Donald Axinn INN men’s shelter Program Manager Ty Hopkins shares a touching story about a young man who begins to make a change in his life just by cleaning his room.
Guests at the Donald Axinn INN men’s shelter (DAI) are extremely happy and adjusting to the community atmosphere we are promoting at the shelter. Every day we see evidence of the men supporting, encouraging and helping each other in many ways.
A young guest of DAI came to us facing numerous challenges that plagued his life and caused him to become homeless. He was young and struggling financially, had a criminal history, gang affiliation and had not much education. However, what he did have was a willingness to change and “HOPE.” At our initial meeting, he described his life as problematic and like many young people he did not know why his life was in such a bad way or how to make a change. We talked a while longer and I assured him he could change the direction of his life if he chooses, but it would take work and the patience to stay the course. He stated he was willing to do the work. Over the next several weeks the young DAI guest had many ups and downs while on his journey. One of the main issues he faced was that he could not keep his room clean. He received multiple infractions for his room not meeting DAI standards. No matter how much assistance and encouragement he received from DAI staff, he just kept leaving his room unkempt.
One day while doing my rounds, I walked past his room and the door was wide open. Our young guest was standing next to his bed with a wide smile. To my astonishment his room was spotless and he was excited to show me the work he had done. I immediately called our Assistant Progam Manager, Mr. Waring, to see the young man’s room, at which point we all hugged and celebrated this achievement. Often we miss the little victories in life that make all the difference. It’s hard to see them because of all the difficulties. With joy in our hearts, we listened as he explained that he had help learning how to make his bed and organized his belongings from an older guest that had taken the time to work with him and mentor him. To me, this is the true beauty of this story. Someone with nothing still has the heart to give of himself to others, and that has made all the difference to another. The young guest is a different person today because of his short experience at DAI. I pray that he will take this experience and share what he has learned with another.