Amazing Things From Underground | Project HOME

Amazing Things From Underground

 

Yesterday, we printed an article from our News from HOME newsletter about the Hub of Hope. Today, we print a personal reflection from Kat Delancey about her experience as a volunteer at the Hub.

The Hub of Hope was a winter imitative ran by Project HOME’s Outreach Coordination Center in collaboration with other social service agencies. The target was the chronically homeless population that usually hangs or sleeps in the concourse of the SEPTA transit system. I had the pleasure to be able to volunteer my time this year as I struggled with my own personal issues.  I wanted to share by experience of the Hub of Hope.

I have struggled with mental health, substance abuse, and homelessness since the age of 16. I originally had my own apartment, but soon lost it in May of 2011. I then became homeless again, sleeping pretty much on the streets because I am transgender and struggled with the homeless system to understand me, which is why I just would simply stay on the streets.

The Hub of Hope was a winter drop-in and engagement center for persons who experience chronic homelessness. It was located in the Suburban Station concourse.The Hub of Hope was a winter drop-in center for chronically homeless persons living in the subway concourse and on the streets.I remember one day, walking passed the Hub of Hope's location, Suburban Station. I walked in and immediately fell in love! I asked if volunteers were needed. The answer was yes! I thought I would be a perfect candidate as I know all too well about what the struggle looks like.

Karen Orrick (who ran the program) was simply amazing! The woman has a bunch of energy and a willingness to learn. It only took me one time to explain my gender identity to her, and that was that. Karen also took the time out of her busy schedule to attend a meeting regarding  me getting my own apartment again and advocated for me very well.

Odell Brown (case aide) was always humble! There was a time when I was struggling with the demons that I fight within on a daily basism, and Odell took the time out to give me some good insight about where I want to go in my life. Odell has a good heart and cares about people, but he also see's right through you. If he sees potential, then he will point it out; if he sees a flaw or defect, it too will be pointed out.

Scarlett, who ran the medical department, was amazing as well! I remember a time when something had happened to me and Scarlett was there to comfort my soul along with helping me see the medical staff. Scarlett assisted me in getting my medical assessment form filled out for welfare so I can get back on health insurance. I see her as someone who would work in an ER in triage.

And last, but not least..... I had too save the best for last.........

Kanika Stewart (case aide) was just simply a remarkable woman! See, there is a reason why I saved this one for last, and that is because this is a woman I hold truly close to my heart. Kanika and I already had developed a relationship at the Outreach Coordination Center even before the Hub opened this year. Kanika made phone calls for me, emailed people for me, and advocated for me. Kanika was another one where I only had to explain one time about my gender identity and there were no further questions.

Kanika never looked at me differently if I was using substances, she met me where I was. She always encouraged me, though, to do differently because she saw something in me that at times I could not see in myself.

Kanika is what she says she is, a "homeless advocate".

Overall, I really enjoyed the experience of volunteering at the Hub of Hope. There were moments of madness, but today, I try not to really focus on the negative things in life as I have some really good things happening for me in my own personal life.  Last week my housing application went in and it will not be long before I am going to be in my own apartment. I am now staying in a safe haven until I get into my own apartment for a smooth transition.

Honestly, I look forward to becoming an employee next year at the Hub!

Peace and Blessings, all!