Freedom House: A Sense of Place

BY MARIA SAUER

Since the first migration of people from Africa to North America, people have been searching for their roots, familiarity and attachments. Something many people take for granted, others have fought for and continue to search for. This is the story for many immigrants. However, this is also the story for many people in our community of Brown County. As people lose their homes or are driven away from their roots, they lose their sense of place.

Humanity can be seen through different lenses. Combine those lenses, and there is a sense of wholeness and well­being. Each person searches for connections in his or her life. Each person looks through different lenses to bring to light his or her heritage, purpose and place. These lenses reflect on one’s past and begin to capture an identity. Once a person’s sense of place is taken away, his or her identity is taken away as well. As I interact with families experiencing homelessness at Freedom House, a shelter providing service to families, I am able to see through a lens that brings clarity to the need for a sense of place. Each family brings with them a past and a vision for the life of their family. Each family holds onto their roots as they are torn from their sense of place, searching for their identity. Just as each of us on campus finds our purpose and identity in various ways, so do families who have lost an aspect of what makes them whole. As different lenses of humanity come together for clarity, the wholeness is at risk of being unclear if a lens is lost. However, to give another person the opportunity to thrive through the right of human dignity is to give someone a piece that has been missing from them. To welcome someone, regardless of circumstance, with services that will have long-term solutions is to refocus the lens towards what makes someone whole. All people deserve a place where, no matter what, they belong. A sense of place is an aspect beyond a building where one may reside. A sense of place varies with each person, because that is what brings clarity to his or her wholeness. This place may be on campus, at Freedom House or even in any unlikely spot. Regardless, each person deserves a place that cannot be tarnished by another person or by a circumstance.

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