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In-sight, in-mind

"In-sight, in-mind" Continued...

Issue: "A reason to live," March 23, 1996

"Our fundamental belief is that true recovery is a spiritual issue, and must be spiritually based," says Mr. Robertson. "The usual non-judgmental 'we care' attitude is actually harmful to the homeless; it aids their dysfunction. Their root problems are not economic, they're internal. They need to start taking responsibility for their lives, and they need to be willing to accept guidelines, and to accept personal accountability for themselves. We insist that they do that."

Keith is a tall, thin, tired-looking 45-year-old drug addict whose deeply creased, weathered face bears the scar of addiction. He struggled through a half-dozen rehab programs before entering CityTeam's earlier this year, and he says it is by far the best he has experienced. "I have learned more about what is important in life and the way to real happiness during the last year here than I had learned in all my 44 years before," he declares.

CityTeam calls for self-examination and repentance, concepts not factored into the Guadalupe Creek Project. Pat Scallo, who is presently the director of the CityTeam rescue mission, once heeded CityTeam's call. Now an athletic-looking, middle-aged man with the calm demeanor of someone who has worked through many personal problems; a decade ago Mr. Scallo was on the streets, utterly enslaved to drugs. In the CityTeam program he became a Christian, recovered his life, and then stayed on as a staff member.

"We get a lot of retreads here, guys who have gone through other ineffective programs," he says. "I got one guy here who has gone through 10 other programs."

What "retreads" need is not another program, but a real person who cares, Mr. Scallo asserts. No overnight cots. No free food and clothing and a wave good-bye. CityTeam requires dorm residence and attendance at chapel services and Christ-centered recovery and literacy classes. In addition, volunteers from local churches form friendships with the men and help them to become involved at a local church, a vast departure from Guadalupe's mission of stashing homeless people out-of-sight and out-of-mind. When participants finish at CityTeam, they already have a network of godly friendships and support relationships that can help sustain them.

Unquestionably, CityTeam's responsibility model is not generally accepted among urban "relief" programs, where "clients" are fed and clothed, with no larger, long-term goal pursued. Under the regime of the contemporary welfare establishment, talk of values and self-responsibility is still thought intolerant. But in San Jose, more and more recovering homeless individuals are finding that working hard to acquire the "mentality of a home" is much more tolerable-and preferable-than languishing in a thoughtless hand-out house.

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