As a social worker, I do my best to pay attention to policy changes as they directly impact the people with whom I work. Right now, I work in a supportive housing facility with men and women who were formerly homeless. All cope with serious mental health issues and/or are in recovery for substance abuse. They experience extreme financial difficulties, but actively work towards improving their place in life. Due to recent changes in the public welfare system, some have lost their cash assistance. When combined with other unforeseen hardships, residents may find themselves unable to meet their most basic needs. In the months leading up the presidential election, residents have educated each other about the importance of voting and provided updates on how and where to register as a means to advocate for their stability and well-being.
Until policy changes, however, many people feel hopeless as they lose what little they had to begin with. Yet in the last week, I have seen some of the most selfless acts of generosity I’ve ever witnessed. As residents see their neighbors struggling, reluctant to ask for help because of their pride, they have reached out to those who are straining. They’ve shared food. They helped make phone calls. They alerted staff that some people were in an especially tough spot so staff could connect them with the appropriate resources. Although all residents are struggling, many could not sit back and watch another human being scramble.
I know that a lot of the people I work with have felt judged and discriminated against as they have tried to integrate themselves into societ. I think that’s unfortunate, as just in the short time I’ve worked with them, I’ve seen such grace and compassion. I guess humanity can reveal itself in the most unexpected places.