From Homeless to Housed: Billy Goes Shopping For His New Apartment

Chef Billy Garrett started his lease on his apartment on November 1st, but came into the space early to start painting.  Billy has great pride in his place.  He’s painted his bathroom a pretty green and coordinated a shower curtain and accessories with it.  His kitchen is now painted an appetizing orange color that brightens up morning breakfast and evening dinners.  His bedroom in now a bright, sparkling white with a fresh white ceiling.  Today he’s tackling the living-room with a warm, light yellow.  It’s a cheerful, homey space.  

Today, Billy and I went to the Green Chair Project, a non-profit that helps people furnish their homes.  It was LOVELY.  They put so much effort into coordinating displays and creating warm, inviting showroom areas.  All of the furnishing and accessories are in excellent shape, clean and attractive.  The entire space is stunningly decorated by volunteers with an eye for coordinating rooms.  They even have volunteers who create these beautiful gift baskets, and if you’re a person with an eye for making beautiful gift baskets, this would be an EXCELLENT place to volunteer your time!

 

 

 

Beautiful gift baskets created by volunteers and staff at Green Chair.

Look at all of this talent!

The staff a Green Chair really gets to know the tastes of each client.  They know Billy’s color palate, what colors he’s chosen for his walls, and that his favorite interior decorating color is “Wine”, a rich burgundy.  He likes warm golds, deep yellows, jewel tones and surrounds himself with a feeling of warmth.  Billy chose a deep, warm loveseat and ottoman with warm, dark side tables, and a stunning rug to pull the room together.  

Billy’s warm couch with throw pillows, stunning carpet, and framed Van Gogh print.

Billy also chose a perfect little breakfast nook table, complete with table runner and flower arrangement, a whole set of new dishes, a bathroom gift basket with pretty towels to match his colors AND, I really think that they went into the back, after he chose his items, and created a gift basket just for him, because it could not have been more perfect.  All of his colors, a lamp that matched, a cute candle, a big, beautiful vase and another perfect throw pillow.  

Then, a bunch of strapping young men, loaded up a truck and delivered the furniture to Billy’s apartment!  They even helped him get the rug down BEFORE the big couch and tables were brought in!  I was SO IMPRESSED with Green Chair that we have begun the paperwork here at the center to be a partner agency.  Often times, we are the first point of contact when someone becomes housed, and we do everything we can for them, but we don’t have the space or volunteer power to pull off anything close to this beautiful, dignified shopping experience.  Green Chair really believes in agency, and lets everyone choose, exactly what they want for themselves, and that is so huge!

If you would like to help, we are still looking for a mattress and box spring for Billy.  I think we can find a bed frame, but the mattress and box spring has been like the holy grail- no one can find it right now.  If you or someone you know has one that they need to donate, please let us know, so that we can get Billy off of the air mattress and in his own bed!  We’re so proud of our Billy and our amazing team here at the center.  If you would like to contribute to Billy’s salary, please click here and leave us a note! Billy works hard for the money, and his hard work has paid off.  

From Homeless to Housed

We’ve been spending the week trying to get our family moved into their new place; we’re so happy that they have a home to call their own.  People have been offering furniture, bedding, kitchenware and kid stuff-it’s been beautiful to see.  We need more love and beauty in this world.

I recently went to see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, which I encourage you to see if you haven’t yet, because one of Fred Rogers’ beliefs is that people need to love and be loved in return.  One of the most important things that we teach our children, and each other is that we are worthy of love, and that we are also capable of loving others.  Mr. Rogers passed away in 2003, and I wonder how he would feel today about the current state of our country and politics.  I hope that he would continue to preach love, and that people would listen.

I’m very excited to say that our big family moving into their new house isn’t the only win we have this week.  One of our community members who has been living in a tent also got housing, and the Love Wins volunteers have been busy getting him set up with sheets, bedding, household items- everything that he needs to enjoy his new space.  We’re also proud to say that tons of folks got jobs in the past few weeks!!!  We have dressed up people for interviews, made sure they had what they needed and tomorrow, I’m even taking our artist, Matthew to a job interview!  We’re so proud of our folks, and we use love and kindness to get them to the next step of their life journey.  They’re our friends and our neighbors.

I was talking to our volunteer, Reanie today, and she said something that rang so true.  She said “Everyone I’ve talked to today is experiencing grief.”  The loss of someone dear is a key part of nearly every person’s story here at the center.  We allow people to grieve, we talk about that grief, and help people process their grief in their own time.  I feel as though, if more people understood that, they would have more empathy for homeless people.  I feel like Mr. Rogers was the type of person who did for children what us, as every day adults can do for one another.  “I like you just the way you are.  Your feelings are scary, I understand that.  You feel sad and try as hard as you can not to be sad.  We’ll get through this together.”

After people travel through this journey, they come back to our mainstream society as our neighbors.  They move into houses, apartments, rooms, and have jobs everyday, working right beside us.  I can’t tell you how often I meet someone at a social event, tell them what I do, only for them to tell me, “You know, I used to be homeless once.  It started after *insert loss here*.”  It’s far more prevalent than people think.  Welcome people to our community with open hearts.  Give them space to heal, and when they’re ready, remember Mr. Roger’s words: “I’ve always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.  I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.”

To my friends who are now indoors, we’re so proud of you, and we’re happy that you’re our neighbor!