By Colleen Sinsky
After a long day of moving furniture in and out of our box truck, I heard one JOIN employee jokingly call JOIN a “glorified moving company.” It’s true that I didn’t expect to get quite as good at moving couches as I am now, but I also had no idea how much work is required in the process of getting people into housing, and helping them stay there. Once the funding source is secured and the paperwork done, the real manual labor of a move begins. We have a fantastic partnership with Community Warehouse, and through them we’re able to acquire the necessary furniture, bedding, and kitchen gadgets to turn a bare apartment into a home for our friends. We try as hard as we can to set our folks up for success, and that relationship doesn’t end when we hand them the keys. I’m constantly amazed at how much each outreach and retention worker at JOIN cares about their folks, and how they’ll bend over backwards, drive well-loved but less-than-perfect vans and spend hours loading and unloading just about anything you can think of. I helped out with five moves last week, and it’s not unusual to go home physically as well as emotionally spent, but still buoyant with hope for the families that we’ve helped out. I’m lucky to often have the company of one or a few volunteers- people from the homeless community who want to give back with their time and spend their day chatting and lifting furniture with me. I love the time I get to spend with them, and working side by side gives me a unique opportunity to chat in a friendly, peer-to-peer environment.
All of the outreach workers have had some remarkable stories of success lately, and I’ve gotten to be part of a number of Lio’s. There’s a funny rumor going around that Lio actually DOES the work.. but here’s photographic evidence of what really goes on while the rest of us are doing heavy lifting. :)
I also wanted to share one of the most meaningful and poignant compliments I've ever heard. One of my roommates had an out of state friend visiting for the weekend, and I took him along with me to work on Friday because he was looking for something to do and wanted to get involved. So Matt spent the morning with Lio and I emptying a storage unit and filling a three bedroom apartment in East Portland. When the woman whose family we were moving found out that not only was Matt not a JOIN employee, but that he was on vacation she exclaimed "You're doing this for me and you're not even from here? And you're not being paid? Wow, that's like something Lio would do!"