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Prioritizing Joy! Or why I’m helping to open a homeless shelter on Valentine’s Day by Ann Treacy
February 15, 2020, 5:18 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Years ago, I heard Solofa Batterjee give a TED University talk about things she has learned from her father. The lesson that strikes me most is – if you don’t know the difference between pleasure and joy than you haven’t lived. There are times in my life that I have better understood and times when I questioned it.

When I first heard her speak, my kids were pretty little I was all about spelling tests, eating the crusts of their pizza, giving up my sweater because they were cold – more joy than pleasure. I remember those days fondly. Now my kids are older and I order my own food, I see live music instead of do spelling quizzes and I keep my sweater – so it’s all pleasure. Subsequently the opportunity to feel the joy is welcome so, for Valentine’s Day I helped my friend (and lifelong homeless advocate) Monica Nilsson open a homeless shelter – Elim Strong Tower Shelters in NE Minneapolis. Actually it’s two adjoining shelters; one for women (Elim) and one for men and couples (Strong Tower). The grand opening was tonight.

However that doesn’t mean working with the shelter isn’t pleasurable. It is. People are kind and interesting. It is a reminder of how lucky I am to have so much. I always learn something. I met a man who used to spend summers on a farm in Mississippi. I had a tasty dinner prepared by people who have experienced homelessness in the past. I got to hang with Monica and her brother Dan.

It’s not a traditional Valentine activity. But I have enjoyed Valentine’s Day more this year than I have – maybe ever. A heart shaped box of chocolates have never made me happier than watching guests enjoy the ones they received.

It makes me think that the focus of Valentine’s day should stretch beyond romance. Maybe we need to focus on joy!

The shelter will be open for at least the next three months. We expect it will be filled soon, but it’s not yet. So now is a good time to get in. Guests can call us in advance to reserve a bed and once in, they can hold their space while they need it. One of my favorite moments of the night was hearing Monica call the Minneapolis street outreach teams so let them know that there were new beds in the city – send people down. Word needs to get out but it’s so nice to know that more people will have a place to rest. If you know of someone in need, please send them our way:
Elim shelter phone number: 612.814.2490 (women only)
Strong Tower shelter phone number: 612.756.6606 (men and couples)


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