Interning at Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), an emergency shelter for families, has opened my eyes to the world of homelessness.
Recently, I did my first “social worker thing” for a guest at the shelter. After only being in shelter for two days, she had a job interview. She unexpectedly came to me in my little office to tell me about this interview and how she didn’t have any dress clothes to wear. Well we have a program that helps people in this very situation, but it takes multiple days to complete the process; nothing that would be done in time for her interview the next morning. I actually found a nicer shirt and she had pants already that she could wear. One thing she didn’t have was a nice pair of dress shoes.
After getting the means to go and get her shoes, I went to do one of my favorite things I love to do for myself: go shoe shopping. Anyone who knows me well knows I have a major shoe fetish and I have tons of different pairs of shoes. As I have many pairs of heels, I have not been without at least one pair of dress flats. This, among other things, is something I’ve taken for granted in my life.
I went to good ole Target in search of some dressy flats and found two pairs for her to choose from. Unbeknownst to me, when I got to the checkout, the cashier informed me that shoes were buy one get one half off that day.
The shoe shopping Gods were in my favor yet again!
I got back to the shelter and she chose which pair of shoes she wanted and they fit; it was a success!
I tell this story not to make myself feel good for something I did well. It wasn’t even about me doing something well. This was about getting something for someone so they could be successful in their job interview. As I’m learning about the social work field, I’m being given these opportunities to provide resources for people who need them and otherwise couldn’t obtain them without the shelter’s aid.
All I’ve wanted to do for people is to help them in some way. Being at IHN I have the ability and the means to do just that. Something many of us college students take for granted is the ability to “dress to impress” while going on many important interviews at the start of our careers. This was an instance of someone who didn’t have that luxury, yet was willing to accept my help to get what was needed.
As I have reflected on this, this experience has taught me that I can handle something unexpected as well as find something that someone needs; in this instance it was a physical thing. In many other instances that I will encounter, it will be about finding a certain agency or service which I can refer my client to.
I will forever be in search of that one resource that will help to make my client’s journey out of homelessness go just a little bit faster.