Amidst the hubbub of people at The Stewpot "taking a load off", waiting for services, sleeping on the floors, or just hanging out, Thomas is waiting to hear his name called on the intercom. He heard about a way to get a phone number from a guy sitting next to him at breakfast this morning at the Second Chance Café, and has now signed up to receive one.
What is this "free" phone
number thing? He has been living in a shelter for the past couple
of weeks and along with looking for a call center customer service
job like he used to have, he is desperate to re-establish contact
with his mother and brother but doesn’t want them knowing his
living situation. He is clean-cut, with some college under his belt,
and is trying his best to stay positive. He never in his life expected
to be living in an emergency shelter.
They call his name. The smiling caseworker carrying a large
white binder leads him into an office and proceeds to fill out an
information page about him. After finding an available number
in the binder the caseworker shows Thomas a page of suggested
messages to record.
He chooses this one:
"Hello, you have reached Thomas ____. I am not home at the
moment, but if you will leave your name and phone number,
I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thanks, and have a
The caseworker leaves Thomas a sample message for him to
practice retrieving with his password:
"Hi Thomas, I just wanted to congratulate you on getting a new
phone number - your message sounds great! Remember to share
this number with important people in your life - family, friends,
social workers, workforce centers or doctors, and on job or
housing applications. Take care!"
That's when the smile creeps across his face. He pushes 2 to save
the message. He is connected.
The Stewpot is a place for homeless citizens to receive services
and get some respite from the great outdoors. One of the
services offered is Community Voice Mail, a national program
geared towards keeping people living in poverty, transition and
homelessness connected with broadcast resources, jobs hotlines,
housing information and most important, hope and dignity. Last
year, the Dallas Community Voice Mail office reported 278 client