For the past 10 months, once a week, I have travelled to downtown Kansas City to see clients at the LikeMe Lighthouse (an LGBT Community Center). Most of the clients I see there have no way to pay, or if they can it’s not much. I’ve found that those who have the least get the most from their sessions. It reminds me why I got into this field in the first place. They really work at getting better!
During that time, I had an encounter with a client I won’t forget. Sam (not his real name) was a young transgender client who had been homeless for some time. He had had a difficult time since we began meeting. While he did have a place to sleep and food stamps, the medication he needed to maintain a level mood became unavailable to him with some of the government changes; he kept getting the “runaround” when he tried to apply for Supplementary Security Income; and he got kicked out the school he was attending because of a controversy with another student over his sexuality. In addition, while he had some family who were loving and supportive of him, they were financially supporting others in the family and there were a multitude of other problems in the family, including mental illness, physical abuse and addiction.
Regardless of these issues, Sam was always on time, never missed an appointment, came each time with a clear view of his future; and a level-headed, down-to-earth attitude about the choices he was facing. That’s not to say he didn’t get down and frustrated. Who wouldn’t!? But most of the time, he had the ability to project beyond the initial urge to the consequences of a possible action, and notice how it would feel if he chose that path. I’m not going to say he didn’t take some detours, but he typically ended up taking the route that would prevent him from getting pulled down further – or that would propel him to where he wanted to be.
On this day, he was exceedingly light-hearted as he came through the door. He informed me immediately that he was moving to a different part of the city. He had obtained a job. Although the supportive family members had offered a place at their house, which was fairly close to his work, he chose not to live there among the chaos and drug use (He had struggled with addictions himself and is doing relatively well staying clean). So they agreed to pay his rent until he makes enough to take over the payments.
In addition, he’d been working with Vocational Rehab to get into a different school and he had an appointment to get his meds refilled.
I sat there in awe of this young man. I doubt I would have had the ability to persevere as he did. Knowing him has reminded me of the abundance in my own life. Knowing him has inspired me to become a better person and to hang in there even when the future looks bleak. Knowing him has been an honor.