Her Perception was Changed by their Reality

We’re excited to feature guest blogger Chrissie Majewski from Orlando Health.  She generously volunteered her time last month to record our historic move into the new Men’s Service Center.

Chrissie Majewski - Headshot 2013

June 25, 2014 started out like any usual day for me. Sitting in I-4 traffic driving westbound towards Downtown Orlando, sipping my coffee, wishing I didn’t have such a long commute from Seminole County. Except, on this morning, as I was on my way to volunteer at Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida, I reminded myself how lucky I was to have a good job, no matter the distance from my house, my own car and a future full of opportunity.

By trade, I am a community relations representative at Orlando Health. But on that day, I was a volunteer videographer shooting footage of the Coalition clients moving into the new Men’s Service Center. Although I volunteer once a month on the Marketing and Communications Committee for the Coalition, this was my first official day interacting with the clients. 

From the moment I arrived on that early Wednesday morning, I could feel the anticipation and energy in the air. The staff and volunteers were ready to start moving the 250 men into the new center. There were numerous volunteers, of all ages, who came to show their support throughout the day. As the men began the move-in process, many of them wore their emotions on their sleeves. Walking into the center for the first time, picking up a new pair of shoes, and seeing where they will sleep and call home signified a new beginning for each of the men.

I interacted with so many men whose opportunities or determination for self-sufficiency have been limited by their past and present circumstances. The Men’s Service Center gives these men hope for the future. So many of the clients I spoke with throughout the day were quick to convey their gratitude to everyone involved in opening the facility. Many expressed that moving into the new center is a fresh start for them. They were excited to be living in a clean, structured environment that will require both accountability and motivation on their part. 

As I spent the day at the Coalition, I realized that regardless of the cause of each client’s homelessness there is an inevitable loneliness and feeling of defeat that comes with their situation. Therefore, they not only appreciate the interaction and kindness from the volunteers and staff, but they truly need it!

When community members set aside their preconceived notions of homelessness and treat the men with no judgment or reluctance, they are amazed at how their perception of these men and homelessness changes. When you treat others as an equal and a favored member of society, those individuals open up to you and feel empowered. They feel optimistic and uplifted.

The most impactful part of my day at the Coalition was watching the men become rejuvenated and encouraged as they walked into the center for the first time, with the support of volunteers and staff. The Coalition’s mission is about transformation and that’s what I saw start to happen.  Hopefully, the Men’s Service Center will bring these men the hope and compassion that will alleviate any discouragement and fear that may have been holding them back.

I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of the move-in day and the impact it had on my perception of homelessness. The relationships I built that day will keep me coming back to Coalition for the Homeless as a volunteer and friend for years to come.

 

Thank you again to the Coalition for allowing me to be a part of such a special day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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