A Collaboration Between
Boyd's Station and
Serving Through a Pandemic
Standing outside the Iron Gate, a soup kitchen and food pantry in Tulsa, Okla., a hard rain fell. When it turned to hail, people experiencing homelessness and hunger crowded under a small overhang to avoid getting pelted. I stood with them. Other times I’ve covered the local shelters, I’ve always felt so much different than the people I was covering. On this day, my feelings changed, as I, too, was furloughed from my job as a staff photographer.
I was scared about where the economy was heading and wondering how anyone was going to keep a job. I wasn’t going to eat when they started handing food out, but I felt kinship with the people I was waiting with. When I’d explain to them that I was furloughed from my job, everyone seemed to welcome me with open arms. They felt a kinship with me, too. Very few people told me, “no pictures.”
When I found out I would have to furlough two weeks in the first quarter of 2020, I was upset and scared. In the end, I am glad I spent those two weeks furloughed. My family had money saved and never really struggled because of it, but I learned about need. I learned about how it feels to pull out your unemployment debit card at a gas station to pay for items. “Do people notice? Are they judging my purchases?”
The experience will help me cover people with more dignity and compassion going forward.
ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT Mike Simons/The Tulsa World
Mike Simons is a staff photographer at the Tulsa World
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