| Hello everyone. My name is Michelle, and I am blogging on
Jeff's behalf. By now you've heard the story of his homelessness
experience, so I'll spare you the details.
I just spoke with Jeff about 20 minutes ago and he's not doing very well today. He had a lot of problems last night (and today) and the weather is turning extremely nasty as we speak. It's already snowing hard, the wind is bad and it'll dip below 20 degrees tonight.
Jeff has asked me to relay his experiences over the past 24 hours to you, so that's what this diary will be about.
From the way Jeff described the last 24 hours, I do not know how anybody survives being homeless. I'm actually VERY concerned for his safety tonight and have urged him to call me collect if he needs ANY help.
| Yesterday, Jeff was referred to a church where he could
sleep from 10pm-6am. He went to the public library for a short period
of time before he was to report to the church, but they closed at 9pm,
so he had an hour to walk between the two places. |
He was to arrive at the church between 930-10pm, but it was locked and all the lights were out. Nobody showed up to let him in for the cot that he was referred to. He used the last change he had (from a dollar he was given earlier in the day) to call the homeless hotline. They apologized for his problem and referred him to another church, just down the street.
Unfortunately, that church was nearly at capacity (small basement) and Jeff would not take one of the last cots. He was told that people filter in up until 11pm, and there was a chance he'd be taking it from another person who truly needed it, so he left.
He did not tell me where he eventually slept.
Today, he went to a free meal at another local church, but in order to eat you had to attend a prayer service. Jeff. in an attempt to test the system, told them he was Buddhist (he isn't) and asked if he could eat anyway despite not sharing the same faith. At first he was told "no, you need to hear the word of God before you can eat", but another woman quickly intervened. She asked Jeff about Buddhism and Jeff explained what he knew to this woman. They had a 10-minute conversation about it, and afterwards the woman asked Jeff if he would listen to her talk about Jesus for the same period of time. That was fair, Jeff thought, and they discussed Christ for 10 minutes, then ate together.
In order to test the system further and see if there is anything in place to help END homelessness rather than just provide help in survival, Jeff went to an employment source. He explained that he was recently homeless and lost everything. No ID, no resume, no residence, but can they help him find work so he can get out of trouble. The answer was simple.....no. He needs an ID and proof of residence. He tried to reason with them, but they explained that they couldn't "sell" Jeff to any potential employers without the aforementioned documents. They gave him the number to the homeless hotline and said they would help. Homeless hotline cannot help in any way like that. Their purpose is to provide one night of shelter at a time, never anything permanent, and never any money to get anything back on track for your life.
Tomorrow morning, Jeff is supposed to be at Job and Family Services to try and get assistance. Maybe emergency cash or food stamps to try and start anew, but it's doubtful. By the way, Jeff will NOT accept any assistance, he simple is trying to find the ways to get the help so he can create a better plan to end homelessness in Stark County.
When I last spoke with Jeff, the wind was whipping around hard. It was snowing sideways, and he doesn't yet have a place to sleep tonight. He sounded very weak and very tired. There won't be any food for him until tomorrow, when a meal can be obtained at the Salvation Army.
I urged him to come home. I tried to convince him to go to his friend's house nearby, or to go to January's house in North Canton. He seemed determined to make it through the 100 hours, but I'm extremely concerned for his safety tonight. I doubt it if I'll be able to sleep in my warm bed tonight, and I wouldn't be surprised if I found myself looking for him later on. I know where he might go for warmth, and I might try those places.
He has asked me not to ask for any contributions with tonight's message. He said it "just didn't seem all that important", and he wants everyone to instead focus on what they can do to help people who are in the same predicament as the people he is meeting this week.
Frankly, I can see his point. However, I'll put it out there, and let you decide if you want to donate a few dollars his way. 10% of all contributions will get returned to this community to help alleviate homelessness and end it as soon as possible. Go to his blog or to his ActBlue page and decide for yourself.
I'll be around to answer any questions.
Stay warm tonight everyone, and say a prayer to give thanks for what you have in your own lives.