We decided in our map that we would enjoy a year long celebration of the compassionate work our people do professionally. Circle of Hope is the people who make it, not an institution. We are all over the Philly Region doing good and showing the world what Jesus looks like.
Matt Tice began working for Pathways to Housing nearly six years ago, serving as the Clinical Director for the past three. Eight other Circle of Hope folks work for this powerful force for good in Philadelphia. Matt works overseeing the work of five teams (about 60 staff) that do supportive work for participants. These teams are multi-disciplinary (and multi agency) in their scope, working “to transform individual lives by ending homelessness and supporting recovery for people with disabilities.” Their motto: “Housing First—As Simple as it is Revolutionary.”
Matt helps move along projects that minimize suffering, create more options and possibilities, and help people do something they are ready to do—to stay alive for another day when they could be ready to try more drastic measures of change. He leads Pathways in partnerships with other agencies like Action Health, advising the Mayor’s office, consulting to the incoming new District Attorney, and has recently worked closely with Prevention Point in Kensington, the heroin capital of the East Coast.
In 2016, there were over 900 deaths in Philadelphia from opioid overdoses. This year we’re at a pace for over 1,200. Because Pathways’ philosophy is to respect dignity and action compassionately through harm reduction, Matt helped connect Circle of Hope and Circle Thrift employees with Prevention Point’s training in administering the life-saving drug Narcan (naloxone). Matt shared with me about the dialogue our city is having with the ethics, possibilities, and problems with starting a supervised injection site for opioid users. An opportunity for public comment will be available after a presentation on October 23 at Broad Street Ministries at 6PM.
Matt sees his work as a fulfilling opportunity to live out the good story of Jesus. There is a way to serve people—especially those struggling with homelessness and/or addiction—that moves beyond the normalized stigma and prejudice and into community. He offered me an illustration: if someone’s child dies of cancer, people are moved to offer support in any number of ways (condolences, flowers, etc). When someone’s child dies of an opioid overdose, there is usually a judgement that pushes the problem back into the shadows. Shame often comes when a family member is addicted, especially to heroin. We have opportunities every day to bring people back into the light where they can thrive and be healthy.
Matt has been a cell leader and member of the Debt Annihilation Team along with varying other leadership roles in our church. He recently moved to a new home in Germantown with his wife Kim and their adorable daughters. There are so many ways that he gets to demonstrate how God reaches out to each of us—meeting us where we actually are while empowering and inspiring us towards fuller health. I’m grateful he’s one of our partners, along with so many others doing good work during difficult times.
-Joshua Grace, writing