Tonight marked the convening of the Streets to Homes Change Workshop. It was a strong and stimulating start!
Myself, a colleague, and four residents of our Bedded Program met in the dining area of SHARC (Streets to Homes / Assessment & Referral Centre) and began to generate the guidelines and a topic list for the Workshop. Its originating intent is to help participants deal with negative changes that have or can overwhelm their lives, and to conceive and successfully pursue positive change.
Our program deals with individuals who are homeless, avoiding the shelter system, and therefore sleeping “rough”, or who are homeless and heavily street involved. One of tonight’s participants is a sixty-three year old man who lost his wife of 38 years three years back, then, shortly thereafter, lost the home they’d shared for decades. Next week he moves into an apartment in an unfamiliar part of town, where he’ll live alone for the first time in his life. In addition to the other follow-up support he’ll receive from our program, he’ll be welcome to return to the Workshop for as long as he’d like. He knows that dealing with loneliness will be his biggest challenge and anticipates returning next week to share with the rest of us his first steps toward building a new community.
Part of the Workshop will involve sharing tools and concepts to facilitate change. Tonight’s offering was about the power of Declaration. We talked about crossing that thin emotional line between contemplating the possibility of change and actually acknowledging a desire and declaring an intent to oneself. We talked about what a frightening shift that can be, how it raises so many spectres: of failure and judgement, and the effort we feel to be beyond our powers. We spoke of facing the unknown, and of the immobilizing power of our fears.
Then, we evoked the flip side of all that negativity: the possibility of gain, satisfaction, pride of accomplishment. The energizing, hopeful face of anticipation, the beautiful possibilities that lie in the unknown. And we looked at failure as the almost inevitable ingredient of any long-term success, and its power to instruct, to correct, to steer us toward our truest desires.
We generated an energy tonight that is like that of all the best groups I’ve ever belonged to. At the end of the session, everyone spoke excitedly about returning next week, inviting others, and moving forward. It is so satisfying to be putting this important piece in place. Tonight was a wonderful beginning.