by Natalie Healey, Sparks, NV
Along the Truckee River, there’s a two-and-a-half-mile stretch where close to 100 otherwise homeless people camp. I ride my bike past it every day on my way to work and on my way home. I spend a lot of time and my own money crocheting hats and passing them out there. I have only been able to make and distribute about 45 hats so far.
In doing so, I’ve come to know several of them. They are very kind and decent people. I’ve only had one person propose a “hippy marriage” after receiving my hat. It wasn’t creepy or inappropriate, just his way of saying thank you.
Today, something happened that I never saw coming. I got off my bike, took my bag of hats out of the basket, and walked down the bank a bit. I saw a new tent pitched there and wanted to see if anyone there maybe wanted a hat. While I was there, someone stole my bike.
YES! Someone abducted Penelope Pedals! I saw it happen, but was too far down the bank to run and catch them in time, and off they went. I scrambled upwards as fast as I could and raced after them. They didn’t get very far, though; maybe a football field’s length away. About 15 of my homeless friends saw what was happening and stopped the man in his tracks. They stood arm in arm across the path so he couldn’t get past them, and saved my Penelope! Where is a Go-Pro when you need it?
Those homeless people did what most people would not have done. They put themselves in harm’s way because they saw “Hat Lady’s” bicycle being stolen. They stopped a criminal and they saved my day. I wish I had 15 more arms so I could have hugged all of them at the same time, and 15 more arms so I’d have 30 hands to make more hats faster. What a spectacular day!