About two months ago, I received a phone call that my mother had passed away unexpectedly. I was three weeks into the fall semester of my junior year of college. After spending the next two weeks at home, I knew that I would be unable to return to school and pass all of my classes after falling so far behind. So, the day following my mom’s service, I met with one of my long-time friends for coffee.
He was currently living in Albuquerque and working as the Young Adult Volunteer program’s coordinator. I told him I would not be returning to school for the fall semester, but that I was interested in finding a place that I could do some volunteer work. A week later, without fail, he called me on the phone. He told me that he had found a nonprofit in Albuquerque that centered around homelessness, and that there was a guy named Dennis that said I could come do some work and stay for as long as I’d like.
For many reasons, it was the perfect opportunity. The main point drawing me to Heading Home was their passion for helping to change the issue of homelessness. When my mom had worked for the Seattle Police Department during the 80’s and 90’s, she had always had a passion for helping the homeless that she had encountered there. She saw past the stereotypes of why they were where they were, and she knew that a good conversation or offering help was something, even if it was small, that could make a difference. My mom was the first person to introduce me to the societal problem of homelessness, but she made sure to address it in a way that made me want to help rather than hide.
Three weeks later, I was on the plane and headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico. Stepping off the plane, I really had no idea what I had gotten myself into, well no idea besides the seventy-five degree weather of which I was currently enjoying. The following day I met with Dennis at the office. He said that I could fill in wherever and try some new things.
My first Monday at work I was invited to the Peer-to-Peer luncheon and also helped prepare the food. As the room filled with bodies, murmurs and laughter echoed off of the walls. Round tables had captured walks of life from all over the Heading Home family; around them sat volunteers, clients, and case-workers. As we went around introducing ourselves and stating what we were grateful for, I couldn’t help but feel that I had ended up exactly right where I needed to be.
After learning of my mother’s passing, I had spent far too many days floating through the hours that made up my life. Going places without a purpose had become my new normal. I’m so thankful to have found a place that I can help, but that has also been able to help me. If you ask me how or why I ended up where I am right now, I’d simply say I was offered an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I guess you could say I’ve found a new direction, and in a sense, I too am headed home.
Over the course of this month, I will be working on a collaborative project with Heading Home to bring you some portraits and poetry of the progress and happenings within the organization and Heading Home family. Stay tuned for more photos, writings, and poetry as I continue along on my current adventure.