Count Your Blessings

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

Count Your Blessings

Spend time being grateful for the things we have.

It’s been more than a month since my last post.

Maybe it was the heat of July. Or it was not wanting the writing to be a must-do or a chore. It’s been awhile since I’ve written a blog post. Not that the work of ending homelessness has been slow, or that my life is boring. I started writing a couple of years ago during the pandemic to release the thoughts and stresses from mind, a very selfish action. I need to be in the appropriate mind space to write and share…. forcing it is not as effective. At the same time, people have asked about when I will write and share again. Maybe absence does make the heart grow fonder? I will do my best to pick up the pace of writing and sharing from the Front Lines here at HSC.

To bring everyone up to speed, the Human Services Campus (HSC) Street Outreach Team counted 558 unsheltered individuals in the neighborhood around us this week. This is down from almost 900 in the last week of July. The combined efforts to offer people indoor spaces and impede camping on public spaces around us has led to the decrease. The Team finds people further away from the Campus. Collectively in four spaces on the Campus 900 people spend the night indoors on beds and mats on floors.

Treading water. It feels a bit like treading water, this work of addressing homelessness. At the same time Phoenix summer did not bring much of a monsoon effect when it comes to precipitation. There has been wind and dust, humidity, and forceful rays of sun. The people living outdoors and unsheltered construct and reconstruct structures from all types of materials. The devastation is seen in the fraying edges of tarps, the mixture of fabrics, the inside-outsideness of canopies and umbrellas. On a morning after the rain, the fences are covered with clothes and blankets seeking the sun to dry them out.

We begin to envision Phoenix autumn as the hours of day light start to diminish. An order of blankets from the Federal government has been placed in anticipation of cooler nights. Planning is underway for the 19th Annual Mike McQuaid I am Home Breakfast (save December 15th on your calendars). Conversations continue with multiple partners about long term systems change, with a heavy emphasis on prevention (keeping more people housed!).

Rather than languish in the unrelenting demand for services, I spend time considering the things we have to be grateful for – the blessings that occur around the despair. As an agnostic, I am never sure about using the words “blessed” and “blessings” for myself. In a check with Merriam Webster, “blessing” is defined as a thing conducive to happiness or welfare. Fortunately the word has less of a religious connotation than I expected, so count my blessings I will:

1. Staff, our employees, are always first on my mind when I think about what I am grateful for; they are truly on the front lines day in and day out. There are 120+ of these blessings at HSC.

2. Followed closely by the people we serve, the “clients.” They bless me, say thank you, and remind me every day that survival, resilience, resourcefulness, and more are possible through virtually anything.

3. Supporters of HSC. HSC, Inc. is a 501c3, a nonprofit business that does not charge clients for services. Everything we offer is free. We rely on individuals and organizations to donate financially and with in-kind items in order to serve the 12,000+ individuals that show up at our door step annually.

4. Personally, I have many blessings. Roofs. I have a roof over my head at home. A roof over my head in the office. Clothes. I may not always like my wardrobe, however I have one that is functional. I have the opportunity to donate unwanted items to thrift stores and to purchase new items. A car that is reliable and comfortable with the luxury of remote start that turns on the A/C on horrendously hot days. I have relationships with family and friends that seemingly understand my level of introversion. While aging is definitely real, I have enough health to challenge myself to live to 100.

I could continue on, as my basic needs are more than fully met. If I were to assess on Maslow’s hierarchy, I’m pretty far up the pyramid. And THAT is what allows me to continue doing this work. Myself, and HSC, are able to commit to serving the individuals and challenging the systems to move the mindset from one of survival to one of thriving. I love the dictionary. In looking up “thrive,” Merriam Webster states it can mean to “flourish” and to “prosper.”

Everyone we interact with deserves to flourish and prosper. Every single one deserves to thrive.

In gratitude and sending blessings,


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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