Finding Hope in the Daily Battle.

People may think that working with hundreds of people experiencing homelessness every day is depressing: well, it isn’t! 

Don't get me wrong; the big picture is extremely depressing. The fact there’s so many people experiencing homelessness in Chicago is depressing. The fact that there’s so much bullying, vilification, and criminalization of those who are homeless is depressing. The fact that there’s not enough affordable or subsidized housing is depressing. When we look at the big picture and everything homelessness encompasses, the outlook is morally wrong, downright criminal and absolutely depressing. But when we look at and work during the day-to-day, that's where my spirit is lifted and hope is found!


When I am greeted at work every day by our security who were all once homeless and unemployed, and now they are housed and have jobs! At CCO, many of our staff were formerly homeless and unemployed and now they’re integral parts of our team. This reality gives me hope!

Every day I am surrounded by those who are homeless, yet the faith, strength, and resilience I am privileged to witness continue to amaze and inspire me. With all odds stacked against them, it’s staggering how they refuse to give up, keep on trying and remain joyful even when their lives are so difficult. There’s one guy I speak too, always responds with these words when I ask him how he’s doing, and he’s not faking it; “I’m always good Jeremy, you know that! I never have a bad day!” This reality gives me hope! 

Despite living in a darkened world, it’s good to see the rays of light shine and how they reveal themselves daily. Every day it’s different, every day I’m hit with the reality of hope....
  • Yesterday, two young men got jobs and I was able to help them with transportation until they get paid. I was also able help a young mother get an important document so she and her kids will hopefully successfully move next week! 
  • The day before, three older guys found out they qualified and were accepted into the subsidized housing we’d helped them enroll in; they should all successfully move within the week. 
  • The day before that, a chronically homeless friend who I assisted get housed earlier this year used my phone to finally reunite with his sister and his extended family. It had been years and it was a beautiful reunion!
  • And the day before that, I was able to help a chronically homeless fella, who had been sadly displaced by the evictions of Uptown Tent City, get off the streets and move into a Bridge unit! He’d spent over 7 years on the streets of Uptown, he'd suffered frostbite and other traumatic realities, but now he's got a place!
  • And then there's today, one elderly gentleman thanked us profusely simply because we made coffee and provided him with the opportunity to have a shower. Another guy comes in with a huge smile on his face because he just got employed and is now working the graveyard shift. I was able to help two women get the boots they need for their new jobs. And we celebrated with Ralph; after many years of homelessness, he is now housed! 
Hope is seen in our cafeteria three times a day, where the beauty of community is seen. A wide range of races and cultures meet where everyone is fed healthy meals. It’s a place where a lot of encouragement happens. 

Every day, just by walking a few blocks around Uptown, I see stories of hope constantly surrounding me! They may seem insignificant to some, but to those involved, they’re miraculous. I love walking down the street and knowing Thomas has stayed out of the Joint for years now, Marquita got her birth certificate, William is making strides in drinking less and after years of homelessness Peter is now housed and a lot healthier. Every person has their own tales and when I walk past them, their stories reveal so much hope in this distressing world!

And for those of us who believe in Jesus, we can look and find hope in the bigger picture too! He is the One who flips the script, gives strength to the weak and, in Him, the “first shall be last and the last, first”! When everything seems bleak, Jesus gives us eternal hope through his death and resurrection, he reverses the power structures of this world and makes everything right! This reality gives us hope! 

My encouragement is, when the daily battle seems too hard, let’s keep hope alive!


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