Working at a homeless shelter can be stressful but it can also be a source of uplifting stories!
One part of my job is dealing with the initial homeless family housing calls. The very first call I had was a single mother. She was weeping. She told me she had gotten into a terrible car accident and wasn’t able to work for a while so she lost her job, had stacks of medical bills and fell behind on rent. Even though she had gotten another job just recently she was still being evicted from her apartment and she and her two children had nowhere to go.
After she finished explaining the situation she stopped and said, “I’m so sorry! Thank you for letting me tell my story. I’ve tried every shelter and church organization in the area and no one listens - or cares. I’m not a liar ... and I realize a lot of people do abuse the systems." This is very true, hence the stressful and frustrating part of this job. "But at least you listened before you make any judgment on me," she went on. "Most folk say, “Why can’t your family help you? You said they live in the area.” Then I have to try and explain to them why my family hates me."
My response was, “I will try to help you out in any way I can, sweetheart. Please take a deep breath and don’t give up hope."
Unfortunately at that time we had no openings for family housing, so I took her number down and told her I’d call her right back.
I personally went through the shelters and agency numbers, calling on her behalf. I explained her story whole heartedly and - success! I found an opening for a family in a shelter in her area. So she she would be able to keep her job and keep her kids at the same school!
I immediately called her back! She was so shocked that I actually called. She said, “I thought you were just being nice to me and listening. I never really expected for you to call me back.”
I gave her the good news and she started weeping again. But this time they were tears of happiness and hope.
That day changed my life. So now, when the frustration at work gets too much and I want to throw my phone out the window, I think of this story - and I remember why I am doing this.