Addressing Homelessness: The First Step
Something I heard recently completely shifted the way I had been silently observing the homeless men and women I would pass on the street.Maybe you have had this thought like I have: “If only they could get a job … that would solve so many of their
problems.” With some income, they could get some food, get cleaned up, find a home, and get back on their feet.
This quote from Shepherd’s House Ministries Women and Children’s Center Director, Jillian, woke me up to a truth I had never heard voiced before:
“The last thing these people need is a job. What they need before anything else is to be loved and accepted as they are.”
How beautiful and how true!
We have shared some of the studies that show the relationship between childhood trauma, addiction, and homelessness (ACES). But let’s try and really understand this correlation.
The Importance of Genuine Support
Imagine for a moment feelings of rejection and shame – something everyone has likely experienced. Now imagine the caring people in your life that have shown you how much you matter; those who have reminded you of your worth and given you confidence. These are the special people who have taught you how to manage powerful negative feelings – an extremely important life skill.
What would you do without these people in your life?
Shame, rejection, and feelings of unworthiness are real and they can be crippling. Anyone who has endured trauma or abuse knows how hard it is to maintain a sense of self-acceptance and love and an ability to function normally. Even those who have never experience trauma struggle with these feelings.
Sadly, not everyone is offered the tools and resources to get the support they need when they need it, often left on their own to find other ways to manage their pain. Worse yet, many with trauma in their past have experienced rejection from the very people who are supposed to care for and nurture them.
So, can they just go get a job? Not impossible – but not the answer.
The First & Most Important Step
The answer is authentic, grace-filled community. Here at Shepherd’s House Ministries we work to create an atmosphere that fosters healing environments, allowing space for these men and women to process their hurts and overcome their traumas. It is messy and beautiful – and it looks different for each individual.
Our men’s and women’s centers are both structured around this concept: First – love and grace, then tools and resources that address how to deal with negative feelings, trusting authority, and living in healthy relationship with others and with God.
We do this by actually having connection with each other, and practicing the principles of healthy relationships. Frankly, they are concepts that everyone needs to be reminded of!
We often hear our mentors and volunteers saying that they need these relationships just as much as those they are serving. The barriers of “us” and “them” are broken down and we all realize that as humans we need each other, and that grace changes everything.