After everyone had finally arrived at the Ramada Inn in Hollywood, Florida for the 6th Will Write For Food event, we went on a tour of the shelter. We went up a steep set of stairs to the second floor and stopped so that the staff member who was giving us the tour could talk to us. On the floor against one wall was a mattress. An older woman lay on top of this mattress; her eyes were closed. One of our group asked the staff member why she was there.
“She can’t walk,” was the answer. And all the beds were full, so rather than have this woman lying immobile on the street somewhere, the shelter staff had put a mattress in the hallway for her.
My first thought was that this was a story, but as all 21 of us stood in the hallway listening to the staff member speak, a thousand questions ran through my head. “Where was her family? What’s wrong with her? What will become of her?” I thought about her dignity – how difficult it would be to maintain while lying on a mattress in the hallway of a homeless shelter, unable to get up and leave. Unable to walk to the bathroom. My first thought evaporated as my heart changed. Certainly, this woman had a story but I would not be the one to shatter what remained of her privacy to tell it. The woman never opened her eyes. The next day, she was gone.
The experience of Writing Wrongs teaches young journalists not only how to write stories, but also which stories to leave alone. Please consider donating to the future of ethics in journalism.
You can support Writing Wrongs by making a tax-deductible, secure online donation through through the website of its fiscal sponsor, Humanitarian Social Innovations. You can also make a tax-deductible donation by a check made payable to “Humanitarian Social Innovations” or “HSI”. Checks can be mailed to:
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All donations made in this manner are dedicated to the purpose of this project and will not be used to pay the expenses of another. Please visit the Humanitarian Social Innovations website for details on the partnership between HSI and Writing Wrongs. Any amount is appreciated. Thanks for recognizing and being part of something worthwhile.
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