Imagine your life as a tower of cards. You carefully place each card starting with the foundation; adding more levels you reach new heights. Then a slight move sends it all tumbling down. Unfortunately, no one is exempt from this happening to them, and it’s an all too real reality that a lot of people endure. For the individuals at Heading Home there was a point in their lives where this sudden shift occurred and everything they knew about their lives changed forever.
Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a five-tier model of human needs usually pictured as a pyramid. One must attain each level before moving on to the next. It starts at the bottom with physiological needs like food, water, warmth, and rest; then safety, love and belonging; and culminates at the top with esteem and self-actualization. Now try and picture yourself in the shoes of someone who is homeless, without support, endlessly walking around trying to find a place to stay. The first level in the Hierarchy of Needs is already nearly impossible to achieve while homeless because of the multiple barriers to obtaining the essentials of survival, and that in turn prevents one from reaching the next level. Herein lays the dichotomy of achieving progress.
As the Individual Services Intake Coordinator I accept referrals through a Coordinated Entry system from a particular Continuum of Care. I coordinate meetings with these individuals, verify their eligibility, and complete the required paperwork. Throughout this process I listen to everyone’s stories, and each one is unique. At the point of intake participants are often hesitant to share their stories and let someone into their lives—who wouldn’t be in their situation? But you’d be surprised how much they all just want to be heard and are relieved that they’ve come to a place where they can receive empathy and support. In each meeting there is a point where the individual takes a deep breath; some smile, and some don’t. I view this moment as the participant seeing a light at the end of a very long tunnel. Each accomplishment with or without support should be celebrated as these individuals rebuild their lives from the ground up!