We are listening to our staff and our clients, and digesting the events that occurred over the past week and weekend.
Housing Forward is not just a set of programs, we are humans helping humans. Many of our team members are thinking about their own families at this time. They are dealing with their own pain and trauma, sharing their own experiences of feeling unseen and unheard by a society that has ignored their screams for change. That pain is reinforced by clients who every day experience being pushed aside, judged, marginalized, treated as less, and traumatized by experiences imposed on them by other humans.
Frankly speaking, our clients and many of our staff are scared and frightened. Their pain is real and that cannot be ignored.
The clients we assist are very resilient; they have to be. Yet some members of the Housing Forward community, especially black and brown people, suffer an ugly reality. They have slept on concrete and behind bushes. They have suffered the humility of begging for food and digging through dumpsters. They struggle with their mental illness alone and suffer endlessly with substance use. They have lied to their children about their circumstances to protect them. They are imprisoned disproportionately from their white counterparts. Women have been sexually assaulted and abused. They have come from impoverished communities, fled neighborhoods where gun violence is prominent, suffered long stints of unemployment. They have been told their background prevents them from being able to be employed or to sign a lease. Thinking about a stable future is a luxury. They are trapped in the cycle of extreme poverty while society tells them to pick themselves up by their bootstraps.
All of this pain and trauma has to be processed and that is not easy work. We will lead at this time by doubling-down on how we would want to be treated, validating feelings of others, and uplifting one of our agency’s core values: Compassionate Empathy.
Be kind to others and listen with empathy to those who are suffering. You never know how your listening ear, your actions, and your words will impact a stranger, a friend, a colleague.
To all those hurting right now: \we hear you and we stand unified.
With peace and solidarity,