Last week I mentioned that a number of staff from the Men’s Shelter were participating in the National Alliance to End Homelessness’ annual conference in Washington, D.C. Well, Sheila, Charles, Joe, Charles, and myself all made it back after spending three days absorbing lots of great information and updates on best practices presented by colleagues from all over the country. It was really cool to see my staff so engaged and, as importantly, watching them see first hand how much MSC is out front in providing solutions that end homelessness for the men we serve.
I was honored to be asked to present at a workshop on housing homeless people with substance abuse issues. I was joined by colleagues from Oregon and L.A.’s skid row district. All three of our agency’s are practitioners of the harm reduction approach. We weren’t trying to convince others to adopt our approach; our goal was to demonstrate how harm reduction in a shelter setting can help people succeed as they move into housing. I was pleased to see so many in the audience who felt reaffirmed in their own work by our presentation and that we were also able to help others brainstorm ways to address daily issues they face. I was certainly energized by a full room on the morning of the last day of the conference!
In addition to seeing old friends and networking with so many people working to end homelessness in America, an additional treat was listening to actor Richard Gere at the plenary luncheon. Gere has a movie coming out this fall where he plays a homeless man on the streets of NYC. The clips they showed were intriguing and I’m looking forward to see the film when its released.
It’s nice to be back in Charlotte and as I returned to work on Monday morning I felt just a little bit more eager than usual to get to work knowing that the great work being done at MSC is also happening around the country. I feel more confident than ever that we will end homelessness in our community and our nation.