Life on the South Side

South Side is where I serve most days of the week for my job, but in actuality, my job is to become a liason among the different aspects of OSN and help bring more people into our care. South Side has been incredible so far because of my opportunity to meet so many different types of people from the staff to the residents to clients in the clinic. Though I am still only in my beginning stages of my job, its been very rewarding to just spend time with the residents, gaining rapport and hearing their stories. Almost all of the people we serve at OSN have some sort of mental illness, which catalyzes many of the challenges they face in finding income, housing and staying clean/sober. I spend most of my days doing some consulting with the clients, encouraging them to seek medical assistance in the clinic downstairs or requesting for home visits by Dr. Whithers when his schedule allows. Friday my day was filled with the endeavor of trying to get one of the clients downstairs to the clinic after a week of coaxing from all the OSN case management staff. Thankfully, after a failed attempt Thursday, this elderly gentleman finally gave into my prodding and went to his appointment. It was a small victory, but a victory indeed. 

My service sites are extremely dynamic. I met a recovering alcoholic who is enrolled in a recovery program, has been working on employment and indends to move on into true housing in the near future. The moment I met him I knew he was sober, and seeing the brightness in his face made my day. I don’t need to meet him in the throws of his addiction to see that growth. Another gentleman I met was still in the throws of addiction, homeless and living in a relative’s back yard in a crate. He is a hard worker, but still facing the immediate insecurities many of us take for granted. All in the matter of 10 minutes, my heart rose and sunk for these men. That is the nature of my service it seems. Big heartbreaks, Big victories, and a lot of little ones in between. 

I love going on trips around town with the other case managers going to appointments, stopping by other facilities and looking for our clients around town. Sometimes, our residents decide to return to the streets for their own reasons, some being housing resistant, defiance of the program or the simple tragedy of being untreated for mental illness. My coworker has become a fabulous detective, asking many questions from all the guests, learning places they tend to stay and their daily routines. He has had repeated luck in seeking out people, regaining rapport and eventually having them return back to OSN. I admire his ability to connect with his clientele and have almost endless compassion for them, regardless of their histories. I also met the other Case Manager for the first time this week as she was on vacation. She is incredible, deadfast in her passion for her clients, their needs and the social justice issues that surround the homeless population. 

This week I start back at Forbes Street with the other nurse in OSN. She and I connected well and I look foward to seeing her again. We are both excited to get started on some of our projects. She is who I will work with to help run the Severe Weather Emergency Shelter and help with the Outreach work as well! 

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