I have had the pleasure and joy the past few months of being an intern at Aurora with the Homeless Outreach Team. I have learned so much about our community, those who find themselves in a homeless situation, and how Aurora helps in so many ways. I wish everyone would take time to learn more about Aurora and volunteer and/or donate items to help this wonderful organization. They help so many people in our community, and most people do not know who they are unless they have found themselves in a homeless situation or are in the social work field.
Aurora has many different programs to help those who have barriers obtain housing and stability. There are many barriers that can contribute to a person becoming homeless: lack of social supports, employment loss, increased living expenses, health issues, mental illness, unfortunate rental history, and/ or other crisis situations. Aurora helps those who are homeless from the time they are homeless to the time they are moving into housing, they also ensure people maintain their housing.
One program at Aurora is the Homeless Outreach Team. They complete case management at local shelters, as well as case management to those who come into the Aurora office who are homeless and looking for guidance. The Homeless Outreach Team meets with them to discuss their needs, goals, and a plan on how to reach their goals. The Homeless Outreach Team discuss with individuals and couples different community resources and working on a budget so they can save enough money to obtain housing. They assist with obtaining birth certificates, social security cards, and IDs, which are all required for applying for employment and housing. The Homeless Outreach Team assists with searching for employment and housing. It has amazed me how willing people are to ask for help and to answer so many detailed questions to be able to build the foundation they need to reestablish their lives; it takes a brave individual to ask for help from a stranger.
The Homeless Outreach Team is able to build relationships with those who find themselves homeless by meeting their basic needs; such as food, clothes, and hygiene items. On Fridays the Homeless Outreach Team goes out to do community outreach. They load up the van with shirts of all sizes, socks, underwear, hats, gloves, food bags, hygiene bags, etc. to give to those who are living on the streets. They talk with them, as they get their items, to find where they are planning on staying for the night and what their goals are for employment/ housing at this time. The people they work with are so grateful for Aurora and thank them often. The Homeless Outreach Team builds rapport with people to form a long term impact in their lives. Their main goal is to assist the homeless in increasing their income, stabilizing housing, and increase their supports.
There are so many stories I want to share about the impact Aurora makes in individuals’ lives, but there is one experience that has stood out the most to me while interning at Aurora. A man came up to the Homeless Outreach Team crying. He had nine fresh stitches on his forehead and a large dark bruise under his left eye. He did not know how it happened. He said he may have fallen while intoxicated or maybe had been in a fight. He had been homeless for a fairly long time and seemed to have given up on hope because those around him had given up hope in him. He said he wanted them to take him somewhere to detox. He said he was tired of the lifestyle he was living and wants to be sober. The Homeless Outreach Team took him to the hospital to detox and talked to him about a plan of when he got out of the hospital; he agreed to go to a local shelter after detoxing. He completed inpatient substance abuse treatment as well. He was hesitant to go in with the doctor, so a couple of workers from the Homeless Outreach Team went in with him for support. He has found hope again, with Aurora’s support. He is now searching for housing and employment.
This experience stood out to me the most because here was a man trying to change and only needed someone to believe in him. This experience opened my eyes to the frustrations of those who are suffering from alcoholism and homelessness. Some simply lack the support they need to reach their goals. They give up hope and stay homeless even though they are unhappy and although they know they need and want help. This situation made me feel like Evansville sometimes sees the homeless as “unworthy” because he had attempted to turn to others in the community for help yet they passed over him. If it weren’t for Aurora, this man and many others would not have the hope they need to move toward a stable life. This is only one example of a homeless man who Aurora has helped. Everyone’s story and situation is different.
It seems as though some people in our community are trying to suppress the homeless, instead of help them. My hope is that more people open not only their eyes but also their hearts to helping others. I also hope our community does not cast judgment on those who are homeless, rather be a support to them. Anyone can become homeless. It may only take a helping hand for them to get their feet back on the ground.
My husband and I live in Posey county. I will graduate from Ivy Tech Community College on May 9 with my Associates degree in Human Services. I have been accepted in the BSW program at USI and will begin attending USI this summer. My husband and I love to go camping, hiking, fishing, bike riding, rock climbing-=.just about anything there is to do in the outdoors. We love spending time with our three dogs: Andre, Jackson, and Tanner. Dustin and I are big animal lovers! We also have pet rabbits, turtles, lizards, and ducks. We love spending time with our family, traveling, going to Christian rock concerts, and volunteering in the community, including Keck Ave Baptist Church, Evansville Christian Life Center, Big Brother Big Sisters, It Takes a Village Canine Rescue, Dream Center, Christian Fellowship Church, and Evansville Association for the Blind.