Both, And.

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

Both, And.

Never, ever will I say “I’ve seen everything.”

It’s been 11 days since my last post and about 50 weeks since losing my sense of smell. No new smells for me.

Phoenix Autumn brings “shorter days,” with the evening hours feeling chilly without the heat of the sun radiating from the surrounding asphalt and concrete. Grey disaster relief blankets cover people, their belongings, make-shift shelters. As the unsheltered counted by the Human Services Campus Outreach Team hovers at 900-ish individuals, the number of fires and creative heating structures increases. And unfortunately two significant fires in the last 24 hours destroyed several tents and possessions, stripping the last remaining bits from people without homes. Very fortunately, no people were injured in the fires. Phoenix Fire Department provided information on Urban Fire Safety, and we will quickly educate staff and clients on how to proceed with caution and awareness. And we begin conversations about possibly seeking donations of fire extinguishers. Seriously. Stay tuned.

Never, ever will I say “I’ve seen everything.”

As through COVID, we adapt, learn, adjust, carry on. The surprise of a new circumstance absorbs our collective attention until we can address, solve, and move on. The flow of people into homelessness continues. The distraction of something new to deal with cannot take us away for too long, because the next individuals are waiting for assistance.

Last week hundreds, literally hundreds, of volunteers from Home Depot landed at the HSC and worked on a list of projects that will improve spaces for clients and staff alike. They were the most organized group, arriving on large busses, and bringing their own mobile toilet trailer, first aid tent, break areas with snacks. They had a DJ playing music outdoors that created a festive backdrop to the noise of hammers, digging, constructing, painting, voices, and goats. Yes, a lot of the work was done in and near St. Vincent de Paul’s Urban Farm. The Farm has a gaggle of goats. They may have moved on by now, however two goats are pregnant. They are sticking around awhile to bring their kids into the world at the Farm.

Never, ever will I say “I’ve seen everything.”

In the last 11 days, we have finished our Fiscal Year 2022 Annual Report! It will be posted online soon, ideally as I write this. And some 400+ printed copies will be mailed to stakeholders and major donors. Preparing things like this are what I call “forced reflection,” a time to review what occurred, to literally report out to the community, and to capture the successes. It is way too easy in this work to focus on the never-ending demand, the sadness and trauma, while forgetting to see and recognize the ongoing accomplishment. Accomplishment at the individual, organizational, and collective levels. If we weren’t having success, the unsheltered number would be many times higher than what it is today.

And, in the last 11 days, HSC posted two brand new positions that will allow us to aim even higher on strategic accomplishments. One is an Assistant Operations Director; as our service hours expand, the number of clients increases, and the renovations of our spaces is about to start, this position will be invaluable. The second position is an Associate Executive Director, which selfishly I am over the moon about, as it will allow me personally to stretch the imagination of our organization to turn a vision for systems change and achieving functional zero into real, actionable steps. Our organization can’t do it all, and we can most definitely do more. (anyone interested in applying, please see https://hsc-az.org/careers/)

Both, and.

Both putting out the fires, and preventing fires.

Both flexing, and holding steady.

Both recognizing what’s already happened, and planning for tomorrow.

Both maintaining, and growing.

Both assisting individuals, and addressing root causes in systems.

Both, and.

About the Human Services Campus

Founded in 2005, the Human Services Campus is a collaborative force of partner organizations united on one campus to end homelessness. Located just west of downtown Phoenix, 16 independent agencies on the Campus see nearly 1,000 individuals every day, offering a holistic range of client services including: reunification with family and friends; mental, physical and dental health; shelter; employment; meals; legal services and housing. Having all of these resources in one location with intra-agency communications makes it more feasible to provide a customized engagement for each client to help end their homelessness. For more information, visit www.hsc-az.org.

Planned Giving

Share This