|Lin Rohr (right) removes weeds with Jennifer as part of the Angel House clean up.
Cleanliness is one of the first indications that people take pride in where they live. And on a sunny day in the spring, those living and working at HAC’s Angel House took time to demonstrate that pride as they removed brush, raked the grass and picked up trash from the shelter’s grounds.
“It gives them ownership,” said shelter director Lin Rohr as to why the work was important for clients to undertake. “This is their home and this gets them invested in it and gives them a sense of pride (in Angel House).”
To the outsider, it may have only appeared to be manual labor, but Rohr stressed that the activity was representative of the shelter’s ultimate goal – to give clients the tools, treatment and support to one day become self-sufficient.
It was, Rohr said, part of the healing process for the mothers at Angel House who are overcoming the trauma of homelessness and addiction. “As well as the mental and emotional healing, there is the physical healing,” that she said is also necessary to their recovery.
Rohr also touted the benefits of having staff work hand-in-hand with clients, as part of a group exercise with tangible benefits.
Kneeling down next to Rohr, diligently pulling weeds from the flower bed in front of Angel House’s play space was Jennifer. “One hundred and ten days,” Jennifer said proudly when asked how long she had been at the shelter.
“Jen and I came on the same day,” added Rohr, who arrived at Angel House on January 2. The statement lingered for a second, giving the sense of kinship between the two despite their disparate roles.
“I remember that this was a very welcoming place,” Jennifer said of her introduction to the shelter. “It was the same for both of us.”
When the pair finished pulling the weeds from the play space flower bed, they moved to another building where group meetings, yoga and one-on-one counseling take place. Together they began removing leaves and branches that surrounded the exterior.
“This is a great part of recovery to get yourself out and be active,” said Jennifer, echoing Rohr’s comments earlier in the morning.
And so a simple spring clean up became significant of something larger.