Habitat ECS | A New Perspective of Homelessness
Today we went to TESSA, an organization that helps women and children who have been victims of domestic violence. They don’t let men stay at their organization, but if a man comes looking for help, they put him up in a hotel. When we arrived at the organization, we were split into two groups: one group went to fold and organize clothing and other accessories, while the other group went to the safehouse, at an undisclosed location. The safehouse is where the women and their children stay until they get back on their feet. When we first stepped into the safehouse, we were all astound by how messy it was. There were toys everywhere from the children, there was trash that people hadn’t picked up; it was a mess. We started to clean up, and as we were cleaning, the women and their children started to come out of their rooms. They came over and talked with us while we were cleaning and one women told us how sorry and embarrassed she was for how bad everything was. She said she tries to clean up, but there are other people who just don’t.
After we finished cleaning, we had a debrief with Andrew, who used to work in the safehouse. He told us about all the donations they get. When they arrive at the program, most of the women and children don’t have very many things. So TESSA accepts all kinds of donations. They accept things for personal care like hair brushes, deodorant, baby wipes, etc. They also accept home goods. The only thing they don’t accept is clothing, which is what they receive the most of. One question that was asked was, what do the mothers do with their children while they are going to interviews and trying to obtain a job? He told us that they do not provide daycare because they want the mothers to have to find one themselves. He said he wants them to get back to a normal life/routine. Another question that was asked was, how did the safehouse get in the condition that it was before it was cleaned? Andrew told us that they don’t require many rules due to the fact that some of the families staying there came out of relationships where they were continuously told what to do. He didn’t want them to feel as if they were still being told what they had to do. He mentioned that they used to have rules, but now they don’t. They are trying to find the right balance, so that way the safehouse remains clean and organized, while the women don’t feel as if they are being told what to do.
We have already done and learned so much over these past two and a half weeks. We learn something new everyday. Today was an amazing opportunity to actually get to help people in need and I am very thankful I got to be apart of it. Even though it was only cleaning, I enjoyed it because by the time we had finished, the safehouse looked great. While I was cleaning, I kept thinking about what it would be like to be in this type of situation. To be in a relationship that got so terrible, you have to leave and live in a place like the safehouse. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to have to go through that. By the end of the day, I definitely got a new perspective of homelessness. And I think I can speak for everyone when I say we felt like we had accomplished something amazing today and really made a difference in people’s lives.
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