The Constants

Olav at the Men's Shelter

There is no set schedule to my day. Some days I walk in and am immediately bombarded by 3-5 clients demanding my attention and assistance. Other days nobody notices me as I scurry off to the office, desperate to finish administrative work that otherwise would never get done. Now that I have been given clients as a caseworker—a “caseload”—the one constant in my workday is that I’ll be assisting those residents assigned to me.  

That could look like me chasing down an elusive client to get him to sign paperwork, or it could manifest as helping clients to figure out their life plans and next step. While at the shelter, I attend to the residents’ needs: handing out clothes, food, bus tickets, and advice. Yet I always try to keep in my mind that the ultimate goal is to leave the shelter. Every day is an uphill journey to equip my guys with the tools they need to look after themselves on an independent basis.

I would not be able to do this at all without my other workday constant—co-workers. These people keep me laughing and joyous when the chaos and stress of a short-staffed shelter gets to me. I can always count on Zach to share a chuckle or on Danielle to answer any hard-hitting questions. From clocking in at 8am to leaving at 4pm, they make my experience a wonderful one.

Every client that walks into the shelter is given a goal from day one—find permanent and stable housing. Because everyone is working towards the same goal, the highs of my service site is plain to me. Seeing the absolute bliss on a resident’s face when I tell him he’s moving out will never get old.

Parallel to that cheerful vibe is the despair that creeps onto a client’s face when he hears that there are just no apartments available in Syracuse. Sure, there are apartments, but they are 2x-3x the amount they can afford. I try to find a balance of the highs and lows but ultimately, I’m at the whims of the pandemic-era housing market.

With regards to community, the high is the constant celebration. Yes, that includes parties, but also the daily celebration of life. Here we are, eight volunteers in a city none of us had a previous connection to. Yet knowing I will always return to a good home-cooked meal, prayer, and affection keeps me going. I’ve never felt closer to God than when I’m around these seven lovable goofballs. Every day I thank the Lord for guiding me to FrancisCorps, where even the occasional lows of butting-heads is swept away by a torrent of love.

Categories: General

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