How I define success in working with the homeless

by Ben Sears

I have found more joy serving the homeless than I ever would have imagined! Each person I am blessed with meeting has their own story, their own personality, and their own soul deserving of love and attention. My name is Ben Sears and I am a Patient Advocate working with the Mount Carmel Outreach Street Medicine and Mobile Coach program. We serve the homeless, uninsured, and underserved in Columbus, Ohio by meeting their immediate medical needs and connecting them with resources throughout the city. In my role, I build relationships and trust with the homeless; primarily those living on the land in our parks, on the streets, and in camps throughout the city. Most people assume success is hard to come by when working with those most in need, but this assumption merely depends on your definition of success.

When I first started as a Patient Advocate, I thought success meant completing a list of tasks leading to a turning point in a person’s life. My goal was to house the homeless and help integrate them back into society. As I get to know an individual, we would gradually work together through the obstacles and struggles keeping them living on the streets. Witnessing this form of success, as it has happened many times, is amazing to see, but falling short of this goal is not defeat.

As I have gained more experience, I have come to the realization success is very simple. I see success in a smile, in laughter, and in bringing happiness to someone with very little to be happy about. I strive to bring love and relationship to each individual I meet; to show them no matter what they have done or where they have been, they deserve to have a friend. My most favorite moments are when I come across someone I have never met, but they know who I am, and they are excited I am there because they were told I truly care and want to help.

Of all the many things we can do to help someone experiencing homelessness, showing them love and friendship, treating them as an equal, and bringing joy into their lives is a great success. The first step in really making a difference is getting to know the person. Some people may be homeless for the rest of their lives, but they should not be hopeless, helpless, or lonely.


Ben Sears is an Outreach Patient Advocate for Mount Carmel Outreach Mobile Coach and Street Medicine Teams (

Mount Carmel Outreach serves the immediate needs of the homeless and underserved in the Columbus area by providing free medical care, meeting basic needs and collaborating with other city resources.

Ben will be a featured speaker at Relā(te) on Thursday, October 22 where social good and fun combine to benefit a cause: Homelessness.  100% of proceeds from the event benefit OSU Star House, a drop-in shelter for homeless you.  GET YOUR TICKET TODAY.

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