At Christ House we strive to amplify the voices of the people we serve. We cherish the stories our patients entrust us with, because we know that sharing and hearing stories generates understanding. With these anecdotes, we hope to provide you with a glimpse into the root causes of homelessness, the daily challenges and barriers people experiencing homelessness face in DC, and the holistic support and care Christ House provides each patient that walks through our doors.
“It feels good to be safe for the first time in a long time, and to sit still. Christ House has been a blessing, I am so lucky to be here. Before I came here I was completely lost. There was nowhere for me to turn to, and if I would have kept living and drinking like I was I would have died. I was not eating every day, and a lot of the time I did not take my heart medicine. I was really unhealthy. Christ House gives me peace of mind, teaches me to follow rules, and I’m starting to learn how to be patient. I’ve gotten closer with my family and made new friends.
The best thing Christ House did for my health was teaching me to take my medicine properly. I have heart problems, and they’ve helped me stay on a regular schedule for my medicine. Also, Christ House helps with my appointments, and got me in touch with a Primary Care doctor. With my social needs, the most important thing Christ House gave me was a safe environment. We are figuring out my finances and housing, but first I needed a safe place off the streets where people actually care for me.”
After his body could no longer take the daily toll of construction work, Albert was out of a job and began staying at a local shelter. He was unable to maintain proper hygiene or nutrition at the shelter, and he was experiencing pain in his hip and knees. Albert came to Christ House with the hope that our staff could take a look at his hip and connect him with proper care. Once he arrived, though, in addition to his need for a hip replacement, the clinical staff found that he had high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
Once admitted, Albert received well-rounded care. Our nursing staff providing Albert with the proper medication, our case managers worked to obtain his birth certificate and ID (something Albert had been trying to access for years), and our kitchen staff provided him with three nutritious meals each day.
While Albert slowly healed, he enjoyed spending time talking to staff, joining in cooking demos, and often simply sitting silently in the presence of others. “My time here has been wonderful,” he said, going on to name all the staff members who had helped him, “If it wasn’t for Christ House, I don’t know where…or even if…I would be. I got my hope back up.”
Our case managers worked diligently and were able to connect Albert with a long-term care facility after helping schedule his hip replacement surgery. “A lot has changed for me since I’ve been here. I thank Christ House for what they’ve done for me,” he says.
Before coming to Christ House, Jared was living in a tent. He left home after a family conflict resulted in rotator cuff tears in his shoulders. Jared first heard about Christ House after meeting Dr. Goetcheus at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church where she does medical outreach: “She told me I needed medical assistance and that Christ House would be a good fit. She said I should go see if I liked it.”
Since his arrival, Jared has been able to access immunizations, cancer screenings, and dental care. He has also received pain medication for his spinal injury, and has a surgery scheduled shortly to repair his spine. When living on the street, Jared said he used to stay to himself because he didn’t trust people around him. During his stay at Christ House, Jared has enjoyed playing Wii games, playing Spades, and going on walks with other patients and staff. Upon recounting his first time meeting Dr. Goetcheus and all she has helped him with since then, Jared shared: “I trust her with my life.”
It is our goal that patients leave our doors healthier and with a renewed sense of hope. “I came here to get fixed…” Jared says, “I’m healing mentally and physically.”
Darrell was homeless for 15 years before he arrived at Christ House underweight and with very low self-esteem. He had experienced three significant falls which led to broken wrists, a knee injury, and a broken femur. Though Darrell had completed several recovery programs, avoided legal trouble, and maintained contact with his family, he still hadn’t been able to break the cycle of homelessness. At Christ House he received assistance from clinical staff members for his physical recovery and was provided mental health support. Our case managers helped him apply for and secure SSI income and our kitchen provided him with nutritious meals. Demonstrating a strong desire to live a sober life, Darrell completed our recovery program and became a member of the Kairos program.
Darrell has now been a member of our Kairos program for over five years. He shares his gentle presence with fellow Kairos House members and enjoys their companionship. With Christ House’s help, Darrell says he has “found a new way of living” that has saved his life.