HOBBS, N.M. (AP) — Cristian Nopal doesn’t touch his food despite being a child accustomed to being hungry.
He sits, arms crossed, watching the stranger across the table as the man asks his mother Pamela George, about how the family became homeless and how they ended up in the shelter at Manna Outreach in Hobbs.
His eyes convey an expression belying his short 7 years when he breaks into the conversation to talk about what it is like to be hungry.
“Your stomach growls and burns,” he states, his eyes searching for the next words. “It is like something is in you that is hot… real hot.”
When asked if he likes the shelter he nods in the affirmative.
“There is a lot of food,” he adds. When Pamela gets to the point of talking about the first night she was forced to move herself, Cristian and little sister Tiffany George, 5, into the family car and sleep on the streets Cristian speaks up again.
“It was cold,” he said.
The family moved into the shelter two nights earlier after becoming stranded in Hobbs when their car broke down while attending a funeral away from their home town of Truth or Consequences.
T or C may be home, but the family has been living where ever they can find since Pamela lost her job several months ago. Most recently, the family was staying with Pamela’s aunt in Jal, in a home with no running water.
“I couldn’t allow them to stay in that situation,” Pamela said. “In T or C I’ve had to stay on the streets for a few days in a car because there is no shelter there. If this wasn’t here I’d be out on the street.”
“There is mostly no food at our aunty’s. None,” Cristian chimes in again.
After a few more minutes Cristian seems more comfortable with this unknown person asking his family questions and begins to eat his supper — a meal of beans, rice, enchiladas and some strawberries provided by the employees of Manna Outreach.
It is his second supper at the shelter and just how many he will be able to eat there is unclear.
Pamela is banking on a job interview from the day before to come through, but she faces an uncertain future along with the two dozen other residents of Manna Outreach’s shelter.
An uncertain future made even more bleak by the financial crunch the non-profit is in.
By December Manna Outreach will be $88,000 dollars in the hole, predicts Rick McComas, the shelter’s director.
The shelter is not just short $30,000 in the usual financial assistance it gets each year, but the demand for their services has Login to read more