Men's Shelter of Charlotte

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Finding Joy

“When it’s hard to find joy, you have to choose joy.  Choose it today.”  A very special person sent me a text this morning with those words.  It got me thinking about the men we serve.  It’s certainly understandable for men who are experiencing homelessness to struggle mightily with finding joy in their lives.  Yet, every day I see examples of joyful men.  The excitement of signing a lease for an apartment, getting approval for disability benefits, or landing a new job are moments of great joy for our men.  For some, hearing from a loved one for the first time in years brings tearful joy.  For others, reaching a week, a month, or a year of sobriety is cause for joyous celebration.  I’ve heard from numerous men who are joyful for their faith and the fellowship they find at church or in their mosque. 

This past week, I received a card and photo from a woman, a widow, writing to let me know that her husband had passed.  You see, he had been a guest at the Men’s Shelter in 2011-2012.  They became friends, he obtained a job and a place to live and then proposed.  He died on Christmas Day (2014).  Not only did she want me to know about his passing, but also that they “had a very happy marriage [and] everyday we were very happy and blessed.”  While sadness comes across in her words, the joy that was their life together struck me profoundly.

Men’s Shelter of Charlotte is all about providing safe emergency shelter while working to end homelessness for each man.  We are intensely focused on helping men obtain income, housing, and supports to overcome their homeless experience and not return to our shelters.  I’ve said before that helping our men maintain their sense of dignity and hope is as important an endeavor as anything we could do.  This morning I’m reminded that helping them find joy, to choose joy, is the greatest act of kindness and love we can offer.  I’m tremendously grateful that our staff loves to celebrate joy with our men.  I’m as grateful that we have thousands of volunteers who love to do the same. 

Maybe today you can think about the joy in your life.  If you’re struggling to find joy, as I often find myself doing, then please choose joy today.  Maybe you’d even like to volunteer at the Men’s Shelter, helping our men celebrate the joy in their lives.  It’s easy, just go to our website, and click on our Ways to Help tab.  Blessings!

Carson Dean

In September 2008 I became the Executive Director of the Men's Shelter of Charlotte. I've spent almost 15 years working to end homelessness in North Carolina. After working with homeless and runaway youth in Raleigh, I served as the Director of the South Wilmington Street Center (men's shelter) in Wake County and then worked on Orange County's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. I am a former board chair for the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness and former chair of the Homeless Services Network in Charlotte. In 2014 I served as the partner agency representative on the United Way Central Carolinas board of directors.

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