Happy Arizona Gives Day! Thankfully our community keeps giving, through the ups and downs of COVID-19. And we continue to ask for support, as COVID continues to challenge us operationally. Until the CDC says differently we wear PPE, clients wear masks, communication is stifled, body language is muted, and less people can be indoors at the same time. Vaccinations continue. It is all very routine now. Nothing alarming if someone tests positive. We follow policy and procedure.
Phoenix Spring is here... which this week means highs in the 90s. We are prepping the portable evaporative coolers, distributing more water, and making sure the A/C works. The only certain season in Phoenix is Summer. The others are unpredictable, passive-aggressive, teasing periods of time.
I frequently find myself pausing to check on people who have fallen asleep to make sure they are still breathing. A gentle snore as I pass by someone gives me comfort. Absolute stillness causes my heart to briefly stop. I will stand and hold my breath as I watch to see if a person's chest or abdomen is rising and falling.
More business operations are returning to normal. Writing for typical grants. Working collaboratively with partner organizations on messaging, fundraising and service coordination. Jumping in when notified that a Striker amendment in the State legislature would ban all encampments except those that would be State-sanctioned; that would make services mandatory; that would penalize grants that cities and towns receive if they don't reduce homelessness. Advocating against this proposal that will now move forward, and we will all have to spend more time testifying and lobbying to ensure it does not pass and move our collective work backwards.
More people calling and emailing me for assistance. A new voice that lives in my head. The voice of a woman in her 50s who called seeking assistance with housing. She started very calm and professional as she described her situation to me. As I listened and assured her that we would do whatever we can to help her, I heard her voice change. The start of a cry, and then the exhale of a sob. "I can't become homeless," she said, catching her breath, and speaking more quietly, "I. Can't. Become. Homeless. I have a disability." The unspoken message I heard was of fear, fear of the unknown, fear of how she would survive without a home.
This cycle of hope and progress with despair and challenge. Never knowing what each day will bring. And still we do whatever it takes to end homelessness. I remain thankful for my team, our partners, community who provide support and assistance. It takes all of us. And we are in for the long haul.
We knew a year ago that COVID would present us with a public health crisis marathon. We are still in it, not sure if the finish line is in sight or not. Yet we keep moving forward. One day at a time.
And today on Arizona Gives Day we ask for your support to allow us to continue what we do, 365 days per year.
With deep gratitude,