Some Folks Dance

 In Reflections
Reflections from the Front Lines

Some Folks Dance

See Their Strength, Recognize Their Humanity

The calendar says we are officially in Autumn. The change of seasons brings a little less heat and a little more darkness to the Human Services Campus. The evenings aren’t exactly cool, however the longer shadows and the colorful sunsets create a different dynamic over the buildings and the lawn. People still sitting at the tables under the shade canopy. I hear more music of late. People using their phones and wireless speakers to play a variety of sounds. Some sing along out loud. Occasionally some folks dance.

Although we are moving out of “heat relief” mode, COVID is still in effect. The number of positive client cases has decreased again. We can only hope that this time for a longer period. The testing and vaccinating continues. Following CDC guidelines continues, wearing face masks indoors and asking COVID screening questions. The resiliency of our clients and employees continues to amaze me.

At times I hear people who look at the Human Services Campus or at the unsheltered and unhoused comment or ask questions that imply our clients are all fragile or incapable; somehow they are all people that need to be rescued or saved.  What I see the most is the physical and mental strength that carries them through another day. When left with nothing but your own internal fortitude, most of the people we serve are fighting with every last ounce of energy and determination that they have to survive another day.

One woman in her late 60s recently told me about her six-hour journey from the Campus to a specialist medical appointment to receive prescriptions. She waited for the transportation van to pick her up, then she waited at a doctor’s office, then she waited for a transportation van to bring her back to the Campus. She laughed about it as she told me she enjoyed the conversations with the drivers. Her attitude positive and sunny, even though the only tasks she could check off her to-do list were related to one medical appointment. She made this trip using a wheelchair with only thick socks on her feet. When asked if she would like a pair of shoes her face lit up and she quickly told me her shoe size. We found her a pair of stretchy shoes that would hopefully fit over her swollen feet and socks. She held them like they were a first place prize.

As I said good night and walked away from her, all I could think about was the amount of time it took her to complete one medical visit. A whole day. And then I thought about the fact that a retired woman in her 60s, newly unhoused, was facing a long wait for housing. And people ask why it takes so long for someone to “end their homelessness.”

And people often ask how they can help. Bring us your new or slightly used shoes, new socks, durable medical equipment. Support one or all of our partner organizations. Advocate at all levels of government to help people living on fixed incomes stay housed. And when you see an unhoused, unsheltered person please make eye contact and ask them their name, see their strength and recognize their humanity.

That’s all I know so far….

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.

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