Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
During the bitter cold spell earlier this month, with a Code Blue emergency and life-threatening temperatures, our outreach teams along with our partner organizations worked long hours, pouring themselves out tirelessly. With other staff and residents helping out, they brought people in off the streets, out of the cold, encouraging them to take the first small steps toward breaking the vicious cycle of chronic homelessness.
That’s where the journey began 25 years ago: on the streets. Getting to know the men and women who were living on the streets. Seeking to understand the depths of their struggles. Learning to see through the harshness of their circumstances to their incredible potential.
Much has happened in those 25 years–more than we could possibly have imagined. Effective solutions have been developed that have made believers of even the most skeptical. A range of supportive housing options–from entry-level to permanent– with the right core of services has empowered thousands of persons to regain stability, independence, and productivity. We have witnessed lives regained and communities rebuilt. What was once unthinkable is becoming an ever-stronger conviction shared by a growing number of people: We can end homelessness. Our theme for this anniversary year is “Journey Home: Celebrating 25 Years of Dignity, Community, and Transformation.” And we are awed at all there is to celebrate.
Much has gone into creating meaningful opportunities for thousands of people to succeed: millions of dollars, from the innumerable small donors to foundations to government contracts; the magnificent skills and commitment of hundreds of great staff members, volunteers,and residents; the sure guidance of trustees; the invaluable partnerships with great organizations, public, private and non-profit. But the taproot has always been our inviolable conviction of the dignity of every person, and with it the formation of a community of persons who believe that none of us are home until all of us are home. Those are the seeds of transformation – which we are graced to witness on a daily basis.
The journey continues. Many of our sisters and brothers are still on the streets. We need to expand housing, services, and opportunity to those still in need. We need to widen our community of those working for a more just society. And we know this: Those who are coming in from the cold today are the ones who will share their gifts and strengthen our community tomorrow. And we will all know the meaning of home more deeply because of it.