As an agency committed to helping those who are homeless and sick, the Center for Respite Care is part of homeless advocacy in the Cincinnati area. In each moment, we’re trying to get our clients back on their feet and off the streets. We know why and how people become homeless, although no two of our clients ever tell the same story. We understand the factors that keep a person homeless, even when they may have the means of helping themselves. We speak to these individuals each and every day.
But we’re not homeless. We have some employees who were homeless once, but the majority of the people who work at the Center for Respite Care are not homeless. We’ve been here, helping, but we haven’t been on the streets. We haven’t lived wondering where our next meal will come from or where we will sleep each night.
This must, in some way, limit our ability to be advocates for the homeless. Still, I think, we are needed. The homeless are not always their own best advocate and need “friends in high places.” (We are not exactly in a high place, but can sometimes appeal to those who are.) The point is that we do our best as advocates for the homeless when we recognize our strengths and our weaknesses.
This is part of the reason I’m so interested in stories from our clients. Sure, they may be telling me only what they think I want to here or their perspective may be partial or flawed, but that’s just part of being human. Sometimes, I’m flawed too.