In 2002 I was working at Lamp Community which is now The People Concern. I was an activity director, housing advocate, and IT director. It was my first foray into homeless services. I was excited and enthusiastic and filled with hope and determination.
Since those days when I worked on Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles, things have changed. if you go back to the very first posts for this blog you will see what it was like when I worked at Stanford Street and Crocker Street and San Julian.
I am still optimistic and filled with hope but now I have data and experience. The catch is, that I feel as small and ineffective as I ever did.
I have worked one-on-one with people who are living in shelters and on the street.
I have worked with families who were homeless.
I have worked with families and individuals who were receiving public assistance.
I’ve volunteered at MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity) and raised thousands for them.
And now I teach others how to do the work that I used to do. and when no one is looking, I squeeze in some one-on-one time because I really do love field work. I love sitting with adults and listening to their life experience and their hopes. I’m curious about who they are and what they want to accomplish.
I am furious when they let themselves down. I’m angry when their goals are short-sighted and they don’t have the experience or memory of being successful so they can’t set long-term goals with comfort.
Well I have been learning more about my calling, the homeless population in the County of Los Angeles has exploded.
I feel like I’m a hipster who discovered some new indie cause long before the general populace got wind of it.
I had a full circle moment when I realize that Kelly Clarkson went to the Union Rescue Mission this week. See, when I started at LAMP, one of thefirst that ngs I did was buy a television for the community room and we would all watch American Idol together. Then we sang karaoke. FYI: I’m a great singer.
She she got discovered and has had a whole career arc. Me, I had a second child and went to USC while drowning in the homeless crisis.
I have friends who talk about the imposter syndrome. I don’t believe that they’d understand what it is like to work day and night and extra hours only to have the problem get worse.
I have hope that what we have all learned in the last 18 years is the seed to a real solution.
I don’t post often about homeless news. I don’t think I need 2 because that is not my goal. My goal is to take this crisis and translated into terms that suburban moms understand. I want folks sitting at the beach to have intelligent conversations about poverty and homelessness. I want peopleto feel confident talking about it so they can confidently join the solution.
How am I doing?