One impactful experience from the first day of our immersion in downtown Portland was being able to listen to a resident of the Blanchet House talk about his own life story and how the Blanchet House has impacted his life. This individual was extremely courageous and brave as he opened up about his past issues with addiction and houselessness (Ed note: why do we use the word “houseless”?). He was honest about his past struggles with drugs and alcohol and how these obstacles, that he has worked very hard to overcome, have created the foundation for his future goals.
This resident talked about how he has the goal of becoming an addiction counselor and ideally wants to be able to do out-reach on the streets for people who are looking for resources and support surrounding addiction. It was impactful to hear this resident’s personal story of how he grew up around and suffered from addiction for most of his life leading up to this point. It was also inspirational to hear how hard he has worked to overcome addiction and how he wants to dedicate his life to helping people who are suffering from addiction.
The resident also touched on the importance of faith in his own life and how faith has played a part in his recovery process. The resident also emphasized how even if people are given certain resources to better their lives, people must have the desire to change their lives in order to make change happen. We reflected upon this during our evening discussion by wondering if emphasizing the importance of choice in one’s life leads to empowerment or blame, especially in relation to the houseless population.
We also talked about the theme of dignity during our evening reflection. As a group, we discussed and wondered about what it means to be dignified and the relationship between dignity and houselessness that is perpetuated in our society. Hopefully we will be able to further explore this theme and many others throughout this immersion experience.