Tag Archives: Health

Meeting with Police Chief Fruitful

Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn and Zone Commander Marty Ferrell met with Oldtimer and with homeless advocate Jeff Straka, both of Macland Presbyterian Church,  today on neutral ground, the Atlanta Bread Company.

Left to right:  Commander Marty Ferrell, Chief of Police Dan Flynn,  Jeff Straka

(photo by Oldtimer, not shown)

The hour long meeting over coffee was very fruitful, with both sides coming away feeling quite good about the progress made in reducing the tension over the homeless situation.   The chief seemed very interested in addressing the homeless problems in a caring and proactive manner and not only listened to what we had to say, but offered suggestions of his own that did not involve harsh treatment of the homeless.

I offered the chief details of the shelter shortage for emergency shelter, tansitional and supportive housing and he was a bit taken aback as to how needful this area is for more homeless support.   I also gave him talleys from 211 call records that showed there were more than 2000 calls last year seeking shelter and transitional housing in our community.  Jeff gave him a book to read on homeless and he agreed to read it. 

He agreed that the recent homeless sweeps were the result of perhaps only 3 or 4 individuals that had been involved in serious criminal activity along with a more visible presence of the homeless in recent months.   All of that raised the level of complaints to the point that they felt they had to take action, but that the vast majority of the affected homeless were not involved in criminal activity, but just caught in the middle.  

He assured us that the police would not in the future make any general comments about the homeless that might cast them in a bad light, or lump them into the same category as those causing the problems.    He realizes the need for treatment for substance abuse and mental illness among the homeless, but does not have a solution for it.

We all agreed that criminals that may be hiding among the homeless should be rooted out and dealt with.  The Chief did say that they would concentrate on solving specific crimes involving the homeless and resolving specific complaints and not target those who merely happen to be homeless.  He assured us that his officers will show compassion to those that are not otherwise breaking the law.   He asked Jeff and I to call him or Commander Ferrell anytime we felt that the police had mistreated the homeless and they would investigate it.

The police will still have to respond to complaints, but did accept our suggestion that homeless advocates be alerted prior to any future sweeps and allow advocates to accompany them and collect tents and personal belongings and transport them to storage for the affected homeless to pick up rather than haul it to the dump.  I had suggested that we would look into how we might implement it.

He proposed a possible program similar to one in Savannah where he had been chief before coming to Marietta, one in which a person or team assigned by the police would be proactive in case work for the homeless that they encounter as the result of complaints (where no criminal activity is involved).  The caseworker would help locate needed services for the homeless rather than just run them off or put them in jail overnight.  He suggested that such a program would pursue stronger punishment for the ones that commit more serious offences and more leniency for those merely complained about that not involved in criminal activity.  He suggested that such a program might help many get off the streets.

Jeff proposed that our chuch establish an educational forum on the homeless for the community at large, including service providers, other churches, police and homeless within the community to address these problems.  The chief said they would attend as long as they were productive and not “shouting matches,” something we would not have allowed anyway.  Jeff is looking into bringing guests from other cities that have successfully addresed these problems.

I suggested a particular job program for the homeless that would require some cooperation from the police and the chief seemed very receptive but did not think they could help fund it.  More on that later if we can get it off the ground.

Jeff in his special shirt 

Oldtimer 

    

Marietta Homeless Steve Talks About Mark

Steve is one of the recently evicted Homeless.  Below is a video of him talking about Mark, the mentally ill homeless man behind the mound of dirt (see the earlier account about Mark here). The conversation took place in a dinner meeting at Macland Presbyterian Church along with two other homeless evictees and members of the church.  The video was made Wednesday, January 30, 2008.

[Youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR7UnZ-LYX8] 

(video by Oldtimer – which explains the quality)

Here is a fairly close transcript in case you have some trouble hearing it.  Comments in (_) are mine:

Steve:

Mark…. you know… Mark.  Mark’s a good guy. Mark’s an educated guy.  Mark is a guy that is losing his mind.  His wife brought him over on 41 (nearby highway), dropped him off about four, four and a half years ago.  And he’s still sitting there, waiting on her and his kids to come back and pick him up.   Mark goes months and months and months without a shower.  Mark’s a good guy… you know? 

Well they made him move off that, his mound where he’d stayed four and a half months, you know right there by the fence by MUST.  Well, he had no where to go, so he moved down the walkway (by EMC?).  Today, he had a bed and bunch of blankets, pillows and everything, and he was just laying there just waiting on his wife to come back and get him.

Today the Marietta City and I don’t know who else it was, came and left him there and took all his blankets and left him there with no no warmth at all.  

So, if something doesn’t happen to him tonight, it might be the night of the next Dominic, you know.  He don’t have nothing except a coat and toboggan for cover.

A few minutes later Steve was saying he was going by there later that night and take him something (inaudible) to help him.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, other homeless people had been bringing Mark blankets, clothes and sack lunches and leaving them for him.   The compassion of the homeless is infinitely greater than that of the city that proudly touts “The All-American City” Award in 2006 from the National Civic League, and a “City of Excellence” in 2002 among others in vaious years.

Way to go!  Take the blankets right off a mentally ill man and just leave him there to possibly freeze to death!

My Rights

My Rights

by Jim Tabb

I have a right to work

    But I have no ID,
    No phone,
    No residence,
    No transportation,
    No references,
    No clean clothes,
    No place to wash or shave
    And if I do find work,
    I can’t cash my check.

I have a right to sleep

But no shelter is available,
and the city took my bedding.

I have a right to eat

    But I have no food or money.

I have a right to rest

    But not in public places.

I have a right to use a bathroom

    But no public toilets are available.

I have a right to vote

    But I can’t register without an address.

I have a right to sing

    But when I do I’m cited for public disturbance.

I have a right to use a library

    But I can’t get a card,
    Can’t check out a book,
    Can’t go on the Internet,
    Without an ID and Address.

I have a right to live

But not in Marietta.

I’m Homeless

    At least I still have that Right!

They are still out there

 

 

(updated from a June post)

Tables Turned – Homeless hater now Homeless

I find this story very interesting.  A woman with a beach-front duplex near the Ulehawa Beach park in Hawaii  was fed up with the homeless encampment across the road from her.   Marianne Beaman  had lived there for 9 years. 

“I was mad about it, believe me,” she said. “All this noise … and all the drugs and alcohol at either end of the park.”

Today, she resides in that encampment, in a tent less than 50 yards from the duplex she and her husband, Bert, rented for nine years.

“I lived right there in that very house,” she said, pointing to the beachfront property. “We made the hop from right there to right here. We’ve seen it from both sides.”

Now the city is closing the park for a week beginning February 10, 2008, so that it can evict the homeless permanently from the park.    Now Marianne is concerned about losing yet another place to live.  Yet another systematic homeless eviction process by another city with no place to send the displaced.   The Beamans had never been homeless before their landlord decided to convert their duplex unit into a vacation rental a while back. Six months ago, the couple and their two dogs began an anxious and reluctant occupation of Nani Kai Beach.

“At first we said, ‘We’re not going to move to the beach, we’re going to find a place to live,’ ” Marianne Beaman said. “My husband works. I’m on Social Security. But, we could not find a place we could afford. We don’t have any relatives here we can live with. So, finally we used our savings to build a shelter that would protect us from the weather.

“Now, we don’t have any idea where we’re supposed to go.”

Hopefully this will never happen to any of our Marietta city leaders nor to any of our readers.  But it does happen to tens of thousands of people nearly every month that never had a clue that it could happen to them.   It has happened to perhaps thousands of people in our small city, considering that the homed/homeless situation has considerable turnover in their makeup.  For every homeless person, there are likely 8 to 10 that have gone before them.  

The program director of MUST Ministries has said he thinks there are as many as 1000 homeless men and women unsheltered in Cobb County Georgia at this very moment. 

The last homeless count I’m aware of found only 330 unsheltered in January 2006.  The truth may lie somewhere between as it a simple fact that there is no way a small group of housed volunteers can find a homeless man in the woods if he is not interested in being found.  And none of them are.   We know of about 150 that are fed breakfast on Sunday mornings in one small area of Marietta.   This is an area that is sparsely populated by the homeless because the camping areas are almost non existent compared to south of the city and in the county.

MUST and their free lunch program is a draw to be sure, but the fact is, only a very few of the city’s homeless live near there for lack of cover.  It is an industrial and business area with crisscrossing roads and very few areas with trees and shrubs to hide campsites. 

Someone once said  that we all, each and every one of us are at most only two tragedies from homelessness.   It could be a family illness coupled with a job loss or any number of similar situations, including fire, earthquake, storm, abandonment, death of loved one, mental illness, service in war, or simply a landlord deciding to use his property in a different manner as the Beamans found out.   Also we all know that foreclosure is forcing hundreds of thousands out of their homes.   Couple that with another unfortunate event and many of these will be homeless.  Unexpectedly and unwillingly homeless through no fault of their own.  

Combinations of these unexpected events can push almost anyone into homelessness at any time.   Not drugs, not alcohol, not laziness, not gambling, not any of those things.  Think about it.  Many of the homeless in the woods near your neighborhood are just plain people like yourself that have hit a couple of speed bumps in their life too many. 

Repeat after me:  “There but for the Grace of God, go I”.  Say it 3 times.

But then, what does Marietta Care?   If you have read any of the 6 or 7 previous posts, the answer is that the City That Doesn’t Care cares nothing about the homeless!  They have sent the Storm Troupers to roust them out and dump their life support systems into the garbage trucks. 

In the dead of winter.  On the eave of the two coldest nights of the year.  Even with snow on the ground.  Without their blankets, without their tents, without their backpacks, even some without their shoes.   Yes, even the mentally ill who have no idea what is happening have been run over.    Jack-Legged Storm Troupers?  Maybe not quite that bad, but the homeless say it was not too far from it.  Heartless, certain.   Some of our police did not like the action taken, but each and every one knows they must do their duty.   When the Mayor says go, when the Council says clean them out… no choice.  None indeed.  Even our veterans, our homeless heroes.  Out.  Out. Out!  You left some trash.  You made somebody’s employee nervous when she saw you standing under a bridge the other day.  Out!  

This is the same shamefull city counsil that refused the VFW the right to give out flags alongside their float on Veteran’s day while the Mayor rode up front in grand style!  Now our homeless veteran friends clearly understand how Marietta supports our troups.  Particularly those in need.  Al, Perry OUT!  Take your flags with you!

So says Marietta, The City That Doesn’t Care!

Oldtimer

Our fight for the homeless, some stories

This is a long post, and  in it I will tell some interesting stories about the homeless we’ve met and love as friends.  But I need to say something up front about our city leaders.  In my last post I listed the names and email addresses of City officials.  The intent was not to harass these individuals, but to express only our outrage at the actions of a City That Doesn’t Care, or to express support if that is your desire, over the death of Dominic.

All of these City Council men and women, the City Manager, and the Mayor are good and honorable people and should be treated with dignity for the office they hold and as caring people.  Keep in mind that Mayor Dunaway has no voting power except in a tie, even though he wields enormous power in other ways within the city, as any mayor does.

Our fight is with the collective body that  makes up the whole, the Council and leadership of a city that would not listen to the cries that warned them that great harm and deaths would occur if they sent these people away from their homes in the dead of winter.  Some of our homeless did die, frozen to death.  The city leaders read our request beforehand and the Mayor phoned me that they would go forward with their evictions even though snow and freezing temperatures was forcast.  Representatives of the city attended a meeting at a local shelter and said the same thing.  And Dominic is dead, and it appears there are others.

So express outrage yes, but call them names, no, threats, no.   Express your own feelings either way on the subject, but stay calm.   It is the city itself to blame, not the individuals who might have raised a voice but was voted down or failed to raise a voice when it would have meant something, perhaps not realizing the impact on the lives of hundreds of people, perhaps thinking the warning of possible harm or death was an overstatement when it was not.      

Having said that, let me give you a few little stories on some of these men and women that we have learned how to be friends with.  Now here is a disclaimer: I am a member of this church we call Macland Presbyterian, an elder, now on  the session and a 3 year member of the Mission team.   But I don’t have any first hand, hands-on experience with the particular homeless we are talking about other than meeting them as they came to our church and sitting down to talk with them.  Whenever I say “we” I mean our team that has been working with them.

Missional team

Several families doing missional outreach have been doing all the cooking, serving, bible study and outreach for our church.  They have paid for food out of their own pockets, taken winter clothing and other things for the homeless, brought them back to church and taken them to restaurants, had coffee and broken bread with them, brought them to Church in their own cars, stored their belongings when displaced, done bible study with them.   I’ve only supplied a little support here and there.  They have been doing the work.  I’m relating what they have told me about our friends.

Having said that too, let me tell you something about what I know from Pat and Scott and Jeff, and Jason about their encounters with the friends they have been serving.  I just want you to know that this is not first hand knowledge, but it has struck my heart and I will be much more closely involved from now on.  I know some of these names are not the real names.  But the stories are real, the men are real, the hardships and problems they illustrate are real.

Perry and his gold coin offering

One of these men, a homeless veteran is Perry.  Perry has been described by Pat as “having an entourage of people swirling around him in his head always talking to him.”   Perry came to our church among the first two to accept our invitation to visit.  Pat and Scott picked him up.  During one sermon our Pastor  was talking about the woman who gave all she had, a penny, and what a wonderful thing that was. 

Perry got up in the middle of the sermon and started for the pulpit.  Scott caught up with him and asked what his intentions were.  “I’m going to make an offering”.  “But wait, there is a time for that later”, said Scott.  “But I want to give now!”  So Perry took his Chucky Cheese gold token to the alter and placed it on the corner of the choir railing, and returned to his seat just beaming!  Grinning from ear to ear.  Gave all he had, real gold to him.

I don’t know what happened to Perry when the evictions came.   I think that he had dissappeared.  We know of one death, Dominic, and we know that there is likely more – I learned today that the medical examiner sent a homeless person to a funeral home near our church who was apparently found in the same lot we were serving, but Dominic had been found somewhere else.

Mark and his mound of dirt, compassion among the homeless 

There is another victim that we have recently identified as Mark.   Mark was first found by our little missional team some weeks ago.   Mark was laying behind a large mound of dirt, flat on the ground with piles of donated clothing, blankets, tarps and other stuff on each side of him.  Much of it donated by other homeless in the camps.  

Mark clearly wanted to die but somehow was not successful.  He was on the ground with his thin shirt unbuttoned, no jacket, no shoes, no covering and was unresponsive.  Our group called 911 and an emergency van showed up, prodded his foot, asked him a couple of questions, determined he was alive and that he did not want to go with them.  The crew left with these words:  “We can’t make someone go that doesn’t want to go.” 

Other homeless were bringing Mark sack lunches and most of the time the lunches were just left there uneaten the next day.  He would take neigther food nor drink from us.   He was never seen to move from that spot by any of our team over a period of weeks, and he never changed clothes.   We have since learned that Mark survived the cold, but this past week, our homeless friend Steve told us that the police and others came back Wednesday of last week and took his bedding, blankes and other things.   See my video where Steve talks about Mark, how he became homeless and why he was staying right where he was.    He was not aware he was being subjected to eviction.  He would not have been responsive to the police or anyone that approached him.  He was unable.  (Updated on February 2, 2008 to insert new information).

The aloof man and his broken trust

There is another I’ll call “Aloof” who showed up when they first started feeding breakfast.  We noticed a man standing like a statue with his back to the breakfast line about a block away.   Although invited, he did not move while we were there.  The following week, he had turned around and was facing the other men and women enjoying a breakfast feast, but still did not approach, still a block away.    (Since MUST feeds a lunch to the unsheltered homeless 5 days a week, our team chose to go on Sunday mornings to fill in).

The   third week he moved half way to the chow line.  The fourth, half way again, always standing like a post during the entire time our team was on site.  The fifth he had moved up to where he was just outside the line but could see the food clearly. 

Finally he began joining the line.  We had gained his trust.   Then the city came the next week and destroyed the little life support that he had.  His hidden camp taken away and all trust dragged to the dump in a garbage truck with his belongings.

Some of the others 

Then there are Steve and Don who lived under a nearby bridge.  And a different Al than ours that had a girlfriend.   And “our” Al who is indeed a veteran who has been working almost from the beginning to get his life back in order to get off the streets.

What I’m trying to say is that although our Al and Steve and Dave/Don have been mentioned in earlier posts a number of times, this story is not just about them, nor is it just about veterans, nor is it any way about us! 

What this all about 

It is about a city leadership that never took the time to learn that these are real, actual human beings in their care who have issues to be sure, but most are honest, decent citizens that have fallen on the hard times that, but for the grace of God, go I.  It is about a city that paints all homeless men in one brush.  If one did a crime, then paint them all guilty.  They are faceless, nameless, scum to be run out of the city.  They are trash to be swept away.

It is about a City That Doesn’t Care that decided that, with the homeless count coming up that they just did not want the world to know that they did not have a place to put them.  The goal was to run them out of town to reduce the numbers, achieve a goal of homeless reduction.  The goal was to let the secretary that saw what looked like a homeless man down the block know that the city was protecting her.   To let the business man that had a female worker nervous because she saw a homeless man standing under a bridge on the way to her office know that she would not have to look the other way any more – he would be gone.   To let the voters know the city was removing all the homeless because 1 or 2 were thought to be part of a crime wave in another part of the city.  To let the voters know that all laws will be strictly enforced – unless it was convenient to look the other way.  But for homeless, strictly enforced.

It is about a city that chose to evict the homeless from the only home they have had for years on the eave of the two coldest nights of the year – driven out in fear, leaving even their glasses, shoes, sleeping bags and tents behind to be thrown into garbage trucks by a City That Doesn’t Care.   A city that supplies no support services other than law enforcement.  A city that relies on the county morgue to front the $400 to pay for the burial of victims of their lack of concern for the welfare of another human being.

It is about human dignity when down and out.  About trust when trust is vital but not allowed.  About compassion, love and hope in a world that seems to have none. 

It is about our Lord who told us to serve our neighbor, who said in the parable of the sheep and goats:

Matthew 25:44-46   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’   45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

What did Paul say about the Apostles? 

1 Corinthians 4:11  To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.

I wonder how many angels were present among the homeless to test us?  Who is marked as a sheep and whom a goat?  Who among us will our Lord not know?

 Oldtimer

Meet the Mayor and Council of the City That Doesn’t Care

Mayor and Council of Marietta Georgia 

City That Doesn’t Care

Mayor Dunaway is the one in the red tie.  He is one of the good ol’ boys of the community.

Left to Right in top picture with email addresses at popular request:

Holly Marie Walquist – Ward 3  hwalquist@mariettaga.gov

Irvan Alan Pearlberg – Ward 4  ipearlberg@mariettaga.gov

Rev. Anthony Coleman – Ward 5 acoleman@mariettaga.gov

Mayor Bill Dunaway  BDunaway@mariettaga.gov

Griffin Chalfant – Ward 2 gchalfant@mariettaga.gov

Annette Lewis – Ward 1 alewis@mariettaga.gov

Jim King – Ward 6 jimking@mariettaga.gov

Philip M. Goldstein-Ward 7 pgoldstein@mariettaga.gov

Ward 1 includes the site featured in the AJC article today “Marietta police clear out homeless” written by Yolanda Rodriguez  There you can find a gallery of pictures.

Ward 5 includes the site featured in most of my articles. It includes the area our homeless veteran friend Al and the recently deceased Dominic lived.

Oldtimer

Evicted Marietta Homeless man froze to death

A homeless man given eviction notices by a heartless City of Marietta has frozen to death in the sub freezing weather we had this week.   Dominic was one of our many homeless friends.   Sadly Now dead. 

The city has taken the trouble to cut up the tents and pile sleeping bags and all the lifelong remaining possessions in garbage trucks to be hauled away.   There is video and as soon as I find the right software, I’ll post it.   The local channel 2 WSB ran shots showing a few of the homeless camps with police cutting up a tent full of belongings.

The Mayor Dunaway of the City That Doesn’t Care (aka Marietta, Georgia) has achieved a reduction in the homeless count the hard way.   Poor Dominic.  The Mayor and Council sentenced him to death without cause.  The MPD were the executioners.

Dominic had holed up behind a liquor store and died fleeing the City With No Heart. 

Shame on Marietta.  They were warned that this would happen and refused to delay until better weather came along.  Unfortunately this is likely only the first of many.

Shame Marietta!

Rest in Peace Dominic

may God give you peace

 

City routinely breaks own laws, but no exceptions for homeless

The City That Doesn’t Care (aka Marietta, Georgia) routinely breaks or does not enforce many of its own laws.  Laws that have often been highly publicized but still selectively enforced, if enforced at all.   Homelessness is not one of them.  That crime is enforced.  

I grew up in this city.  I’ve lived here since 1945.  I’ve always loved it here.  Presently I live in the county outside, but own property within the city.   My wife graduated with the Mayor, one of the councilmen once worked for me at Lockheed, I’ve known others for decades.  My children and grandchildren went to school with some of theirs. 

I respect them all, but Marietta, we have a problem.  This was once a city that cared, it was once a city of respect, it was once a “gem” city.  Now it is a disgrace on many fronts.   Particularly with regards to the homeless.  Also with regards to enforcing the laws on themselves.  I know the city has won many awards.  I also know what the city did not tell the award committees.  Will you tell them about the death of Dominic? Continue reading

When Laws Should not be Enforced

Oldtimer’s comment, added on the 25th:  I warned the Mayor on the 21st, he called me on the 22d, I posted this article on the 23d,  and today I found out that Dominic, a homeless friend was found frozen to death huddled behind a local business on the 22d.  It means the Mayor likely already knew about the death when he said NO! to the moritorium and delay until warmer weather.  Now read the whole story and my warnings.  I predict we will find homeless people dead in various hiding places until spring.  Our Mayor and his Council are directly responsible for not heeding the numerous warnings from the community!  They cut up their tents, put their sleeping bags and clothing in garbage trucks and sent them into 19 degree weather to die.  The remainder is from Jan 23, 2008:

The Mayor of the City That Doesn’t Care (aka Marietta, Georgia) called me yesterday.  Make no mistake our Mayor does care and cares deeply!  We had a long and good discussion and he gave me full permission to report what he has said and he said all the right things.   He is sympathetic to the problem and supportive of our mission to help the homeless, including those that are being evicted from the meager existence they call home, whether cardboard box, blue tarp, or simply a sleeping bag under a bush.

He expressed appreciation for what we and and our mission team are doing and called it “good ministry”.  

The gist of it all, however, is that the unhoused homeless people have to be out by Wednesday (today) and there will be no exceptions and no delays due to the weather.  

He assured me that the city does not have any access to helicopters and no money to rent one if we did.  That a helicopter was going to be used to hunt down the homeless was just a rumor that developed among the homeless after a meeting of a police commander with the nearby MUST ministries.  MUST has been hosting some 75 residents and feeding the unhoused a meal each weekday.   (The homeless were not invited to the meeting, but thought they were.)  The city also met with the “Mad Housers” which is a group of saints that build simple structures for the homeless.  The city is graciously allowing the Mad Housers to leave the structures in place until they have time to move them. 

Essentially the Mayor said that all homeless camping in Marietta will be sent packing and if they don’t go they will be immediately arrested.  

It was my understanding that all homeless camped on private property that have the permission of the property owner can stay, but the health department will be called to determine if there are suitable sanitary facilities, and whether the campsite is safely habitable.  If not, they will be ordered out and arrested if they refuse the order.  

He suggested that some private property owners might allow them to camp, but the health department will be required to check out the property.   The Mayor seems sympathetic but admitted he has had to call the police in the past about his own property (warehouse nearby) due to homeless camping behind it resulting in concern and complaints from female staff entering and leaving the building. 

How it started:   The Mayor said that the problem started with a series of burglaries that were traced to a homeless person.  They had his picture and went to all the camps to find him, but he had absconded, already left town for parts unknown. 

However the camps on right of ways and on public and private property which they found in the heat of the hunt are illegal and the City can’t NOT enforce the law, and now that the police know where they are, they must be removed, period, no matter the consequences.  End of story.

OK, herein lies a problem for my sensibilities. 

If a law that must be enforced  will bring about, or is likely to bring about. or may bring about serious harm or death of an individual, should that law not be swiftly amended or not enforced when those situations arise? Continue reading

Marietta and Cobb County short 690 beds for Homeless

I’ve pulled out my copy of the 2006 Continium of Care (CoC) for Cobb County, Georgia’s grant application to HUD.   It has a lot of tables and columns and at one point I put some of them in here, but then I remembered I have a lot of readers that could care less about that.  

So I’ll summarize here:  According to this application, our local governments, our cities and counties provide only one service for the homeless –

Law Enforcement, listed in the category of “outreach”.  

Ok that explains it.  Homeless arrests and Evictions are an “outreach”.   Our local governments provide no preventive services and no supportive services for our homeless.  Our non-profit local charities provide plenty of services but they are not enough!  

There are a total of 124 year-around emergency shelter beds among all our shelters.  Plus another 48 “Seasonal” and another 18 “Overflow” beds.  There were no beds “under development”.   The application says that we are 330 emergency shelter beds short!   This is based on finding 330 unsheltered homeless persons during the point in time count.  That isn’t nearly all of them though!

There are another 316 beds that are “transitional housing”. (6 under development)   We are 275 transitional housing beds short!

There are 44 perminent supportive housing beds.  (none under development)  We are 85 beds short.

So Marietta:  Where do you think our homeless friend Al is going to stay tomorrow night?  How about the other 300 homeless people out there? The total of 690 needing help?   The ones with “unmet needs” beds (virtual beds?) Where are they going?   Who among our leaders care?  

There were 175 individuals in families with children unsheltered on January 26, 2006!

Children!!!!

And Marietta simply says “clean them out”.   Take the veterans too.  They might be carrying a flag.

“Go South” you said.   We already ship our poor sick to Grady.  Are we to haul our homeless to Atlanta too?

Oldtimer.

Marietta Georgia – No compassion for homeless – NONE

The City of Marietta is evicting homeless from within our city limits.  Al, our homeless veteran friend that our church is trying its best to help reports that he and his friends, which are mostly homeless veterans, have been given notice to move “south”, meaning out of Marietta and toward Atlanta.

We have been helping Al and some of his friends in numerous ways.  Pat (see an earlier story on Pat here and her husband Scott and a few others in our church have been serving breakfast Sunday Mornings and later bringing some to our church for bible study and services, often treating them to lunch afterward.  Scott put Al in a hotel during the cold snap and the group has been taking supplies and clothing to them. 

Al has been faithful in attending, and as a result has taken to the idea that he can get out of this.  He no longer looks homeless, is neat, trimmed and dressed in his best clothes.  However, despite the information, forms, trips to the VA, Al still has not received his papers or his VA card.  He is still homeless.  He has said he has now committed to getting off the streets but has no place to go.

Above is one of the homeless camps being evicted by the City of Marietta.  This is an old photo taken from the air, but it also the site of Als current camp.   Believe it or not, this was found by use of the Hit and Visitor Map to the right of this blog.  It has zoom and several modes, including hybrid (satellite and road labeling), airborne, and “bird’s eye”.  I used the hybrid mode in zoom to find the general area, then switched to bird’s eye and quickly found his camp and 2 other camps.   Try it in your area (bird’s eye is not available in all areas, mostly metropolitan areas around large cities like Atlanta).  Look for blue tarps in mostly wooded areas.  Let me know if you find any. 

Now comes the City of Marietta.  They have systematically attacked the homeless camps within their city and have now worked their way to Als camp.  They did give them a little prior notice.  They were told that they are trespassing (wooded right of way of city) have to be packed up and moved out by Monday.  

Guess What?  Its snowing in Georgia.  The ground is covered.  A few will accept winter shelter but the beds are full.   They are totally dependent on MUST ministries a few blocks from their camp for food which MUST serves once a day on weekdays.   Nothing on weekends.

Moving means a miles long treck instead of a block or so walk.   The plan is obvious, make the homeless either seek shelter or get out.  Unfortunatly there are not enough beds to go around.  Not nearly enough.  So the plan is equally obvious – get out of our city

The city should provide facilities for these homeless before making them move.  They don’t.  They depend on MUST Ministries and a few other shelters that they have forced into industrial zones and have for the most part squelched expansion of facilities.  

Our city has decided to take the cheaper route – run them out of our city before they cost us money!  It also has another up side for the city:  Next year the homeless count will show another “remarkable” drop and no one will have to cook the books by redefining the homeless or unfinding any.  

Al works when he can find a job.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, has no noticeable mental problems.  He is a true walking hero with no place to go and our VA is not doing its duty.  Nor the VFW, nor our heartless City of Marietta.   He has fallen through the cracks and it makes me want to cry.

MUST Ministries, a block away from Al, serves Al a noon meal every week day. and  recently announced receiving grant money to set up transitional housing for veterans.   I’m sure they are hearing of the problem, but its been most of a week now since I left a message there for the program manager and sent a email inquiring about the program.  No response to the email and no returned call, and I know the guy, so he must be “out of pocket”.    MUST does do a wonderful job of helping feed and house the homeless and works tirelessly to serve them. 

Another mission, New Hope Missions reports that they are being swamped with homeless in the same desperate condition as Al.  New Hope serves about 125 breakfast and conducts services on Sunday and about half come from the area being evicted.  Some of them have to be out Wednesday.  Al has to be out Monday.

This is how not to minister to the homeless 

City of Marietta GA:  Shame!

Oldtimer

The ‘equal opportunity war’ bring equal opportunity trauma

Much of the information below was gleaned from a well written USA Today story entitled Mental toll of war hitting female servicemembers.   Early in the story the writer tells about Master Sgt. Cindy Rathbun who began losing hair in clumps within 3 weeks of arriving in Iraq.   She is now enrolled in the first group of a new Women’s Trauma Recovery Program which is a 60 to 90 day program for female warriors. 

Cindy is suffering from the stress and trauma of war, but also from sexual trauma from prior to her deployment by a military superior.

Some tidbits of information directly from the article cited:

More than 182,000 women have served in Iraq, Afghanistan and the surrounding region — about 11% of U.S. troops deployed, the Pentagon says.

That dwarfs the 7,500 who served mostly as nurses in Vietnam and the nearly 41,000 women deployed during the brief Gulf War.

Although some of those women suffered PTSD, few saw actual fighting or were subjected to the stress of multiple deployments.

In Iraq, “there are no lines, so anybody that deploys is in a war zone,” Rathbun says. “Females are combat veterans as well as guys.”

 To be sure, women are barred from ground jobs, technically assigned to support roles, but guess what?   Those support roles include guarding checkpoints, driving supply convoys and searching women in neighborhood patrols.   Dangerous duty just the same. 

Attacks come from IED’s, mortars, and suicide attacks on checkpoints as well as from enemy fighters.   The stress is there.  The fear is there.  The fatigue is there, the unknown is there, the worry about the home folks is there.  Death and destruction are evident every day.   More than 100 of our female warriors have died and almost 600 wounded.

 More from the article cited:

The ranks of psychologically wounded from this war are far larger. In 2006, nearly 3,800 women diagnosed with PTSD were treated by the VA. They accounted for 14% of a total 27,000 recent veterans treated for PTSD last year.

In June, the Defense Department’s Mental Health Task Force reported that the number of women suffering from combat trauma might be higher than reported. It cited “a potential barrier” for women needing mental-health treatment as “their need to show the emotional strength expected of military members.”

The report also said that after leaving the military, “many women no longer see themselves as veterans” and might not associate psychological symptoms with their time in the war zone.

Did you notice that?  Women represent 11% of the deployed but have 14% of the cases, even though the DoD thinks they are under reported.  Battle lines or not, they are being affected at a much higher rate than men, some possibly due to MST, Military Sexual Trauma that was being diagnosed and treated as PTSD.

Here is a link to Oldtimer’s PTSD Videos which includes a video on MST.

It is about time that this problem is being addressed early in the process for our returning heroes.   Our warriors are the best and deserve the best, black, white, male and female.    

Wear the uniform, deserve the best

Our programs should never be just about the men. 

It should be about our heroes.

Oldtimer

Souper Bowl Feb 3d 2008

2008 Souper Bowl of Caring

February 3d 2008

On February 3rd millions of people will tune into the Super Bowl game. At the same time, there will be nearly a million people in our country worrying about finding safe shelter and a hot meal.    In 2007, over 14,000 groups participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring, raising over $8 million dollars and collecting 2.8 million pounds of food. Visit the Souperbowl web site  for more information.    

  Click on the picture above or here for a brief video about this ministry.  You will enjoy this upbeat production that explains where the money goes and how to help.  

The Souperbowl resource center has materials you can download so that you can set up your own Souper Bowl party and/or start collecting.   You can collect locally and take the money directly to a local charity that is participating in this program or send it in.   If you don’t want to do that, you can volunteer to help.  They NEED you!   Find one near you here.

Here is a link to an interactive map with about 12,000 locations.  Zoom into your area, and hover your cursor over a dot and it will bring up information about one near you.   

Ever been Hungry?   Maybe once a day?

Really Really Hungry?  Maybe once a month?

How about all the time?

In 2006 in the USA:

• 37 million people were in poverty.
• 7.6  million families were in poverty.
• 20.2 million of people aged 18-64 were in poverty.
• 12.8 million children under the age of 18 were in poverty.
• 3.4 million seniors 65 and older were in poverty.

In 2006, 4.6 million households experienced very low food security   People that fall into this category have struggled with having enough food for the household, including cutting back or skipping meals on a frequent basis for both adults and children.

We/You can help!

Oldtimer

Ministering to the Homeless 7

This is the seventh article in a series on ministering to the homeless.   This one is special.  It is about a ministry by Steve Brigham that has touched my heart to the extent that I’ve included his ministry twice.  The first article on his minstry dates back to February of 2007.    I thought it was time for an update because the compassion and love and sacrifice required for this ministry is just enormous.  The article below is reproduced only in snippets to give you a flavor of what the good Reverand does for the homeless.  Please read the Tri-Town News story for the rest of it.

 Rev.’s appointed rounds are off the beaten path

 Steve Brigham continues outreach to homeless population

BY TOYNETT HALL Staff Writer Tri-Town News January 10, 2008

On a regular basis the Rev. Steve Brigham of the Lakewood Outreach Ministry wakes at the crack of dawn to visit 11 campsites in Ocean County.   These are not the type of campsites where families go to spend a weekend enjoying nature.

Brigham walks along railroad tracks and trudges through the muddy forest floor bearing gifts for the homeless people who live in these campsites and who have become his friends.   One of his goals is to make sure that the people who live in tent encampments throughout the county have enough propane gas to run the heaters that keep them warm through the cold winter nights.

As he reaches a group of tents in what is identifiable as a Mexican encampment, Brigham offers blankets to the people living at the site and tells his amigos where tortillas are being cooked and that he will bring them a big tent the next time he comes.

A short time later Brigham is driving his bus – a motel on wheels – to a site called Shanty Town. At this campsite some of the dwellings are made with wood that came from a lumber yard. Other people live in tents that have been provided by Brigham and anonymous donors.

(…) 

The last site of the day was also in Toms River. At that spot Brigham pitched tents for Gloria, 65, and Richard A. Mazzella Jr., 33. Both individuals said they ended up here as a result of financial hardships.

(…) 

Another resident of the camp, Robert Wayne Pisano, said he has been homeless since he was 16. He is now in his 40s. Pisano said if it were not for Brigham’s kindness, he does not know where he would be. He said Brigham offers people like him a measure of hope.

“I have never seen a man take time out of his life like this. This guy cares who you are and where you are. He treats us like we are his own kids. Every piece of clothing I have on right now is because of Steve,” Pisano said.

As tears welled up in his eyes, Pisano said, “We have nothing. Yes, we are homeless, but we want to be treated like everyone else. Please recognize us.”

(…) 

According to statistics from the New Jersey Corporation for Supportive Housing, a national nonprofit, as of Jan. 25, 2007, there were 14,939 homeless people in New Jersey. Of that number, 12,397 were adults and 2,542 were children.

In Ocean County, 366 adults were found to be homeless. In Monmouth County, 590 adults were found to homeless, according to information provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing. These numbers may be under-reported, according to the agency.

Anyone who would like to assist the Rev. Steve Brigham may call (732) 364- 0340 or (732) 814-5537. Brigham may also be reached at Lakewood Outreach Ministry Church, P.O. Box 326, Lakewood, NJ 08701.

THIS is what ministering to the homeless means!

Winter is Here, It is already cold,

It is Cold to the Bone

Please volunteer somewhere!

Oldtimer

Report – Scientific Progress – Gulf War Illnesses

The full title of this report is “Scientific Progress Understanding Gulf War Illnesses:  Report and Recommendations“.

Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses
September, 2004 

This is an extensive report running 152 pdf pages.   The Executive Summary has these unsettling words:

In the years since the war, thousands of Gulf War veterans have been evaluated and treated by government and private physicians. But the federal research effort has not succeeded in identifying treatments that substantially improve the health of ill veterans.

Further, there are no programs in place to evaluate the effectiveness of treatments currently being used or to identify and develop treatments that may hold promise for these conditions.

(…) Many of the veterans who served in the Gulf War were exposed to a variety of potentially toxic substances during their  deployment.  Among these were several neurotoxins-chemical nerve agents, pills taken to protect veterans from the deadly effects of nerve agents, and multiple types of pesticides-that belong to a single class of compounds that adversely affect the nervous system.

Finding 1  A substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multisymptom conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness.  (…) 

Finding 2  Treatments that improve the health of veterans with Gulf War illnesses are urgently needed. (…)

Finding 3 A growing body of research indicates that an important component of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses is neurological in character. (…)

Finding 4 Evidence supports a probable link between exposure to neurotoxins and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 5  Other wartime exposures may also have contributed to Gulf War veterans’ illnesses. (…)

Finding 6  The health of Gulf veterans must be carefully monitored to determine if Gulf War service is associated with excess rates of specific diseases, disease-specific deaths, or overall mortality.(…)

Finding 7  Important questions concerning the health of children and other family members of Gulf War veterans remain unanswered. (…)

Finding 8  Progress in understanding Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has been hindered by lack of coordination and availability of data resources maintained by the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  (…)

Finding 9  Research on Gulf War veterans’ illnesses has important implications for current and future military deployments and for homeland security.  (…)

Finding 10  Further progress in understanding and treating Gulf War veterans’ illnesses requires federal research programs that are properly focused, well-managed, and adequately funded.  (…)

Each of these findings are supported in detail with charts, data and supporting research documents that are organized by topic and by suspected causes.

Here are just a few of the tables and figures:

You can see from this figure that those in the Gulf war report 2 to 7 times as many symptoms as veterans not in the theatre.

Many of the symptoms are common among veterans that did not serve in the Gulf War as shown in the left side of this figure.  However, those veterans that were deployed in the Gulf are about 10 times as likely to report 3 to 6  types of symptoms from Table 1 than those not deployed.

The excess illness column on the far right was used in the study to show that the excess illness was consistent among particular units of deployed veterans vs non-deployed veterans from the same area of the country.  The ratio of deployed ill veterans was 2 to 4 times as high as those not deployed and even though they came from the same area as those that went to the Gulf .   For example those from Kansas that were deployed in the Gulf had 2.5 to 4 times as many multiple symptoms than those from Kansas that were not deployed.

This table is very alarming to me.   It shows that the deployed Gulf War veterans are developing Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS) at a rate nearly 4 times higher than those veterans not deployed as they age to 55 and older.  ALS is a progressive neurodegenerative disease, with less than 10 percent of patients surviving more than five years after initial diagnosis.

Possible effects of pesticides, PB (Pyridostigmine bromide pills used to pre-treat nerve gas exposure), and other AChEis (acetylcholinesterase inhibitors) chemicals used during the Gulf War.

Evidence in the literature is suggestive, but not conclusive, AChE inhibitors such as organophosphates and carbamates, could be among the potential contributing agents to some of the undiagnosed illnesses seen in Persian Gulf War veterans. -From: A Review of the Scientific Literature As It Pertains to Gulf War Illnesses–Volume 8: Pesticides48

This topic was extensively discussed and seems to be of significant concern to those conducting the study.   AChEis compounds are sometimes used for beneficial medications for Alzheimer’s Disease, but also to make pesticides and saran nerve gas.  

(…) these studies have consistently identified AChEis to be significantly associated with higher rates of symptoms and illnesses in Gulf War veterans. The uniformity of these results contrasts with a lack of consistent findings in multivariable analyses for such wartime experiences as participation in combat, exposure to oil fire smoke, and exposure to depleted uranium. Limitations in epidemiologic studies that rely on selfreported exposures always require a cautious interpretation of findings.

Taken as a whole, however, this accumulated body of research provides compelling evidence of a probable link between neurotoxic exposures in the Gulf War and the development of Gulf War veterans’ illnesses.

Pregnancies, micsarrages, birth defects: 

In 2001, a report from VA’s large National Survey of Gulf War-era Veterans and their Families indicated that Gulf War veterans reported a significantly greater number of post-war pregnancies that ended in miscarriages or children born with birth defects than nondeployed era veterans.

This table is very alarming to me.  It shows that the rate of birth defects for first live births for deployed veterans is two to 3 times as high as for those not deployed.   This applies to children of both male and female veterans.   Something is tragically wrong with this picture.

The above is only a brief overview of this subject.  Depleted Uranium is also a part of this study, but is largely discounted, but not thrown out.   If you are interested in the details, the report is remarkably readable and available at the link above or can be viewed or downloaded here.  This report is more than 3 years old.  It will be interesting to see how many of its recommendations have been followed.

What is so heartbreaking is that the rate of ALS among deployed Gulf War Veterans is higher at all age levels than Gulf War veterans not deployed, 3.5 times as high at ages above 55, birth defect rates are double, Gulf War Veterans are 3 to 4 times as likely to be ill with these symptoms. Yet the funding is dismal, only about $31 million average a year through 2004.

That is about $32.00 per deployed Gulf War veteran a year research funding.    Hmm, 88 cents a day per veteran – about the cost of a single plain doughnut.

Equivalent Funding for Gulf War Illnesses

(photo courtesy of roboppy who posted as creative commons)

(all the others are copied from the cited report)

The veterans deserve significantly more research, deserve the best possible treatment and deserve adequate compensation to offset their illnesses. They are all heroes to me.

Oldtimer