Saturday, February 07, 2009

2009 Homeless Stand Down

Another Successful Service Fair in 2009

Pictured above are Sean, Everett, and Cathy as they staffed the NEOCH table at the Stand Down. Everything went smoothly, and hundreds of people were served. There was wonderful food by the Foodbank and served by the Bishop Cosgrove staff and volunteers. InterAct does a great job training and preparing the hundreds of volunteers. There were plenty of bus passes and hygiene kits provided. There were 55 different service providers present including health care and social service providers. If you were homeless and showed up at the Convention Center yesterday, you could get a bone density screening, eye evaluation, diabetes screening, mental health or spirtual help. There were hearing and breathing and foot specialists on hand to provide evalutions for free. There were lawyers and agencies that serve children, and flu shots available. The City of Cleveland Department of Public Health pulls together this diverse group of providers to bring all this help under the same roof. After 18 years, I still do not understand why it does not get more press for such a huge event. No television or radio stations came this year to the Convention Center. The Plain Dealer and a few other print media attended, but no TV news. Radio One provided the entertainment, and Interfaith Hospitality Network and Pilgrim provided van transportation. It was a true community effort.

In all the doom and gloom of the economy, here are some good stories from the Stand Down. I got to see Ralph again who was recently featured in the LMM newsletter after moving into an apartment. He had been homeless for years, but had built some strong relationships on the near West Side. He is trying to find a place closer to his beloved Near West Side/Ohio City. Some people are very particular about where they live. They want to be near the stores that they are familiar with, and near the friends that they have made over the years. Another friend of NEOCH who went down to Columbus to testify in the voting case finally got into housing. He was able to get his identification and then was able to find housing this year. That is a big step, because he has been sleeping under a bridge for a couple of years. We provided 10 people with Community Voice Mail and gave 12 people the opportunity to sell the Homeless Grapevine newspaper. I got to see a few of the people who had graduated from the photo project and they were still taking pictures. There were well over 100 volunteers including our old friend, Lana, who was the previous director of Community Shares, helping to move bagged lunches out.

It was a good day to see the hundreds of haircuts, messages, and health care screenings provided to those struggling with their housing. February can be depressing in Cleveland with the snow turning brown or grey and the pot holes growing every day. Just spend a couple of hours walking around at the Stand Down to see suburbanites reaching out to men looking for work or women seeking help from the Veteran's Administration, and you get a new energy to make it until the first flowers poke through the snow in March.

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

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