakfast. I told her I'd help her out with breakfast in exchange for a photograph and a little conversation. Flora was happy to oblige when I told her about the Invisible Ones photo documentary project. She hoped that if people saw her picture they might be more willing to help out. Flora is a large woman with a number of medical issues related to her weight. She says getting around is a major problem for her. She has been in and out of temporary housing and the shelter system in DC for the past seven years and is currently sleeping outdoors because she feels unsafe in the shelters. Flora says she has been on a waiting list for housing through Social Services but has no idea when that will happen for her, so she does the best she can by panhandling for food and other necessities. Flora is a friendly and outgoing woman who easily engages those that pass by, which gives her a certain advantage in panhandling. If you see or know someone like Flora, stop and have a conversation. See if there is something that you can do to help them out. I guarantee that you'll both feel better having had that experience.