Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Where you are isn't where you're going"

We held an Open House in our Community Room last night. The room was full of resident families, board members, volunteers and staff. We were all chatting and enjoying the atmosphere when one of the residents told his story in a way that reminded each of us why we do this – work for a nonprofit and commit to this mission.

He was a meteorologist for 20 years, when he got an opportunity to go to an internet weather site for $10,000 a year more. He was making $95,000 a year.

You can guess what comes next.

The internet company went bust and shut down.

He tried to get back on as a meteorologist, but no surprise in this economy, he couldn’t find anything.

In the midst of looking for a job, he had some major things happen in his personal life. The worst of which was his wife walked away and left him to raise his beautiful twin boys by himself.

The spiral into homelessness ended when he and the boys were at a homeless shelter that pointed him to our program.

He expressed his gratitude with dignity for the support he and the boys found while he rebuilds their lives together. It has given him the platform to go back to school to become a surgical technician. He will start his final semester next month.

There are lots of ways that his story inspires - the perseverance, the self-determination - but, the most personal for me was in the way he accepted help when he needed it. He will forever be the model for me of accepting a "hand up" with grace, while neither expecting nor depending on it.

I’ll share more of the research from the Institute for Children, Poverty & Homelessness next month, but wanted give you the same gift of inspiration that we all received last night.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season filled with hope and joy.