One More Story

Bryce Fisher, Episcopal Urban Intern Program

“Then they stuck this huge needle into my liver and filled three liter containers with poison that was inside of me. The doctor told me, ‘You’re lucky to be alive. If you drink again, you’re gonna die.’ And there were all these other people, lying there in the other beds around me for the same thing. Every once in a while, the nurse would wheel one out, and send them down the elevator. None of the doctors would tell why they were wheelin’ people out, but then one of the other patients told me they died.”
-St. Joseph Center client

Getting to hear the stories of people I work with makes this year away from loved ones rewarding. They remind me that I’m not just sitting in an office while the sun is shining over the beach; but rather that I’m connecting people to housing and something like the life they lost. But most of the time, as a case manager in the homeless service center at St. Joseph’s, I just sit and type and make phone calls, and I need reminders that all the paperwork means something to someone.

While I was meeting with one of my clients, we started talking about furniture. My client said he didn’t have a bed, so I offered him one from our thriftstore for free. He said, “When I was using drugs, I put all my energy into using drugs. So now that I’m clean, I’m gonna put all of my energy into living well. I save up and buy everything new.” I got to visit his apartment recently. He does live very well, and he’ll have a bed soon.

I could tell you about my client who used to be a stripper and has a story for every street downtown or the family of six that wants to adopt two more or the man who keeps guinea pigs in his shirt or the transexual woman who hit on me or the paranoid woman who sleeps all day and uses action figures to inspire her writing. They help me see that “crazy” people aren’t always different from me just because we put a label on them.

At the end of this year, I want to leave with more than my story. I want to take as many of my clients’ stories with me as I can. Now that’s my idea of living large.