Sometimes, calling someone “strong” is an easy way out. It can be easy to think that it matters less, if stressful and difficult things happen to a strong person, because they have the ability to cope with it.
Friends In Deed Peer Specialist Angel Maxwell calls this idea out. “Life makes you strong,” she says, because you have to find a way to deal with all the things it throws at you. It doesn’t mean you haven’t struggled with a lot of pain along the way.
A “Peer Specialist” in our Street Outreach and Housing team is someone who has experienced some of the same life events as our clients, and is able to reach out with empathy and understanding. Angel (pictured here as a child) spent some of her youth living in a group home, and as an adult she has struggled with being unhoused. At one point she and her eldest son had to sleep in their car for two weeks, and it is a tribute to how Angel handled the situation that her son remembers this time not as trauma, but as an adventure.
Angel feels that one of the most important things she can do for her clients is to give them hope. She is living proof that their situation is not permanent. A case in point: when Angel was a teen, a caseworker in her group home encouraged Angel to volunteer with the Salvation Army, and that led to her being offered a job, which eventually led to the career Angel is now following. Through Angel’s encouragement one of her clients is now following almost exactly the same trajectory, right down to also being offered a job by the Salvation Army!
When she’s not at work, Angel spends most of her time with her two sons, making memories – they go to amusement parks, restaurants, music lessons, and swimming pools. Angel is determined to make sure her children don’t have to go through the same things she did, but most of all, she wants to teach them about the importance of her Christian faith, and to always be open to helping others no matter how different they are from you.