Local woman goes homeless for a cause - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local woman goes homeless for a cause

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Athens, Tennessee native Connie Farmer has been living in her cramped Kia Spectra every night for almost a week. It hasn't been easy.

"It's been a lot more difficult than I imagined it to be, even for a short period of time," says Farmer. "Having poor concentration. Not having good sleep at night I've been forgetful. I've been irritable. Stressed."

She's not homeless, but wants people to know about the problem in McMinn County. It's a challenge she's answering from a co-worker who's doing the same thing in another region of the state. Even her 16 year-old son, Alex, joined in the cause for a few days until he got sick.

"Last night I slept here with my feet in the trunk," adds Farmer as she points to the folded down back seat of her car and her sleeping bag.

She's been giving up as many creature comforts as possible to feel what it's like not to have a true place to call home, parking in shopping center lots on some nights.

She says some of the dozens of homeless people here have a cell phone, an old car, and even a job like she does. They simply lost the roofs over their heads.

One of her goals is to break stereotypes.

"They don't see the mothers with their children or the families or the veterans who are maybe in tents or in cars who don't want anyone to know that they're homeless," says Farmer.

Area churches open their doors whenever possible, especially when freezing weather is in the forecast like it is this weekend, but this isn't enough. Farmer says there are no established shelters in McMinn County for the homeless to go and spend a night in a warm bed. She wants this to change.

"If there's anyone who wanted to make a donation of land or a building or even money to rehab a building, we really need that," pleads Farmer.

She works for Hiwassee Mental Health Center, part of Volunteer Behavioral Health, an organization that finds permanent homes for veterans. However, so many others are left out in the cold.

Channel 3 spoke to one homeless man in Athens who doesn't want to be identified. He says in the past two years he's lost jobs, suffered a stroke, and no longer has family here who can help him--his mother's in a nursing home, and his father and sister have died. He has little money left and has been trying to connect with estranged family in Nashville since he can't get much assistance locally.

In the meantime, for people like him, Farmer asks that you help in any way possible.

"Maybe donating just a little bit. Time, money, food," says Farmer.

Despite the cold snap, Farmer will complete her pledge and return to her family later this weekend. Click here to read her blog about her experience. Scroll to "Food and Hunger vs. A Good Night's Sleep".

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