As Hope Solutions has grown as an organization, we find ourselves touching the lives of more and more members of the Contra Costa community. In particular, we are serving an increasing number of homeless individuals, over 50% of whom are seniors and/or individuals with significant health issues. A stark reality among our folks who live for extended periods of time without housing and access to health care is that life expectancy is significantly shortened, in some cases by almost 20 years. What this means for our program team is that we are increasingly being called upon to help residents and their families navigate end-of-life situations.
In 2021, we witnessed the passing of 19 present and former clients. Since Hope Solutions houses our clients permanently, the staff members who provide supportive services to clients in our housing programs find themselves building and maintaining relationships that span years, which makes the death of their clients even more poignant.
Hope Solution’s Director of Housing Programs, Bill Jones, shares, “I believe we have a responsibility to do whatever we can to ensure that our clients feel supported and have dignity when death occurs, and that we do what we can to support clients who are grieving the loss of a close friend or family member.”
To memorialize our clients, Hope Solutions has arranged for the planting of a tree for each one through One Tree Planted, a non-profit which plants trees across areas in California where wildfires have occurred and where the land needs reforestation. These tree plantings are in commemoration and celebration of our clients’ lives.
“When appropriate, staff are sharing with friends and family of clients who have died that the organization has taken this step to remember them,” Jones added. “The low cost of planting a tree with One Tree Planted also means that these clients’ friends and family members (many of whom have low incomes), could also afford to plant a tree in their loved ones’ memory if they feel moved to do so.”
Hope Solutions works tirelessly to ensure that each of our clients are treated with the utmost integrity, respect, compassion, and humility, both in life and in death. In planting these trees, we hope to permanently honor the significance of their lives to their family and friends, and to the wider Contra Costa community.