I need shelter.

Homeless shelter Missoula, Montana

Pat, 66

Pat grew up in western Montana, but had spent the last eighteen years of her life living in Idaho. Newly divorced, Pat decided to move back to Montana:

“I just wanted to get out of Idaho. And I wanted to get on with my life.”

Three months before this photograph was taken, Pat had arrived in Missoula with everything she owned packed into her car. She left her car running in the parking lot of a friend’s business in order to put a note on the door, and when she turned back towards her car, it was on fire:

“Everything I owned was in that car. I lost everything except my driver’s license, which was charred and had buckled a bit, but it was still readable. I tried to get my clothes and I tried to throw snow on [the flames]—which doesn’t do anything, if you ever need to know. I have to replace my documents…. My money went; my little retirement check—money I had just cashed. I think I was in shock for about a week and I didn’t even know it.”

Pat became homeless. With no family living in Montana anymore, Pat had no one to turn to for help except the Poverello Center:

“It was just nice to have a place to go; you know, I had nothing. Where would I have gone?”

Pat’s voice:

I wish… “I’m very concerned for my children and grandchildren. They live in Georgia and there is so much crime… And I think the environment is continually going down hill—that’s my biggest concern. Unless people get active [about protecting the environment], they’re going to leave the planet [in worse condition] than we have it now.”

I look forward to… “The most basic of things: a job and an apartment.” My favorite thing about the Poverello Center is…”

The staff. “They know how to handle people. They are not overbearing or pushy or [have to] assert their authority—they just handle it.” “It was just the leaving of the things I could have done. Perhaps if I’d found an apartment before I came out here or opened a bank account before I moved. Just better planning on my part. It took me a long time to see that this is reality here; back there [in Idaho] isn’t reality anymore. I’ve just had to adjust.”