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Snippet from the Street: Another Day in Paradise

May 29, 2013  |  By Cathy Finn

Today I was driving into work listening to tunes on my mp3 player. I was playing songs from Phil Collins’ Greatest Hits; the first song was “Another Day in Paradise,” the second was his rendition of “True Colors.” If you want to understand a lot about the mission of the Duffy Health Center, run, do not walk, to your favorite music site and download these songs; they neatly encompass a good portion of the Duffy mission.

In “Another Day in Paradise,” Phil Collins writes about a woman down on her luck, homeless, asking for help as others walk by living their own presumably more comfortable existences. This song strikes home for those of us who are homeless or who work with the homeless and those at risk on Cape Cod. So many people come to lovely Cape Cod to shake off the burdens of a long year working and maintaining their families and life. This is the place where they go to leave their troubles behind, even for a few days. For these folks, Cape Cod is where they can enjoy the beaches, eat meals out, and avoid alarm clocks. Cape Cod is paradise for our tourists. Yet, as it says in the song, they don’t know what to do when they come across one of our clients at the beach or on Main Street, especially one who fits the stereotype of someone ‘down on their luck.’

When our folks walk down Main Street in the summer time, they aren’t part of the crowd looking for cute flip flops or a nice place to sit outside and have a light lunch. They just have to keep moving, keep looking busy until the shelter opens at 4:30. If it rains, they want to find a place to stay dry. If the wind is chilly, a place to stay warm.

As though to echo my thoughts, two of my clients spontaneously touched on this train of thought this morning. One client told me he was introduced to a young lady whom he described as “rich and sheltered.” When she was told he was homeless, living in the woods, she stated, “I didn’t know there were homeless on Cape Cod.” I asked him if he filled her in on what his life was like, and he said, “I don’t think she wanted to hear it, but I did.”

In the other case, I was at the drop in coffee time sponsored by the agency VINFIN at the Hyannis Federated Church. As we all stood around enjoying our coffee, I looked out at the cold rain and wind and said “Another Day in Paradise,” with a bit of complaint in voice. “Great song!” one of the guys said, and started to sing it, beautifully. “That sure fits this,” I said, gesturing to the room, the people, and the rain. He agreed with me.

The second song, “True Colors” reflects another aspect of the life for Duffy clients. The chorus is “I see your true colors shining through; I see your true colors that are why I love you. So don’t be afraid to let them show, your true colors…are beautiful, like a rainbow.” The message of the song is: don’t let life and sorrow get you down, because inside you are a beautiful person. That is a strong part of the philosophy of Duffy. Many of our clients are dealing with difficult, if not horrible, circumstances. Their sorrows and challenges are many; their joyous moments may be few. I have enormous respect and admiration for my clients; to get up in the morning from woods or shelter and set out on the street again takes more strength than I could ever gather. Yet despite their trials, each one has a special spark; we have moments when we have a good chuckle between us, or a great piece of philosophy comes out of a conversation. They have taught me so much about their resilience; there are times when each of the case managers has talked with his/her peers about the ‘true colors’ of a client, the beauty that makes them special. The best work at Duffy Health Center, from what I have  seen, is when we aid people in overcoming the things that are difficult for them, while acknowledging and even celebrating what is special. In looking around me, I see Duffy staff that does this in abundance, day in and day out. A further quote from the song that I could dedicate to clients and case managers:

When this world makes you crazy
And you’ve taken all you can bear
You can call me up
Because you know I’ll be there
(Written by David Cooper, Tom Kelly, Fredro Scruggs and Billy Steinberg)

Support the Duffy Center; consider making a donation online. The money will go a long way to support Duffy’s mission to help the homeless and those at risk for being homeless; it will support an art class, a copayment toward medication, even repair two teeth for a new smile; the funds help nurture the “True Colors” in all of us at Duffy.

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Cathy FinnCathy Finn
Case Manager
Duffy Health Center

Cathy Finn has worked on Cape Cod in the field of homelessness for the last 25 years, gaining experience with adults and children. She has been working full time as a case manager at the Duffy Health Center since September of 2012 working with chronically homeless single adults. Working with the homeless has always been a passion of hers and the compassionate view of the homeless advocated by Duffy Health Center and the affection for the clients she works with is central to her enjoyment of her job. She is the proud mother of two young adults, and also writes a monthly commentary on sports for the Barnstable Patriot.