Saturday, February 1, 2014

It Takes a Community...

Hello all! I hope you all survived your respective weeks with finesse and grace.

In contrast, I spent much of my week pretty much doing this:

Before I jump in to why I might as well have been IV injecting caffeine, I should probably announce the results of the latest contest.

Thank you everyone who voted for "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" to win a People's Choice Award. Sadly, I did not win, but I was the runner up with 93 votes because my readers are rad! Our t-shirt winner was Lauren Schmitt-Boyd! Wear your platypus with pride, Lauren!

 I also, finally, have the results from the November and December book drive to benefit the YWCA! Thank you to everyone who bought a copy of "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus", you raised around $100 that will go to help support women and men who suffer from homelessness, domestic violence and other life-barriers! Thank you! 

I realize that on this blog I tend to stay on the lighter side of life, however, we must all admit that life is not always peaches and cream.

My day job, when I'm not driving my coworkers insane, is working with those that society has mostly forgotten. I work with those who are homeless, women and men who face domestic violence, ex-convicts, street kids, people with active warrants, veterans, drug addicts, those with untreated mental diagnosis, sometimes people who smell like excrement and people who have struggles in their lives bigger than they are.

I am a social worker.

This post is not to get on any platform or start some political argument based around who does and does not deserve help. Though, honestly, if anyone is going to have a judgmental attitude about those I serve, please keep in mind I've always wanted to try this:

I bring up my vocation because of what I was a part of this week. Every year in Spokane, or for the past three years, The Homeless Coalition has held an event called The Homeless Connect. The event is basically a one-stop-shop for social services.

Why might that be important? Ok, imagine, if you will that you are homeless and your main form of transportation is your feet. Now imagine that in one day's time you have to go set up an appointment to see if you qualify for housing, then travel six miles to see if you can get on a computer at the local labor office so you can check to see if your resume has been accepted by any companies, then you must walk another four miles to find the nearest place that is serving lunch, then you must walk another five miles to see if you can get on a list to stay in a shelter (because, after all, if you don't get your name in early, you won't get a bed)...

If you want to survive, there is no such thing as being homeless and lazy.

The average homeless person will walk upwards of ten to fifteen miles a day to receive basic services. The Homeless Connect, for one day a year, unites as many agencies as we can get in one location changing that ten to fifteen miles into the distance of one gymnasium.

I was on the planning committee for this event, which took months and months of tired looking social workers gathering around a table and saying things like, "Does anyone have any idea who actually said they would show up this year?"

 Well, as it turns out, over 40 agencies showed up. We had veterans services, DSHS, domestic violence services, a free medical clinic, a group that came to fix homeless peoples' bikes for free, mental health services and representatives from the school districts. We even had a group of cosmetology students come and volunteer to give free haircuts to people, some of which hadn't been able to get a haircut in years.

The event fed over 200 people and gave them a warm place to be for a day with wraparound services at their fingertips.

I spent all day on my feet, running about like I had weasels in my pants, but could not have been happier with the results. So much good was done mostly because of the community members who showed up to help.

I truly appreciate all of the social workers, agencies, volunteers and people who donated food and money to get this event off of the ground. You've probably heard that old phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child," but just as true, "It takes a community to help people out of homelessness."

That is what I want this blog post to be about, a moment to realize the difference that communities can make to the downtrodden in our society. In a time of rapidly shrinking resources in the world of social work, it is more important than ever that communities come together in meaningful ways to help the forgotten.

Probably one of the best moments of the entire whirlwind event was when a little old man wandered up to a service provider and said, "Thanks for not making me feel all alone."

My little one-line eavesdrop reminded me a of a poem written by my friend B.S. Johnson, which I have put, with her permission, below:


Sometimes I feel like I'm in this world alone,
All I seem to do is wander and roam.
Feelings from deep down inside my soul,
Surround my heart, my mind and don't let go.

Help me someone; don't let me fall too far,
Had my chance, missed my falling star.
Fear in my heart, gripping my throat,
Sinking quickly in this boat.

Thank you to everyone who takes the time to help the homeless and downtrodden in their communities feel less alone in their struggles.

As always, feel free to check out my daily adventures on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome! Thanks girl. I have always enjoyed your blog, but even more now, cause I'm in it!! :)