by Chattrelle Gillyard
I often wonder what it’s like to be a guest at the OAC:
To come through the door with nothing but faith and hope that I might gain documents to get a Georgia ID.
To not know where my next meal is coming from.
To be unsure about where I will lay my head on a daily basis.
To be afraid to lay down at night, putting myself at risk of burglary and possibly even assault.
To be afraid to walk the streets because I might be stopped by a police officer with no way of identifying myself.
I could never imagine walking in the shoes of the guests we serve at the OAC. I’ve experienced homelessness on two occasions in my life but never to the extent of our guests.
I recently encountered a guest who described experiencing homelessness as constantly standing in line and hoping that at the end of the line he’ll receive some sort of help. Imagine standing in a line beginning at 6:00 am with no idea of whether or not what you need will be on the other side. I barely have enough patience to stand in line for mundane things like fast food or at Kroger. Yet, our guest do it nearly every day, whether it’s for an ID, a meal, shelter, or clothing, without any hesitation and usually a humble spirit.
My first ten months at the OAC have humbled me in ways I could have never imagined. Our guests have taught me to find joy in the midst of a storm, how to be patient in chaos, and how to have hope in tribulation. Sometimes, you have to be patient, trust standing in line, and wait your turn.