“I haven’t seen my daddy in a long time,” she said with tears in her eyes! Read how a reunion between a homeless father and his daughter brings renewed hope to seek a transformed life.
Written by: Jo Ann Carpenter
Recently one of our resident men was telling me how good he is feeling these days! He has been clean and sober for over three months now. He was amazed at how his body has responded to a healthier life. His journey has been challenging since coming to Refuge of Hope, but rewarding as he feels better physically. He is an active part of the Resident Assistant program at the mission and enjoys helping any way he can.
But because of his past life of depression, drugs, and alcohol, he has been separated from his daughter. It had been a year since father and daughter had seen each other.
But one-day last week that changed when his precious little girl came to visit her dad. As I was introduced to this charming 8-year-old, we shook hands and I told her how happy we were to meet her. She put an arm around her dad and said, “I am glad to be here. I haven’t seen my daddy in a long time,” and I watched as the tears filled her eyes. It did not go unnoticed that dad was also tearing up, which made me do the same. For a moment we all shared the emotional roller coaster of life; remembering sadness, experiencing the reunion, and feeling the uncertainty for their future.
How do you explain to your little girl the reasons you are living in a homeless shelter? Well, I discovered, this charming 8-year-old has already stayed in a shelter with her mother, so at her young age, she had experienced homelessness, from what I was told more than a few times.
BUT THIS WAS HER DAD!! Dads are supposed to be strong, right? Well, the reality is, sometimes dads become overwhelmed with life too. They can make poor choices, and self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Dads also need a support system, and without that their lives can spiral out of control. That is exactly what happened to this dad.
Today his life looks a bit different.
He went from rock bottom to now living a life of hope and new beginnings. But, how does that happen while residing in a homeless shelter?
Now, this may sound odd, but the time a man is recovering from a past life and beginning to heal is exactly the time he needs to spend away from relationships, even sometimes a daughter. This time is for him, to regain his strength, seek forgiveness from his past and forgive himself as well. Staying clean and sober is the first step. Understanding the reasons you became homeless is next; then setting a new plan for your life with housing and employment. Finally, and maybe the hardest of all is rebuilding relationships with family.
Strange as it may sound, (and I have seen it happen so many times in the past), ..a relationship can be the quickest downfall for a man in recovery. Yes, even a relationship with a child. Why? Because during this rebuilding time in his life, unrealistic expectations and a pressure to be perfect can cause a person to turn back to old coping habits.
The time our residents spend with us is precious and valuable as they begin to heal mentally, physically and spiritually. Building self-esteem, self-worth and being welcomed into the Refuge of Hope family is only the beginning. We connect the men to other social service agencies to help them on their journey. Finding employment and housing is not the end of this process. Building a strong support system is a vital component to ensure his success.
We believe the foundation of this whole process is sharing the gospel with the men. Personal accounts of how God has worked through our lives, the mission and other men are powerful! We offer a witness of how our faith in God sustains us whenever we experience a storm in life, and how only God can provide those peaceful, calm waters through His love and compassion for us.
It may not seem relevant to them at first, but when they finally make the connection between our relationships with God, and how He works through us to help them, then the AHA moment can be life transforming!
We find that many of the men who have moved forward with a new life of independence choose to stay connected with us. It is not uncommon for former residents to return to volunteer, become financial donors, and desire to give back to their church and community.
Please pray for this dad and his daughter, our residents, and Refuge of Hope as we all work together to build solid foundations for a brighter future.
If you would like to visit Refuge of Hope, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.