Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This is a requested re-run

A couple of you reached out to me after my posting earlier this week, requesting I re-post the blog from December 2013, so it is below.

Do we ever give up on someone?
We helped someone a few weeks ago who was homeless for 40 years until he decided to come off the streets.  Over the years, many people had tried to convince him to leave the streets, and he always said "no".  Until one day 18 months ago he said "yes" and then embarked on a new phase of his life.

He served in Vietnam and saw things he said were too horrible to describe.  When he came home, he was not welcomed back by his family or his community - he felt the brunt of society's anger for the Vietnam War.  Looking back, he understands that the lack of support, coupled with undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) caused him to detach first from his family and eventually society.  He entered the world of living on the streets and stayed there for 40 years.

When he agreed 18 months ago to get help, he was diagnosed and treated for PTSD and referred to the Veterans Administration (VA) for help in entering mainstream society.  He has received services from the VA, and at the time he came to CCSC, he had an apartment he could afford and was about to start a skills-building program that will help him to find work. 

He came to us needing food.  His benefits are enough to pay for his apartment's rent, but he often runs out of food before the end of the month.  His demeanor was serious and focused.  He has been through hell and is not light in spirit, but he is quietly grateful for the turn in his life. 

I have thought a lot about him these last few weeks.  I wonder why he finally said "yes" to coming off the streets.  I wonder how many people gave up on him: his family, friends and others who encountered him.  If I had been his friend, would I have given up on him? Or would I have persevered in trying to help?

Who knows.  But my encounter with this gentleman highlights an important spiritual truth: no one's life is disposable, and there is hope in even the darkest situations.  I am grateful to him for his living witness of life's redeeming possibilities, and I'll bet he has positively impacted everyone who has worked with him these last 18 months.

Monday, September 26, 2016

We helped a veteran today

He's disabled, works part-time, and barely makes it each month. I have a soft spot for veterans. A fair number have come through our doors over the years, and it bothers me to see their struggles.

A few years ago, we helped a female veteran who was escaping an abusive husband. She took her children to a shelter and slowly began to rebuild her life. The shelter provided temporary housing and the emotional support she and her children needed to heal. CCSC provided clothing, school supplies for the children, and help in finding work. The story has a happy ending in that she found a well-paying job and was able to move into her own place.

And then there was the homeless man who I wrote about a few years ago. He was homeless for 40 years after serving in Vietnam and is now off the streets. (His story is worth re-reading, by the way. Just scroll down to December 2013 to find that blog).

The gentleman we helped today simply needed food. It is September 26 - the end of the month - and he had run out of money. He lives on about $800/month, so it's a stretch to make those dollars last all month.

How can you help? Donate food, and you'll be helping veterans as well as working families, the elderly, children, victims of domestic violence and all those in our community who live in delicate, vulnerable situations.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

I met some motivated women today

Today I dropped into the English class we offer the Martha's Way students. It's taught by one of our volunteers, John Reynolds from Westminster Methodist Church.

While it seems obvious that someone would take an English class to learn the language, I was interested in understanding the motivation behind the women taking two hours out of their day, twice a week, to come to class. And the answers distilled into two main reasons: 1) to improve their skills, therefore increasing their income, and 2) to help their children.

When asked about their dreams, these also distilled down to two main answers: 1) economic independence, and 2) to provide a better life for their children. These are the dreams of mothers. As always, I left the classroom reminded that our students and I have more similarities than differences.

This fall, CCSC is off to a great start with a record of 62 new students embarking upon this program that launches entrepreneurs. Are you interested in hiring one? Click here: