Wow..... What a Week!

WOW..... What a week! 

Occasionally, (too frequently), I have one of those weeks where everything seems to hit me at once. The first week of February was one of those times, I was surrounded by never ending reports, conflicts, needs, tensions, emergencies, frigid weather and a whole lot of snow! 

The purpose of this post is not to dwell on all that; instead, I'm going to turn my attention to something else that also seems to happen frequently; something I have to remember (and remind myself) when those highly stressful times seem daunting and overwhelming.....

Good things are happening in Cornerstone Community Outreach; I can testify that God continues to actively work among our people, He is loving them and not forgetting the "least of these". I can testify that miracles continually rise out of all the cloudy mayhem! 

When we become so focused on all the constant chaos, we often end up being blinded by the drama, which unfortunately results in not being able to see the endless "good" that flows throughout our lives!

So here it is: A little glimpse into the positives, (dare we say, the miraculous), that happened during the first week of February 2014....

During this brief time-period, 6 chronically homeless men, that we've been working with, successfully moved into their own permanent housing; and here are 10 significant details and statistics about these men, their episodes of homelessness and their successful transitions into their own cribs.....

  • The combined length of these men's homelessness equals just over 90 years. Yes! 90 years!
  • 4 of these men are veterans (3 served in Vietnam)
  • 1 of these veterans had been homeless for 30 years, another veteran recorded 11 years, while the other 2 veterans registered between 1 and 5 years of homelessness.
  • 2 of these veterans received subsidized housing through getting a HUD VASH (Veteran's Administration Supportive Housing) voucher.
  • 3 of these men are senior citizens; that is, they are over 62 years old
  • 4 of these men have chronic or severe disabilities. These disabilities range from having crippling pain, blindness, seizures, schizo-affective disorder, PTSD to a complete inability to read or write.
  • 1 of these men became homeless in 1974, this was just after his mother died and he was only 12 years old. When John moved into his own apartment, he had just surpassed 40 years of homelessness. (what a survivor!)
  • 3 of these men slept in our shelter, 2 varied their locations (rode the trains, shelters and other uninhabitable locations) and the final man continually "slept rough" outside (despite how bad the weather got).
  • 1 of these men receives income because he's working a full-time job, 2 of these men receive their income from the Veteran's Administration, 1 of the men receives a disability check from Social Security and the final 2 men are without income.
  • Sadly, at least 4 of these men have been victims to various forms of violence during their stints of homelessness. (I adamantly believe that unprovoked attacks of people experiencing homelessness should be classified as a "hate crime"; it happens too frequently!) 
The testimonies of these 6 men are amazing; each of them has gone through vicious "hills and valleys", over many years, to get where they are today. Each of these men has moved into subsidized housing: what this means is, those who receive money, pay 30% of their income; those who are without money, do not pay a dime; and the remainder of the rent is covered by the agency, program or administration (like the VA) that focused on their specific needs and who helped place them into their, now occupied, cribs! 
 
These 6 men were initially given this opportunity because we enrolled them in the CRS (Centralized Referral System) and spent time collaborating and networking with other agencies and workers. I go into much greater detail about how this "success" happens in an article I recently finished called: Making Housing Happen
 
The successful turnarounds of these 6 men make me say "WOW" and remind me of 3 important things....
Too often, I have missed the "good", by focusing on the "bad". 
Too often, I have missed the "positives", because the "negatives" have been too overwhelming.
Too often, I have missed this marvelous promise...
A bruised reed he will not break, 
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, 
till he has brought justice through to victory. (Matthew 12:20 NIV)
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