“Heartbreak,” one of my fellow orientation attendees offered, as we were brainstorming the reasons people are homeless. It stopped the room cold. This was before the tour that took us past the old jail cells (with a metal bunk bed, tiny toilet, small sink, little mirror, and a curtain for a door) now used as home for U.S. Veterans of War who stay for up to two years (averaging about nine months).
This was before seeing the Mercy Care clinic, complete with a lobby space for barbers and two dental chairs for teeth cleanings.
This was before visiting the clothes closet where men could get an outfit once a week and women could get two (because more women’s clothes are donated).
This was before a stop in the freshly-painted locker room where Georgia State students and those going on job interviews could leave stuff so they didn’t need to drag their life belongings with them and advertise the fact that they were, indeed, homeless.
This was while we were just sitting there talking, a boy volunteering from a church jotting down our thoughts on a white board and an ex-drug addict/dealer who then got a masters degree in divinity leading us forward as potential volunteers.
And yet, as I rode away after chatting about my bike (named Magic) with several clients of this gateway to a full range of services for those facing homelessness in Atlanta, all I could think about was heartbreak. Heartbreak, heartbreak, heartbreak. And how simple everything suddenly seemed. How simple and beautiful and possible.