Fred came to LSSSC’s Central City Lutheran Mission because his wallet had been stolen at the motel where he stayed. But it was not the wallet that haunted him.
It was that Fred had faced a harrowing trauma and then never found the resources to cope with it. It was that Fred found himself on the outside of his marriage looking in. It was that Fred was facing homelessness as a result of a newfound dependence on substances to manage his emotions. It was that Fred had, in an attempt to abandon his problems in another life, found a solitary life void of hope.
It had not always been like this. But Fred’s 20 year-old son had died unexpectedly, and the grief ate him up from the inside like a cancerous tumor. He became depressed, angry, frustrated, and he felt totally lost, disconnected from reality. Everywhere he went, and everything he saw, reminders of the son he loved so much followed him, plaguing his mind with feelings of incomprehensible demoralization. All parents assume that one day their children will bury them. Fathers and mothers never dream they will bury a child. And they certainly never plan on how they will cope with the situation.
Eventually Fred left his wife at their home in Arizona and came to California. He wasn’t looking for anything on the west coast. He just wanted to run away from the pain and trauma of his life in Arizona. He and his wife didn’t know how to help each other grieve, and that took a toll on their marriage.
After a long, turbulent battle with impending homelessness, Fred finally turned to whatever resource he could find. By the grace of God, Fred found Central City Lutheran Mission. During his time at CCLM, our staff helped Fred begin to navigate his anger, depression and frustration. Slowly he began to address the grief, as well as the problem that had pulled him away from his wife.
Fred was a direct beneficiary of the four core case management components that are implemented with every CCLM shelter resident: intake, assessment, goal setting, and follow-up. These components allowed Fred a stable environment in which he could identify what plagued him, a chance to establish a treatment plan to combat his issues, and the resources to follow through with that treatment plan while also carving a pattern of service to the community.
Fred then received an opportunity to work in the CCLM kitchen. Finally, he could focus on something positive and productive. It was also the very service that perpetuates CCLM’s ability to serve the next person in need. Aside from non-profit donations and various online donations, volunteer work is a primary component to our mission.
In his position, Fred worked tirelessly to improve various cooking methods, food handling, and storage capabilities. CCLM paid for his food handlers license and training, and Fred rewarded the CCLM commitment by playing a key role in the kitchen redesign that delivered a highly functioning commercial kitchen to further serve the community with an “A” rating that has been maintained each year since. By the end of his case management and volunteer service, Fred’s pain was manageable, his perspective was refreshed, and he was ready to return to
Arizona where, with his wife, he would commit to regaining the stability of their marriage. Fred said, The day I left CCLM, you lost a kitchen worker, but I found a new life. But we say, the day Fred left, we understood the full purpose of our mission and furthered our commitment to end poverty in Southern California.