Central Outreach & Advocacy Center is an oasis of opportunities for many of our guests. Each day we encounter guests who are experiencing a desert-like moment. A desert can be described as a barren area of land where little precipitation occurs and consequently living conditions are hostile for plant and animal life. Many of our guests experience desert-like moments just as all of us do: loss of family member/friend, unemployment, an unfavorable doctor’s report, or the stress of paying bills.
When guests come into the Central OAC for services they are often experiencing a “desert” moment. Sometimes, our guests have even been turned away by other agencies, and we are their last hope. They are frustrated and exhausted from traveling by foot and transit to reach our doors.
One of our guests, Adam Barley*, came into my office for services recently. While sitting in my office, he shared his desert moment with me. Three years ago, Mr. Barley’s mother died of cancer. His mother worked for the Atlanta City School District for 30-plus years. As a graduate from Morehouse College with a degree in Business Administration, Mr. Barley worked as an accountant immediately after graduating from college. He owned his own home, a car, and even a motorcycle. Once Mr. Barley’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, however, he moved-in with her to assist her with day-to-day activities. He cared for her until the day she passed away. Mr. Barley said, “Ms. Reid, this is not the life I imagined for myself. I am college graduate. I would have never thought I’d be homeless.” I do not believe any person foresees themselves experiencing homeless, much less someone who had the stability that Mr. Barley had before his mother’s death.
After providing Mr. Barley with food referrals and an ID voucher he said, “Thank you Ms. Reid for listening to my story. I haven’t spoken about my mother since she passed away three years ago. Thank you for allowing me to get all this stuff off my chest.”
Central OAC creates space for guests to not only receive services, but experience moments of refreshment. Many of our guests share stories of loss and pain; however, just being a listening ear can impact their lives indefinitely. Our organization strives to provide an oasis of opportunities for people experiencing desert-like moments, people like Mr. Barley.
*name changed for confidentiality