Wednesday, January 29, 2014
To the Editor:
I enjoyed the article in Wednesday’s, (1/22/14), paper on Donovan, the ginger-haired fellow.
I work primarily with seniors and have had the pleasure of meeting both him and his mother who is also a delightful woman. It has been my experience that sometimes the less a person has, the more willing they are to share.
Some of my recent acquaintances are selfless advocates and assist others in any way they can. One particularly well-spoken individual volunteers routinely and mentors other transient people to keep them safe.
Also, you may be aware that there is an annual HUD “Point In Time” survey to collect data about local homelessness. The actual point (in time) was the night of Jan. 23, with record low temperatures.
Participating in the PIT survey has been one of those life changing events for me.
Superficially it almost seems like infiltrating a counter culture, but I’ve been trying to network and establish authentic relationships person by person to gain trust and credibility so they will allow me to record their circumstances.
Because homelessness is scary to “ordinary” people and there is so much substance abuse, crime, disease and other stigma associated with that population, it is unusual to run across one who “admits” to living in the woods. Law enforcement must protect and serve the community so they sometimes have to tear down tents and tarps in the woods and dislodge transients.
I think the situation is quite unfortunate and wish the love (cooperation) shown Donovan could be extended to include many more individuals without homes
Local churches have stepped up. There are several medical and dental clinics for indigents, clothing and food are more readily available in the community and spiritual guidance is being offered. Some churches even replace sleeping bags and tents for those relocated through getting busted.
But where does a homeless person take a shower or wash clothes?
Where does any person buy one stamp to mail a letter?
How can a homeless person qualify for a free (low income/Medicaid) phone if the phone company says they can’t verify the address?
Since I work with an aging population, I am especially concerned about future homeless individuals and the probability that more and more vulnerable seniors will be affected.
Follow up articles about these issues may not always make people feel better or sell papers, but they are issues that our community could be addressing proactively instead of reacting later.
Martha Sue Hope