At Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon, our slogan is “Where Hope Lives”, but what does it mean? It’s impossible to ignore that a growing subset of our community lives life without the security of a solid roof or walls. We’ve all seen the statistics on homelessness: the hospitalizations, the impact on public services, and the losses in economic productivity. But mostly, we see them. They’re under bridges, sprawled in makeshift shelters along the parkway, and huddled in dank alleys. Many subplots and situations weave into this tragic story, including the declining affordability of housing, technological and global trends leaving some unable to find self-supporting work, and a toxic knot of mental illness, substance abuse, and an inadequate mental health system.
Many homeless people come from backgrounds of hardship and despair. Many teens are runaways from abusive homes, some have lost their jobs and then home, and again, many are veterans. The truth is, we don’t know any of their stories unless we take the time to ask. At Loaves and Fishes, we ask the questions and have the conversations necessary to help our clients select the services and identify available resources in our community to help them forge a path from hopelessness to hopefulness.
Often when people arrive at Loaves and Fishes, in addition to help, they are seeking hope. We have carefully selected services that are essential to creating avenues for self-sufficiency and renewing independence in the clients we serve. We help clients obtain Birth Certificates, which allows them to obtain an I.D, which allows our clients to apply for jobs, find stable housing, and receiving medical care. We also provide prescription assistance which allows our clients to maintain good health, stay employed, and prevent the influx of indigent services provided by our local hospitals. This focus on self-sufficiency provides accountability for us as an organization, but also accountability for our clients, so they are as invested as we are in their progress. When clients arrive at Loaves and Fishes, they may feel hopeless, but they leave with the tools and skills needed to not just survive but thrive.