Thursday, February 28, 2008

Why We Do the Work

"Being at the house, hanging out with the families tonight just really reminds me why I do the work." - Ryan Fehrman, Executive Director, Genesis Home

As I was working on the post about Joining the Tri to End Homelessness team, Ryan walked through the door after his day at Genesis Home. He was at work late this evening to assist a volunteer who visits the house on weekly basis to involve the families in cooking classes. The classes are part education, part fellowship, part family-free-for-all, and a whole lot of fun.

I needed to a dose of inspiration today. I'm in the midst of one of my job's busiest periods of the year; the days at my desk have been long ones lately; and I also have to work for a big chunk of this upcoming weekend. Ugh. Thankfully, it's a training rest week, but even so, I couldn't quite muster up the motivation to complete today's scheduled swim workout. Double ugh.

On days like today, I'm grateful for the perspective that the Tri to End Homelessness campaign provides.

Just in case you're in need of a little late winter inspiration too, here's a story from Genesis Home's most recent annual report:

Two years ago, Claire and her 12-year old daughter Michelle were enjoying a comfortable life. Five years out of a divorce, she had a full-time job with great benefits. "We weren't rich," she said, "but we certainly weren't struggling, either."

In September 2006, Claire had a non-malignant lump removed without much concern. Six months later, however, she had undergone two more surgeries and was too ill to work. "We lived on savings for several month. When that was gone, I cashed out my retirement and 401 K. When that ran out I started selling furniture." By the end of summer, they were broke. Michelle stayed with friends while Claire lived in her car and motels as she tried to find opportunities elsewhere.

Without a home or any other options, Claire and Michelle moved into Genesis Home in September 2007. "It was a difficult time in our lives," said Claire, "Genesis Home gave us time to rationalize all we have been thought and plan our next move." She approached each day with military-driven discipline, enrolling in college classes, and applying to every job she could find. "I was eager to get back on my feet," she said.

After three months at Genesis Home, Claire landed the job of her dreams. She and Michelle couldn't be happier with their new apartment. She insists that they are better people because of the challenges they've overcome. "Everything we went through in the past year made us stronger," she said. "Genesis Home helped us recover while providing a fresh start for our new life."

"These days we're smiling more; we're more appreciative for all of our life's blessings," Claire said. "I have so much peace in me and it came from Genesis Home."