Harrisburg, PA

Opinion - Homeless and Murdered in Harrisburg

Michele Orsinger

There are so many misconceptions about the homeless population - what causes it. There could be any number of reasons a person could find themselves living in a tent under a bridge. In this economy, it could be any one of us at any moment. Does that mean our lives aren’t worth living, does it mean the legacy we struggled to leave should be forgotten… NO… NO it doesn’t. It means that as a community we should care a little more - we should understand and show compassion, we should see life through their eyes. What we shouldn’t see is murder. We shouldn’t have to ask WHY an elderly lady was gunned down in the streets of Harrisburg. You see, my husband and I knew this woman - other outreaches did too. This was an elderly woman who fell on hard times, we all took care of her equally. I’m still in the process of wrapping my brain around this and drying my tears… we’re only 26 hours into when she was murdered. We’re all still in shock. The first thing I thought to do was call our friend Matt Moyer. You see, Matt is all about community and awareness. He’s about making sure the community knows what’s going on. Matt connects with the people of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in a way not many people can. There’s so much going on daily that it’s hard to keep up… the murder of a homeless lady would seem irrelevant to many people. Not to us… not to the community she lived in - whether her home was a castle or a tent. After all, isn’t your home your castle… isn’t that where you should feel the safest… seriously.

Homeless and hungryMichele Orsinger

I’m going to tell you about a lady… a feisty old lady that I’ll never forget - her name was Krystal with a K… she made sure we all knew it. We couldn’t just call her Krystal. Our outreach is called Feed the Harrisburg Homeless and we first encountered her a couple months ago. Krystal was new to the area… our hearts broke the second we met her. This could be someone’s grandma and here she is under a bridge. Our first encounter with her was when we decided on a “take-out” night and delivered McDonald’s burgers, chicken sandwiches and fries to the homeless community on Mulberry Street. Normally, there’s a meal - that day, I fell asleep with food in my oven. So, fast food it was - and she was so excited about it. Everyone there was happy about it, but she stood out the most because it was the first time we ever saw her there. Twice a week (sometimes more) we would just pop in with different things. There was just something about her… she loved life so much and shared it. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pull up at a McDonald’s again without thinking about her.

I’m not sure what she was wearing when she was gunned down last night, but I can assure you that she was wearing layers of clothes to keep her warm. We’re hoping she had on one of the peacoats we gave her - they were her absolute favorite. This is so hard to write… but, it needs to be written… no matter what. She deserves to be remembered and there will be a memorial set up to make sure that she is. Hindsight is 20/20 and we would give anything to turn back the clock. Unfortunately, that’s not an option. May God rest her soul…

Right now, I want each of you to look in the mirror and picture yourself at 70 years old… how would you want to be treated… would you like who you are right now… would you deserve to be shot in cold blood on a winter night… seriously. This isn’t a fate that should be bestowed on anyone - especially an elderly woman. Humanity and compassion still exist if we would each look deep enough inside ourselves. Respect for life… love for our fellow human… tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any one of us. We all deserve a tomorrow. Krystal deserved to wake up today just like each of us. She won’t get that chance though. It’s a shame. Every single tomorrow was stolen from her because of a bullet… that trigger… that bang switch.

The next time any of you encounter a homeless person, I want you to think of this woman that we befriended… her family who has no answers. I also want you to ask yourself if it’s worth it to pull that trigger for no reason… because it’s not. Death is permanent…

Rest in peace, Krystal with a K… and thank you for the impact you made on my life.

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My mission is to provide the world with inspirational, educational, and real life stories. Almost everything created is done so in an editorial way. It's important to me that readers can find articles to read while feeling like they're part of the story.

Mechanicsburg, PA

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