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This is NOT easy work!!

I spent last week at the National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference and it was awesome to be surrounded by so many like-minded people committed to believing we can, and will, end homelessness. West Virginia is quite popular for our emerging methods of change, our involvement with 100,000 Homes, and our innovative uses of the VI-SPDAT in HMIS. I was on a high when I left DC, I was pumped to make some connections with the great speakers I heard, and was super excited to start planning. My mind was racing!...

We stopped Thursday night in a WV community to deliver a talk on Friday morning about the Zero: 2016 campaign. My co-workers and I spent several hours re-working our presentation on Thursday night, excited for the new campaign. Friday morning comes, and we’re discussing change in mindset, change in priorities, and change in methods.  Excitedly posed to share our new info, we energetically launched into the pitch. The room was full of murmurs, eye rolling and negativity, and of course the all-to-common ask of “where’s all this m-o-n-e-y gonna come from” (yes, this person spelled “money” – now I roll my eyes). I quickly responded, “the money is already here, you just need to change how you’re using it to house your Veterans and your chronically homeless population; you have SSVFRRHPSH.” More eye rolls and dissention…as my high quickly starts fading. 

Now, let me just say, I was in a community where several police officers shot a schizophrenic, chronically homeless gentleman 23 times not a year ago. And that still wasn’t enough to light a fire under these folks to start getting people off their streets and into housing. So what’s going to? What price, and how much money are we already paying for doing nothing?

I then came home Friday night and was greeted by my boys (7 and 4) with “SURPRISE! Mommy, we missed you!” It made me take a step back and think “wow, I’ve been gone a whole week (I left the day after my 7 year-old’s birthday) it sure is nice to be home” HOME! I’ve been gone a week learning about how I can help lead WV to ensure people have homes and I get home to dinner cooked by my husband and hugs from my kiddos.

I travel a lot, our staff travels a lot; I can’t remember a week when I didn’t spend at least 1 night away from home in a hotel room. Bedtime kisses have been replaced by FaceTime calls. We have kids in sports and families and hobbies that we don’t get to enjoy nearly as much as we would like, but guess what we do have? Homes. And there are many in West Virginia, 2,022 to be exact on any given night who do not. For you data geeks out there, that’s only <1% of the state’s population. So what, right? Why should we be concerned about 2,000 people who “can’t get their lives together”? Because we do, because it’s what we’ve chosen to do! Because people don’t choose to be homeless; we choose to make things right for them and to help communities like the one I was in on Friday do things the right way, the best way. We don’t make a fortune for doing this work, but our hearts in the right place and for every person who dies homeless in WV; we feel it. We grieve and feel a sense of failure for not working fast enough or hard enough. 

This Sunday morning, as I’m sitting in church listing to our Pastor’s sermon on Matthew 14:13-21, he said “God calls each of us to do something, we don’t question, we roll up our sleeves and we do it, we don’t have meeting after meeting or committee after committee to make sure it’s what we should be doing, we say, ‘here I am, use me.’”

This is not easy work, it’s hard work. We sacrifice a lot, so when faced with negativity, criticism and doubt and miss out on things at home, we will keep going. We will keep going because it’s what we should do and it’s because WE do have a home that we work so hard to make sure everyone else does as well. 

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WV Coalition to End Homelessness | PO Box 4697, Bridgeport, WV 26330 | 304-842-9522 | info@wvceh.org | website by brickswithoutstraw