2023 January #1
By a Joy Junction Staff Member (JBF)
It appears that the number of homeless people in our city is growing. Do you ever wonder why?
When you see the many homeless people standing on the street medians or huddled up in a corner or making a home out of a large cardboard box, do you ever think about what could have happened in their lives to cause their situation?
It’s true that some are choosing to live on the street because of their addictions or their desire
to live a life free from restrictions and accountability. We have no way of knowing if that’s their situation by just looking at them. But, it’s possible that they may be choosing the path of life they were raised with, not understanding that there is a different option.
Could it be that they haven’t been given the incentive or motivation to try a new way of life? Or, maybe they think there is no other option for someone who has been stuck in the same addiction rut for so many years?
Do we label every homeless person as an addict?
What about the scenario where they may be running from an abusive situation and choose to “hide in plain sight” by remaining on the street where there are no name requirements, which protects them from being found? That’s a scary situation to be in. Maybe they feel that’s the best way to survive? Or, maybe they do not have the funds to pay for housing in a new location?
Another example may be coming across a family living in their vehicle because their finances just do not stretch far enough to cover their rent. Is it fair to look down on them? Will the label of “lazy” or “not trying very hard” be placed on them? They have a job and are working daily, but it’s not enough. That’s a rough place to be in. It’s difficult to determine how to pack favorite or important belongings into a small compartment like a vehicle. What is taken? What is left behind? The frustration has to be intense.
Then, there are those who have experienced the death of a spouse in their older years. The fear that fills them is overwhelming. How will they take care of themselves when their income has decreased? They may bounce from one family member to another until they feel they can no longer infringe on the family’s generosity. Many times, they feel like a burden to them. As well, most would prefer to have their own space.
There are numerous homeless scenarios, but one of the reasons some people are in our shelter is because:
They could not afford to live on their own.
We strive to make sure people know they will have a bed and three meals a day if they choose to become our guest.
Being around other people in the same circumstance (without a home) allows them to feel accepted, and not judged. It is our goal to equip our guests with life skills so they will be able to find employment and housing. We do this through our Christ in Power Program, and with the help of our case manager.
Our residents are given safety and privacy. In addition, we try to fill their minds and hearts with positive thoughts and words. Our program helps them feel able to cope mentally and emotionally with their current homeless situation. It encourages them to see that there really can be a bright future ahead of them. Hope is felt. We want them to be able to stand on their own two feet again – in time.
When our guests are ready to leave us, we hope they will have gained strength of mind and self-confidence to go out and begin a new life with a fresh start. Many will have participated in and graduated from our program. It does take time, but it’s well worth the effort.
Some people simply do not have family members to turn to when homelessness hits them. We can be their family during their temporary homeless state.
No matter the reason behind the homelessness, our intention is to offer a fresh start for anyone who enters our campus and truly wants to begin anew. The relief that appears on their faces, when they realize there really is another possible avenue for them, is such a joy to witness. We are thrilled to see the hopeful expectation appear in their eyes as the despair begins to diminish.
We are here to help!