Shelter Advocates Welcome with Compassion and Dignity as the First Point of Contact at the Mission

Coming off the streets and through the doors of the Mission can stir up many emotions—uneasiness, anxiety, insecurity, humiliation, fear, sadness… yet a single smile can change that. When someone enters the doors of our men’s emergency shelter, the first face they likely see at the Welcome Desk is a shelter advocate with a bright smile. And it is our hope that new emotions rise… relief, acceptance, comfort, peace, reassurance.

Shelter advocates are the first point of contact for our guests at the Mission. They spend their day making sure things run smoothly throughout the facility for our emergency shelter guests. They hand out towels and toiletries with a smile. They assign lockers that create a sense of security. They learn guests’ names as they distribute their mail. They offer clothing and laundry facilities. They maintain a peaceful atmosphere during Bible study and meals. They ensure a harmonious environment for everyone.

But most of all, they offer intangibles… belonging… safety… dignity… hope.

The role of a shelter advocate can offer an important stepping stone in a man’s journey off the streets. Last week, a guest started to have an anxiety attack. A shelter advocate attended to his needs, reassured him, and got him connected to support services. This week, the same guy swings by the welcome desk with a wave and cheerful, “Good morning!” He got connected to services and found safety and hope.

One shelter advocate recalls his third day of work. He swiftly responded to a medical emergency for a guest, and as the man regained consciousness, a spark of recognition lit up his eyes. It turns out, they were classmates back in elementary school. With the reassuring presence of a familiar face, the man pulled through.

For many of these men, the Mission becomes their family, either because they no longer have family or because of broken relationships. The consistent, calming presence of the shelter advocates fosters a sense of belonging that is key to men finding stability in their lives.

As with family, people can have quarrels or bad days. To help the whole community function well, shelter advocates intervene when needed. They create structure and boundaries to maintain an environment of respect. And they balance that with deep care for each person and the whole community.

Everyone who walks through our doors is different. We see all walks of life, endless stories of struggle and triumph, all cultures and creeds. And through it all, our shelter advocates take the time to make sure each guest is seen and cared for while maintaining the environment needed for all to flourish and get back on their feet.

Our shelter advocates stand as the initial and consistent representatives of the Mission, welcoming ALL with kindness, compassion and dignity.

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