Picture one of the happiest people you know. Imagine him as a pleasant man named Prince who grew up in Ghana and who still has a strong accent even though he has lived in the United States for many years. He always wears white clothing, whether it is shorts and a t-shirt or pants and a collared shirt with a Panthers emblem on the shirt pocket. Or, in a white suit in the picture on the right, surrounded by SHC colleagues at his oath naturalization ceremony. Prince wears white because he says it makes him happy. He likes to spend time in the common areas, either helping at the front desk, hanging out in the community room, or getting some fresh air outside in the patio area. You know what else makes Prince so special? The pure joy and big smile received when someone new enters the room, always coupled with a friendly hello in his wonderful accent. No matter your mood before seeing him, this will always cheer you up. You are encouraged by someone who is just so content, and it shows to everyone he encounters.
A lot of people have a heart for homelessness and want to help. Not many of us can understand the exact reasons why people become homeless and the experiences they live while they are there though. Yes, we know that mental illness and substance abuse issues can lead someone to living on the streets, in homeless camps, or in homeless shelters. Many people think that they are lazy and that is why they ended up there. You know the funny thing? Living with the inner strength, resiliency and outward toughness needed to survive on the streets is harder than the hardest-working people we know. The hard-working people spend 8-10 hours putting in a great effort, and typically they leave work at the end of the day knowing they have a home to go to. They have a door they can lock, food they can eat at any time they want, and a warm bed to sleep in. How about homeless people? There is no door to lock, which means there is never a safe place to leave their things when they are away. They don’t have food they can eat at any time they want, although if they are staying in a shelter, they can at least get whatever meal was convenient for the volunteer group to make that night, but they must eat it on the shelter’s schedule. As for the warm bed to sleep in, that would be the hardest part. Not only do they not have a warm bed to sleep in, but how do you ever get any sleep when you constantly have to be vigilant to ensure your personal safety?
Prince is lucky because he was able to overcome his homelessness, and not only that, but he openly appreciates his “housed” status every day. His life is still not easy. Just because people get housed does not mean their mental illnesses and other issues go away. Luckily, he is in an environment surrounded with lots of supports. He has his Case Managers, who know a lot about him and what services are necessary to make sure he succeeds in housing, whether that is medication, counseling, rehabilitation, etc. Prince has a Peer Support Counselor, who is someone who has also experienced homelessness and who helps him in a professional but even more empathetic way. He has volunteers who come to McCreesh Place and want to help in many ways, through barbecues for the residents to enjoy, a GED class for those who want to finally earn these three letters, or other fun activities. And this may even be the most important: Prince has fellow residents who have become true friends and companions, who care about where and how he is every day.
SHC is proud to truly offer “a place to live again” to Prince and to all of the residents we serve.