“Tessa’s Home” (postcript): The Future

Tessa’s Home is an 8 part series that ran from November 28 to December 27th.  To listen to the audio backgrounders and accompanying blogs, click “Recent Posts” on the right sidebar.  Here is Tessa vision for her future.

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Tessa talks about the future…

Now, I’m starting to transition.  I’ve taken the Urban Intervention Training and I’m starting to transition and be more than just one of the youth.  I want to be the one that helps. I want to try and do what they (OIM) did for me, to somebody else. There’s nothing that I would rather do.

More often than not, when a youth goes up to someone in leadership and tells them their problems, they (the youth) will say, ‘You don’t know what it’s like.  You have no idea what it’s like (ie. to live on the streets)’.  More often than not, the response is, ‘Yea, you’re right. I really don’t know what it’s like.’

I want to be the one to say, ‘I do know what its like. I’ve been exactly where you’ve been and if I didn’t get help from places like this, I wouldn’t be where I am trying to help you now.’  I want to do that.

What a journey! Thanks to all who have made a donation of any size!  Every dollar counts, and every dollar goes to help us continue outreach on the streets of our Nation’s Capital.  If you have appreciated Tessa’s story and want to help us continue reaching out to street engaged youth, please click ‘Donate Now’.   Thanks for your support!

Stories from the Street: Size Doesn’t Matter

This episode of ‘Stories from the Street’ is a little different, because it is not a verbatim story told by a street-friend. Instead, this is a description of a series of discussions.

Not every street-friend who participates in OIM’s programs is living on the streets, we welcome anyone who is street-engaged to participate in our programs. Last week’s ‘heARTfelt Thursday’ post talked about what some call the ‘hidden homeless’, individuals in unsafe or temporary housing. As well, we have many individuals who have housing through a program like OW or ODSP but are still struggling with poverty.

Greg, who loves coming each week to our Stop-In is quite a talker, so it has been easy to find some things we have in common. Specifically we talk a lot about our apartments. No specifics; we don’t know where the other person lives. Mostly we talk about our small spaces, how to buy in bulk so you save the most money, and how and where to store things so they don’t go bad. We discuss closet space, cupboard space, and how to live frugally but not have stacks of boxes up your walls.

I graduated from university and moved to Ottawa last year, so right now I am in my first ‘home’. Now, my apartment isn’t the biggest place in downtown, it is small and cozy with very little counter space. It certainly doesn’t look like something out of Homes & Gardens, but I am very proud of what I have done to make it my ‘home’.

This is an idea that Greg understands very well. We both live in small places that we are always trying to reconfigure to suit us best. He has given me lots of good ideas on how to make the best of my space, and I think he would make a great professional organizer!

The thing I love most about talking to Greg about his apartment is that he has a lot of pride in his space. I imagine it isn’t the fanciest apartment downtown, but he has obviously put a lot of thought into making it his ‘home’. I don’t believe we always need to be content with what we have; it is important to strive for better (not necessarily more). But, it is easy to get caught up in that mentality, thinking we deserve to ‘get’ something nicer than what we have. Greg has taken the time to take what he has been given and ‘make’ it better, and because of the work and creativity he has put into his home I think he has a kind of pride that others may not.

He has inspired me to care more for the space I have, and to stop telling everyone how I would do ‘this’ or ‘that’ in a bigger place. The fact is, I have a ‘home’ right now, one the suits me and my needs, and I should take pride in that. Not because I have something someone else does not, but because I have the opportunity to work to make a ‘home’ for myself.