I began my foray into homelessness in 2009 when I nervously began my social work career as an intern on Aurora’s Homeless Outreach Team. However, it didn’t take long for me to come out of my shell and jump right in to servicing our local homeless. Like an addiction, I was instantly hooked on meeting all of these interesting people laid before me. I wanted to know their stories and their struggles. I wanted to know their dreams and goals. Most importantly, I wanted to be a catalyst and a means to their end. In June of 2010, Aurora hired me full time to do just that. It was empowering to know that I could help be a voice and a mechanism for change for individuals that somehow found themselves voiceless and stuck. Helping lift those in need has become a part of my life mission. Aurora provided me the tools, guidance, and support to become an effective and efficient agent of change. For this, and much more, I am forever grateful.
Today is my last day as an Aurora staff member as I pursue the next step in my journey as a helper. However, today is not my last day as a voice for Aurora. I credit myself for drive and desire, but I credit Aurora for shaping me into the social worker that I am today. Aurora is now a part of my identity. I choose to carry forward the compassion, empathy, and pure helping heart that this agency prides itself on. This agency will continue on without me as the light and steward for the homeless in our community. I will continue on, but will never leave Aurora or its staff behind.
A training I went to early in my career was led by an individual that did an exercise to help the audience understand what homelessness really meant. She asked simple questions like, “Where do you do your dishes?” “Where do you watch TV?” “Where do you do your laundry?” “Where do you spend time with your children?” The audience replied with answers like kitchen, living room, laundry room, et cetera. The presenter surmised to say, “Would you not all agree that these places not only constitute a house, but a home?” Yeses and nods filled the room. Then the stumper—“Where would do these same things if you were without a home?” Blank stares fell across the room. It seems that home is one of those things that is easy to take for granted until it’s gone.
I choose to use a similar analogy for my experience at Aurora. “Where do you go for hope when you are hopeless?” “Where do you go for unending support from friends?” “Where do you go to discover personal growth?” “Where do you go when you need a fresh start?” “Where can you always go…?” My answer is still the same—home—and Aurora will always be mine. Thank you for being not only a light in the community, but thank you for being a light in me personally. I will miss this agency and my friends dearly, but know that I will continue to carry you with me. Because Aurora exists, I will never have to be without a place to call home. Thank you.
Aaron began his involvement with Aurora in 2009 as he completed both of his undergraduate social work internships with the Homeless Outreach Team. Aaron officially joined the team in June of 2010 after graduating from the University of Southern Indiana with his Bachelor of Social Work. He remained serving with the Outreach Team until May of 2013 where he made the decision to move over to Vision 1505 as the new case manager. Aaron completed an undergrad study about the effectiveness of permanent supportive housing and felt a passion to help mold the first permanent supportive housing program for families in Indiana. Aaron also worked concurrently at the United Caring Shelters as an independently contracted case manager for transitional housing in 2013. Aaron continued his personal growth by completing his Master of Social Work in the summer of 2014 through the University of Southern Indiana. Aaron will join the team at University of Southern Indiana as an academic counselor.
When Aaron is not working, he is helping plan his life with his wife, Jacey. Aaron tries to find time in all of the chaos to enjoy time with his friends, family, and his dog, Lilly. Aaron also enjoys chasing aces in disc golf and enjoys teaching the sport to anyone that will listen.