From Survive to Thrive


By Michael Schmidtke

In my former position working at a homeless shelter I witnessed the survival mindset of my clients. Yet every person I met could not (and would not) deny they wanted to thrive. Thriving is close to the heart of humankind. It is a desire as deep as the instinct to survive. Look at the stories which populate our bookshelves, Facebook feeds, and news publications. They are filled with stories of harrowing survival or against-the-odds thriving. Lottery tickets, relationships, property and vehicle ownership, even grocery shopping are all avenues for fulfilling our dreams. A drunken man sitting on the bus, the woman panhandling on the street, and the guy in front of you ordering a coffee are all humans filled with dreams of thriving but hobbled by the realities of street life whether poor physical health, misunderstanding, or mental health. The obstacles are unique to each person.

As a frontline worker I found a majority of my time was given to survival situations. If a client was seeking to thrive, to actuate their dreams, I would refer them to whoever specialized in the goal they want to accomplish. I dealt with the rawness of street situations within the safety of the shelter I worked in. I have seen tears and suffering from addiction, mental health, hunger and assault. I have seen dreams and hope snuffed and miraculously relit. The faces and stories I encountered there have etched themselves into my memory.

Now, through my work in Accessible Housing’s Bridge To Home team, I have been given the opportunity to help people thrive. I get the privilege and needed task of advocating for and aiding clients in both “getting by” but also the achieving goals and dreams they had long ago thought hopeless.  In my short 3 months working at Accessible Housing I have seen men and women move into homes allowing them to reestablish connections with loved ones, gain income, and reach for things they had written off as unreachable. It is a beautiful and unique challenge that I love! Accessible Housing is supporting individuals to go beyond survival into thriving.

Michael is a caseworker in our Bridge to Home program and helps his clients find stable housing, integrate into the community and thrive. You can follow him on Twitter at @crazymikey64. We promise you that he isn’t crazy although he does sport a pretty wicked moustache.