With the recent death of Maya Angelou, I came across one of her many lovely quotes.
So many of us work with individuals and families who don’t have that safe place. Who are questioned all the time. By us. Don’t get me wrong – that’s part of our jobs. To ask some of those hard, often uncomfortable questions that get to the root of why this person or this family ended up at my agency, sitting in my office, requesting some assistance. But another part of my job is to recognize that this person or this family probably aches for home. For a comfortable, stable place in a world in which they don’t need to sit in my office and be asked a lot of questions.
May you rest in peace, Dr. Angelou. Thank you for putting to words what many of us forget.
When an individual or family we’re working with moves into permanent housing, we’re often at a loss as to what our role is at that point. And sometimes, we’re surprised if people don’t take care of their new place the way we think they should.
That sense of belonging, of ownership and pride that we want for our clients doesn’t just automatically come when they get the keys to their own place. It’s often something that is developed as they’re able to make it their own. It seems that for most of us, creating a home is less about the building itself and more about the emotional connection and sense of comfort we’re able to create behind the doors. Last week I attended a case management workshop and came away with a list of simple ideas for case workers and advocates to help their clients begin to make a house a home.
- Give them a plant
- Buy a baking sheet and bake cookies together
- Give them a calendar
- Go grocery shopping together at their local grocery store and make a big pot of something that can then be divided into individual portions
- Give them some picture frames
- Provide them with activities to address boredom (books, magazines, or a library card; art supplies, etc.)
- Give them fun refrigerator magnets and dry erase markers
- Encourage them to introduce themselves to their neighbors
Most of these ideas are low cost yet they can make a big impact. What else do you do to help individuals and families make a house their home?
FYI – the workshop I attended was “Working to Achieve Excellence in Housing-Based Case Management” and was put on by Iain De Jong with OrgCode Consulting www.orgcode.com