Daily Ups and Downs

Apologies for the lack of blog posts for a while!  I’ve noticed how easy it is at JOIN to get sucked into the day to day chaos without stepping back to reflect (and blog!) about the experience.  And lately I’ve been putting energy into posting pictures and mini-stories onto our Facebook page.

I was struck today by what types of things determine whether I’m having a good or rough day at work.  In this constantly changing environment those variables can be thousands of types of events – evictions, benefits denied, benefits approved, babies born, cancer diagnosis, furniture, a trip to the pumpkin patch, a great conversation, domestic violence… the list is endless.  It’s life.  And because we are lovingly entrenched in the lives of so many of our folks we’re alongside for years’ worth of these events.

This morning I was thrilled by two things that happened to two of my folks and shocked and saddened by a third. The sad news was one of my families deeply affected by a recent homicide in Gresham.  It was one of those barely-newsworthy shootings that is all too common in the poverty stricken areas of East County.  Please join me in sending your thoughts or prayers towards the victim’s family. Fortunately there will always be wonderful, beautiful things happening in the world that remind us why we keep doing this.  Today I got the amazing news I’ve been waiting for for months that one of my families was approved by HomeForward and will be moving into a brand new low-income housing project set to open this winter.  (I’ll try to remember to pester them with a camera and do a blog post on their big move in day.)  This will be the first time they’ve had an actual ADA-accessible apartment, and enough bedrooms for both kids and their parents.  Needless to say, we are all absolutely thrilled!

Also today I visited a housed friend of mine, Mike.  “Shanghai Mike” was a street legend for 14 years, riding freight trains cross country a number of times and drinking more whiskey than you’d think was humanely possible.  He’ll occasionally tell me a story from his days on the streets that I won’t repeat here, but they absolutely blow me away.  Mike and I realized that we both have ancestors from Cork County, Ireland which is a fun connection we joke about often.  He’s been in housing for a few years and is grateful that he didn’t die out there. Mike called me today to tell me the great news that a random Good Samaritan had seen him struggling with his manual wheelchair and had given him, for free, a new electric wheelchair.  “It’s absolutely life changing!  Like night and day.  I can get on and off the bus like a pro, and going down the store now is no big deal.  It’s awesome!”