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Our Separate Realities

Stop PretendingThe light turns red. On the driver’s side of my car there is a man holding a sign; he is outside in the cold. The sign says “homeless, anything helps, God bless.” I feel uncomfortable; I want to lock my doors. Not because I think this man will hurt me in anyway, but rather because I want to separate myself from his reality; to not have ours mesh.

"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" If I separate myself from this man; then maybe he does not exist to me. He becomes the images I see in the media, just a thought and a discussion. Powerful as they maybe, they are not part of my reality.

As a social work intern at Daily Work, exposure to the hardships others face is unavoidable and necessary. As I walked into the Union Gospel Mission as part of my internship with Daily Work, I really did not know what to expect. The Union Gospel Mission (the Mission) is a ministry dedicated to serving those who are homeless, poor and/or battling addiction. While it is Christian-based, it welcomes people of any religious affiliation.

This was my first time in a homeless shelter. We initially met with one of the program’s social workers who told us about the organization’s mission and answered some questions. He then took us on a tour of the men’s campus, located on University Avenue. Leading us through the building, we saw first-hand what the Mission does and who they serve. We saw where the men, who come to the Mission for help, sleep, eat, get clothing, and congregate. We were shown the free medical and dental clinic that is available to not only the men, but to anyone in the community who can’t afford these services elsewhere. We spoke to clients who are now serving as leaders in their treatment program and they shared their stories and praise for the role the Mission plays in their lives.

This experience left me questioning myself. Why am I so uncomfortable with homelessness? How much do I want to or can I give of myself to this very real and growing issue? I know now that I don’t want to separate myself anymore; I want to further educate myself. I want to find out how I can make a change, be a force, and make an impact. Visiting the Union Gospel Mission motivated me to take action.

If you’re seeking ways to make an impact and/or learn about homelessness or other challenges faced by many people in our community, visiting Daily Work might be educational and inspirational for you. We work one-to- one with job seekers to hear their stories and learn about their goals, hopes, skills, past experiences, and challenges. We identify the things interfering with their success. Homelessness is just one such challenge for some of our job seekers. By walking with each job seeker, we get to experience a reality different from our own. We gain understanding about how many things most of us take for granted, such as a good night’s rest in a bed of our own, an alarm clock that wakes us up, and a place to get clean and prepare for the day, are all critical components to being successful in the workforce.

Consider how your skills, experience, knowledge or compassionate heart could benefit a job seeker at Daily Work. I challenge you to go past just thinking about making a difference…and act on it! Call (651)204-3043 to make an appointment to visit us at Daily Work and explore how you can make an impact in someone’s life.

TerriBy Terri Race, former Case Management Intern

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