“Arriving at 85 Arch St” said Siri. Brick buildings and quite spartan businesses surround us.
A woman holding a Chucky doll greets me. She smiles; you can tell by her teeth she had poor hygiene.
I stand in front of the “Friendship Service Center” feeling a bit nervous. My perception of the homeless is product of a stereotype. Unhealthy, addictions, no clothes, filthiness are words that cross through my mind when I hear homelessness. I blame myself for such ignorance.
A woman who shows her hard work through her physical appearance introduces us, the classroom, to her diverse staff. We are given a small introduction to the office work that is done. One thing that captured my attention was when Julian, a tall man who has been working there for about a year, tell us he has about 7 clients he is working with. His boss exclaims “Julian you have been trained well, tell them the truth!” So he says “about 16 clients.” Why did he lie? Why is it bad to have more clients? That question still lingers in my mind.
We proceed into an elevator which smell reminds me of Ramen noodles. The place looks clean and it seems quiet. We are welcomed into a man’s apartment. They call him “The Mayor” he was funny and welcoming. What a place this man has, I thought, when I entered his apartment. The man has great taste in decoration. He looked comfortable in fact maybe a little too comfortable. I noticed the Mayor had no intentions of leaving that place “I ain’t going nowhere” he said.
This made me realize that some people who find themselves in homelessness and who have been lucky with governments support, will feel comfortable with the situation they have been put in. They have everything they need and feel no ambition to progress. That is an issue that all human beings have. We get comfortable and we will not take actions that may take us somewhere better because we don’t want to feel uncomfortable.
Not that I disagree with the government providing for those in need, I disagree with those who expect more and more things to be given to them.
We visited another man, he suffers of anxiety and he was kind enough to let us in his home. He gave me a reality check. This man is a Wesleyan graduate student and was a professor at a university in Florida. What is he doing here? He had a breakdown, that’s all it took for him to loose it all. We can loose it too.
I learned a lot about this trip in fact I am grateful I had the opportunity to go. I know I only saw a small part of these people’s lives and it probably is only the best that has happened to them. I can’t even imagine the situation they may have been in before the shelter. Although they are given a push you can tell their minds are haunted with stress and uncertainty of what is going to happen next. Sane or insane there is only a thin thread separating us from falling into homelessness.
Unfortunately, we know the solution to this problem but those with power who tell us what and how to perform will not allow anyone to take action, for the mere fact that it will not benefit them.