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Conversations: Making Connections

by Nov 21, 20182018

Sheila, can you tell me what happened last Monday?
Well, on Veterans Day, The River Center was open and I came into work, a little earlier than usual. Shortly after I arrived, a man came in, saying that he had been referred to us. He told me that while he was not destitute, he suddenly found himself homeless through no fault of his own. He had just spent the last few nights sleeping in his car. He didn’t want to bother his grown children. I spent over an hour working with him that morning.

Then after I had helped him, a woman walked in saying that she, too, was homeless and was in temporary housing through her church. She was told to come to us for help in finding a more permanent living situation.

Both of them were veterans.

It was a holiday so places were probably closed, right? What did you do to help them?
We worked together to make phone calls to get them connected with services in the area. In the gentleman’s case, his situation was more urgent and because we weren’t able to connect with other places right away with it being a holiday, I asked him to come back. He returned later that day and I was able to give him more information after other services called back. I set him up with Hundred Nights in Keene for that night. The woman came back a few days later and I helped her make the phone calls she needed so she could find more stable housing. I connected both of them with organizations that help veterans specifically.

What was different about this for you?
The fact that it was Veteran’s Day made the whole scenario more poignant. It was so ironic that on the day when we are honoring veterans, they continue to have needs or crises, even if it is a holiday. Some of the places that we called were closed and were not able to give information that would help right away, but we were able to connect with them shortly after. All of this happened before 10 am!

How did you feel about your work with them?
I’m glad we were open. I’m thankful we were here and available to assist anyone who walked in or called. Also, it had to be difficult and humbling to ask for help, though I’m glad they did, and I’m glad we were here to offer the help.

Sheila is our Information & Referral Specialist. She is the first voice you will most often hear when you call The River Center and the friendly face behind the front desk.