Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Major Michael Copeland- Administrator, The Salvation Army Adult Rehab Center

Major Michael Copeland has served in the Salvation Army for 30 years.  In that time, he has worked closely with homeless people seeking help in cities across the country.   Four years ago, he came to Worcester to continue his mission to help homeless people and worked with Worcester's leading human service providers who would later ask him to be part of the Home Again project. Major Copeland was a member of the initial Home Again Planning Committee, and today, he is a dedicated member of the project's Advisory Council.

 

After many years of seeing homeless people cycle through shelters and soup kitchens, Major Copeland believes that it is Home Again's ability to offer the safety and security of a home that makes it most helpful in getting people off of the streets. "Through a series of circumstances and choices, many homeless people find themselves in a situation where survival is the only goal," says Copeland.  "Home Again provides an opportunity for a person in this situation to experience safety, security, and support. It brings real hope to people who may have thought they had no alternative."

 

Major Copeland knows from experience that the chronically homeless population can be a drain on resources that could be used for early intervention to prevent people from entering a life on the streets.  "A small group of people get to a point in which they rely solely on emergency services, which requires an inordinate amount of time and money," Copeland says.  "When chronically homeless people receive more appropriate care through a housing first program like Home Again, it frees time and money to focus on others before they reach the stage of chronic homelessness."

 

The highly collaborative nature of the Home Again Advisory project's leadership, which is made up of a broad spectrum of the Worcester community, appeals to Major Copeland.  "I have found it very helpful and refreshing to come together with experienced people from a wide variety of perspectives who are putting aside their organizational and agency agendas to focus on issue of solving chronic homelessness."

 

Looking back over his thirty years of helping many unique homeless individuals, Major Copeland knows that very often, there are misleading stereotypes applied to homeless people.  "The most common stereotype is that chronically homeless people are there because of choices. While choices are a factor, people often enter into chronic homelessness because of a traumatic event," says Major Copeland.  "I've seen homeless people who were college professors and concert pianists suffering from mental illness as well as a woman who became despondent after her divorce.  These were not nameless, faceless people who made a group called 'homeless,' but rather unique individuals with a story often too terrible for words."

 

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