Today’s blog was written by Emily Downey, Housing Specialist for the UNITY Rebuilding Communities Shelter Plus Care Program.
I see joy almost every day. Joy when I pick someone up from the Salvation Army or the street corner, joy when someone buckles their seat belt in my Honda, joy when someone realizes that we’re going to see another apartment. My clients have choice, therefore I see joy. And then, the ultimate joy that spreads across their face…unlocking the door to their new home for the first time. There might be some nervousness in signing a lease, or unease when discussing “rules and regs”, but when they get their keys…it’s nothing but joy.
This was the case for Ms. F. I picked her up at the transitional living apartment she shared and explored neighborhoods she never thought she deserved to live in. It ended up being a very long day…meeting new people, negotiating with landlords, seeing six different possibilities. But, she later told me that when she saw her future home…she just knew. Then, the plans came: making lunch for new friends, having a place for her daughter to come visit, being able to sleep in on Saturdays and stay up as late as she wanted to watch old movies.
After the lease was signed, and the case worker started doing what case workers do best, it was time for me to fall into the background. I left knowing that the apartment was healthy and safe, knowing that Ms. F. was in good hands…but, I still wondered. I still thought about how her face lit up seeing the built-in microwave and if her daughter had come to visit. So, when I visited the complex with another client, I was so excited to go knock on her door.
Ms. F. greeted me with a huge smile and big welcoming arms. Her make-up was applied so proficiently you’d think she’d been to a salon. She stood in the kitchen, washing her dishes and chatted about how her daughter had just been by the weekend before and how she loved being so close to a community grocery.
I left her once again knowing why I do what I do. Knowing that someone gave this wonderful person a chance at success and there she was…successful. I’m sure Ms. F. will still find herself in the face of difficulties…but as long as she has a place she can come home to, she will still be able to find joy.