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Break My Fall
Crystal Evans 
December 12, 2003 

It was February when I ended up homeless. But I realized long before that my life was in a downward spiral. Every time I hit what I thought was rock bottom, something else would happen and Iíd fall a little deeper. I had run away from spiritual and emotional abuse at home at age 19. A few months later I ended up with a traumatic brain injury and a broken neck in a car accident. Because of the brain injury, I lost nine jobs in 16 months. 

I became homeless, got on my feet, and found myself homeless again seven months later. I was afraid I was never going to stand again, and that I would always be a nobody. Before ending up homeless I had goals for myself, but after living in a shelter surrounded by drug addicts, alcoholics, those with mental illness, and people dying of AIDS, I saw no hope. Most of these people had been homeless for years, and many were my age when it first happened. 

I was staying at Pine Street Inn when we saw previews for the movie . Homeless to Harvard: the Liz Murray Story. The staff agreed to let us watch the first half, due to our bedtime. As Lizís story unfolded, it was clear that many of the women in the room were deeply moved. Liz was just 15 when she became homeless. She had grown up with loving, but drug-addicted parents in NYC. When Lizís mother was diagnosed with AIDS, the family broke up. Eventually, social services came and took her away from her father because she never attended school. She went to live with her mom and grandfather but ran away. The last scene we got to watch that night was when Lizís mother died of AIDS. 

I thought that if I could see the rest of the movie I might be able to get out of my own downward spiral, and wrote about it on my on-line journal. Liz Murray stumbled across the post and invited me to her apartment in New York City so I could watch the second half of the movieÖ with her! I jumped at the opportunity and a week later I was on the bus. 

Liz and I hit it off immediately. We were the same age and although our childhood and homeless experiences were very different, we had a lot in common. We went out to eat, then watched the rest of the movie. I sat next to her as I watched the story of how she rose above homelessness to get herself into Harvard University. Although she never really attended school for any continuous time, she decided to go to high school at age 17 and graduate in two years at the top of her classówhile homeless. She ended up getting a New York Times Scholarship to Harvard. She is currently attending Columbia University, giving speeches about her life, and writing a book that will be out in the spring. 

Liz was amazed by my story. She kept telling me that I had a lot of potential. She was so positive about my situation. She kept reminding me that I wasnít going to be homeless forever, that like her, I would have an apartment someday. 

I left Lizís house determined to do something with myself, but I wasnít quite sure what. On my list of goals before I ended up homeless was to finish school. What was I waiting for? What was stopping me? I couldnít think of anything. I already knew I could get help paying for school from MassRehab because I was disabled. I decided to apply to Harvard Extension School and go for the writing program. 

Iím still homeless but I am also a student. Iím in rehab at Spaulding Rehab Hospital for my brain injury. I volunteer at Ronald McDonald House and the Childrenís Hospital. I keep an online journal on homelessness. I have been speaking at colleges in the New England area, and Iím applying to Harvard University for fall of Ď04. Liz Murray and I are still in contact, and she will continue to be my inspiration. 

I want other people to know they can rise above homelessness and get somewhere in life. Being homeless doesnít mean your life is over. Itís simply another challenge a person must overcome, one that makes one stronger in the long run. 

Reprinted from Whats Up Boston, December 2003. 


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<DIV><SPAN class=storytitle>Break My Fall</SPAN><BR><B>Crystal Evans</B> <BR><B>December 12, 2003</B> <BR><BR><B>It was February when I ended up homeless. But I realized long before that my life was in a downward spiral.</B> Every time I hit what I thought was rock bottom, something else would happen and Iíd fall a little deeper. I had run away from spiritual and emotional abuse at home at age 19. A few months later I ended up with a traumatic brain injury and a broken neck in a car accident. Because of the brain injury, I lost nine jobs in 16 months. <BR><BR>I became homeless, got on my feet, and found myself homeless again seven months later. I was afraid I was never going to stand again, and that I would always be a nobody. Before ending up homeless I had goals for myself, but after living in a shelter surrounded by drug addicts, alcoholics, those with mental illness, and people dying of AIDS, I saw no hope. Most of these people had been homeless for years, and many were my age
 when it first happened. <BR><BR>I was staying at Pine Street Inn when we saw previews for the movie .<I> Homeless to Harvard: the Liz Murray Story</I>. The staff agreed to let us watch the first half, due to our bedtime. As Lizís story unfolded, it was clear that many of the women in the room were deeply moved. Liz was just 15 when she became homeless. She had grown up with loving, but drug-addicted parents in NYC. When Lizís mother was diagnosed with AIDS, the family broke up. Eventually, social services came and took her away from her father because she never attended school. She went to live with her mom and grandfather but ran away. The last scene we got to watch that night was when Lizís mother died of AIDS. <BR><BR>I thought that if I could see the rest of the movie I might be able to get out of my own downward spiral, and wrote about it on my on-line journal. Liz Murray stumbled across the post and invited me to her apartment in New York City so I could watch the second half
 of the movieÖ with her! I jumped at the opportunity and a week later I was on the bus. <BR><BR>Liz and I hit it off immediately. We were the same age and although our childhood and homeless experiences were very different, we had a lot in common. We went out to eat, then watched the rest of the movie. I sat next to her as I watched the story of how she rose above homelessness to get herself into Harvard University. Although she never really attended school for any continuous time, she decided to go to high school at age 17 and graduate in two years at the top of her classówhile homeless. She ended up getting a New York Times Scholarship to Harvard. She is currently attending Columbia University, giving speeches about her life, and writing a book that will be out in the spring. <BR><BR>Liz was amazed by my story. She kept telling me that I had a lot of potential. She was so positive about my situation. She kept reminding me that I wasnít going to be homeless forever, that like her, I
 would have an apartment someday. <BR><BR>I left Lizís house determined to do something with myself, but I wasnít quite sure what. On my list of goals before I ended up homeless was to finish school. What was I waiting for? What was stopping me? I couldnít think of anything. I already knew I could get help paying for school from MassRehab because I was disabled. I decided to apply to Harvard Extension School and go for the writing program. <BR><BR>Iím still homeless but I am also a student. Iím in rehab at Spaulding Rehab Hospital for my brain injury. I volunteer at Ronald McDonald House and the Childrenís Hospital. I keep an online journal on homelessness. I have been speaking at colleges in the New England area, and Iím applying to Harvard University for fall of Ď04. Liz Murray and I are still in contact, and she will continue to be my inspiration. <BR><BR>I want other people to know they can rise above homelessness and get somewhere in life. Being homeless doesnít mean your life
 is over. Itís simply another challenge a person must overcome, one that makes one stronger in the long run. <BR><BR><I>Reprinted from Whats Up Boston, December 2003.</I> </DIV><p><hr SIZE=1>
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