I want to remember today. I am bad about writing things down. I didn't used to be but somewhere over the last few years I have struggled to record my thoughts, emotions, prayers, and stories. Today though I want to remember. I started working with the homeless population 7 years ago when we moved to Atlanta. I had no idea then the kind of passion that God was placing in me for serving people who are homeless. Today began with Jay having some weird eye thing and I didn't go to work until Caleb could come home at 1:00. I had no motivation for being at work and especially, for doing intake today. I considered calling off because of my bad-ittude but I didn't. I got to my office and I grabbed my first client for intake. We do intake at my office on a first come, first serve basis. I just grabbed the first client in order not knowing what they were coming in for. When the young women sat down in my chair, my heart immediately felt broken for her. She looked 15. She was hurting. She was scared. She was alone. She had come for help getting her birth certificate. My office is the only place in the City of Atlanta that you can go for help getting a birth certificate if you don't have a picture ID already. As she started telling me her story, she shared that she had been locked out of her house during the second semester of her Senior year of high-school. She had no where to go. She is currently living behind a Texaco gas station. I could feel God moving in me to care for this young woman. I was determined to find some resource for her to get her off the streets tonight. She sat with tears streaming down her cheeks as I spoke with a partner agency. The shelter I was speaking with (a place specifically for homeless youth) had a waiting list with 118 people on it. If begging is a spiritual gift, I think I have that one. By the time we were off the phone, my new friend had a place to go. I went with her to get her checked in. She is now sleeping in a bed for the first time in 8 months. I am so grateful for shelters that care for people when there is no place to go. A shelter is not the final solution for this young lady...but it's a step...
When I got back to my office, intake was still going. I pulled the next client and it was an 18 year old male who had lost everything. He was living with an Aunt and she passed away. He was currently staying behind a library in downtown Atlanta. His high-school was holding his diploma until he could pay for some missing books. Not being able to get a copy of his diploma was preventing him from finding a job. Because of some calls I had made earlier for my other client, I had another number to call for shelter. They had space! We finished meeting and I sent him with MARTA money to meet with the agency that was going to give him a place to stay until they could find him a more sustainable situation. He smiled and said "I will actually get to sleep tonight." I got a voicemail from him at 6:15 tonight saying he had made it.
My heart feels torn on how to process today. I felt so clearly God's movement in these two situations. I felt Him piecing together what needed to happen and when it needed to happen. I am joyful to see these two young people placed in the hands of agencies who have a passion for homeless youth. I am torn because my heart is broken by our world. I am broken over two 18 year olds who don't have an address, an emergency contact, a phone, or family to care for them. I can't fix homelessness. I want to commit to working hard though on a daily basis for the people that sit at my desk. I never want to stop answering God's voice when He is so clearly directing me to do more that my job calls me to do. I feel like I have become lax in the care I provide. I have filled out the same paperwork, processed the same requests, and called landlords hundreds of times at this point. I could do most of my job without even thinking. I realized today though, that's not care. That's not the love and passion that God placed in my heart for this work.
I only have two more weeks of work left at the Georgia Law Center before I move on to another non-profit agency that is serving the homeless. I feel renewed excitement and energy that this is my vocation. This is my calling. I will be managing 7 transitional homes. Each home has a family in it that is transitioning out of homelessness. The families will be in the home for up to two years and I get to be a part of their journey. I get to walk with them as they transition out of homelessness. I am looking forward to this new opportunity. I want to go into this new thing with the same passion and energy that I had when I started my life in Atlanta. I want to remember today because it's a reminder that God is present in the little things. He is present in working out the details. Things might not get worked out every time but it doesn't mean He is any less there. Today was also a reminder that I need to be present with people. I need to hear each person's story, each person's struggle. I do not want to be lax in my care for people.
I pray for my new friends tonight. Please join me in prayers for those who don't have a place to sleep tonight, a family to call, a place to go home to.