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Posted February 7, 2017

By Mary Rychlik, LMSW, Continuum of Care Manager

On January 26th, I participated in a Point-In-Time (PIT) Count. Working in administration, planning, and policy means I work mostly with service providers and community leaders but not often with people living in homeless situations. The Count reconnected me to that part of my work that touches my heart, energizing my passion to end homelessness.

 

Every person’s story is unique, and even after being in the field for many years, I learn something from each of them that gives me an “ah-ha” moment and an even more nuanced perspective on the world. I’m awe-struck at how many people are facing significant challenges. In addition to having no place to stay; health conditions, personal safety, limited employment opportunities, and the search for basic needs day in and day out could overwhelm even the strongest person. Seeing the resilience and resourcefulness of people is encouraging, but I’m driven to ask, “How can we go further to address housing, education, employment, health, and other arenas that systemically contribute to homelessness?” That’s where my daily work focuses.

Whether people are long-time members of a community, on a temporary step in their journeys, or somewhere in-between, they enter our lives. We give (compassion, support, housing, goods, services…) and we receive (compassion, support, trust, vulnerability, gratitude…). We rely on heart-to-heart connections to assure each other, “You’re not alone,” and “I care about you.” 

I don’t know if I’d be strong enough to survive the hardships of homelessness, but I do know that I can work every day to help knit a caring community around our most vulnerable members.

The numbers identified in the PIT Count tell one story. Personal accounts and heartfelt connections tell another. I will tell both.