Finding Our Way Home

by Dr. Marian Fritzemeier, Ed.D. ©201520151001_154239 (1)

“I slept in the cemetery. The police won’t even go there,” shares one previous Modesto area homeless woman. “A man tried to help me but I didn’t trust him. I was beaten by a man so I had my guard up. I was tired and cold, especially in the winter. I didn’t have a hot bath. But I refused to go somewhere safe. The graveyard felt safe. But this man was persistent. I eventually let him help me get off the streets.” (1)

 

“I was kicked out of my home at age 19,” said another former homeless man. “I left with a backpack and nothing else in the middle of the night. I was scared and tried to figure out what to do. I had $50.00 from my last paycheck, so I went to Denny’s at Five Points. Sometimes I stayed in Graceda Park, slept in churches, or in someone’s backyard. It was hot, 90 degrees, and summer was approaching. I kept busy trying to find food every day. If I couldn’t find enough to eat, I’d steal groceries. I pan handled to support my drug habit.” (1)

These are just two of the eight stories told by men and women who previously experienced homelessness in Stanislaus County. The best news — they are no longer homeless. Most likely wherever you live, you can find homeless men, women, and children who can share similar sad stories. . . if only someone took the time to listen.

The Influence of One Person . . .

I noticed a common thread to the path “Finding Their Way Home.” The path often began with one person.

Someone . . . cared: a police officer, doctor, friend, family member, girlfriend, or someone they met on the streets. Several mentioned how God intervened.

Someone . . . saw beyond their circumstances.

Someone . . . viewed them as the person they were meant to be.

The Way Home

With that one person’s help, homeless men and women began their journey home. They started accepting assistance and accessing the many available resources to end their homelessness. These courageous men and women now express hope. They demonstrate joy and heartfelt thankfulness sometimes through tears and cracked voice. They are no longer homeless.

“I’m glad I can participate and give back to the community that helped me,” said another panelist. (1)

The previous homeless also want to help others “Find Their Way Home.”

Summit on Homelessness

The previous homeless want to help others “Find Their Way Home.” So do 500 Stanislaus County residents who actively participated in Finding Our Way Home: Summit on Homelessness at the Centre Plaza in Modesto, California on Thursday, October 1, 2015. Participants represented agencies, non-profit organizations, businesses, churches, and concerned citizens like me. The day-long summit featured personal stories, statistics, and strategies. In the afternoon participants from different cities met together to discuss issues related to their communities, such as Patterson, Ceres, and Riverbank.

 

Personal Questions

Thought provoking questions and discussions were designed to stir each participant’s heart.

  • Do the results matter?
  • Why does this matter to me?
  • Does it speak to my passion and heart?

What About You?

  • Does this topic stir your heart?
  • Does this topic matter to you?
  • Does it speak to your passion and heart?
  • Are you willing to become someone . . . to help reduce homelessness in your community?

You can read more about the event at
http://preventionfocus.net/finding-our-way-home/

 

Note 1. These compiled statements are from previously homeless presenters’ on the panel and/or from a previously recorded video.

 

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