Many armories in Brooklyn are used as homeless shelters
Homelessness can happen to anyone.
Homelessness can happen to anyone.

It seems, although, you ask many questions about a job opening, the actual job requirements and the organizational culture don’t reveal themselves until after you are processed by Human Resources and the employee ID is dangling from your collar.

Joy Duggin’s first day at a homeless shelter is a puzzle not because of the residents but because of her fellow employees. The veteran employees make a point of not welcoming her and avoid making conversation. The communication wall is so striking that she is oblivious to the residents’ behavior for the first week.

The other eyebrow raiser is that she had been offered the Resource Coordinator position by the Program Director but Human Resources informs Joy that she is filling the Vocational Program Coordinator position (Hmmm). Not one to shrink from a challenge, Joy asks her direct supervisor to give her a copy of the Vocational Program Coordinator job description. The tasks are in the realm of workforce development: connect unemployed residents with employment and/or occupational training by linking with employment services, schools and colleges. Joy also has to develop and run vocational workshops, get work histories, education, training, and desired employment from each man–whoever is willing to give it to her.

Yes, “each man.” This homeless shelter is a 200-bed facility for single men. The last time Joy was in an all-male locale was when she was a teen going to a military base to shop at the commissary and post exchange with her father. The difference being the base was filled with trained, disciplined men and the shelter is definitely the other side of the coin. It isn’t so bad: the men at the shelter are in the main very polite to her. It is just the alcohol, drugs, and bad memories, make for interesting exchanges between the men and the security guards.

Working here has Joy access skills and resources within herself. Working here develops her compassion. The homeless are no longer people she walks past in the street without a second thought. The homeless now have faces she looks into Monday through Friday.

Akosua Albritton

Akosua is a communicator who loves to inform, engage, and enable her fellow New Yorkers. You may find her in a classroom, in an auditorium, or on a city street teaching the social sciences. Her favorite...

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