Funny the World...

Lions and Tigers and Grants...oh my!

March 23, 2000

I sat here this morning and watched Ned on television. A local television station was doing a special on his living in the playhouse for a week, and did a video "tour" of the house--no mean feat since there is hardly room to turn around in there! I'm going to stop by the house this evening on my way to a grant writing workshop.

Grant writing is something I never in my wildest dreams imagined I'd ever be learning about. People suggested to me some time ago that I should investigate it and I ran screaming. The thing I hate most of all is asking people for money. So why am I doing it? Well, it's that damn Schalchlin guy. Last August I learned he and his friend Dickie were trying to put together a non-profit corporation to bring The Last Session to low income areas around the country, as a means of doing AIDS education through entertainment. Dickie, who was diagnosed with AIDS in 1981, took a turn for the worse and was hospitalized. I volunteered to work on the paperwork for the nonprofit until he got better. Well, he didn't get better. He died, and the people he was closest to (his fiancée Gail, and Steve) are in no condition emotionally to take on the dry business of putting a nonprofit together, so I find myself the President of Bonusround, Inc. and trying to take a crash course in how to do this all. The adventure will continue throughout the year.

In the meantime, today is my day to work at the homeless shelter here in Davis. I’ve been working there for about a year and a half, one day a week. It’s nothing wonderfully selfless that I’m doing; I sit there and do paperwork most of the time (though I did have a brief stint teaching a computer class). But I sure have learned a lot about homelessness in the time I’ve been there. It’s so easy for those of us who live "normal" lives to sit back and talk about homeless people and "if only they’d get a job..." but the reality of homelessness is so much more complicated than we realize. There are so many reasons for being being on the streets, and yes, some of them are lazy bums who want to live hand to mouth, not work, and sleep in the parks. But so many others may be of borderline intelligence or have serious mental problems (thank you, Ronald Reagan, for turning them out on the streets...), or they are fighting severe addictions. They may have no coping mechanisms, or come from families so dysfunctional that they never learned how to live in "normal" society--how to apply for or hold down a job, how to adhere to rules and regulations. Some are sick, with no resources to medical care. I worked today on the case of a man who was not accepted in the shelter because of his severe mental problems, but he was in denial, and thus unwilling to accept help. There was also the young girl with AIDS, who is not compliant with taking her medications, is not practicing safe sex, and has been in and out of the hospital and had exhausted all her options in the county.

And then there are the teenagers who have nowhere to go. Some of them are emancipated minors, others are just fleeing a dangerous environment. Some are in group homes, some are on the streets, with no place to sleep. There is nothing cut and dried about the problem of the homeless in our society. Of course there are far too many communities (and researching the history of this shelter, I learn that ours is one of them) that sit back and shake their heads and mutter about how terrible it is that people have to live on the streets. But just try to establish a shelter and see what you get--"oh yes, it’s a great idea, but not in my neighborhood, thank you!"

I wish everyone would be required to put in some time working at a homeless shelter and then see if they would be so smug about the solution to homelessness. Ned's 3 days on the streets pretending to be homeless really raised his awareness. How many of the rest of us even take the time to think about it?

...climbing down off my soapbox now...

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created 3/23/00 by Bev Sykes