Friday, September 03, 2010

Bernadette Janes Passes

A Good Friend of the Coalition

Bernadette Janes, a diminutive grandmotherly type who spoke loudly with her pen, has passed away. Janes was a longtime friend of the Coalition, and wrote a number of stories in the Homeless Grapevine newspaper here and here and here. She was great at profiles of people like Sabrina and Arthur, and had a history of supporting social justice organizations in Cleveland. Every so often she published letters in the Plain Dealer. Janes supported the rights of women, opposed the attacks on poor people by government and marched against wars. She was a veteran and was a great volunteer for NEOCH. In fact, at the 2007 Annual Meeting, Bernadette was awarded Volunteer of the Year for 2006 for NEOCH. She would take the Community Response Transit bus every week or every other week depending on her health to NEOCH to volunteer. Bernadette had no problem with stuffing envelopes or entering data or doing a profile for the Grapevine. She realized that all of it contributed to improving the Coalition. Every mundane task freed up time for the director to issue an advocacy alert or the development director to send out a grant. She was happy just helping, and loved interacting with the staff.

Janes talked to us about homelessness and tried to understand how things had gotten so out of control in our society that families were the fastest growing population of homeless people. She wanted to learn from the people that she interviewed. Bernadette wanted to understand the health issues that led to Arthur becoming homeless, and then she was able to boil down those complicated ideas into a story for the Grapevine. She wrote advocacy journalism to educate the public about the holes in the US safety net. She tried to listen to Sabrina's story about family homelessness and capture that pain, anger and harm that this caused to put it all down on paper.

Another guardian of social justice lost in Cleveland. We miss Bernadette, and wish her family strength in this time of sorrow.

Updated 9/7/10: Text from the announcement at Busch Funeral Home. "Janes passed away on September 3, 2010. Memorials may be forwarded to Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH), [Address slightly incorrect, but corrected here] 3631 Perkins Ave., #3A-3, Cleveland, OH 44114. Memorial services will be at the funeral home at 12:00 noon on October 9th. For those attending, in honor of Bernadette's life, colorful attire is encouraged, and please bring a non perishable food item for donation to the Hunger Center. Friends may call from 11:00 - Noon at the BUSCH FUNERAL HOME, 21369 CENTER RIDGE RD, FAIRVIEW PARK. Cremation by Busch Crematory."

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Anonymous said...

I'm certain that Ms. Janes will be greatly missed. Condolences to those who are mourning her death.

HAD in Ohio said...

Thank you Brian, and to all of Bernadette's friends and compatriots in the cause to end homelessness, and all forms of social injustice. You have no idea how much all of you gave meaning and joy to her life. We are so grateful that she was able to find others in this world who cared and worked as hard as she did to right the social wrongs that plague our society. Your support and good wishes have truly helped carry us through her illness and passing. Thank you and peace to you all,
Heather Drago (grandaughter)