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Stories & Articles

There are many nuances to our work, the clients we serve, and the struggles they face. When you think of “the homeless,” it may be hard for you to get beyond the man you see standing on the corner everyday on your way home from work. You know the one; he holds a filthy cardboard sign that says “Just got evicted” or “ Lost my job.”

We hope the stories that appear here will help you see the world of our clients through a different lens. We think they deserve a closer look.

 

 

Unanswered Questions, an Unfolding Story,
and Remembering Who We Are

When the COMPASS staff sees a client for the first time, we ask questions, just not too many. We don’t push, we don’t pry. The hope is that we will establish a good foundation for the next visit. And the next. We know the story will eventually unfold. But at the end of that first visit, when the client leaves our office, there are often what we call “unanswered questions.”

How did this man with a Master’s Degree wind up on the streets?
What makes it so difficult for her to look me in the eye?
Why did he lose a job after 18 years?

Five years ago a divorced, 60 year old man, with 2 grown children came for help in getting a Texas Photo ID. He needed one because several years before, his commercial driver’s license had been suspended, and he’d lost his job. After years of homelessness, he was now looking for a new one. You can’t get a job without an ID, and he didn’t have the paperwork or the $16 necessary to get one.

So here was a man with a ninth-grade education, a long history as a truck driver, who was now destitute. We knew there had to be a story behind the suspended CDL and his time on the streets, but we didn’t push. Instead our focus was on getting him identification. It was a challenge to line up enough supporting documents to satisfy DPS, but we did, and eventually he got a brand new Texas Photo ID.

A year later, he returned to tell us how grateful he was. He’d been working steadily and things were going well. “I couldn’t have done this without y’all.”

The following year, he came in again. This time he had a car. And a girlfriend—a woman he’d met at work. “I’m happy.”

A few months ago he found his COMPASS case manager’s tattered business card in his wallet and decided to give her a call. He’d moved on to a better job. He married his girlfriend, and they bought a house. And for whatever reason, he revealed that it was drugs that had caused him to lose his CDL and his career as a driver. He explained that shortly after he came to COMPASS and got that new ID, he left the drugs behind.

We don’t claim the credit for that—that is his victory. But, over the years, we’ve helped thousands of clients obtain an ID because we know it is a gateway to a better life. It is a way to reclaim one’s identity, that fundamental essence of being human.

It’s a way to remember who we are.

Cynthia Brannon
Executive Director
December 2018

 

 

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Houston COMPASS, Inc.
1212 Prairie St.
Houston, TX 77002

Telephone: 713-229-8319
FAX: 713-229-8560