Spring at JOIN

By Colleen Sinsky

I feel like spring has finally arrived in Portland! I’ve never lived somewhere with so much color exploding in blossoms and flowers everywhere you look.It’s great, and I think that the mood among our folks living outside is starting to reflect the sunnier weather. This morning after our all staff meeting my friend Emily was waiting for me upstairs with a grocery bag full of lilac, rosemary, allysums, irises that she had picked along her walk to the office.

We chatted and made a few arrangements to decorate the office with and they look great!I love these fun little surprises throughout my workday that remind me of the wholly human element of working here.

With spring comes new life, and we’ve been busy offering folks the chance at creating a new life of their own through permanent housing. One of the most touching stories I’ve been involved with lately is my fried Karen, who has been forced into a rough life of drugs, suicide attempts, sex abuse, and bouncing between various unstable, and often dangerous living situations, since the age of 13.I’m often struck that Karen is my age, yet she’s seen a side of life that I cannot begin to imagine.Karen is a friendly and talkative person who has been a constant smile and helping hand around the office since she decided to forge her way from her previous destructive lifestyle.Now, Karen is hot on the job search and working with JOIN’s Melissa to complete her GED.Yesterday she came into the office with gorgeous handmade thank you cards for Lio and I for the work we’ve done getting her into her own apartment and fixing it up with furniture from Community Warehouse.

I can’t begin to explain how touched I am when people like Karen come in a visibly brighter person, for the first time in who knows how long, actually excited about what possibilities her future holds, instead of dreading the next day.We don’t do anything besides provide the fertile ground for people like Karen and Emily to really blossom into the wonderful, independent people they can be, but it still is a beautiful thing to get to be a part of. This photo of Karen and I was taken on her move in day, of that symbolic moment of handing someone their own key. This move was especially memorable for me because my family was in town for the weekend and got to help move Karen’s furniture in and see what we get to do every day. Thanks, Mom, Dad, Matt & Emily!