I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but Mr. Hunt is one of mine.
He came to us at age 90, homeless for the first time after losing control of his finances. In describing the experience, he remarked, “That was a whole heap of a mess I never intended to get in to.”
Getting to know Mr. Hunt felt like going back in time. When talking with a woman, he would take off his hat and hold it over his heart. He would regale you with stories of being in the Air Force post-World War II and of being a librarian in New York City.
His kindness is matched by his stubbornness. Finding a housing option for him that maintained some level of independence was a must. And, we all rejoiced when he moved out earlier this month to a senior living apartment.
I shudder to think what could have happened to Mr. Hunt had Men’s Shelter of Charlotte not been there to meet him in his crisis, with shelter, food, and housing advocacy.
I also reflect, though, on the gift that Mr. Hunt’s presence provided us.
I met Mr. Hunt shortly after my grandmother’s death. Mr. Hunt’s story-telling and his sense of dignity reminded me of my grandmother, and was a comfort to me as I grieved. Watching other guest’s interact with Mr. Hunt was equally as beautiful, as various men spent time watching out for and talking with “pops.”
No doubt, all of us met each other in our time of need and in our humanity.
And that is what we do every day at Men’s Shelter of Charlotte: We meet each other in our humanity.
“Forty-seven days in shelter, and now I’m housed! I feel blessed and grateful.” That’s the sentiment from Robert as he proudly stands in his kitchen in his own apartment.
Robert, who holds a B.A. in Sociology, hails from Ohio and came to Charlotte with his cousin and extended family looking for job opportunities. He worked for years installing sheet rock until a foot injury forced him into exploring a new career as a truck driver. That is, until his injured foot took a turn for the worse. After a necessary surgery, Robert contracted an infection, worsening his condition.
He found his way to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. Once getting his basic needs met, he had the support to take care of his medical needs and connected with our Employment Team. Our staff provided regular transportation for Robert to Goodwill’s Opportunity Campus where he enrolled in a six-week Construction Services class to obtain career-advancing certifications. He has since graduated.
During this time at the shelter, Robert put together a housing plan with help from our housing team. With limited income, Robert thought creatively and decided to share an apartment with another shelter guest. Sharing the apartment meant sharing the rent, a way to create affordability. Robert is also receiving a temporary rent subsidy through our Rapid Re-Housing program.
Now housed, Robert can fully recover from his foot injury and looks forward to accepting one of the job offers he’s already received through his program with Goodwill.
Robert reminisces on his time at the shelter, “There are real people over there, caring people, who are all so helpful.”
Father’s Day, June 21, is the 2nd annual Father’s Day Wallet Drive
Remembering that men experiencing homelessness play many roles in our community
Picture above is Sutton, who donated several wallets in the inaugural Father’s Day Wallet Drive last year.
Wallets as a symbol of identity.
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte remembers while its clients are experiencing homelessness – it is not an identity. The men are fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, friends, and play many roles in our community.
Donate wallets Friday, June 19 – 22
You can celebrate this special day by donating new or gently used wallets for the 2nd Annual Father’s Day Wallet Drive. Last year these wallets were a popular item with our clients. Wallets are a perfect symbol of the path home with the formula: Income + Housing + Supports = An End to Homelessness.
The Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC) is one of many homeless services agencies serving people in our community who are experiencing homelessness and are considered chronically homeless (meaning they’ve been homeless often or for an extended period of time and they have an disabling condition, often mental illness). In fact, MSC provides safe shelter and supportive services to about 200 chronically homeless men each year. In FY2013-2014, 24% of the men MSC moved into more appropriate housing were chronically homeless – that’s over 100 chronically men who moved out of the shelter in just one year! So far in FY2014-2015, about 20% of the moves to more appropriate housing at MSC are with chronically homeless men. At MSC, we know first hand how this Housing First initiative can, and will, work to end chronic homelessness in our community. Housing First Charlotte-Mecklenburg aligns well with MSC’s mission to end homelessness for each man we serve. That’s why we’re excited about the plan and actively engaged to help the initiative succeed.
By declaring a date certain to end chronic homelessness, our community leaders have endorsed a solid plan that will work with everyone’s commitment. I was proud to stand with so many colleagues and community leaders yesterday as the plan was announced. I’m grateful for Mayor Clodfelter and County Commission Chairman Trevor Fuller for fully committing our local governments to make this plan succeed. I’m grateful to hear my colleague Fulton Meachum, CEO of the Charlotte Housing Authority, once again publically declare that homelessness would continue to be a preference for access to public housing. I’m proud of my colleague Dale Mullenix, from the Urban Ministry Center, for committing his agency to manage this project. Our business community, especially Bank of America and Wells Fargo, are to be commended for rallying the business sector around this plan. And last, but far from least, much credit goes to Michael Smith, CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. Michael is the mastermind who quietly pulled everyone together and insisted we create a bold approach to solve the problem of chronic homelessness, first for those most vulnerable citizens who need our help, and then as another way to make our community a vibrant place in which to work and live.
The clock is now ticking and there is much work to be done. We will end chronic homelessness in Charlotte-Mecklenburg by the end of 2016. But that’s not the end of the story. We will then complete the work of ending homelessness for all in our community. MSC will certainly play it’s part. In addition to our stated mission of ending homelessness for each man, our agency’s vision to realize an end to homelessness in our community through fostering systemic change. Yesterday we all witnessed a seismic shift in our systemic approach to solving homelessness that will prove that, collectively, this community can realize an end to homelessness for all!
I’m always excited about New Years Day because with it comes a renewed vigor to accomplish so many things in life.
At the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte (MSC), the New Year is also the halfway point in our fiscal year. By New Year’s Day we can see how much progress our men have made over the past six months, which excites us for the progress to come over the next six months. Please be on the lookout for our community Impact Report to be released in early 2015. In it you can share in our excitement over progress being made at MSC to end homelessness for each man, thus ending homelessness in our community.
As we all think about our New Year’s resolutions, maybe one of yours will be to get involved or become more involved in the incredible success happening at the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte?