April 5, 2010

Seven Families Defeat Homelessness - at Packed Graduation Ceremony

On April 1st of this year I attended an exceptional evening of joy and encouragement, the memory of which will be with me for many days to come.

Hosted by North County Solutions for Change, the event was held at the Lifeway Church in Vista and was the celebration of the graduation of 7 homeless families and their 13 children who had successfully completed their commitment to be self supporting and had just moved on to a home or apartment of their own. The meeting area was packed with people who have played a part in the success of those who would testify. As part of the agenda, each head of the 7 households told their stories, recalling their difficulties before being accepted into the Solutions family, their determination, hard work (sometimes 2 or 3 jobs by the adult) and their appreciation of the support by staff, volunteers and other Solutions residents. Between tears, pride and caring for others were expressed with regularity and many who witnessed this outpouring were in awe of those who spoke. Most of the graduates had come from the depths of despair to a new day of independence and self-confidence. The conclusion of this ceremony was marked by most of the attendees forming a series of circles within other circles becoming a “group hug” and reciting the Lords Prayer.

But I could not help reflecting that the day before many of the temporary winter shelters for the homeless in North County were closed until the next “winter” cycle begins the following November. Where would the homeless go – how would they survive? How would the children enroll in school without having a real address when living in a park or a van and would they be counted in the census? The support by the cities, businesses, caring individuals and faith based organizations has been remarkable and all those who gave funding and volunteer care for the homeless are to be commended. However I have an awareness that this national problem may only continue to grow, particularly if there is not a significant upturn in the economy.

Solutions for Change was founded on the premise that providing shelter was only the first step and that children should have first call on the security of a place to call home. Our mission has not changed and over the 10 years of its existence over 1700 souls have worked their way out of homelessness to being in a place of their own.

Perhaps the model of Solutions for Change could be made available to those who will not settle for half the answer. As Chris Megison is fond of saying – “Give a man a fish and he will eat today. Give a man a fishing pole, teach him how to use it, throw in a tackle box...and he will eat forever”

Gene Ford
Solutions for Change

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