Abundance of possibilities

When I think about the word "abundance" and how it relates to my job as a social worker at the local Community Works agency, I feel a bit overwhelmed with ideas. I could take the word in so many directions: abundance of need, abundance of work, abundance of support, abundance of gratitude. What I keep coming back to as I say the word over in my head, though, is this: abundance of possibilities.

I work with young adults who are homeless and mostly surviving without the support and care of family. It is difficult for them to plan for a great life ahead when they are without resources and feeling the limitations of their situation, and yet these motivated men and women working and attending school in Ashland and Medford want to believe in possibilities.

The 19- to 22-year-olds participating in Community Works' Transitional Living Program are some of the greatest heroes I have ever met. They are focused on moving their lives in a different direction.

The clients enrolled in TLP are in counseling, attend life skills classes and are learning how to do everything from budgeting their money to cooking. They are asked to be clean and sober, meet with me every week, and to work, be in school or volunteer 40 hours per week.

This program is voluntary, from the initial assessment to the transition out. Each client decides whether he or she is ready to be committed and move forward. We offer tools, options and support, leaving ultimate decision making and outcomes up to each client.

In exchange for their commitment, we provide them an apartment. They pay all of their bills and a small percentage of their income goes toward rent, but through federal grants and local donations, we are able to give them a great deal of assistance to help build a foundation for independence.

When a person who once slept in a car or "couch surfed" begins to live in a stable environment and accept support, counseling and lots of encouragement, the idea of possibilities can begin to prosper.

It is so inspiring to see someone who did not finish high school taking college classes, someone once unemployed opening a bank account and someone once homeless making her first real meal in her first real home.

I feel gratitude that I have been allowed into my clients' lives, to witness them redefining their future and to be a part of the change that is possible.

Those who accept what we offer as their advocates, resource guides and mentors make me feel the abundance of what is possible. I believe that allowing a person to see and believe that he or she is capable, strong and limitless right now is the true road to abundance.

Amy Nangle has worked 20 years as a social worker. Since moving to Southern Oregon in 1998, she has worked with Community Works in a number of different positions. This holiday season, she asked her clients to make a "wish list" and Amy's friends are providing the requested gift cards to Fred Meyer, Target and Ross, as well as towels, kitchenware and clothing. If you are interested in supporting Community Works, call 541-779-2393, ext. 228, or go to the Youth and Family Services section at http://community-works.org.

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