Finding My Footing – Naming My Support

Reflections from HFA / YAV-AVL Volunteer Jeremy…

In Asheville, I have the pleasure of working for Homeward Bound, an organization that houses people from homelessness. Aside from coordinating volunteers and managing our donation center, my direct service responsibilities include picking up donated furniture and household goods, and then delivering those items to clients who are moving into a new home. This means that the most people I interact with are volunteers, donors, and the homeless clients themselves.

My supervisor and I often ask volunteers and donors what they think causes a person to become homeless. They state problems such as substance abuse, economic instability, medical injury, etc. But I know that if I were to experience any of those problems, I wouldn’t become homeless. And I would guess that most people reading this wouldn’t become homeless either. If I were to run out of money and not be able to pay for my own rent, I know that someone in my family would take me in. I know that if I were to undergo a terrible injury, the support from my family and friends would prevent me from living on the streets. I know that if I were to go to jail for any reason, I’d have a family and a place to stay when I get out. The main difference between a homeless person and you or I is support. I know I’d have the support I’d need to get back on my feet if something went terribly wrong in my life. Think for a minute how many people in your life would take you in before letting you become homeless, and then imagine if none of those people were a part of your life. None of those problems listed above – substance abuse, economic instability, medical injury, criminal activity – solely are the cause for homelessness. Those problems PLUS the lack of support is what causes homelessness.

That is why Homeward Bound’s basic mission is to provide support for those in need. Being part of that support system for people who have no support otherwise is exactly what I want to be doing in my year of service, and I am very grateful for the opportunity.