Class of 2012: Advocate for Homeless Lives for ‘God Moments’
THIRD IN A SERIES
By Doug Carroll
GCU News Bureau
Tracy Geivett is fond of talking about “God moments” in life, but there’s only one way to describe what happened to her in 2008.
That was a God year.
First came her baptism, on the Fourth of July. While growing up in Pennsylvania, she had gone to church in what she calls “a lily/poinsettia family,” showing up for Easter and Christmas and little else. At the encouragement of her oldest son, who was involved in Young Life, she had returned to faith.
Then, in October, came another divine appointment. On a visit to the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix — and specifically the Chaplaincy for the Homeless located there — she felt an unmistakable connection.
“I think this is where I’m supposed to be,” she told her husband, Daniel, convinced that a 20-year career as a hairstylist was over and done.
Initially she volunteered, then she was hired as a part-time assistant. Finally, about a year ago, she took over as full-time chaplain and executive director of the chaplaincy, a faith-based, service-oriented, non-profit organization that helps the homeless obtain identification (it’s harder than you think).
And now she’s graduating from GCU with a bachelor’s degree in Christian studies to apply to a passion for assisting the poor. A master’s degree is next.
“Where you sleep at night does not define who you are,” says Geivett, 45, of Goodyear, who was nearly finished with a degree in psychology from the University of Phoenix when she decided to transfer to GCU.
“Everyone on the street has a mother, father, sister or brother, and you have to connect to that. I love God, advocating for the homeless and changing people’s minds.”
Work that renews faith
While freely admitting that her work “isn’t all puppy dogs and rainbows,” she finds her faith being renewed by those who have nothing.
Some are like the elderly woman who came via public transit all the way from Avondale to replace her green card, which she needed in order to claim her late husband’s Social Security benefits. The woman waited patiently all day for an appointment.
Others are appreciative of prayer or simply a kind word.
“People feel comfortable talking to me,” Geivett says, “and I think they leave with something. I got that from GCU. I can talk with those who have faith — or no faith.
“This place is filled with God moments. Amazing things happen here, and I’m beyond blessed to be a part of it.”
Three pieces of identification — including a birth certificate — are required in order to qualify for an Arizona ID. Without the state ID, “you can’t even get a food box down the street,” Geivett says, not to mention a job.
Utilizing social media
She gets involved in much of the necessary legwork, and she has implemented a host of social-media tools in the process. She’s constantly on Facebook and Twitter, and she blogs and produces a weekly newsletter. She is known to governmental agencies across the country.
Dave Goodall, who served as chaplain for nine years before retiring, says hiring Geivett is making him look good.
“I’m something of a curmudgeon,” Goodall says, “and she brings a kinder spirit. She has a heart for what she does, and she does many things better than I ever did. With legal immigrants, she’s probably the leading expert on replacing documents who’s not working at a law office.”
However, the personal touch is what truly sets her apart. Inside the door to the modest-but-homey chaplaincy office sits a wicker basket, full of small pieces of paper, with this handwritten note: “Running low on positive thoughts? Take one! On the house!”
If there’s anything Geivett has in abundance, it’s positive thoughts.
“I want them to know God loves them and they don’t need to do anything special for that,” she says as tears come to her eyes. “It’s very important that all people — drug addicts, prostitutes, anyone — know that God wants them. That’s the most important thing to me.”
To learn more about the Chaplaincy for the Homeless, go to www.azhomeless.org.
Contact Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.