ANCA is working on a public art project to help tell the story of the housing crisis in the
North Country. To support this project, ACW is gathering writing by our audience on the
theme of housing.
Have you or anyone you know ever experienced a time when you weren’t sure
where you would live? What happened? What resources aided in the search for
secure housing? What made it difficult?
After volunteering this summer at House of Hope—a homeless shelter in Green Bay, WI—I now know some of the men, women, and children who have faced homelessness. I volunteered to plant, maintain, and harvest the vegetables we grew at the shelter. The residents and I gardened together, ate together, and came together. It was difficult because homelessness anywhere—New York (where the percentage is the nation’s highest), the North Country, or Green Bay, WI (where homelessness is a tick below the national average)—traumatizes people. I witnessed the trauma but I also witnessed remarkable strength.
I learned about social injustice—the harsh realities of homelessness—but I learned much more about myself, about assumptions I did not even know I held. I assumed that I would need to motivate, to support, and to inspire the residents. I was wrong. I met parents who refused to give up, who clung to hope, and who were determined to build a better life for their children. I enjoyed children who played, laughed, and learned; children who dreamed and, like every child, deserved a secure home. Every resident I met inspired me. Their resilience, their humor, and especially their optimism filled me with hope for our community.