Twelve years ago, Melvin Ford went through a program that PADS called The Help Center. Someone asked him if he wanted to work the front desk, and from then on, his passion for working with people who are homeless bloomed. Prior to his work with homeless people, Melvin had worked for the VA Medical Center as a psychiatric nurse and assistant. Currently, Melvin works as the Outreach Program Manager at PADS. His job is to reach out to the homeless community, help enroll them in PADS programs and eventually get them off the streets. Unlike the other stories, Melvin isnot homeless, but rather someone who has found comfort working with homeless people.
“I realized how so many of us, and especially myself, took life for granted. Tomorrow is not promised… You have so many that are hopeless [and] in despair, and that kills their motivation and everything and so you start to help people. Then it becomes a real joy when you’re working with the ones who are trying to help themselves and you see some good things happening. There’s a lot of rewards. For me, it’s a great job. I enjoy going out and making the smallest thing happy, bringing a smile, building a relationship, cutting through the barriers of a relationship…The possibility of housing, health care. You know, what are their needs? It’s the basic needs… once we identify those needs, we can work on them. Joy comes from each accomplishment… Being non-judgemental helps me in my everyday life. Not taking anything personal here. I’m dealing with someone that is suffering. They are angry on the inside, but not at me… sometimes we can lose our way, but never take things personal. I need to be able to hear what they are trying to tell me and what they are saying through the anger…These are living skills.”