#MakeMercyReal through Forgiveness
September 19, 2017
By David Martineau, executive director, Mercy Housing and Shelter
A caseworker at Mercy Housing and Shelter in Hartford, Connecticut, recently shared this story with me:
“One hot summer day, a young man, Joe*, walked in to the Diversion Center asking for a place to stay. Joe was angry that his mother and father asked him to leave their home because of his marijuana use. I suggested that he sit down, and we spent time talking about what it was like to live in a shelter and the dangers he might encounter living on the streets. As we continued to talk, Joe’s anger began to subside and he seemed to be reconsidering his choices. ‘Could you talk to your mother and ask for forgiveness?’ I suggested. Pausing for a moment, Joe said he didn’t have much hope but was willing to try. He gave me his mother’s phone number. As I talked with his mother, she asked to speak to her son. Through tears Joe and his mother slowly worked out their issues and apologized. Joe’s mother said that he could come home if he promised to get help with his addiction. ‘I will get help,’ I heard Joe say. When Joe’s mother came to get him a short time later, I was aware once again of how the principles of Mercy— respect, compassion and forgiveness — can transform us all.”
Keeping Families and Individuals in Homes, Not Shelters
The Diversion Center at Mercy Housing and Shelter helps clients who are recently homeless obtain the resources they need to avoid the shelter system. The staff works with clients to either solve the problems related to their housing loss or get the funds they need to quickly move back into housing. The staff has ministered to hundreds of people coming through the program this year with a host of problems—some were solved with a bus or plane ticket, some by working out issues with a landlord, and others with hotel stays while housing requests were processed. Many families we meet are living in cars—people who come to Connecticut for jobs only to have their dreams crushed. With no income, they become homeless.
At Mercy Housing and Shelter, families and individuals find hope thanks to the support of the Sisters of Mercy, who started this ministry over 30 years ago.
*Client’s name has been changed.