As many of you know, on August 28 Crossroads joined with a collaborative group of service providers to begin managing operations at the Peachtree and Pine shelter. Awaiting us were more than 300 residents, including more than 120 women and children, who were looking for reassurance they would not be turned out into the streets of Atlanta. For them it was truly “the turning point.”
The “good news” they received that day at a beautiful outdoor service – hosted in The Park at St. Luke’s and joined by clergy from St. Luke’s, The Cathedral of St. Philip, Church of the Common Ground, All Saints’ and North Avenue Presbyterian – was that they were not alone. This sacred time together kicked off a focused collaborative effort between non-profits, churches, local businesses, government agencies and concerned individuals unlike any effort I have seen in 20 years of ministry in Atlanta. Meals, clothing, hygiene items, cleaning supplies, bedding, transportation, skilled maintenance, case management, employment, healthcare and every possible housing opportunity were provided by a diverse group representing the best of our city.
As of the writing of this article, more than 200 of those residents – including all women and children – have been transitioned to safe and supportive housing, and the remainder have either received vouchers for permanent supportive housing or have been assessed for other housing opportunities. As Helen Keller so succinctly stated, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”
At a time when so many seek every possible reason for division and conflict, it is a blessing to be involved in an effort which proves we can change the social landscape of our communities if we will choose to be unified in valuing the dignity of each and every human life. Rather than avoiding our personal stake in the interconnectedness of all individuals, we have the opportunity to strengthen the fabric of society by realizing the truth of Dr. King’s declaration that we are “tied together in a single garment of destiny.”
At Crossroads, we have adopted community, compassion, dignity and equality as our core values. Each of these has been on display in extraordinary measure through the unified effort of our staff, volunteers and supporters, as we have accepted the call of Christ to love our neighbors at Peachtree and Pine. The work is not done. We still have much to do at the shelter and beyond in order to confront the many challenges of homelessness. But I know that working together we will see the day when none of our neighbors are left alone on the streets of our city.