A Change in Status
Life in a Men’s Shelter

Joy is comfortable with the ‘cold shoulders’ she gets from her office mates, the appreciation from the clients, and growing comradery with the Case Managers.  Even the security officers are watchful when she posts different notices throughout the two wings of the building.  Whenever the copier runs out of toner or paper, that is the excuse to sit in the Social Service office to print out job notices for the wall.  The cold shoulders have her “focus on her work” to the extreme.

There is something to this “focus on your work” mentality.  I think about what else can be done to get the residents work-ready and sure enough something pops into my head.  Now the GoodTemps program is picking up speed.  Men who think they are too weak, too sick, or too crazy now know GoodTemps will place them in  worthwhile jobs and be paid a good salary.  Goodwill Industries has birthed a winner with GoodTemps, are Joy’s musings as she searches for administrative openings on a job board.

I wonder is it that there are mostly men in this office or that Julia sits in here.  Whatever it is, I like the vibe.  I want to move in here.  The Employment Specialist sat in here and he was actually subordinate to me.  I’ll ask Julia very soon about moving in here. Being in here will make it easier for me to connect with recent arrivals and the familiar faces.

Flowers of Many Sorts

Joy ponders the unnecessary friction between women.  It’s as if many women can’t accept that many beautiful flowers can grow together as they bounce in the breeze.  Imagining the flowers has her think about the warm weather that has finally settled into Brooklyn.  There’s no need for scarves, gloves, coats, or sweaters.  In fact, during her lunch break, she passed some people walking with their jackets tied around their hips–and walking a bit slower.  Joy’s meandering thoughts went on while she methodically searched for different job categories and printed ones most suitable for the clients.

After printing at least three job notices for each of the ten job categories on her notepad, she shuts down the PC, pushes back her seat and walks down the long aisle to the door.  She needs to get tape and the stapler from her drawer.  Upon reaching her desk, she’s interrupted in pulling the desk drawer by a meeting notice that’s on her desk.  It’s coming from Big Cheez.  He has special information to share at the upcoming monthly in-house staff meeting concerning the status change from a Next Step shelter to an Employment shelter.

I hope this transition to an Employment Shelter results in something good coming my way,” are Joys thoughts. I’ve worked almost a year here.  I’m ready for a new challenge.”  As she pulls the drawer open to grab the stapler, Flo Davis looks over her PC monitor to see Joy’s back.  “Joy, did you read the meeting notice memo?  I can’t think of  any “new” news Big Cheez has for us about returning to the Employment model.  You may see me there or I may be showing rooms to clients.  Please take those good notes you do.”  Flo Davis is in one of her expansive moods.  She actually initiated conversation with Joy–and with a compliment.

Getting Your Own Keys chronicles the professional odyssey of Joy Duggins, a resourceful and encouraging service provider in a Central Brooklyn men’s homeless shelter.  It gives a peek into NYC homeless services procedures and much workplace drama.
What’s the goal of providing temporary emergency shelter?  Getting Your Own Keys

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of BK Reader.

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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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