This is a story of a relationship that was built at the client’s pace, not ours. We first heard about “Charlie” in October of 2014 through his sister who had contacted Albuquerque Police Department. She was trying to find him because of a family tragedy. She knew he was sleeping out in the streets and that he was disengaged from any services. APD contacted SMHC to help find him. Through the collaboration with APD, we found Charlie and helped him get in touch with his family. We encountered him again while he was lying in the park. It was hardly an encounter, really just a brief contact. Charlie was very unkempt, emotionally removed and would not sit up to talk.
We let him know who we were and a little about St. Martin’s HC. As soon as he heard St. Martin’s he withdrew and said he wouldn’t come by because he was barred from coming due to an altercation he had with another client. We assured Charlie that he was welcomed back and he became mildly receptive when we told him he could take a shower. He mentioned that he needed an ID and we assured him shelter services could help with that.
There were significant behavioral health issues Charlie was struggling with. He refused to give any information to us. We let him know that the Winter Shelter would be opening soon and Charlie shared that he was terrified of crowds so that would not be an option. We remained hopeful.
In December we saw Charlie in SMHC shelter. He had quite the scruffy beard for such a young man. He asked for a razor and he was soon clean shaven. He was much more engaging and even shared more information about himself with us. He even got tested for HIV during our collaboration with Truman Health Services. He was excited to share that he was working in the shelter to pay for the voucher for his ID. We continue to let Charlie set the pace with our engagements. Charlie has started to share with us his hopes for a future. Outreach’s mission is about Charlie’s story. It is relationship that is ongoing and the story is not over yet.