As fall sneaks its way into our area, with it comes change. The leaves turn, the days get a bit shorter and we feel a chill in the air as we scoot our children onto the school bus after a fun summer.
At Franklin Community Center, fall always brings an abundance of change, especially for so many of the people in our community who rely on our services. A swift hike in gas prices coupled with back to school costs has our food pantry serving more than 50 people on any given day—some days we’re closer to 100. Looming winter heat bills and holiday costs are right around the corner. And people are constantly asking about affordable housing options in our area, while they struggle to pay their rent as their bills pile up.
One of the greatest things about our city is the number of agencies who work together to help those in-need. Because so many of our days are spent trying to help others maneuver their way through difficult situations, there is nothing better than when we are actually able to make a connection and help find a resolution. One area where we have seen positive change, even on a small scale, is working with other organizations, like Shelters of Saratoga, to provide permanent housing to those transitioning out of temporary housing.
Rarely do our stars align when SOS has a perfect candidate for our 17-unit, efficiency affordable housing building, and we actually have a vacancy. After all, it is designed to be permanent housing, and we hope to have the building full at all times. But one glimmer of hope these days has been our successful matching of SOS residents who have been able to find permanent housing at our facility. It is an amazing accomplishment when you see an individual working hard to get back on his or her feet, doing everything to get themselves back on track. It is even more amazing when you are a part of it.
The other day, I spoke to one of our new residents on the phone after all was finalized: “I’m so happy it worked out and everything came together for you,” I said. “We’ve been really lucky to have a few recent success stories from SOS.”
She replied with joy in her voice, “And I’m one of them. I’m so happy!”
We also recently worked together to place another gentleman in permanent housing, and he made a complete turnaround for the better. Once quiet and withdrawn, he’s now an outgoing and helpful member of our community, taking a huge interest in gardening and working on a daily basis. It just goes to show how having a place to call your own, however humble, can shape your whole outlook.
Positive changes like these can’t be made as a solo effort. It takes the support of multiple agencies and organizations to get people to a point where they can feel empowered again. We’ve still got a long way to go, and despite the fact that the stars aligned for some, there are still dozens more who need our help. I guess the most important thing to remember is even if you’ve helped only one person, you have made a difference.
And sometimes that just has to be enough.