In the early days of Micah, there was a young man who continuously stayed at the cold weather shelter year after year. He was quiet, didn’t associate with many people and admirably got up at 5am to drive to Labor Finders for a work ticket. Yet, he couldn’t seem to resolve his own homelessness.
When the churches started housing people through Micah, his recurrent time in the shelter made him high priority.
What we learned, as we often do in moving someone from the streets to housing, is that the layers of struggle that lead a person into homelessness are deep and complex.
The first apartment failed for any number of reasons. It took a second for us to understand that living with other people was going to continue being a problem for him. And the third arrangement had its own share of turmoil, but at least it lasted.
Years later, after hundreds more have been housed and chronic homelessness has declined, the peaks and valleys we walked with this man are merely battle wounds that have informed the many other stories we have been a part of. It’s hard many times, in the midst of those stories to wonder whether we are making a difference or just spinning our wheels.
Then, hidden in the envelopes started coming back from the Love Your Neighbor mailing this year was a $14 gift from this man. He took the Love Your Neighbor challenge with a full week of $2 a day giving. Several weeks later, he also showed up at a volunteer orientation looking for a way to give back.