I’ve spent seven years interviewing people experiencing homelessness in Flagstaff. The interviews opened my heart and my mind to the plight of those without homes in our community. It drew me closer to the lived experiences of those who had no place to go for shelter, for a shower, for a hot meal, and eventually I began volunteering at our community’s public shelter, Flagstaff Shelter Services.
I cannot adequately describe to you what a godsend this shelter is! They take all comers, sober or not (provided you are not an immediate danger to yourself or others). They ask for no payment or ID, and they offer anyone who needs it a way out of the cold, a bed, a shower, a meal, even a toothbrush, an aspirin, a coat or a place to get their mail.
The shelter is not a panacea for homelessness, nor an idyllic place to go. Not all people want to share a space with others; not all people want to be subject to shelter rules (e.g., when lights go off, how long you shower, what time you get up, whether you can drink alcohol, how many bags you can carry inside). But make no mistake, this is a place that saves lives, that treats clients with basic respect, that connects them to the medical, mental health and housing services they desperately need.
From one who has seen it up close, thank you!