Wedding Bells in Brandon, Florida

Posted: March 12, 2010 in Family, Health, Homelessness, Hopes, Housing, Relationships, Stereotypes

A couple of days ago, I came across one of the most heartwarming news articles that I’ve read in a while.

The article, which appeared in the Brandon News & Tribune, was about a wedding at the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon.

In an outdoor ceremony, surround by some of their friends, Mark Neville and Nan Schrack officially became husband and wife after having been together for 14 years. The last five of those years, they’ve been homeless.  

To some, it might seem a bit foolish or irresponsible for a couple who is homeless to get married. After all, what can they offer one another, right?

They have no home. They have no sustainable income. Furthermore, Nan has a brain aneurysm and emphysema.

But Mark and Nan haven’t always been unemployed or homeless.

They had been living in a mobile home in Seffner, FL. but were evicted when their landlord defaulted on paying his taxes.

Then Mark found himself without work. Even day labor jobs became scarce as the economy took a nose dive.

So, why then, would a couple who has nothing in the way of material possessions decide to get married?

Perhaps is has something to do with the human spirit.

The most common of homeless stereotypes is a grimy looking individual clutching a "bottle of booze." And because this is what so many of the general population equate with homelessness, the homeless are viewed two dimensionally. As a result, the homeless aren’t often thought of as having the same types of feelings as the rest of us.

If someone says something mean-spirited to us, we get upset. Or maybe our feelings are hurt by it. We might even get angry.

Why is that?

Because we have it in our minds that we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, don’t we?

Yet, how often do we think to ourselves that the homeless in our communities are deserving of the same?

The problem has to do with our perceptions, not only of the homeless, but of ourselves.

Just because a person has housing, does that somehow make them superior to someone who doesn’t? Does it make them more of a person?

Or perhaps we fail to recognize that just because a person has housing it doesn’t mean that they have a monopoly on being treated with basic human dignity – or of wanting to be happy.

When Mark and Nan were evicted what they lost was a place to live – a place to call home.

They didn’t lose their capacity to care. They didn’t lose their need for companionship. They didn’t lose their sense of loyalty to one another. They certainly didn’t lose their ability to love.

Their wedding wasn’t about material possessions. It was a something much more important: caring for and committing themselves to one another.

I think that Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County volunteer, Tracey Crocker, said it best,

"Nobody woke up one day and said, ‘I want to be homeless.’ They have feelings and hopes and dreams just like everyone else.

And they fall in love just like everyone else."

And before I forget…

To Mark and Nan,

Congratulations on having been married.

I wish for your lives together, every good fortune and every happiness.

  1. Tracey says:

    Mark told me that on cold nights he lets Nan have all the blankets because he knows that with her medical issues he could loose her. Love in Sickness or in Health in a home or Homeless it knows no bounds.

  2. Bri says:

    Such a beautiful story.

  3. Paul Valley says:

    Wow I am so Happy for them I would like to post this in a blog do you Mind?

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