“It’s gotten so bad and I don’t understand how I am in this place. I’m scared, but there is a harsh voice in my head telling me I have to figure this out on my own. I’m coming to terms with not knowing how. This is not what I thought my life would become.”
Samuel is fortunate to have a car, although finding money for gas is a constant worry for him. He has a sign and panhandles in different areas of the city. “You really have to think of the best corners, but they are often taken. It’s degrading how many cars drive by and not one person even looks you in the eye. I can be invisible, unwanted, for days.”
Not so long ago, Samuel had housing and a job. His mental illness was managed by medication and support, and he was stable. He was able to form friendships with his neighbors and was cheerful to encounter as his busy day-to-day life kept him engaged and moving forward with his goals.
“That was the best time of my adult life. I felt in control and like I was a good friend. I liked helping people, giving back. I was always thinking about how I could help others by offering them a hand. I know how hard it can be. You just need a break here and there from someone who cares.”
Samuel now sleeps in his car in a different neighborhood every day or two.
“People get worried, I think, seeing this big guy sleeping in a car outside their house. I try to make myself numb to it, but everyone just wants me gone and out of sight.”
His hair is matted, and he is wondering where he can get a shower.
“This is not who I am.”
Imagine feeling loneliness so profound that it creates cravings for belonging and connection, much like hunger. The impacts of social isolation and loneliness can be devastating. Imagine again that you are in need of greater support and are adrift in a system in which you are marginalized. Consider what brings an individual to this place in their life: trauma, neglect, brain injury, the disease of addiction/substance use disorder, chronic homelessness, and the complete lack of a support structure, among other reasons.
This is a life with little to no choice, only day-to-day struggle, and survival. Individuals must try incredibly hard to fight for stability, often with few resources or options.
Imagine that ache to belong, to be accepted as is, to be valued, to have a place at the table. To have a bathroom of your own. A safe, comfortable space that is healing. Simply to know when your next meal will be and where you will lay your head tonight. The opportunity to make friends who become family and access joy. The time to create a life and meaning and purpose.
We see a tremendous need in our community. Together we can address this need, lift up those who are struggling, and create a community where individuals grow and thrive.
We are uniquely equipped to not only offer shelter, but also offer the support required to stabilize, encourage, and elevate the most vulnerable in our community. Unconditional positive regard for those we serve envelops them in opportunities to heal and experience real peace and hope.
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