Finding hope in the moment through Spiritual Care
It’s hard not to get emotional talking to Jordan Shaw, Our Place’s Spiritual Care Worker, as he describes what he experiences and the people he has come to know. From the man with a 6-year-old’s mental capacity because of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder who lives on our streets, to the person who was discharged from the hospital in pain and in crisis with nowhere to go, to the one who lost all his belongings to theft and was left with literally nothing to call his own, Jordan is one of the key members of staff at Our Place who are there for the people who have been all but forgotten.
“A lot of people drive by this community, and they just see a problem,” says Jordan. “They don’t see a collection of absolutely unique and wonderful individuals who are each doing their best just to survive. We’re talking about real human beings, about real people. This is a community of survivors. It’s a community of people who have seen more trauma and death and pain than most of us will ever see in our lifetimes. And it can be truly heartbreaking.”
Since 2009, Jordan has been working with marginalized people in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, and now in Victoria, providing spiritual care to people who have been abandoned for essentially their entire lives. “This population has dealt with such a large amount of loss, and of mistrust, and of simply being left, and often at a very young age,” he says. “Left by people who were supposed to care for them. Left by people who were supposed to protect them. It’s a highly traumatized population and many of the people we serve were traumatized by their parents or have been in foster care since they were little, or whatever the case may be. I see my work as attempting to be a piece of the puzzle that helps people find their humanity again and helps them find their source of strength that they may not even know they have.”
At Our Place we believe that everyone should experience unconditional love in a non-judgmental way, and the spiritual care program is an essential part of this. The program offers time and space for people to safely explore their connection with things other than themselves, which can be critical in finding a way out of the depths of addiction and homelessness. “On Thursdays and Fridays, we have our spiritual care room [a dedicated space at 919 Pandora] open and we have snacks, as well as activities like board games and art. There’s a sharing circle on Thursdays, and bible study on Mondays that’s run by some of our wonderful volunteers. When people are in this calming space, we can sit and talk with them, start to unpack what’s going on, build trust, and find that hope in the moment. The most important person in the world is the person sitting in front of you, and we treat everyone as that. To engage with them and to recognize the humanity of one another, that’s when amazing things can happen.”
One family member, who prefers not to be named, credits spiritual care at Our Place with being a primary motivator in helping her re-claim her life from addiction and homelessness. She says: “Addiction is a sickness of the soul. It was only my spirituality, my connection to something more than myself, that helped heal that broken part of my soul and take me through my journey with recovery.”
Adds Jordan: “Spirituality for me is about your relationship with yourself, your relationship with others, and your relationship with your higher powers, whatever that may be for you. That’s caring for the individual as a person, as a human being, not as a situation that needs to be fixed. Regardless of circumstances, of faith, or skin colour, or sexuality, or any of those things, each person is valued and treasured. It’s about saying to someone, ‘I recognize the pain you are going through. I see you, and I’m right here with you.’ That’s what we offer here at Our Place.”
Jordan is just one of the hundreds of Our Place workers and volunteers who are there to interrupt the suffering that so many are facing in our community. You help nourish hope each and every day as we turn your donations into helping hands and welcoming hearts.
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