Chronically Homeless Success!

Their combined length of homelessness outnumbers all the days I've endured on this planet. I'm only thinking of 3 chronically homeless friends, and I'm almost 41, so calculate their reality to see the deep and disturbing truth of our modern capitalist society!

I don't write this to lament, but rather to celebrate! Homelessness should have never been their reality, but it struck all 3 of them and it never let go! Until we entered this blessed week.....

Years of sleeping under viaducts, in trains, abandoned buildings, homeless shelters, loading docks, in dumpsters, on couches of some compassionate friends and under the hazy starless Chicago sky are finally coming to an end!

Years of relentlessly trying to find somewhere to chill out during their days are also coming to an end! They'll have their own place of refuge; to relax, without a security guard or police officer invading their tranquility, by asking them to get up and move on!

Years of being surrounded by masses are also coming to an end; with the crowded drop-in centers and the never-ending lines for food, toilets and that thin mattress on the floor. The peaceful freedom of being alone and being able to choose what television station they wish to watch will now saturate their realities!

And how about the blessed reality that they'll be able to soak in a warm tub, without someone hollering that their 15 minute shower slot has now passed? Most homeless men I speak to, dream of scrubbing all the street's grit and grime off their weak and weary bodies; they dream of being able to soak endlessly in that coveted peaceful bath tub. Alone!

....and now that dream is turning into reality.....

Now, let's get real: These 3 chronically homeless men haven't lived faultless lives;
.....but I got to ask; are their battles and addictions any worse than the ones we (or the housed population) may struggle with?

Clarence, Reggie and Kenny have battled for self-sufficiency and independence for years; these men aren't lazy bums, but a few fellas struggling and hustling to overcome the obstacles that are plopped right in front of them. These are men who don't have the support network surrounding them, enabling them to rise above the things that have held them down. These 3 men are all in their fifties and have seen the "land of opportunity" become a mystifying mist. Because of bad credit, arrests, addictions and health woes, they have been pushed further and further into the miry clay that has trapped them.

Yet, on this blessed week, we are honored to watch their fortunes turn drastically, and for that, we are eternally thankful....

What makes me smile is that I've had the privilege of playing a small role in each of their stories of successful movement! I've seen the painful journeys each of these men have reluctantly traveled. I've witnessed all the blood, sweat and tears shed along the way. I've seen person after person, and agency after agency, ditch these men as they desperately seek some love and support. As each of their years of homelessness mounted, we helped get them on the all-important housing lists, I hunted them down, making sure they got what they needed when they needed it, didn't miss appointments and received those vital phone calls!

In other words, we made it imperative and vitally important that Clarence, Reggie and Kenny weren't ignored and forgotten for another 41 years! These 3 chronically homeless men remained focused in our radar...

I'm writing this today, because it's cause to celebrate; when a chronically homeless man or woman finds a home to live in permanently, a miracle happens! Even though I believe that housing should be every person's right, a dark reality remains; when someone struggles with homelessness for years, the task of finding permanent housing becomes almost insurmountable and they need the help and guidance of people who love and care for them! But today, these 3 men prove miracles are alive and well in Uptown! What these chronically homeless men received was, a bunch of love, support and guidance, and they found it right here at Cornerstone Community Outreach!

....and now they're moving into their own apartments, where they'll be able to relax in their own beds, watch their own TVs, bathe in their own tubs and choose their own food to eat!

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