Six of our clients stand smiling, arms holding new blankets just delivered from the Crossroads School. A fellow HOPE team member told me that some of the students of the school made the blankets themselves!
I was soon to learn that the venture was envisioned, initiated and completed
by one small group of students.
What was the story behind this gift? And why?
The answers came through the executive director of Crossroads, and longtime HOPE supporter, Barb Bulthuis.
The school is a haven for children who do not fit into normal traditional public school structure. Barb and I laughed a little, agreeing that public school is not a system easily fit for children and those that learn in the environment are simply those able to adapt.
Barb shared more about the school and the project. Each year children are given an opportunity to identify a social issue or challenge in their community, create and implement a solution.
Homelessness was one of the issues, and it was one that caught one of the groups of children. But they were not satisfied with the title because they said that it is one thing to have an issue of not having a house, but everyone should have a home.
The blankets they made for our clients were aimed to provide a feeling of home.
I am sure this concept is not foreign to you. To have a house doesn’t always mean it feels like a home. And sometimes having a home means something different than having a house. Have you ever felt a closeness with another human being that felt like home? Or traveled to a state that evoked a feeling of familiarity and comfort you might call home? Or maybe even had a drink or type of food and felt at home? Maybe the notion came from a deep safety you felt in opening your heart to someone you barely know…
There are also issues with the whole topic of home arising at the very moment when a pandemic has asked us to stay at home. If home provides a place to rest, a security and safety, even a freedom to be yourself…what about the ever present threat to our fellow human beings in our own country, finding that the country itself is not a home providing safety and freedom? What about the challenges to our freedom because of gender, ethnicity and even choices of healthcare?
Tackling the issues in all these areas and working together to make our city, our state, our country and our world a true home for our fellow human beings is before us ever again.
And for those we-HOPE-serve without houses, our very presence is in many ways a home for them. We are the hot meal, and the warm smile. We are the community that can be leaned into and the support that says, ‘you can do this!’
There are many out there that do not have even that.
One example are those that sleep in their vehicles. Those who cannot even stay in a shelter, like families or people with pets, or even individuals suffering terrible PTSD. These members of our community might only have the kind of social interaction that feels like belonging during a short encounter in a grocery store or at a gas station, or walking down the street.
Sleeping in a vehicle, while providing independence can be a difficult place to call home day in and day out.
We at HOPE reflected on ways we could provide home for this part of our community. And we have envisioned a solution! It is a new program called SafeLot. While we work in bringing this vision into form, we invite you to reflect on the deeper issue presented here.
What does it mean to have a home if you can’t have a house?
And is there a way you could be a source of home for someone else? Or accept this gift from someone?
What would it be like if parking lots across the country that go unused through the hours of the night, could be a safe place for those who bear the stress of having no house, but only a car to call home?
We are excited to widen the HOPE community through this program.
It is a small step but it is a step, towards a much more encompassing goal:
To create a world that every human being can call home.