If you enter the Love Wins Community Engagement Center by the front door, you’ll likely walk into a darkened room filled with people sleeping on the floor and plastic Adirondack chairs. It’s not our favorite. Showing hospitality is a really important part of what we do and we realize that front doors don’t open into bedrooms for reasons. We’ve worked hard to optimize the space we rent from Trinity United Methodist and, so far, the front room is the best place for sleeping, the front door notwithstanding.
We have five rooms to work with. The kitchen gets the most traffic and adheres to its natural function. We also have an office that is a hub of visitors, phone calls, and activity (and also has a set function). That leaves us three rooms we get to determine how to use. One room we have set aside as a conference room. Unlike the other rooms, it stands empty some of the time. We use it for playing bingo, support group, staff and board meetings, and both scheduled and unscheduled meetings. We’ve found it is important to have a space set aside for activities. It makes events feel more special, and creates privacy which encourages trust. And practically speaking, having the conference room means we don’t have to kick people out of a room in order to use it for an event or meeting (hospitality and kicking people out don’t go well together).
Of the two remaining rooms, one is just off the kitchen. We tried designating that as the resting room but the traffic in and out of the kitchen made that impractical. We also have the community phone in that room because that’s where the phone jack is and phone ringing and calls don’t go well with resting. So we have a desk (with the phone on it), two tables with chairs, and two wooden pews in that room. All the seating makes it a great place to hang out. In fact, the office is so busy it’s not a great place for thinking or writing, so I’m writing this at one of the tables in this room. It has all the ambient noise and hub of a coffee shop, which can be conducive for concentrating. We also have a keyboard in this room. Several community members play very well. The fancy department stores are right – ambient live piano music makes everything better.
So that leaves only one room that can function as a resting room, the one with the front door. I will follow up next week with a post explaining why folks experiencing homelessness spend part of the day sleeping (there are reasons you will agree are legitimate). But for now, please know that we’ve made the best choices we could with the space we have, and when you come in the front door, you are most welcome to be here, even if it’s dark and filled with the sounds of snoring.