A Year in the HOPE House

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A reflection by HOPE House resident, Kevin Felisme

I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since I moved into the Hope House. I can honestly say that it has been one of the most thought provoking experiences of my life. I have wrestled with many different ideas around love, justice, and inequality. I have questioned why I am living in the Hope House and my purpose. What I will always carry with me from this experience is the importance of treating every single human being with love and compassion. And I really mean every single person. This includes family, friends, co-workers, people I might not like, and the people I walk by on the street. Every person in this world deserves both love and compassion no matter what they have done in their lives. The moment we realize that we are all interconnected and that our well-being is linked with each other is the moment we can realistically begin to pursue peace. Until then, we will continue to see our struggles as our own and fight selfishly for what we believe to be right or just. So it is very important that we understand this universal reality of the interconnected-ness of all humanity.

During this year I have come upon this truth through speaking with staff at the PORT and with members of the Hope House. Reading many different books has also brought me to this understanding and it has completely changed the way I interact with people and live my life. I really make an effort every single day to smile at every person I see that I walk pass and I do my best to give my time, love, and energy to people that I interact with. I pray and talk to God now daily as a source for my inspiration as it is something that keeps me connected to the bigger picture. Without this, I can easily get lost in the day to day things that life brings and forget to live each day with purpose and joy. I find that truly living this type of lifestyle takes a while to develop. Because there are still many days when I use the excuse that I did not have time to pray or when my selfish tendencies rule over my desire to give someone a moment of my time and to treat that person with the respect they deserve. I am humbled by the fact that this thing called life is a journey and not a race. I need time to develop these habits and to truly embody traits that for the most part are very counter cultural.

I continue to repeat a quote that I discovered during this year that is very much tied into my belief system. “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” This quote is from the 13th century Persian poet Rumi. I absolutely love this quote because I think that when you decide to move into a place like the Hope House or volunteer at the PORT Ministries there is often this mentality of what can I do to make a change. Often times the answer to this question is something that you will physically do to help out or assist others. I think this is a very beautiful approach to have, but I think it is even more beautiful to go even deeper than that. Anybody can take time out of their day and do an act of service to help others but I think it takes a very intentional individual to look deep within themselves to see how they can improve from within. Taking time to self-reflect and working to eliminate those behaviors that take away from the well-being of the rest of humanity is a process that will have a much larger impact. Imagine for just a moment living in a world where literally every single human being lived for others and not simply themselves. Imagine if every human being was genuinely concerned for the well-being of every person they interacted with on a day to day basis. I will be honest and say that I have a hard time envisioning this type of world myself, but I know that it would be much better then how we are currently living. Therefore, I will continue to work on myself knowing that it will only bring me closer to this possible reality.

This year has been very profound and I am grateful for this experience. I am grateful for all of the support I have received through the PORT and the Hope House, I am grateful for the young men that come to play basketball with me every Friday at the PORT, I am grateful for all my kind neighbors who take time to greet me whenever I see them, and I am grateful for this knowledge that I have gained that has transformed the way that I live out every single day.

 

Interested in learning more about living in the HOPE House? Email info@theportministries.org

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Flowers in the Yard

Reflection by Hope House resident, Sara Haines

I have a confession to make: I’m a closet pessimist. A few months back I had an evaluation and received several “excellent’s,” some “good’s,” and a “satisfactory” or two. Naturally, I focused on my deficits. The logic goes, “here are the deficits, eliminate the bad.” Let me tell ya, my motivation to tackle my weaknesses faded fast. It’s so draining to focus on all the work that needs to be done!

In social work, flowerwhat my background is in, the strengths based perspective makes for one of the professions bedrocks. This approach to a situation focuses on a person’s competencies, especially one’s resiliency, rather than their weaknesses. For me it can seem like stopping to smell the roses while there are weeds waiting to be pulled. Yet, it’s the beauty of the roses that inspires me, reminding me why I started weeding in the first place!

Here at the Port, the People’s School is all about cultivating life. It is workshops led by people in the community, sharing their talents with others to help them cultivate and develop their own abilities. If the people are the roses, the Back of the Yards is the garden, gangs, violence, and poverty are the weeds, and the People’s School is the gardener.

Within each person lies gifts, waiting to be unearthed “because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us” (Romans 5:5). Just as water poured on a flower prompts its growth, so too does pouring love into another’s gifts. And they grow in the most incredible places.