Greetings everyone! My name is Jenn, and it is my duty today to report to you from Jeff Seemann's campaign and tell you all about his fourth day on the streets of Canton, Ohio. Jeff is having a better day today than last night, and he's very upbeat about finishing this 100 hours!
First, I have some distressing news about the area he is in. According to today's Canton Repository, Canton is the 30th most dangerous city in the country. It has been rated more dangerous than New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami. This was especially hard to read today, knowing that Jeff is out there right now. He's been very fortunate so far, but his time is coming to a close. The safety of those around him will remain in jeopardy, and that does not sit well with him.
He has discussed his experiences of the previous 24 hours with me, and I'll relay them on to you. I'll check in later tonight from a friend's house if anybody would like to talk.
Last night, as you probably know, was not a good night at all. The snow and wind was extremely rough, and Jeff did not have a warm place to sleep. At some point during the night, he spoke with Michelle and decided to go to the emergency room. He was complaining of frozen hands and aching bones, plus a rather nasty cough.
I do not know what time he made it to the emergency room, but without any identification, it was not easy to get medical attention. Jeff's intent was to get help, but he still remained "in character" (my words, not his), because he needed to see how difficult it would be for a homeless man to get the attention he needs despite not having ID. However, they did do a workup on him, checked his BP, heart rate, checked for feeling in his fingers and toes. Basic stuff. But here's where it gets interesting.
Two nurses performed the above process, and one of them left. The remaining nurse whispered to him that he was fine and could leave anytime, but that the doctor would be in to see him "in a few hours" if he wanted to stay. She smiled at him and then left, closing the door and dimming the lights. This nurse was probably not permitted to do so, but in an ER that was not at all busy, she allowed him to get a few hours of sleep in a bed before sending him out again. Jeff's refusing to disclose which nurse and which hospital for fear of her getting in any trouble.
By morning, he was still sleepy, but felt better physically (and mentally) and headed back out. He had a lot of stops to make, which mostly were dead-ends.
Job and Family Services were unable to offer any assistance to help him get out of homelessness, but emergency food stamps were available (Jeff refused, leaving them for someone in genuine need). No emergency cash for a temporary residence was available at all.
JFS is a first-come, first-serve agency, and arriving late did not help his prospects, but he was told that even if he was the first one in line, this was as good as it was going to get.
Two other agencies that deal with mentally handicapped homeless people were very helpful, finding housing and medical assitance for people in this circumstance. However, Jeff was not going to use up any intake resources and get a diagnosis. he knew that the time spent with any case managers or evaluation therapists would be wasting their time, so he used these agencies as learning resources only.
There is one wonderful source, the American Rescue Workers. The have a group home on Market Avenue with free housing, but in order to earn your room you must work at the ARW warehouse. It's basically a giant garage sale that goes on constantly. They have great stuff, and Jeff furnished his 2004 office for very little money from this place. People work there and can stay in the shelter for up to 90 days. They also provide job training and help out any way they can. It's a nice way to try and turn lives around, but without any additional assitance, it's woefully short of successful.
Now comes the fun part. The Salvation Army. Or to put it in Jeff's words, The "Hello, how can I help you, oh I'm sorry, come back Friday" Army. No help whatsoever, but they do provide a free meal some afternoons.
Jeff tells me that he is not seeing any agency in town that provides any help beyond a single meal and an 8-hour bed. It's all geared towards survival and nothing leans towards rehabilitation of lives or a much-needed boost back into society. This is what is eating at his heart right now.
He discussed with me an idea about a shelter which is geared towards digging people out of homelessness, but I'll leave the details of that up to him to describe at a later date. He's actually energized by his ideas, having seen what works and what does not in this area. He thinks he can incorporate what has been a success into his new plan, but doesn't want to roll out any parts of it until he discusses it with local leaders.
Right now he's finding a little bit of warmth at a nearby agency and will head out looking for shelter soon. It's in the low 20s right now with a light snowfall. As of right now, he has about 30 hours to go and feels positive about finishing the task.
One last thing to share. Like many of you, he had his doubts about this. But his initial hopes are being realized, as he experiences not only the conflicts of survival, but also sees first-hand the gaping holes that prevent any real solutions from forming. With what he has learned already, he can begin to tackle the entire problem, rather than just plug individual holes one at a time.
I've always known Jeff to be a guy who'll dive head-first into issues that others will ignore, but this is a new experience for him. He's witnessing pain in others, and like I expected of him, he's looking for ways to end that pain. I think he's capable of doing it.
Leave him a message here! Anyone interested can contribute to his campaign at ActBlue.
Jeff asked me to leave you with this. He knows some people want to know what he wants to do first when his 100 hours are up. He says "hug his daughter", but he's out until 10pm tomorrow and she'll be in bed. Second on the list is a shower and a shave, then to kiss his girlfriend January. But high up on that list is watching his tape of Ohio State beating Michigan. Again.
Thanks for listening!