Wednesday, September 23, 2015

What Makes a Place a Home?

Emily Davis

On July 20th, I left the place I had considered home for 21 years to find a new one. I moved halfway across the country and took a giant leap of faith. Moving in and getting to know my new community, city, and work was overwhelming and definitely an adjustment. 11 new people. Different countries. personalities. stories. We all had a lot to learn. 

During opening retreat and orientation, we talked about values, spirituality, and groceries. As well as, CPR, identity, and homelessness. Throughout all of these things and my first few nights working in the shelter, I found myself reflecting on the meaning of the word "home". All of my life I had considered my beautiful, suburban yellow house in Bowie, Maryland, home and while I did go to college and consider that a home for awhile, it was not my home. So what made this place my home? Was it because I was born there? Or because it is where my family lives? What happens when I move to a new house? Is that home?

As I attempted to answer all of these questions, I realized how much of my identity I had tied to that yellow house and how leaving it and finding a new home had been difficult for me. However, what was most difficult about this realization, was recognizing what my definition of home would mean for those who are homeless. In facing the many challenges that had led the guests we serve to homelessness, what else were they dealing with because they lost their home? If leaving my home, with the ability to build a new one was so hard for me, what was losing a home like for our guests?

This realization lead me to recognize the importance of providing our guests, not only with basic shelter, but also with hospitality. Franciscan Outreach has made it possible for us to be a part of providing shelter and given us the opportunity to create a new type of home for our guests. We have to help them to find some refuge from whatever they are dealing with. And just as my community members are helping me to rebuild a new home, I am there for the ladies at the Franciscan House. Hopefully, this year I will build incredible relationships with the ladies and become someone they can depend on. We will be together for holidays and hard times and I am more than excited to walk along their journeys with them. We are all building a new home and a new family together.