By Sakinah Mujahid | On more than one occasion I have asked myself why I work as the program manager of homeless shelter. It is usually right after having a challenging hour, day or week at work.
As I contemplate this question, I look at the parents that come through the Families Moving Forward program and see that look in their eyes of wanting to reach their goals, the motivation of doing everything they can do to still be their children’s hero -- and then the look and acts of frustration.
The look of frustration is the one that pulls on my heart strings; it humbles me because no matter that tough hour, day or week, I know they don’t want to be homeless, they don’t want to keep struggling; they just want a break to get ahead.
How do I know?
I know when I receive a text message in the middle of the night saying: “Thank you guys for keeping me on track. You don’t know how many times I just wanted to say forget it. And go back to taking THE EASY WAY OUT. You guys are really the only people I got that I can depend on. Thank you.”
That message gives me more motivation to continue working to find solutions, working to help them feel comfortable even if for just a moment at a congregation and working to normalize things for the children.
When I first started at Families Moving Forward about 5 years ago, my supervisor at the time told me to remember that no matter what happens when working with the families, they are still parents and children trying to reach their dreams much like I am. Here’s how she helped me to understand this:
She took a can of soup and asked me what it was. She asked me again after throwing it on the ground, again after kicking it a little and again after ripping the label off. I would say, “A can of soup,” every time.
No matter what our families have encountered on the way to my door at the program center, they are still a man, woman or child seeking to reach their goals.
I keep a can of soup on my desk, dented and label ripped off. It helps me to continue to do this work as the program manager of a homeless shelter when I have that challenging hour, day or week.