Friday, April 22, 2016

Fresh Start

By Holly Gardner, Intake Specialist

I’m always amazed at the many community supports intertwined with the day-to-day business we do at Community LINC and how we strive to fill the voids the best we can while we serve our families.  This winter I was privileged to meet Michelle at Giving the Basics and coordinate services so we could have onsite, personal care items for our families.  This includes shampoo, body wash, feminine necessities and many other products. While speaking with Michelle it was hard to imagine living without these items. Her enthusiasm was contagious as she spoke of the void families often experienced while homeless and how her agency was determined to fill that void by partnering with social service agencies like ours.  Yes, families have access to food pantries and there are agencies that provide clothing but it could be hit and miss when it comes to providing basic self-care needs. This could be stressful and embarrassing for people to even ask for such items.

There is a lot of work to do in a rapid re-housing program. Employment is a priority and many of the day-to-day tasks our families have on their plate require meeting new people and trying to make the best impressions they can.  We call it building relationships, building bridges back to self-sufficiency – a very important aspect of our program.  Sometimes our families struggle with self- care as it has been off their priority list as they are busy trying to survive the day-to-day.  At Community LINC we encourage our families to put some focus back on self-care and encourage them to look and feel their best on their journey. What a beautiful way to offer dignity and respect in a very tangible way by connecting a person with “the basics” again.

On the Giving the Basics brochure a striking picture of a man’s profile sitting in a chair wearing soiled clothing, you can obviously tell he makes a living with his hands. The caption says, “I can’t get a job because I’m dirty.”  Beneath that reads, “Did you know food stamps don’t cover the basics, like shampoo or laundry soap? Please donate generously-everyone deserves a fresh start.”

To better assist our families we have an area set up in our donation basement, designated just for this so parents can look over the items and pick what they would like to have. The positivity I see and feel is sometimes overwhelming and I have to wonder if a person feels better stepping out their door to take care of business with a little less worry they may just land that next job, build new relationships, secure housing for their children.  We thank our partnering agencies for helping us provide the basics, including these very simple yet profoundly life affirming dignity items. And yes it takes all these small things to make a fresh start.