After falling so many times, it can be difficult to stand up on our own. So we may need the help of someone else to stand. I volunteer with SideWalk because we are here to help those stand up who might be struggling - even if we have done it before.
RETURNING TO HOMELESSNESS ISN’T FAILURE
An argument for apprehension we often hear from the public, while working here at SideWalk, is that people we put into homes will just end up back on the streets. While our numbers make it clear that of the over 1,200 people we helped escape the streets, 80% remain there to this day, I would still like to take a more intimate look at the frustration people have with the possibility of homelessness reoccuring.
TRANSITION IS DIFFICULT
No matter what our routine or living situation is, the longer we are in it, the more accustomed we become to it. While life on the streets isn’t ideal, it becomes normalcy for the people who find themselves there. They become accustomed to sleeping on concrete sidewalks or being untethered. They adapt because adapting is survival.
When we take individuals and change their life in such a drastic way, the transition can be challenging. Never having experienced homelessness, a person may think “how could someone prefer sleeping on the streets to sleeping in a bed surrounded by walls?”
It’s not about preference or comfort, it’s about what we become accustomed to. A person who hasn’t had to pay bills or remember to turn off a stove, may become anxious with all these new rules and regulations. It may be too quiet to sleep in an insulated room, as opposed to on a bench surrounded by city sounds.
CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCES & THOSE BEYOND CONTROL
Sometimes, a person may find themselves back on the streets, due to situations out of their control. The common misconception is that it must be a result of something they have done. But some people may end up placed in a home with relatives, and maybe their relatives decide they aren’t in a place to take on this situation. It’s possible too that someone could struggle holding a job, whether it’s due to lack of transport or physical struggles.
HEALING ISN’T LINEAR
No human is free of the intrinsic desire to heal or grow in one regard or another. And no human is unaffected by the challenges and traumas we face in life. These two truths leave us with a deep want or need to heal our wounds and grow as humans, while simultaneously functioning with scars and defense mechanisms we have developed as a result of trauma.
We want to heal, and we want to grow, but neither is linear. Life does not occur on a straight line we move easily forward on. The people we serve are on a journey of healing from the trauma of not only living on the streets, but those prior to it. This journey is never an easy one, and those who struggle with it should not be punished.
FALL SEVEN TIMES, STAND UP EIGHT
Japanese culture provides us with the wise proverb, “fall seven times, stand up eight.” In life, every day we choose to get out of bed and face the day, we are standing up. It’s not always easy, depending on the circumstances, but we do it. Because we are determined to live.
After falling so many times, it can be difficult to stand up on our own. So we may need the help of someone else to stand. SideWalk will be here to help those stand up who might be struggling. Even if we have done it before, we are going to keep trying. We won’t stop simply because, it might not work. We are going to keep putting people in homes, because we have seen it work.