The seed that was planted

LA Homeless Services Authority
The Road Home
Published in
2 min readDec 13, 2023

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In the world of Homeless Engagement Teams (HET), where compassion meets action, Elgin stands out for his dedication. With three years of experience, he approaches his work with patience and skill, always sharing information with clients about their options and aiming to transition them from the streets to shelter or permanent housing.

While working alongside the CARE Team one day in 2022 as they were preparing to clean a section of the street, Elgin encountered a man named Rodney who was found sleeping on a chair in the alley, unaware of the clean up. At 5'9" and 140 pounds, Rodney wore tattered clothing and worn-out tennis shoes. He became confrontational because his belongings were in the CARE Team’s service area. Sensing the tension, Elgin gently took Rodney aside after realizing that all he wanted was to gather his possessions. Elgin advocated for empathy and asked the CARE Team to allow Rodney time to gather his belongings, defusing the situation.

A year later, while Elgin was in the field doing outreach, a man approached him on a bike. Not recognizing him at first, Elgin was surprised to find it was Rodney. The transformation was astonishing — now at a healthy weight and dressed in clean attire, Rodney shook Elgin’s hand and expressed his gratitude for Elgin’s help that day in the alley. Rodney said Elgin’s empathy helped him trust outreach teams that visited him after when they offered a path off the street. Now housed at an A Bridge Home interim shelter, Rodney’s life had undergone a complete turnaround.

Elgin and Rodney’s story highlights the incredible impact that outreach workers can have. It’s a reminder that every interaction, no matter how routine, can lead to profound change. What felt like just another day at work for Elgin was a turning point for Rodney. Elgin’s ability to see Rodney’s humanity and understand that his possessions were more than just belongings played a crucial role in helping Rodney see that life had more to offer.

Elgin’s encounter with Rodney was like planting a seed. Just as a skilled gardener knows that seeds don’t turn into flowers overnight, outreach workers understand the connections they build may not yield immediate results. However, they persist, trusting that the seeds they plant today may blossom into something incredible over time.

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