We Just Can't Do It On Our Own!

We all need each other! 
We all need one another! 
We just can't do it on our own! 

The longer I work with people experiencing homelessness, the more I realize this truth! It's complex! It takes a community effort! It takes various people, with a variety of skills, networking and collaborating together! One person, one agency, one church or one ministry cannot conquer the daunting reality of homelessness on their own; we all need one another! 

Over the years, I've seen many of the countless needs, differences and hurdles people experiencing homelessness face, making it virtually impossible for them to "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps." I've also witnessed how successfully going from "homeless-to-housed" often only sees results when people, agencies and ministries unite together with a common mission. I've also been part of watching all the various parts come together, just like a complex jigsaw puzzle, with the end result being the wonderful celebration of someone getting those coveted keys to a new home! It's one of my favorite things to witness! 

Every person or family I've celebrated with, their housing has come about through active networking and collaborating. Every person or agency involved offers their own unique gifts and talents to the common goal. Whether it's through turning plastic bags into sleeping mats (NLOB), reaching out and advocating for someone, protesting unjust policies and laws, providing money to get someone their much needed birth certificate (Emergency Fund), or providing a bed and meals to those in need, we all need one another to see the successful movement we all hope and pray for! 

Back in late 1996, I first came to Chicago, and bumped into Tyrus! He was homeless and was sleeping in the entrance-way of the building I was living in. It was freezing, and all that cold hallway did, was shield him from the wind and sleet and add a couple degrees onto a frigidly cold night. That night, I spoke to Tyrus in that lonely entrance-way for well over an hour!

I didn't know I'd still know Tyrus almost 20 years later. I'm happy to say that he's been successfully housed for a few years now and I was honored to be able to play a role in making that happen! 

When I reflect on his story, I not only see someone who's moved from being chronically homeless to now being housed, I also see a man who's overcome his addiction of crack cocaine, made major inroads into his struggle with alcohol, is now physically a lot healthier and he continues to go from "faith to faith" in his relationship with Jesus. These steps forward haven't been easy for Tyrus, but they came about through him doing what he needed to do, along with many people collaborating and networking together for his sake!

I've had the privilege of watching his journey and see God moving in his life. I've also had the honor of traveling along some roads with him. I also know he wouldn't be relaxing in his own crib tonight, without all these various people helping him along the way. 

Throughout his journey, Tyrus needed people to network and collaborate together with him. In different ways, we helped him by counselling him, get his benefits and IDs, struggle through some life-threatening medical needs and in many other ways. All this helped him meet all the requirements it takes to get an appropriate and affordable place. When Tyrus was finally accepted into a housing program that suited him and his individual needs, he still needed people to drive him to look at places, to help him get furniture and other household items, and to finally assist him to move into his own subsidized apartment. And there, he remains until today!

His journey with others didn't stop there: It continues! Because Tyrus still needs people, collaborating and networking together for him. He still has people making sure he keeps his focus and stays on track, pays his rent on time, advocates for him to his landlord, has enough food, meets his vast medical needs and budgets enough for transportation and other vital needs.

Some people may read this and view Tyrus as a leech. They may think that he has wasted too much of our time, money and resources, but the truth is, we're all like Tyrus and need other people to help us move forward. That's life, we all need and have had people network and collaborate for us for our sake. I know I have! 

A few years ago, I may have reached out to Tyrus, made the call to the right outreach worker, and from there, his slow merandering journey started moving a lot quicker. But, just like Tyrus, I wouldn't be where I am today without people lifting me up and helping me move forward. Family, friends, strangers, clergy, churches, ministries and organizations have rallied together for my sake, making what seemed impossible, become possible! I didn't deserve their prayers, advice, money, hugs or help, but they willingly gave it, making doors that were once closed, to open! 

And for all the people who have collaborated and networked together for me, I am eternally grateful!

We all need each other! 
We all need one another! 
We just can't do it on our own! 

In closing: please click the following link and have a listen: Homes For Heroes 
For a couple years now, I have been connecting with a fantastic ministry on Chicago's West Side called Mission USA (The Bridge). They have demonstrated their love for the "least of these" and the power of collaborating and networking together, by putting together an album called "Homes for Heroes" with Glenn Kaiser, where all the proceeds go towards helping people experiencing homelessness (thru CCO).  
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