Morning Watch 7/20 and 7/21/11
After my excellent vacation it's time to get back into the swing of things. Tim is out of town for a few days so I'm filling in today and tomorrow as best I can solo. It was a pretty slow morning really. I did manage to give one man a ride to breakfast from Waterfront Park but nobody else needed anything today.
It's definitely a different feeling out there without anybody else to work with. It's more lonely during the driving so I find myself looking forward to the brief interactions I have with the people on the street a little bit more. And it's admittedly a bit scarier approaching strangers by yourself because, lets face it, they aren't all going to be exactly civil. But I recommit to every individual, reminding myself that they don't deserve to be on the street any more than anybody else I will see today and then still more often than not I find that they're genuinely quite pleasant.
Most of the regulars weren't there today. A lot can happen in three weeks so maybe they've found a new place to sleep, but I'll hope that they miraculously found a way off the streets until the next time I see them ;)
The Totem Pole for John T. Williams is looking incredible. They've started to paint sections of it since I left and it's beautiful. The Williams family, while they can never be consoled after the tragedy, will at least be able to be proud of the beauty that is being added to Seattle because of their brother's memorial.
Another slow morning, missing most of the regulars and driving around in search of people in need. A couple of the regulars may have moved to another location because the spot they were storing all their stuff during the day is now a construction site. They had a lot of stuff too so they probably had to figure out another arrangement.
No rides today, but I did have a long talk with a young man named James on the waterfront. He is a driven guy who's been through programs to get clean and had a job until a couple weeks ago when he got arrested for a week. Without a way to contact his employer he lost his job and is now, as I see it, at that breaking point where something is going to go his way and he'll work himself out of this spot or, if nothing works out for him soon he may get stuck on the streets without a way out. He seemed a well educated fellow and told me that his trade is concrete. Ultimately he'd like to have his own concrete company, pouring foundations and piles. Right now he is struggling to make the step from homeless, without a job to non-homeless with a job and asked me if I knew of any programs that helped with that step when there are no other barriers in the way like mental illness or addiction. Unfortunately I am not aware of anything really but hopefully he gets in touch with the UGM welcome center for more ideas.
It really does seem like there's a lack of continuity in the programs out there for homeless people. There are programs for folks that need food and shelter, not enough but they are there. There are some for people who need mental care and addiction therapy. What James needs is a program to help him get through some court issues, network to find a job and get an affordable place to live.
I had a passing idea for a program I'd call "One at a Time" or something. The program would be an organization of volunteers with resources to support them going to the streets to find a homeless person that has a desire to be off the streets. They would stay focused on that one person giving them whatever help they need until their goals were met if it took a month or 3 years, then going out and finding someone else.
In a more positive and completely unrelated note, I saw Nate Jaqua this morning walking past Waterfront Park. I said "Good Morning" with an undoubtedly goofy starstruck grin on my face. He responded in kind and I kept walking with a smile on my face, proud that I didn't ambush him for an autograph or something completely stupid like that :P Go Sounders