Monday, February 12, 2007

The Toughest Job in the City

How Do Shelter Workers Keep Their Sanity??

We give the shelters a hard time, because we are a watchdog organization. We have to follow up on complaints from homeless people because no one else does, and nearly all have something to do with shelters. From problems with theft, curfews, and conflicts with staff are the complaints that come to us every week. Homeless people come to us for help and that makes many shelter providers uncomfortable. But over the last two weeks, providers have gone above and beyond. The stress of having over capacity for extended hours and for over two weeks is now getting critical. They all deserve a huge pat on the back, and a raise for performing in such tough conditions.

Now, with another five inches of snow predicted, we prolong the state of emergency. The shelter staff must figure out a way to keep the peace in very overcrowded conditions. They need to keep as many as 550 people from going stir crazy, and keeping all these people safe. There is a great deal of pressure to be responsible for so many with food, clean sheets, clean clothing, and a quiet place to sleep. They should all get awards for all they are doing behind the scenes. Unfortunately they never will, because they are only successful if nothing happens. Well, NEOCH staff and board congratulate everyone who is sticking it out working in the shelters during the winters in Cleveland. It takes a special person to be able to see all this human suffering every day and get up every morning to keep people safe.

Speaking of Hard Working Shelter Staff...
Lyle Draper of the Volunteers of America shelter is leaving next week for Re-Entry programming with VOA down in Mansfield. Lyle has been the director of the men's shelter over on Walton. He has kept the facility clean and has always been willing to help when homeless people needed assistance. Thanks Lyle for all your hard work, and good luck in your new job. We will miss you, and hope that the VOA finds someone as easy to work with to run the shelter.

After reading this post, I fear that one of the comments a homeless person told me might be true: I am getting soft? One of the members of the Homeless Congress insists that I, like Jesse Jackson, have lost my "heat." He tells me at almost every meeting that I am no longer willing to do whatever it takes. There is certainly worse people to be compared to then Jesse Jackson who I voted for in 1988 for President of the United States when he had some high "heat."

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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