And the Teacher Becomes the Student . . .
The Frau and I went to an organizational meeting of the Interfaith Hospitality Network at church earlier this week. We almost didn't go, but the Frau is on a related committee at church, and I went along to be supportive (and in hopes it might soften her up a bit in how she feels about the homeless.) As always seems to happen, when I most want someone else to "learn something" (I feel) they need to know, I come away with a few lessons learned myself.
This organization has existed since 1986, and is a simple, yet brilliant, approach to meeting the needs of the homeless - primarily families and children. We gained some definition over our own running conflict when we discuss the homeless. The Frau is usually visualizing the chronically homeless, as I play devil's advocate for those that I visualize - the ones helped by this network - loosely defined as people who have made bad decisions at the worst possible time. I couldn't stop thinking about the book, The Glass Castle (see my earlier blog on this great find), and the kids that get stuck in the middle of all this. The Interfaith Hospitality Network seems to address this very issue, and has been doing it successfully for over 20 years. A day facility is established, providing these people with an address and phone number while they look for more permanent housing and employment, counseling and social work help is available, assistance at saving their earnings (if they do have some kind of employement) toward a downpayment on a new apartment or house is provided, and churches in town provide one week of evening meals, lodging and breakfasts on a rotational schedule. It is volunteer intensive, but the costs are minimal. We were both sold on the program when we left, had signed up to be on the steering committee to begin the process of implementing the program in our city, and I suspect some hefty fodder for blogging to come up as the project (and our involvement) evolves.