Another Crazy Eclectic Successful Day!

People often ask me what an average day looks like to me, and to be honest, I always struggle to answer that question. Most days are different! Any hope for routine and structure vanishes quickly almost every day. My chaotic job requires me to always be "on my toes" and be ready to respond with the love of Jesus to whatever or whoever comes my way. Despite any lack of normalcy, I actually like the chaos, I like the variety!

Today (Wednesday) built onto an already crazy-filled eclectic week. It was nonstop busy, but great things happened and lives were touched. It was a blessing to have lived it; it was a blessing to see God working. It was also a blessing to see how networking and collaborating together with other people truly helps others successfully move forward. 

The day before, I'd ventured out to find certain people and tell them about appointments they all had. This outreach effort paid off! Even though it was raining this morning, they all came except one, who sadly landed in jail the night before. 3 out of 4 ain't bad, and then unexpectedly, the 2 brothers showed up as well! These appointments were vital, because they were with someone who helps homeless people find suitable housing. The end result was, these 2 brothers should be off the streets and into their own apartment tomorrow. Yay! 

As the "Housing Locator" was meeting with each them individually, I was assisting one of them get her ID. With her boyfriend locked up, she expressed her very real fear of sleeping outside alone, so I called another outreach worker. He had a unit available, so by the end of the day, she got her key and started living in her new crib! 

These 3 individuals, who together, had amassed well over 50 years of homelessness, were suddenly all getting housed within 24 hours! I couldn't believe it! 

As these things happen, there's always random questions and needs being asked and responded too. 2 ladies came to CCO and were trying to secure housing for families experiencing homelessness. As a result, we were able to set up vital meetings, which enabled parents to know their rights as they send their kids to school this year. This is important, as homeless kids in schools need advocates who'll make sure they're given a fair, just and unbiased education.

During lunch, I had to make sure a working freezer was taken to the Gym, where our men sleep. The old one had broken, so today, they got a new one, ensuring what needed to stay frozen, stayed frozen! 

As these things were happening, a mother and her adult son were dropped off to us. This is nothing unusual, but we occasionally get ones which take unexpected turns and call us to be creative. Today was one of those days! We quickly found out that this fella had seizures, short term memory loss and his mom had to administer his medication, resulting in knowing that there was no way he could stay at the Gym. How would he walk those 8 city blocks without getting lost? What if he had a seizure on the steep stairs? How could he administer his meds on time and the right way?

Homelessness never fits into a box!

These 2 had been homeless in Chicago for a couple months. When they were dropped off, no one who'd organized this had revealed their unique circumstances. Unfortunately, this happens too often! People don't know how or won't make the effort to respond to a tricky situation, so they pass them on with smidgens of truth. The mother told us about their sad rugged journey of homelessness in Chicago; how they'd been robbed, ignored, given fake help and false hope, and now, they'd been just passed on, to us. We didn't want to be another place that said "sorry' and pushed them into the dark again. We needed to be creative! We needed to work something out! We had an opportunity to be the light in their dark journey.

Well, we did figure something out and they ended up staying with us! Together! Since they'd been robbed, they needed to start afresh. We began by assisting them with their birth certificates, IDs and transportation. Their Chicago homeless experience started changing today, their worrisome faces transformed into smiles and words of thankfulness. They felt safe, loved and hopeful that successful movement could happen.

Throughout the day, another reason for celebration happened; 3 men got jobs! This is no mean feat in today's climate. Yet, they faced a huge problem, they're all homeless, have no income, were employed in the suburbs and 2 of them needed steel toe boots. They were stuck! They could see the opportunity, but they needed help to reach it!

Obstacles, that seem small to some, are huge when experiencing homelessness!

We had to make this happen! We couldn't squash their hope! Through networking with the Emergency Fund, all 3 men had RTA cards and 2 of them had brand-new steel toe boots within the hour. It's hard to describe the delight these man had, they thought these jobs were just fleeting illusions. They had the guts to ask for help, and we were able to deliver! They were ecstatic, they thanked us empathically for caring and ended up praising Jesus. 

On Wednesdays, I help with dinner. Tonight, as I watched over 200 people peacefully eat a good meal, I saw an eclectic group of people who have been united by poverty and homelessness. It wasn't tense, it was chaotic, it gave me hope....

I watched the mother and her adult son being helped by people who are often rejected and feared; they smile, they eat and know they're safe. I felt at peace too!

I watched the brothers gobble down their food next to their friends; they leave the cafeteria with giant grins on their faces, we joke and they promise me they'll make to their appointment tomorrow, knowing keys are almost in their hands.

I watched the 2 guys, with their new steel toe boots, laughing and joking in line, knowing they got to grab this opportunity; they leave the facility, they both shake my hands, thanking me again for helping make what seemed impossible, possible.

I watched as single women got their trays, sat at tables and enjoyed their steak; as I sat there, I received a text from the outreach worker ensuring me that the lady I'd referred to him in the morning was now placed and safe in her own apartment. This made me smile, I felt peace and I texted him back a big thank you.

I watched as kids played and ate with giant smiles on their faces, making their parents relax and know that love and compassion still shines, even when you find yourself in a situation you never dreamed of being in; as these families left the cafeteria, they still had hope and they were thankful for the roof and food we'd been able to provide.

As I sat there, I was reminded once again of how we bring the compassionate Love of Jesus, His peace and His hope into the lives of so many.

There's no denying, lives were touched today, they're touched every day, and that's why I like to rename the street once known as "blood alley", to the more realistic "Hope Alley". 
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