When the Street Outreach Team ventured under the bridge, they first saw a thin stream of smoke, then caught sight of Samuel cooking lunch on a makeshift stove dug deep in the ground. As the team talked to Samuel, they noticed a lean-to built into the side of the embankment of the bridge. The social service side of the team approached the small woman sitting in the “shack”. The team talked to the couple for awhile and they were clearly ready to leave this environment. It wasn’t that they did not want to work and have a stable place to live, they just fell on hard times and this is where they ended up. Not knowing what to do next.
The Street Outreach Team travels to known encampments, abandoned buildings, and wooded areas to attempt to make contact and build rapport with individuals who are currently not seeking or are unaware of services available in Denton County.
“If we treat only the symptoms or if we misdiagnose the underlying problem, we will not improve their situation, and we might actually make their lives worse.”When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself
It wasn’t that they did not want to work and have a stable place to live, they just fell on hard times and this is where they ended up. Not knowing what to do next.
RELIEF NOT RESCUE
The Street Outreach Team would love to be able to pull people suffering out from under that bridge, or out of the encampments the moment they come in contact, but they know it’s about relief not rescue. The emotion and compassion to help has to be out-weighed by what the individual and/or couple is willing to do to move forward and be successful. This understanding comes from 4 years of outreach experience this team has together. Working with social services and Denton PD, they have learned- from experience – that if the person(s) are not willing then there’s nothing anyone can do to make their situation better. But when we all work together, holistically, the success rate is astronomically higher than anyone could expect. Success is not rated with data and numbers, but it is walking together in community for as long as it takes.
Today, Samuel & Melissa have found job placements through the Goodwill Works Program and are on their way to finding housing and stability. From out of the ground came life, the life THEY wanted to live and the life THEY wanted to achieve.