The Hope House is a low-barrier homeless shelter focused on addressing immediate life-safety needs for persons struggling with substance use disorder with built-in support to aid in the transition from homelessness and active substance use to stable housing and recovery.
“The Smile” – AJ Doody, Data Administrator, PCHC.
Prior to starting at the Hope House, I’d encountered one of our return guests at a local Dunkin Donuts. I remember smiling at him, not knowing much about his situation outside of the fact that he was homeless. He responded with profanity and asked that I not smirk at him, as pity from me was not needed. I apologized for the unwanted gesture and went on my way.
The day I started work here, I immediately recognized him and wondered if he had remembered me. I smiled again. This time he smiled back. A few weeks later, I had a chance to sit down and chat with this man. He explained to me that in the outside community he feels threatened and paranoid as a result of past experience. Here at the Hope House, however, he feels protected. He is surrounded by people who genuinely want to help him. Change the setting, change the response.
When someone has been broken down by a society that does not recognize their inherent worth, it becomes difficult to trust the intentions of small gestures. Once someone has been provided with dignity and sanctity, a smile can be returned without suspicion. The shift in this man’s temperament is a reflection of what the Hope House staff has provided our guests with – support, security, and acceptance.
Witnessing the dedication of my co-workers and seeing the results of their unrelenting compassion inspires me daily. The positive impact they’ve had on this particular guest is something worth smiling about – and it’s so good to know that here in the safety of shelter, he can smile too.
179-181 Corporate Drive
Bangor, Maine 04401