Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homeless Stand Down 2012

A Wonderful Day for Those Experiencing Homelessness

2012 Homeless Stand Down (photo by William Gilmore)

2012 Stand Down at the Masonic Auditorium (photo by William Gilmore)
All reports from the Stand Down was that it was a great day for those experiencing homelessness.  There was a very good positive article in the Plain DealerHandsOn NEO took the lead and did a great job coordinating this huge event.  Our long time partner, InterAct Cleveland, went out of business, and HandsOn Northeast Ohio took on all the responsibilities of this critical event.  This is the 20th year for the City of Cleveland to feature an all day service fair for veterans and non-veterans in the same facility on the same day.  Cleveland was the first city to expand the Stand Down to include non-veterans in the early 1990s.  Stand Down is a military term for a period of rest away from the battlefield.  The Stand Down originated in San Diego as a day in which every part of the Veterans Administration along and most other government agencies who serve veterans would meet on an open field and set up tents to provide housing, jobs, benefit check and health care screenings.

Cleveland has done the Stand Down at Cuyahoga Community College campus, Old Stone Church, Trinity Cathedral, the Cosgrove Center, the Convention Center and now at the Masonic Auditorium over the years.  We have served 700 to 1,700 people depending on the year and the size of the facility.  NEOCH began partnering with InterAct in 2003 after years of doing it ourselves.  We moved the Stand Down to the winter as a Winter ReStock operation.  The thinking was that those who spend time on the streets get a boost from all the volunteers and help during the holiday, but by the end of January all of those winter items were worn out or lost and they needed a hand up.  I really believe the Stand Down is an important event for the community that many wait months to attend.

It is important to have all the services in one place. The 2012 Stand Down took place on Sunday January 22  at the Masonic Auditorium on Euclid Ave.   It is great that all of these volunteers show up to help.  There are valuable items given away, and a great deal of information passed onto the community.  But on the individual level it is transformational for the people who attend.  I have seen many people show up beat down by the stress of finding a bed and food every day, and walk out with a full heart, full stomachs, a full bag of winter clothing, and full of hope for the future.  They get a haircut, a beautiful portrait, new clothing, and a relaxing day centered around their needs.  I have had women who had their lives saved after discovering a lump at the breast cancer screenings at the Stand Down. A lot of people who are resistant to shelter wait for the winter coats and boots.  There is entertainment, food, and a chance to catch up with a social worker or a friend you may not have seen for many years.

The care volunteers at the Stand Down are highly professional and sensitive to the needs of the population.  They go above and beyond to make the men and women feel welcome and the whole event is centered around those without housing.   Despite the large number of people, HandsOn did a nice job efficiently and effectively serving those who were requesting help.  Here are the numbers from the 2012 Stand Down:

840 people attended including families.
172 haircuts were completed free of charge.
89 Podiatry screenings.
147 non-food service volunteers helped out, and a total of 400 volunteers to stage the days activities. 

Thanks to the community for opening its arms to help those in need with some extra tender loving care on one day out of the year.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Los Angeles Times Questionable Behavior

Is the LA Times Partially Responsible for a Homeless Death?

Imagine the outcry if a major American paper put a picture of a women walking home in the dark on the front page of the paper when illustrating a story about a serial killer targeting women who were walking home late at night.  What if they identified the woman's name and the very next week she was targeted and killed by that same serial killer.  There would be protests and calls for a resignation of the editor from other papers.  This happened in Los Angeles and there has not been a peep from the media or even an apology from the editors of the Los Angeles Times.  

The LA Times posted on Friday January 6 a story about police warning homeless people to go inside in Orange County California with a photo accompanying the story.   This photo was taken on January 5, 2012 of John Barry, 64 (identified as a homeless man in the caption along with his name) talking to Anaheim Police Mike Lynch by LA Times photographer Allan Schaban.  As we all know from watching Criminal Minds serial killers feed off their own publicity in the local newspapers.  They often play to the local news, and FBI and local law enforcement often use the media to draw out a serial killer.  A week later on Friday January 13, Barry was killed by what police are claiming is the same serial killer who had targeted and hunted down this individual pictured on the front of the LA Times.  Photographer Schaban has to be feeling horrible that he did not hide the victims identity on the first photo.  The LA Times has said nothing in the week after the tragedy apologizing for their involvement in this case.  

We publish a paper so we have some understanding of the use of images in the paper.  Almost every time a newspaper features a homeless person, donors come forward to help.  It is almost always the case that the person experiencing homeless benefits from the publicity, but this situation was different because it involved a serial killer targeting a segment of the population.  This killer was hunting down a somewhat small community living within Orange County.  There were a couple thousand people homeless in a city like Anaheim at any one time.  Not a huge population vulnerable to this killer.  A newspaper editor in a modern American city should know what the rules are with regard to posting "bait" for a serial killer.  Law enforcement should have put additional protection on Mr. Barry when he was made the face of homelessness in Anaheim by the Los Angeles Times.   I am not saying that government should get involved in publishing decisions, because nothing done by the LA Times was illegal.  It just seemed unethical for the paper to identify a homeless guy while police were searching for a serial killer targeting homeless people.  At least, the LA Times owes the family and the community an apology.  They should compensate the family or the homeless community for using John Barry's image that led to his death. 

The alleged killer hunted John Barry.  In the article, Barry indicated that he was worried that someone was watching and following him. The alleged killer was watching Barry and then killed him when he was alone.  Witnesses followed Itzcoatl Ocampo, a recently discharged US Marine, who was arrested and charged with the killing of four people including Barry all of whom were experiencing homelessness.  I just don't understand why the Police and other media are not outraged over this story.  We mourn for John Barry and send our condolences to his family as well as the other three victims of the Orange County serial killer.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Stand Down This Weekend

Here are the services being offered this weekend at the Homeless Stand Down:
Cleveland Dept. of Public Health / Centerpoint
Cleveland Dept. of Public Health / Nursing (flu shots)
Mental Health Services
Sanford Brown Nursing Students
American Sickle Cell Anemia Assoc.
St. Vincent's / Podiatry
Cleveland State University - College of Science and Health Professionals
Planned Parenthood
Michael Christopher's Salon - 5 haircutters
Paul Mitchell/The Ohio Academy - 15 haircutters
Center for Families and Children / WSEM
Empowerment Center of Greater Cleveland
Dept. of Aging
Joseph's Home
ODJFS/Employment and Family Services
First Call for Help / 211/Community Voicemail
Cuyahoga County Board of Elections
Louis Stokes VA Medical Center / Parma Vet Center
NEOCH--Street Card, Voter Registration Services
AARP Work Search
Ohio Benefit Bank/Cleveland Food Bank
Family Promise of Greater Cleveland
Neighborhood Family Practice/We are the Uninsured
Community Service Alliance
Oriana House/Cleveland Transition Center
Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority (CMHA)
VA - Incarcerated and Homeless Veterans Outreach and VOA (Volunteers of America)
The Free Clinic
Legal Aid Society of Cleveland
Cleveland Dental Hygienists
Westside Catholic Charities
Long Term Care Ombudsman
This is the first year in which HandsOn NEO will be in the lead of this critical event in the community.   They still need help with transportation on Friday, Saturday and then transporting guests to the event on Sunday.  Let them know if you can help at 216/432-9390.  This should be another wonderful event in the 20th year of offering this service in Cuyahoga County.

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More Blankets Coming In

Still Seeking Blankets

The holidays are now over, but the we still have three long months of winter.  Those warm fuzzy feelings of the Christmas season are fading, but homeless people still need your help.  We are still collecting blankets for homeless people who are resistant to shelter.  Thanks to Mission and Members of Holy Trinity Church on East 131st Street for collecting blanket this last week.  We distributed those and are looking for help from other churches, synagogues or civic organizations in the community.  Our goal is to collect between 3,000 and 5,000 blankets this year


PS the above picture is from the Transformation Art Center at the Cosgrove Center. 
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Monday, January 16, 2012

New Street Card Available

The new Street Card was updated and printed.  It is now available on the streets for distribution.  In case you have not seen it before, it is a one page (front and back) with all the services available to homeless people on a walk in basis.  This has all the shelters, daily or weekly meal programs, housing services, legal assistance and counseling help available in Cuyahoga County.  We will have the new version on the website this week as we update our new site.  Right now, you can pick the Street Card at our office or at many of the local social services.  Thanks to University Hospitals for printing the 10,000 copies of the Street Card.   We will be distributing these at Homeless Stand Down next week and throughout the next month to Police Stations, Libraries, social service providers and hospitals.  We will have them available to print from our website in the next week.

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Serial Killer and Hate Crimes

Orange County Captures Alleged Killer

Orange County and the city of Anaheim California are dealing with a serial killer targeting homeless people.  Today, the Los Angeles Times is reporting that the suspect in these murders of four homeless people is an Iraq War veteran.  The Orange County Register has done a great job in covering this story, and they report today that the Police Chief is confident that they have captured the man responsible for these deaths.  The national news has centered on a serial killer targeting homeless people, but these individuals were members of our society and were brothers, Dads, and co-workers of the other residents of this Southern California community. James McGillivray was killed Dec. 20, Lloyd Middaugh, 42, was killed in Anaheim on December 22, and then on Christmas eve Paulus Cornelius Smit, 57, was found dead near a library.  The last victim was only identified as John at this point.

The Register also covered the release of the National Coalition for the Homeless' hate crimes report which was released last week.  Advocates from Orange County have been regularly talking to the staff at the National Coalition and law enforcement has been in contact as they investigated this killer.  The report received a great deal of coverage throughout the United States as a result of the serial killer.  Most of the data in the report is from 2010, but it is still shocking to have all these vicious crimes laid out in one report.  Ohio once again was in the top tier of states with reported hate crimes with six incidents in 2010.  We have mentioned most of the incidents in the past on this blog, but there was one that we missed that happened in Youngstown Ohio:
YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO–November 4, 2010
Fifty-eight-year-old homeless man, Tommy was beaten and stoned by a group of young boys ages nine, thirteen, and sixteen. Tommy was well known in the neighborhood and could not defend himself due to his mental illness. The injured man was found by the police sitting on the ground and was taken to a hospital to be cared for. The group of boys is expected to be charged in juvenile court. Their parents will also be held responsible in accordance with the  “Parent Responsibility Act” for the delinquency of their children.
Florida was once again by far the most dangerous place in the country for those living outside followed by California and Texas.   Maybe all this attention on the issue will encourage elected officials to do more to protect the vulnerable and will encourage those living outside to accept help and come inside.  Also, considering the leading suspect in these murders is an Iraq War veteran, it is obvious we need to do more to reach out to those struggling with mental illness as they are discharged from a war zone.

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Friday, January 06, 2012

Hand's On Needs Your Help with Stand Down

Stand Down 2012

The 2012 Stand Down is set for January 22, 2012 at the Masonic Auditorium.  Since InterACT has gone out of business, Hands On Northeast Ohio is taking the lead in the Stand Down.  They are doing most of the planning and especially gathering the volunteers.  They are looking for volunteers to help with the transportation and organizing of the event on the couple of days before the Stand Down.  Volunteers are gathering on Friday January 20th at Pilgrim Church in Tremont and Saturday January 21 to get ready for the event.  For more information or to volunteer call 216/432-9390. 

Larry Davis
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Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Happy New Year 2012

Street Newspaper Hits the Streets in December!!
In the busy holiday season, we forgot to report that the new paper is on the streets.  Issue 18.4 was published last week and hit the streets. It is on sale now from your friendly vendor mostly at the West Side Market and downtown.  Some of the stories featured in the paper include a series of interviews with members of the Homeless Congress about their most important issues that they want the city to address with regard to homelessness.  There are a number of commentaries by our vendors.  We have a very nice center spread on photos from the 2011 Hand Up Gala.

There is a front page story about the Cleveland Tenants Organization, and a number of poems.  We continue the popular NEOCH Index of current statistics prepared by Luke Drotar is in the paper.  We hope that you will pick up a copy of the paper today.  Support your local vendors, and support your local street newspaper.

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