Who is the face of the homeless?
Is it a veteran suffering the effects of PTSD? Or a young mother who has nowhere to go? Could it be an elderly person without family? Maybe it's a family who has been displaced because of a house fire or job loss. Some are fighting the effects of substance abuse and mental illness. Each has their story. The joyous ending is up to us.
The face of the homeless could be you. The face is not someone in a third world country or a metropolitan city. It's someone right here in our community. Many Americans are a paycheck away from being homeless. The sad reality is that many are children. A warm bed, a hot meal, and hope can make the difference in a life.
Not a hand out but a HAND UP!
We all deserve a second, third, or as many chances as it takes to rebuild our lives. Who among us hasn't had hard times where someone's help and kindness made all the difference?
YOU can be that person. YOU can make a difference. YOU can pay it forward. The longest journey begins with a single step. Take that step today.
By: Larisa Bogunovic
State of emergency was declared on March 25th, 2020, due to the COVID outbreak. I recall that day like it was yesterday as it was the day I began my journey North to begin my new job as HR Manager. Tears of joy and tears of sadness ran down my face as I was unable to say goodbye to my family, but knew this was the opportunity for a fresh start. After battling years of Alcoholism, I knew this was my calling. Months went by with no physical connection with my family, and my PTSD began to run my day-to-day life personally and professionally.
My life change August 10th, 2020, as I was discharged from my position. This was the first time I had ever been discharged from a job. The depression took over my mind emotionally and physically. I had dried up my savings staying at a hotel for months trying to figure it all out again. That is when my journey began at Abundant Life Mission.
This was the first time I had been homeless, and I had no idea what to expect. Tears ran down my cheek as the Intake Specialist began to ask her protocol questions. As she saw my tears, she turned and said, “It was okay to be scared”. That was the first time in a month I had felt peace.
Throughout my three months at Abundant Life, I learned discipline, schedule and tough love. I will never forget the Assistant Director saying, “Everyone has a story, so do not judge”. Judge is what I did. I was a college graduate thinking, “how did I get here”. I manifested each night to reflect on that exact question. At that time, I had just started my Master’s program and was in the midst of looking for employment. Day in and out, it was zoom interview after zoom interview. Some yes, but most were no. I remember crying several times, but with the encouragement of the staff, I persevered. After two months I landed as position as a Plant Human Resources Manager back home close to my family in Milwaukee. I remember now being scared to leave and on my own again. Would I return here? Will I fall back?
As I departed The Mission, tears ran down my cheek, but this time of joy. I had overcome what was the hardest time in my life. I would not have been able to do so without the “tough love” the journey showed me, and that, I will forever be grateful. Never walk and think that one person has it all. Everyone has a story, and this chapter is closed.