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Hello! Sorry for the delay in posts, as the title says we’ve been busy this summer here at the Center for Respite Care. Robin, our Program and Administrative Coordinator left in early August to persue a Master’s Degree at Ohio University.  Robin left behind some large shoes to be filled and our new Program and Administrative Coordinator Abi is up to the task.
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Abi is a graduate of the University of Cincinnati where she majored in Communications and spent her senior year interning at Caracole, one of our Continuum of Care partner agencies. She has done over 1500 hours of volunteer work with AmeriCorps*NCCC and previously worked at Girl Scouts of Western Ohio as a Program Services Specialist and Development Specialist.

Also new to our staff is our Social Services Liason, Matt. Matt is also a graduate from the University of Cincinnati and has aspirations of going on to medical school in the future. Summer 2009 017

 

 

 

 

Matt is working closely with our Housing Coordinator, Melissa and our Nurse Manager, Millie to assure clients receive the proper benefits and secure housing.  With this help many of our clients are able to end the cycle of homelessness they have been stuck in.

We have also been busy spreading the world about the Center for Respite Care this summer. In August a few of our staff and board members attended two Reds games to man the Great American Insurance Group kiosk.  While there they talked with fans about respite and handed out information about how we serve the Greater Cincinnati area’s homeless population.
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Keep an eye out for us at future events and as always visit our website at http://www.familymedicine.uc.edu/respite/default.htm .

Despite being forced to move six times, residents of the tent city dubbed “Nickelsville” in Seattle continue to rebuild.  Each time they are “evicted,” tempers flare until a new location is found.

Tent cities are frequently maligned by media and citizens alike.  Squatters, as residents are referred to, are taken as convicts, addicts, or worse.  Not every tent city, however, is built on a foundation of shame.  Nor are they ungoverned or ungovernable.  Nickelsville has a makeshift firestation and tents for food and clothing donations.

Amazingly, this tent city is self-governed, accepts donations in an organized fashion, and prohibits drugs and alcohol.

Homeless people have a bad reputation of being thoughtless and uncouth.  I have been asked, at times, if my work at the Center for Respite Care is “thankless.”  It is not; in every group of clients we serve, several exhibit the same industry and selflessness as the residents of Nickelsville.

Take a tour of the city here, from an outsider’s perspective, meet a few residents, and learn what it means to be self-sufficient, if still technically breaking the law.

This month, the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA) reports that chronically homeless, ill individuals use emergency medical services less frequently when provided with housing and case management.  We have a board member who always says, “Housing IS healthcare!” And she’s right.

Having a safe place to recover means that a person experiencing homelessness does not have to battle weather conditions, lack of sleep, horrible nutrition, etc., in order to heal. When provided with housing and (the important piece) case management, motivated individuals do well.  And motivation can be acquired in the right environment.

The JAMA abstract notes, “After adjustment, offering housing and case management to a population of homeless adults with chronic medical illnesses resulted in fewer hospital days and emergency department visits, compared with usual care.”

Dozens of people have told me that they don’t want to support homeless services.  I’ve heard that the homeless don’t want help or are hopeless cases.  I’ve heard that helping them is a waste of time.  This study is another step is dispelling the myth that homeless people want to be homeless.  Sure, you can find a few, but no one has ever begged me to get them back on the streets.

Ideological concerns aside, helping the homeless helps your bottom line. As this study shows, keeping homeless people off the streets results in fewer hospitalizations, shorter hospital stays, and fewer emergency department visits.  The money saved in the process is back in the taxpayer’s pocket.  And that’s something we can all support.

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We are too!  Maybe you’ve noticed that the economy is down (although hopefully, hopefully recovering) and costs are up, but one thing that never changes is how grateful we are to our volunteers!

Volunteers help mitigate the stress of climbing bills and shrinking funding opportunities.  They have saved us from the most dreaded of tasks (fixing computers) and provided the most needed of services (counseling, meals, chaplaincy, and more).  So here’s wishing a happy National Volunteer Week to the crew at the Respite.  We couldn’t do what we do without you!

According to the the nursing and admin staff, because of volunteers . . .

“Clients get a chance to really socialize and participate in fun activities”

“I don’t spend hours and hours fixing computers!”

“Our clients receive extra support, friendship, and care above and beyond our basic services.”

“Our clients are surrounded by friends and neighbors who really care.”

“We are able to provide homecooked meals, flowers, juggling and entertainment, even holiday gifts!”

“I’m closing the last gaps in my paperwork, which is amazing!”

We spend more one-on-one time with each client, which is inestimably valuable.  Without volunteers, I’d spend more time on paperwork and obstacles.  This way, we can really provide top-notch service and care.”

Thanks to everyone who donated time and talent this past year!

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I’ve known a few people who made it through medical school living on Ramen and boxed macaroni and cheese, so when a group of 1st year medical students decided to prepare and share dinner this week, I crossed my fingers.

Little did I know, however, that these future physicians were going to whip up a meal that was both delicious and healthy.  Even our client from Serbia (whose English is improving) proclaimed the meal “very, very, very good!”

I’ll admit, I nabbed a couple bunches of  grapes.  So delicious! 

These students are just a fraction of our newest volunteer group from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine.  They’re serving meals, interviewing clients, playing games, and bringing snacks as part of an ongoing project to benefit the Respite.

Plus, they sat down and ate with the clients!  I encourage every group to do this; sharing a meal relieves the potential awkwardness of  two groups of strangers meeting.  Plus, the clients usually tell the staff afterwards how much they enjoyed a homecook meal.  This way, they were able to tell the students directly.

There is always a need for physicians with experience treating homeless people.  Of course, a person is a person, but the experience of homelessness is a unique one.  While we benefit from the students’ efforts in the short run, we know it will be the homeless community that benefits long-term.  

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ken-juggling1 Sometimes we all feel like we’re juggling – work, bills, family, health – it can seem like  a lot.  The Center for Respite Care’s staff and clients are no exception.  Like most nonprofits, we’re always trying to keep overhead as low as possible.  And our clients often stress over health problems, fractured relationships, rebuilding, dealing with lots of paperwork (getting ID’s, food stamps, etc.), and the day-to-day inconveniences of being poor.  Waiting for a late bus when you’re trying to get to the doctor is no joke!

All of this stress needs an outlet, and that’s where Juggling for a Cure comes in!  Friendly founder Ken Lewis is a U.S. Navy vet started Juggling for a Cure in 2008 and already has a busy schedule of performances.

I think when Ken first came in, I underestimated the value of this service.  Since entertainment isn’t essential, our staff tends to focus on the basics as much as possible.  Still, it’s great to see the clients get their minds off their troubles for a while, relax, and smile.

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Plus, Ken doesn’t just perform, he also teaches – and learns – in front of his audience.  He has been coming to the Center for Respite Care for three months and with each visit he brings new skills to teach and props to share.  The audience gets a quick tutorial on how to learn juggling and Ken freely passes around his props for everyone to touch.  He even got us to participate.  Check out Ginger, one of our nursing assistants, learning to juggle below.  (She juggled two bean bags after only 2 minutes of teaching!)

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Last week, one of our creative  volunteers, Bea, decided to host an egg coloring bash for the clients.  Bea is an interfaith chaplain by trade and provides these services at the Respite.  She is, however, also a source of smiles, as evidenced by this cool project.  It’s nice to connect to you inner child every once in a while.  Check out our hard work below!

 

Thanks, Bea!

 

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