When you pause to actually think about what it may mean to have a home for all people, chills creep over your skin and hope settles somewhere within. The hope and inspiration that fuels Shalom Community Center is the foundation for Thursday, November 10th’s event calling on our community to house each one of the current 340 homeless people in our city.
Supporting the mission, the Fountain Square ballroom was packed and even the perimeter was lined with standing community members. All were there to hear Executive Director, Forrest Gilmore, address homelessness in Bloomington and Shalom Community Center’s mission for the next 3 years: eliminate chronic homeless, end homeless for families and children, and reduce overall homeless by 50%.
A highlight of the evening and fittingly, the day before Veteran’s Day, Forrest shared that in part through the Shalom’s partnerships with the VA, veterans make up only 4% of those who are homeless in Bloomington, well below the national average of 11%. Still, 4% is too many and as we reflect on the sacrifices of our veterans this November, we are grounded in gratitude and motivated to ensure that veterans and all experiencing homelessness have a pathway to housing.
Talking about her own experiences with housing, Peggy Reed, a Shalom client, followed Forrest and gave an emotional testimonial to the crucial role of Shalom in her life and others. While Peggy and Forrest’s words drew a picture of stark reality and relentless hope, photography created by Shalom clients closed the evening, conveying the unknown talents and gifts of those unseen and seen on our streets. A photo by Galin Pheylan, a single street light in the darkness, reminded all in attendance that we must recommit to our unique roles in the chillingly beautiful goal of a home for all.
Written by Caroline Arness, SPEA Fellow for Media & Deveopment. To donate to Shalom, please click here.