Capable of Learning

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

Capable of Learning

Connecting with and understanding unsheltered homelessness.

It’s been seven days since my last post and 19 weeks since losing my sense of smell.

As far as COVID goes, we are closely monitoring CDC guidance alongside County Public Health to make the decision to stop requiring masks indoors. With a super vulnerable population of adults, many with chronic health conditions, poor nutrition, and toxic stress, we have been cautious in unnecessary exposure to the virus. Tracking the rates of respiratory illness going forward may be a way for us to request face coverings in the future to prevent the spread of viruses and contagious diseases. Just one thing we can learn from the last two years.

We have turned drinking water fountains back on! yay! With a cleaning and some pipe repairs, they are safely back in action.

As more in-person meetings and events take place, I am increasingly faced with having to shake hands. For those who have been following along you know that I did not miss the end of the handshake through the pandemic. As my hands are affected by a slow progression of arthritis, I really don’t enjoy a crush of bones. Living with an autoimmune disease motivates me to avoid germs, such as those passed hand to hand. And as I looked into the history of the handshake, I realized I always detested women being told to be like men by having a strong handshake. Really? My competency, self-confidence and ability to do a job is tied to the strength of my handshake? The handshake started as a way to check the person you were meeting didn’t have a weapon up their sleeve. I find myself filling my hands with things to avoid the handshake now. My phone, and a pen. My coffee cup, and a piece of paper. My fist bump has been hugged by a hand. My fist bump has been ignored, and it has been met with another fist. My fist bump has been thwarted by an elbow bump. Elbow bumps I don’t mind. Side hugs or quick full-on hugs with people I know, I prefer. Hugs are healthy, calming, stress reducers. Another thing we can learn from the last two years.

Something I learned in the last two weeks, the Operations Director who manages construction projects and oversees general contractors has a difficult job! Someone named Amy (yea, me), approved vacation for the guy overseeing the Sprung Structure. He fully deserved it, needed it, and I really did support him. AND, dang, it’s a lot of work to ensure processes to pass inspections are done, that corrective actions are completed, and that things are completed on time. His return to work this week was one of the highlights. Walking in another person’s shoes really is educational and increased my appreciation.

In the last few days, I learned more about the unsheltered in our neighborhood. Human Services Campus staff organized an early morning point-in-time survey to learn more about the 1,000+ people who are experiencing homelessness and cannot find an available shelter bed. More than 30 people volunteered at 4 am to gather and organize, and then take to the streets until a little after 7 am. Talking one-on-one with people, watching one of our Outreach staff in action, listening to the personal journeys, the challenges, hearing some gratitude… all the emotions in my heart and head. One of our Board members participated, too. He shared afterwards that he thought every Legislator should spend time doing this type of activity to really connect with and understand unsheltered homelessness. I agree.

Continuous Learning. Some things take years, while other things days or a few hours. One of the benefits of this human experience, we are capable of learning.

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

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