Perspective changes everything. A statement that I think most people are aware of but can never fully appreciate without really seeing things from a different perspective. One of the biggest lessons that I have learned since working at the Health Advocacy Clinic is what a “break” in life can really mean. For me, from my perspective, it is going on vacation or having a week off of school. For many of the residents here at Hesed House, a break in life seems to take on a different form or a different meaning, or perhaps more accurately, a different perspective. From the perspective of residents here, I think they see breaks often as things that I take for granted. They are happy to have food, water and shelter. So from their perspectives, I think something like hanging out with friends or watching a movie can constitute a break for them. I see these things as common-day occurrences, which looking at it from their perspectives, gives me a new-found appreciation. I really have got to see this through one of the gentlemen that I have had the honor to work with; his name is “Jim.”
I didn’t really have any expectations going into my first interview with Jim and the subsequent interviews really weren’t any different. I came to expect Jim to be the same as he was in the initial interview and outside of that, I expected little different as we had more and more meetings. I tried to keep an open mind about the interviews as best as possible and in doing so, it got me thinking about these experiences and this new-found perspective. What I was thinking during these interviews was how tough Jim’s life has been. He doesn’t seem to have, from my perspective, a break in the foreseeable future. But what he does have is a break, from his perspective, in the foreseeable future. I always want to work as hard as I can for clients, but I have gotten to know Jim and have an attachment to the outcome of his case. This is because getting him benefits will, at the very least, produce some positivity in his life like having more money to be able to move out of his current living situation. By getting this for Jim, I aid in finding him a break which will hopefully lead to more breaks. Jim has lived a life recently that, after all of the hard work he has done, has ended up with him searching to find a home and trying to work to feed himself. Things that I take for granted. The struggle that Jim is having has provided a new perspective to me in regards to what a break in life is considered. Breaks from Jim’s perspective seem like everyday occurrences to me that help me get recharged for the next couple days, but nothing that provides a long- term recharge like a longer vacation. From Jim’s perspective though, getting benefits and getting housed would be a life-changing break that would lead to future breaks. Hopefully he gets one break and is able to turn that break into bigger and better breaks. Maybe one day we can share a perspective on the meaning of the term “break.”
One can’t help but to see how unfair life can be after working with the residents at Hesed House. Jim is such a nice gentleman and so strong willed that hopefully life will make its mission to give him some more breaks and allow for his perspective to change. I hope that Jim will always be able to fight and keep going because he really deserves a bigger break than what he has received recently. It is great that there is a break coming soon since he is getting housing help and is seeing people about his challenges in life. As much as I have helped Jim, he has also provided me with a new perspective on breaks and a new appreciation for what life has given me. It is amazing how different the perspectives make the meaning of break change.
I think these experiences have taught me to work that much harder for our clients. I will likely get a break according to my perspective at some point. These clients will hopefully get a break, as I see it, and I can continue to be aware of what a break is from their perspective so that I don’t take it for granted. Further, I think that my experiences with Jim and with the clinic in general have taught me that this is good work to do. These people have lived tough lives and they deserve breaks just like everyone else in life.