Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Homelessness’ Category

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.
Summer 2009 019

 

 

 

 

 

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.
Respite Aug09 067 

 

 

 

 

 
Keep an eye out for us at future events and as always visit our website at http://www.familymedicine.uc.edu/respite/default.htm .

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

How about five hundred daffodils? 

500-daffodils-blooming

Luckily, I had a wonderful volunteer (one of those ones who can do anything!) come in and help me cut the ends off these.  They come courtesy of a generous friend via the American Cancer Society’s Daffodil Days.  Now that’s leveraging your gift!  And they’re going to be so beautiful when they all open up, just like these:

bunch-of-daffodils

Yeah, yeah.   My desk is messy.  But today I helped a sick person get a referral to the Respite, and now he’s a patient here.  It all works out in the end.  Despite economic woes and car troubles and family problems and dinners that burn on the stove, there are sometimes flowers at the end of the day.

Read Full Post »

Reading other blogs about homelessness is a curious thing.  There are blogs by those who are or have been homeless, those who work or volunteer with a homeless clientele, and blogs about other topics that mention homelessness once in a while (typically when the author has an encounter with a homeless person).

The most frequently commented upon blog articles seem to be those about an individual’s first night of homelessness.  I admit, I frequently leave comments on these articles myself.

Why is it that we’re so sympathetic to the person who experiences their first day of homelessness, but callous toward the person who has been homeless for months or years?  It’s a matter of perspective.  The person spending a stray night in a homeless shelter could well be us, we think.  

What if we lost our jobs and had a concurrent major illness?  What if a loved one (or ones) passed away suddenly?  What if . . . whatever combination of tragedies it might take.  I think we’ve all had thoughts that it could be us.  For some it might take more tragedies than others, but the possibility is there.

In considering the chronically homeless person, we’re less sympathetic.  Why?  Because we believe we cannot sink to that level.  We would pull ourselves out or find help somehow.

We may be able to make the leap to understanding who someone (even ourselves) can become homeless, but we believe that if you’re homeless for more than a few weeks, well, you must just be lazy.  Or ignorant.  Or an addict.  Why don’t they just get jobs after all?  Or just apply for the loads of benefits we finance through our taxes?  Or get social security?

We fail to consider the psychological effects of life on the streets.  It takes many of our clients several days to warm up to staff at the Respite and our mission is to help them.  Imagine how difficult they find it to reconnect with family and friends.

And all those “free benefits”?  True, they’re out there.  But how long can you afford to wait?  It can take weeks to qualify for food stamps, months to gain tenant-based rental assistance, and years to be awarded social security disability.

As for employment, would you hire someone who admitted to being homeless?  How about someone who claimed to have stable housing, but was mysteriously never home when you called?  Would you hire someone with dirty fingernails or ragged clothing?  Maybe you would.  Then again, maybe you’d prefer to hire the clean-cut teenager who made the honor roll last quarter.

Are we really as impervious as we believe?  Or is the hard truth that homelessness, once it happens, can be nearly impossible to escape?  How many of these truths do we ignore because they are simply too frightening to accept?

The ultimate truth is surely more complex, but everytime I read comment-loaded articles about an individual’s first terrifying night as a homeless person, I wonder.

Read Full Post »

We call those who are served by the Respite “clients” for several reasons – it connotates respect and self-worth, helps to maintain professionalism, and it’s accurate, if somewhat formal.

One of our clients passed away yesterday morning, and calling him a client already seems wrong.  Mr. W was a friend as well as a person who came to the Respite to recover.  Despite the severity of his illness he was always in good spirits, always polite.  In fact, he was cheerful to the point that his death took some of us by surprise. 

After becoming ill one afternoon, he took a cab to the emergency room, telling his friends on the way out to help themselves to his cigarettes; he knew he wasn’t coming back. 

Although we know that everyone served by the Respite is ill, we are never truly prepared to lose them.  Rest in peace, Mr. W.  We miss you.

Read Full Post »

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving!  And what could be more wonderful than a holiday with so much great food involved?  Even for me, an admittedly mediocre chef, friends, family and (admittedly again) food take center stage.  I quizzed all available staff and clients to put together a new “complete the phrase” activity about Thanksgiving.  The query was one with which you may be familiar . .

I’m thankful for .  .  .

. . .friends and family.

. . .that there is a place like Respite.

. . .opportunities.

. . .God*, who gave me another chance to start over here at the Respite, and new beginnings.

. . .the Lord who is watching over me, keeping me clean and sober, and who brought me here.

. . .blue skies and sunshine.

. . .that I have the Lord and for everything I have, although I hope some things will improve.

. . .faith, family, friends, food, forgiveness, and fudge.

Also, we’re thankful to our extended “family” of volunteers, donors, supporters, staff members, friends, board members, and those who follow us online or via newsletter.  Your support is incredible and we are incredibly thankful for it.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

*The Respite is secular and we welcome a diverse set of men and women with varying beliefs and backgrounds.  The intention here is to let each client’s voice be heard, not to promote a particular belief system.

Read Full Post »

I read as many blogs about homelessness as I can.  It helps me keep abreast of what others are thinking, and how homeless issues are perceived in other communities.  Some viewpoints are almost expected, others are just discouraging, and the best ones impact my perception of homelessness and the Respite’s role in serving our community.  Three of my favorites from the past couple days are below.

1) Burned to Death for Being Homeless  – The title, unfortunately, gives you a good idea what this article is about.  I’ve read at too many similar articles in recent weeks and months.  Without being sensational, I wanted to share this one because despite the horrific nature of these incidents, they continue.  The idea that a life might be extinguished for entertainment underlies the most base societal attitudes about homeless people: that they are not human, not even less than human. 

2) Where’s the Messenger? – This article is a good read for nonprofits serving the homeless.  It closely examines our duty to educate the public, not just fundraise.  While “raising public awareness” does, I’m sure, factor into most nonprofit’s goals, we don’t always do as much as we can.  Let’s face it: between serving our clients, connecting with supporters, friends, and volunteers, maintaining our grant support, valuing staff, and dealing with daily crises (broken computers, squirrels on the porch, inspections, power failures, leaking washing machines), well, maybe we don’t keep this function in mind as much as we should. 

3) Why do you look away? – Some of the most powerful blog entries are those written by homeless people themselves.  This one talks about the flip side of homeless people on the streets.  I see tons of articles written by people who encountered a homeless person during the day.  Some express remorse for not being able to help, others show guilt or pity, and a predictable portion express disgust, even rage.  This article is a sobering look at the flip side of the situation.

Is there an article about homelessness that caught your attention lately?  Share a link in comments.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »