100 Touches and an ID
By Jaleesa McEachin, Case Manager
Industry standard is that it takes 100 touches to develop a meaningful engagement with a person living on the street. This means 100 “hellos” or “good mornings” until outreach can lead to case management.
Every morning I come to work knowing I will make a difference. I will be one of the 100 touches for someone. I will help someone along the way to securing an ID. I will be one (or many) of the steps in a client’s journey to independence. As a case manager I listen, I advise, and I do what it takes to help my clients navigate a system full of hurdles.
Before I started working at Bridges, I never thought of my ID as a challenge. How many of us do? Most people can dig out a birth certificate, social security card and a driver’s license easily if we need to. You need identification to apply for a job, rent an apartment, and open a bank account. People experiencing homelessness often do not have ID, and the victims of domestic violence that leave with nothing, have nothing.
The challenges that our clients faced before COVID were substantial. COVID has closed city, county, and state offices as well as other resources and safety nets. Bridges remained open and we came to work everyday knowing that we were an even more critical resource for our clients.
In my two years and four months here I have met some remarkable clients. Each story is worth sharing just as each person experiencing homelessness has value. All the steps and touches along the way, and victories large and small, are the reason I am proud to come to work everyday. We’re proud to have convinced a gentleman named William to fill out the paperwork for a copy of his birth certificate and social security card. We’re also honored to have helped Ms. Patricia who came to Bridges with virtually no documents, only a copy of an old and expired motor vehicle ID. And we’re so glad to see the progress of clients like Tessy, Ms. Mitchell, and Sharise, who, after securing ID, all enrolled in our Wise Women job training program and are now on their way to independence.
We show up everyday and keep working for clients like Nicole, who became homeless after she aged out of foster care, and for Mr. B who walked into Bridges with a blanket as his only possession.
Sometimes success is a series of try, fail, try, fail, try again, and again. Being a Case Manager for Bridges is heart-breaking and soul-saving, sometimes in the same moment.
Bridges has always been a safe place for our clients experiencing homelessness to shower, get a brown bag lunch, receive clothing, shoes; all with dignity. These are usually the first few touches. In our current COVID world, our services have been tweaked, but the dignity and caring remain the same.
Thank you for reading and please remember to be kind. #WeCanENDHomelessness