Sunday, July 11, 2010

To the Ones Who Can

It's Gratitude Sunday, when I look for a new gratitude.  This morning's gratitude started with yesterday's unsolvable dilemma.  A call for money from an addict prompted another round of "is she really in recovery this time? ... or is she just trying to score money again?"  It prompted a call to my blog sister Louise who works in a homeless shelter in Canada.  She, of course, could not answer the question but she did offer empathy and insight.  It made me realize how grateful I am to the people who offer care and shelter to the bewildered, bedeviled and lost souls who live among us. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) reports that 1.6 million people spent at least one night in an emergency shelter in 2009.  And, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council estimates between 750,000 and 2 million men and women ages 18 to 24 experience some form of homelessness every year in the U.S.  It's a multi-faceted and hugely difficult problem.  The success stories Louise tells in her blog at Recover Your Joy are inspiring and encouraging but I'm sure for every success story, there are many heart breaking ones of people who never find their way back.  Louise is one of the many unsung heroes who work in this challenging field.  I am grateful to all of them who offer compassion, a warm bed, a hot meal, job and life training and hope for a better way of being in the world to all of those mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, daughters and sons who have become lost in the world of homelessness and addition.

I am also grateful for Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an amazing, self-organizing, free recovery program that has offered help to millions of people around the world.  For the past several months I've watched a young friend turn her life around with the help of the AA program and the generous support of sponsors and other AAers who have learned how to live sober in a world that often seems deliriously drunk and out of control.  Without AA (and it's related NA, GA, OA), the level of homelessness could be even higher than it is.

There are people in the world who have the empathy, compassion, skills and patience to deal with the most difficult problems facing the homeless, the nearly homeless, the alcoholics, drug addicts and mentally challenged.  This morning they have my extreme gratitude.

There are also people in the world who hit bottom (at whatever level) and have the strength, courage and determination to reach out for help and then accept it with humility and honesty.  They also have my gratitude for each in their own way has made our world a better place.


  1. I have only recently noticed just how bombarded we are with images of a glamorized alcoholic world...from the Dos Equis commercial about "The most interesting man in the world" to the history of "Old No.7"'s constant and dizzying. I only wish more people knew about what an amazing journey recovery can be, although when it begins it's the scariest thing many face in their lives. I too am grateful that there are those empathetic and wise to have started these amazing programs, and had the sense enough to put down simple guidelines so that they all work, and continue to work.
    There are angels among us.

  2. Lovely post, Joyce.

    Interestingly, today's Washington Post featured an article about the "myths" of the homeless experience.

  3. hello lovely Joyce -- thank you for the kudos and the encouragement. And THANK YOU for the call!

    I can hardly wait to hear all about your trip :)

    Hugs and love and all that stuff. It's so wonderful to have a blog sister like you. I am blessed.