A year ago, I began serving on a team of people from three different faith communities helping a formerly homeless man named Bill, as he transitioned into housing. The picture on the left was taken at our final dinner of the year. (Two other members were not able to attend.) HOPE to HOME is a new program here in Asheville which is based on a more national model and I served on one of the first two pilot teams here. The program has grown to the point where there are now ten teams with the hope it will grow even larger.
One of the main reasons folks become homeless is because they lack a support system. If I lost my disability benefits and my husband died, I would definitely be in trouble. However, I have family and friends who would help me so I wouldn’t have to live on the street. Many homeless folks do not have this type of support. Homeward Bound, an agency here in Asheville, works to help people get into permanent housing. The HOPE to HOME program supports their work by expanding on what they already do.
When I first got involved in the program, I wasn’t sure how much help I’d be. My spatial orientation issues made taking Bill places difficult for me unless he is able to direct me. I’m not much of a cook and my dog is pretty exuberant (I’m working on teaching him not to jump all over people when they come over) so inviting him over for dinner wasn’t an option. I had hoped he would be able to work in the garden with me at GCPC since he is a gardener but his health difficulties prevented this. Due to these challenges, I was not able to support him as much as I’d hoped.
Yes, I did help Bill this year and it gave me a human face to put on poverty. During our last dinner, the director of the program led us in a debriefing exercise. We each were asked to select one questions from a hat. Some of these questions were: What did you learn that you didn’t know before? Has your view on homelessness changed? What did HOPE to HOME teach you about yourself? What’s the greatest accomplishment of the past year?
I grew from this experience as I think we all did in different ways. Although every member of the group was not a Christian, the Christian image of the body of Christ comes to mind. I didn’t take Bill to many of his appointments and I didn’t help mend his clothes. Yet I was part of the body. I offered my caring and sensitive attitude and this was enough.
Prior to my brain injury, perhaps I would have been able to keep track of all Bill’s doctor’s appointments or take him where he needed to go without having to use a GPS. (Well, maybe not. I’ve never had a good sense of direction) Yet I was part of a team where each person had different gifts. We all worked together like the body of Christ. This is something I am still trying to learn. I can’t do everything. In fact I may be able to do only a little part now but every part is important in the body of Christ. Even if it’s just the big toe.