I passed by one of the large emergency shelters yesterday afternoon while walking back to my office. Standing outside, holding a trash bag filled with her belongings, was a woman who had lived at Calvary several years ago. Barbara must be in her late 50s. She has a long history of mental illness that has resulted in years of homelessness. Estranged from her family, Barbara spends her days isolated and struggling with the symptoms of her illness. Her sad expression and child-like voice make her seem particularly fragile.
For the most part, the stories I share through this blog are ones of hope. They are the stories of women whose lives have changed for the better during their time at Calvary. The stories remind us of the resilience and determination that women possess and how many are able to seize opportunities to turn their lives around.
Unfortunately, there are also stories of continued crisis. Women relapse and find themselves back in the throes of their addiction. The job that seemed so perfect ends and the rent can no longer be paid. The seemingly stable relationship turns abusive. An illness that is chronic and severe makes maintaining stability for a long period of time very difficult.
Stories like Barbara’s challenge us to keep our eyes wide open to the realities that women face. These stories remind us that people’s lives, including our own, are not without ups and downs. It is there – in the midst of the joys and sorrows – that Calvary finds itself. It is there that we strive to provide safety and support.
We celebrate with those women who have moved out of homelessness. We welcome back those women, like Barbara, who may need to start over again.