Redefining Success: Empowerment and Wellbeing

September 27, 2016

Years of homelessness causes people to devalue their lives. They no longer believe they have worth or even deserve the support of people or organizations like Caritas of Austin.

“I had really gotten to the point where I did not care if I lived anymore,” said housing client Clay.

Having stable housing can have an incredible impact on those views. 

“When I first got an apartment with Caritas, it didn’t feel real. When someone gives you a chance to rebuild your life, that is special,” said former client Hugh.

It is a long road and takes a lot of hard work to remain stable in housing, address health and sobriety, and finally deal with trauma and loss experienced. But once they do, individuals in Supportive Housing begin to see their future, and not just dwell on the past.

“Some might think people just need housing and a job and they should be on their way. It’s so much more than that and it takes a long time to get to a point of wellbeing and empowerment. When I hear clients begin to talk about their future, I know we have come a long way. That might take two years though,” said case manager Johanna.

Looking forward, individuals are able to pursue old and new interests and hobbies.

“It breaks my heart when I ask clients what makes them happy, and they have no idea,” said case manager Becky.

The Caritas of Austin team coordinates a walking group, art club, music jam sessions for clients. “Clients love it. It gives them a chance to relax and create,” said Johanna. For individuals whose health allows them to work, case managers and Caritas’ Employment team work to help them obtain employment or go back to school.

Clay, a supportive housing client, worked all of his life before becoming homeless. Since being housed, he has gotten back to work doing a job he loves. “I love it. I love interacting with people. It makes me feel important, like I matter,” he said.

I have several clients who have gotten jobs they really enjoy. And others choose to go back to school and pursue education. It makes me happy to see how far they’ve come. The little steps and goals accomplished empower them to do the bigger things. They see that others believe in them and they finally start to believe in themselves,” explained Becky.

“They did it for themselves,” added Johanna. “We are just here to help. They always want to give us credit, but we turn it back to them. It’s amazing to see, and it’s why we stay doing this work.”

The journey out of homelessness is long, hard, and unique for each individual. Success is not measured just by getting a job and successfully transitioning out of Caritas’ Supportive Housing program.

It is experienced in countless ways. Success is being sober for one week, or one year. It is taking medication to manage high blood pressure. It is attending a therapy appointment. It is cutting off unhealthy relationships. It is reconnecting to the things you love. It is valuing your own life. It is believing you have something to contribute to this world.

Your support of Caritas of Austin enables this journey for many of our community’s most vulnerable members. Thank you for your belief in this work – you are helping individuals reach self-sufficiency and the countless steps toward success along the way!