Earlier this week Wendy called me from Safeway and said that a guy that knew me was homeless and needed help. I had dealt with him for years at The Salvation Army but they wouldn’t let him stay because he didn’t have funding and he didn’t have any money. I know him pretty well, we had our ups and downs but we got along together, he posed no threat to anyone, and I liked having him around. It was the end of the day and I told the staff that when he came in, he was the kind of guy who like to help out so find some task to cover his stay. If he did work for an hour, he would be fine.
The next morning I came in and he was gone. He had cleaned for three hours (he got on a roll) and had gone to day labour early. I heard the same thing each morning. He had shown up, worked really hard cleaning, was pleasant, and had taken off to work early that morning.
Yesterday was stressful but Chris, DeeAnn and I took off to pick up Tara Funk at the airport and had a fun lunch with her. As we were back at The Lighthouse, there were all sorts of arguments breaking out. As Chris was out trying to deal with one, the guy we had been helping came in. I was happy he had come in early but in reality Chris and I were there late and I had lost track of time. As Chris was restoring order, the client and I went into my office and sat down to chat.
Chris joined us and we had this fantastic talk. The client always lives on the edge of the streets, almost always in a shelter and for the last two weeks has been homeless. So Chris and I listened, talked, and figured out a way to house him in the short term and also the long term. He did something that kind of shocked me, he sighed. You could just see the stress leave him. He had a big smile and walked out relaxed.
The weird thing is that like a lot of people we have been dealing with lately, they don’t fit the system and what I keep learning is that you have to decide to house them first and then figure it out how to do it later. There is funding, behavioral, and location issues that have to worked out but once you decide we are going to find a place to house him, it’s relatively easy. The guy that we helped tonight isn’t a bad guy, he’s actually a really good human being and has done well with the front desk staff at The Lighthouse. My life is actually better off from knowing and helping him but he will be able to fit into housing without some help and today it was very rewarding to give him that help. It was also even more rewarding that I was able to do it with some other’s help.