Katie Quinn, a CADC Intern, who counsels men and women struggling with their battle with addiction, has her own personal story with her addiction. Being a counselor, Katie has heard similar stories from numerous clients. “I was homeless towards the end of my battle with my addiction. There was almost no point to try anymore, the only last thing for me to offer was my life. “Or “Everyone has given up on me, in a way I’ve accepted this is what I deserve. “And last, “I wake up every day waiting, or at times hoping to die.”
Katie, once being a chemical dependency technician at a local detox, would serve those first hand who came from right off the street. At times, Katie would search a client’s belongings and come across a cardboard sign. Katie would be a times shocked to those who were carrying these signs were as young at nineteen or twenty-two years old. It was undeniable that Katie felt compassion, and there she became inspired to continue to reach out to the homeless in a closer way. In her heart and within her journey with her own recovery, she could no longer sit back and watch, Katie decided to step in.
Kensington, Philadelphia has grown to be one of the most dangerous areas to live, buy drugs, and for some, just another day to hopefully survive in. In some areas, the conditions are ungodly horrific. Needles, broken glass, drug paraphernalia, and an endless amount of trash that cover the streets. Tents, blankets, mattresses, is the new home for the youth. To give you a clear picture, young fragile men and women, with their skin appearing to be gray, covered with cuts and bruises on their faces, necks, and arms. “Zombie” like walking, wondering, and drifting through the streets. Little eye contact or a few who hide from sunlight. But there are few, who interact in conversation, or exchange a “God Bless You. “And not one person in Katie’s experience has ever turned down a hug.
Some people may think, “Why help those who are homeless, they are abusing drugs!” Yes, many of those who are homeless do abuse drugs and alcohol, that is an everyday coping skill for them. Many of those who are homeless did not become homeless due to addiction. Trauma, abuse, mental health issues, grief, financial issues, in other words the vagaries of life. If you are curious in how we as humans survive, research Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, states that the most basic human needs are physical wellbeing, examples- food, sleep, and shelter. Those basic everyday needs are the foundation on which survival are built. In other words, if those needs are not met, self-esteem, self-worth, reaching one’s potential, connections or relationships are very virtually unattainable.
When Katie became a counselor at Victory Bay, she expressed to her team one day in a meeting how she was inspired to step in and stand with those who are currently homeless in Kensington. Katie and her team organize a get together once a month for herself and a handful of volunteers to head down to Kensington, Philadelphia to hang out Blessing Bags to the homeless. Katie and her team order supplies to place into the blessing bags. Inside a blessing bag contains eight necessities. A toothbrush, toothpaste, socks, purell wipes, a snack, chap stick, deodorant, and a small message on a paper heart. One Friday out of the month, Katie runs a group session at the center to prepare for Saturday’s Blessing Bag handout. The client’s form a team and coordinate to create the Blessing Bags, one by one. Each client is also given a paper heart to write a message to those who will receive the Blessing Bag. Some messages are, “Someone loves you “, “Praying for you”, “Surrender to win “, “ There is a way out, I have been there. “
In conclusion, each human being needs an extra hand at times to survive. In some instances, asking for help can be difficult, however lending a hand should not. Katie and her team of volunteers’ goal is to offer a hand without question or hesitation. We ask you here, from Victory Bay to get more involved and look at those who are homeless not as junkies or drug addicts but as humans who need love and respect. Lend a hand, get involved, so in time we are working on breaking the sigma of addiction, one Blessing Bag at a time.