Word quickly spread about what was being done and literally every five minutes the phone rang about either someone asking about a room or the ladies checking to see what the count was so far. On one end you would hear Arline saying, “How many of you need a room?” or “We will have to move that person to another room so we can put a family there.” The phone would ring again, this time it was Bernadette on the line asking, “How many people do we have now?” or her telling us “I just got another donation so we can add more rooms.” In all over 20 rooms were provided for and meals were supplied for 90 people at the motel. Additionally, another 40 meals were delivered to needy families around the county.
As people poured into the lobby to be fed, not only was their gratitude continually expressed, but you began to hear their stories of what brought some of them here. There was Leo, who I first saw walking through the mountains of snow in tennis shoes, sweat pants, a hoodie and a buttonless jacket over that. His disheveled appearance was quickly forgotten as you listened to his stories. "My mother died, my father died, and the house burnt down." "Then turned around and they told me I had cancer." His story quickly rolled off his tongue and before you could feel any sympathy for him, he rolled into another story on his life out on the streets. He would say, "It's okay though, because I'm just happy to be off the streets while its this cold."
Then there was the families who have lived at the motel for nearly a year that struggled to make ends meet. Gene, is a handyman who works in Prince George's county hasn't been able to get to work, has no money for food or diapers for his six month old child. He's late on his rent, but fortunately, the hotel is willing to work with him since he has done some work for them in the past and has generally paid his rent on time since he's been here. Rick (not his real name) would ride his bicycle from Capital Heights to see his girl and make an honest woman out of her. He was on his way to making a better life for he and his family, then the job he was promised never came through, so today he cares for his wife, who's expecting their second child and their six month old son working at a car wash detailing cars.