To the editor of THE EAGLE:

My message is simple: If you want to change homelessness, change the circumstances that make people homeless. Most importantly, speak up to the people who have power.

Just like everyone else, I have been a victim of circumstance based on obstacles my parents and society created for me, along with my own obstacles, all sometimes equally hard to deal and cope with. I have been trying to create a life that we can build on, and without my family and friends and the aid of the state I would not have gotten this far. Not everyone is as lucky.

When the grant funding ended at my last job I made a decision to finish school once and for all. I now go to school almost full-time and work on Saturdays when my daughter is with her father. I attend class one night a week. I am also working on a book. I take excellent care of my daughter and have her enrolled in gymnastics. I also keep up on the millions of errands needed and all the red tape life likes to throw at me daily. I am always open to my family and friends when they need help and I like to try to be involved in the community when I have the time.

I have been on the waiting lists for housing for more than three years. When I went to check recently on the status I read I was number 126 on one of the lists "because I resided in Lanesborough." Well I don't now! On another list I was told the funding was out and I probably had another four years before I had a chance. I was guided to low-income apartments to which I applied and never heard from probably because the amount I can afford is too low. A co-worker told me that she knew someone who worked at housing and had stories of how employers helped out friends lower on the lists.

My daughter and I now reside in my mother's tiny apartment which is great because she loves us, but there are severe constraints. The good thing about living restricted is I appreciate things more and I am thrifty and don't like to waste. The bad side is that sometimes I get depressed and lose sight of what is really important and feel tired of trying so hard.

It seems very simple to me. If we made less, wasted less, if everything cost less, if we used our resources to provide only for what we needed, if everyone lived within their means and there was a real sense of community then there would be a decrease in homelessness. If we stopped being greedy and didn't live in a society based on the GNP, we actually might be better off. That is how to raise a healthy country. Think of tribes -- was anyone homeless? History provides important lessons if we take the time to learn what history has to offer.

I may be poor and I may be tired of flying everywhere, but I know that the glow to my spirit will never fade.

ASHLEY LENSKI

Pittsfield