Monday, May 2, 2011

Day 22: 3 Weeks In

During the 3 weeks that I've been here I've seen people come and go. Some have gone and had to come back. Some stop by just for the night.

There's a difference between the ones who have been here for years and the ones who are here in transition. The ones who are here in transition are a bit more annoyed by the policies and procedures that are set in place.

There are lots of rules here but if you understand them, then you understand why they are in place. There is a 14 day lock down for new clients which means for 14 days after you first register to stay here you are not allowed to leave the premises at all.

This is set in place so that police background checks can be done and these checks sometimes take up to 2 weeks. Many of the people here are sentenced to be here by the court. Regular drug and alcohol tests are done for drug rehab offenders. It doesn't stop them from doing their drug of choice but it does make them more aware of the state they are in when they come in each night. If anyone is found to be drunk or high they are dealt with in various ways, the most drastic is suspending them for a night. If someone is found to have drugs in their posession they must leave for several days.

Understand that this place is a last resort for most who come here. The only alternative is trying to find a hiding place on the streets.

Nearly everyone here has a good heart. No one has stolen from me yet. Everyone shares what they have. Families who have faced eviction come here. Mothers with children and mentally ill who have been abandoned by their families live here too.

Tonight two young black men came in and I didn't ask them why they are here. I made jokes with them and shared cigarettes with them to welcome them.

I'm finding that most people here, although they sometimes complain, really appreciate the opportunity to be here. A man I spoke with said that he did not know how he ended up here after a long life of working and having friends.

I feel grateful everyday, usually after I have my pity party about not being where I really want to be in life. I am grateful to know that there is a place that accepts those cast away by society. These people have no friends or family who are willing to take them in. They become each other's family.

And now, I am family too.



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