Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Providing Comfort

By Cara Ugolino

From my AmeriCorps year at Franciscan Outreach Volunteers, I have learned the importance of providing comfort to our guests throughout the day. 


I learned quickly that individuals experiencing homelessness do not have the luxury of comfort. I saw this through the daily stories from our guests. From the constant fear of being attacked during the night for one's spot under a bridge. To homeless women experiencing an extreme lack of comfort when they have their periods, and have limited access to expensive feminine products. To homeless individuals having a constant awareness that at any moment, the police can decide to kick them out of any public place for just existing. To having to put trust into strangers helping you when it comes to housing opportunities, dinner, laundry services etc., when so often you are used to doing things on your own. Individuals experiencing homelessness are made to feel uncomfortable every single day.


One guest that I worked with confided in me that she happened to be a transgender women. Because hormones are so expensive, this woman still had typical physical male characteristics. This is just another example of the lack of comfort homeless individuals often face. She didn’t have the resources to feel comfortable in her own skin. From the beginning we had open communication with her about what would be the most comfortable arrangement for her while using our shower services. We decided together that she would shower in her own bathroom with a woman supervisor on site. It was through this experience that I realized that working in a social service agency, we have the ability to give a client the only comfort that they might experience throughout the day. This woman fears for her life every day due to being homeless and a woman who is transgender, and we have the power to give her a safe space where she can finally feel comfort. My AmeriCorps year made me realize that I will work with LGBTQ homeless individuals, and I will do everything in my power to provide a safe and comfortable space for individuals living on the margin, that don’t have the privilege of experiencing comfort on a daily basis. 

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