Why Do We Work to End Homelessness? The following is a letter from Christine Marge, Director of Home For Good, please read and share this story and join the movement by walking in support of Home For Good's work to end chronic and veteran homelessness by signing up for HomeWalk on November 15th at www.homewalkla.org:
This morning I was writing and reflecting on my week - what we had accomplished, where I had fallen short, and what had touched me along the way. I had a powerful reminder this week of why I do this work and why I love my job, and I wanted to share that story with you.
Each Friday, we'll share a story - yours and ours - with the hope of connecting the threads of what knits us together as a community and as a movement. What's your "why?" What inspires you to keep doing this work every day? Share your stories with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
I met Mark as I was walking home from work this week. He approached me with tears in his eyes, saying he felt like "a big baby" - at least 6 feet tall, strong, in his late 40s or 50s. He was released from prison the day before, and while sleeping on Skid Row that night, he was kicked in the jaw and robbed of the few belongings he had left, and woke up to the feeling of his arm pulled in one direction as they took his backpack and his leg in another as they took the shoes off his feet.
He started crying harder as he said, "my mom died while I was in. I just want my mom..."
I listened, tears in my eyes, as he shared more. At the end of our conversation, I walked away in awe of the beauty of this man willing to set aside his pride in favor of connection. It's hard to express without sounding trite or cliche what a profound gift that was to me.
I feel the urgency around ending homelessness every day, which is the "what" of my job, but moments like these remind me that the transformative power of human connection is at the heart of why I do it.
My purpose is sharing this story is to communicate the heart of why I do this work, but a few of you also asked what happened to Mark. Here's what I've shared:
He felt ok about finding somewhere safe to sleep that night, so I asked him to call me the next morning if he still wanted/needed connection to a more permanent place to live. He didn't call. And I was at peace with that, knowing that wherever he is, he knows that someone in the world cared enough to listen and that the line is open if he wants/needs it.
I want to give a HUGE shout out to Danielle Wildkress from CSH who focuses on reentry work and responded immediately to my question of where Mark could go for help. She linked me to Doug Bond and Alan Richards at Amity Foundation who were willing to connect with Mark right away and support him. Peggy Edwards of UHHP and LARRP also reached out to let me know of great resources for Mark.
So there's a network here for Mark. That's what I love about this job. Each of you, wanting to do everything you can to be that network of hope and love!