When a group gathered at Peoria Presbyterian Church to watch “The Road Back Home,” it appeared for a time as though the screening might not happen at all. Technical problems with two different systems were overcome at the last moment when a church member sent her laptop to the screening to output a signal to the projector and audio system.
With the help of that laptop, the audience was able to connect with Gen, Heisley, Eileen and others as they shared their experiences. At the end of the screening, the audience stayed to have a long conversation about the situation of homelessness in the Valley and some ways to reduce it. One family was particularly moved by the stories they”d seen. A women, whom we”ll call Sandy, approached Robert as the crowd was leaving mobile casino to tell him that she could identify with the people featured in the film because she”d experienced serious financial hardship in her own life. “Right after my daughter was born,” she confessed, “we were evicted from our home.” After spending some time in hotels, the family moved three thousand miles away to live with a family member who would take them in.
Now back in Phoenix with her family, Sandy says she enjoys a good job and the kind of middle-class lifestyle many take for granted. For Sandy and her family, though, the importance of helping others has not been forgotten. As it turns out, the laptop that made the evening”s screening possible belonged to Sandy”s daughter who had spent the first weeks of her life in the hotel room her family rented for shelter.
Now a college student, Sandy”s daughter is thriving. For her, the period of living in a hotel is probably further back than she can remember. For her parents, however, the memories are more vivid. Echoing the title of the film, Sandy was able to sum it up in a few words: “I know the road is long.”