When I was in my first Journalism course in college, my professor told me the most important part of Journalism wasn't getting all the facts and figures... it wasn't making sure that the story's lede was a ka-pow... it was making sure the story had humanity.
People are the most important part of our lives. As humans, we require social interaction to be full-filled. We live in communities, we cherish family, and we are biologically programmed to create more humans. Journalism was all about telling people's stories. Everyone has one. Everyone has a story that got them from where they started to where they are now.
I've been in this position for a couple weeks, and the most moving and emotional part of this job is hearing a new story almost every day. Everyone arrives in a homeless shelter for different reasons. Sometimes we find ourselves making assumptions about the homeless... we assume they don't want to work, that they gamble all the time, or that they are struggling with substance abuse issues. Some of that is true. For some people, that's their story.
But it's not everyone's.
Our guests come from so many different backgrounds and are in so many different situations. A lot of the guests have jobs, but are waiting on housing to fall into place. Some of our guests lost their jobs in layoffs and ended up here after their savings ran dry and are regularly going to job interviews. Some of the families we see have been struggling to find low income housing, for which there is a three-year waiting list for in Sioux Falls. Many of our residents struggle with mental health issues that need to be stabilized before moving forward.
We can't assume. We have to get to know the story.
Right now we have a guest that is 85-years-old. Imagine the story there. Imagine what a life they led before ending up here.
So while sometimes our assumptions are correct, a lot of the time they aren't. BDHH strives to understand the situation of everyone that walks through our doors. We welcome them with open arms into a place that will foster change if that's what they want to get out of it. We let them tell their story, and we try to get them the tools and resources they need to fix their situation.
I encourage anyone who is curious what we do here or how we do it to come to the facility and take a tour. See it for yourself. Hear the stories.
“Everyone has a story to tell, everyone is a writer. Some are written in the books and some are confined to hearts.” -Savi Sharma