Thursday, May 27, 2010

A little bit of initiative

In Atlanta, there are plenty of people in and out of shelters and on the streets. Of course, this is an ongoing problem. However, there is sometimes a situation that can make a difference for at least one person. Yesterday, there was a resource fair for homeless people in Atlanta. There was line out the door for people to receive help- which in itself is a huge deal. Homeless people who take initiative on their own are the ones who are a part of the success statistics.

Inside the building, there were several stations set up with agencies from all over the Atlanta area. The organizations offered transitional/permanent housing, mental and emotional health care, dental care, vision care, and staffing agency appointments. These were all free. All these resources are sometimes all that it takes for a person to get out of the situation they are in- if they so desire.

One of the men I dealt with was incredible. Upon first glance, my assumption would not be that he was homeless- of course I was wrong. The older gentleman had been homeless for about a month because he had lost his job, and in turn, his housing. It was unfortunate because he was a perfectly able and willing human being who had just come across a hard time. He has no drug or alcohol problems, and that was very apparent as well. He was able to secure housing, set up an appointment to receive job counseling, and he made an appointment with the dental people. Overall, I’d say he had a successful afternoon.

While everyone was packing up, he was still hanging around. I asked him how he felt about the day and he said, “You guys are lifesavers. I wouldn’t know what to do with out this being here. I am so relieved.” There was such sincerity and compassion in his voice. He seems like he will be able to get back in a comfortable situation, and aside from all the tools he had received to do so, he had a great attitude. From the beginning, he was pleasant and polite. He even brought a copy of his resume.

Now, this is a story that I do not personally come across frequently. It takes a lot of help and tangible resources for people to get out of homelessness, but it also requires a positive attitude and the desire to leave the streets and shelters. This is an instance in which ‘the system’ has proven successful, and these are always situations we want to hear about. There is nothing more gratifying than hearing someone express their appreciation.

So, in hindsight, maybe the entire system in Atlanta isn’t failing. Aside from the specific man I had the pleasure of speaking with, there were plenty of people who took full advantage of all the organizations that were there. Of course, there are still people who need help, but those who came with the goal of getting out of their situation are one step closer to achieving that. It’s truly amazing.

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