2012 Homeless Stand Down: A Good Day

Commentary by William

The Homeless Stand Down was a good day for all who came.  There was something for everyone ranging from meals, medical, dental screenings, housing referrals and many other services that were made available to all in need throughout our community. It was a wonderful day when so many people came out to show their love by giving time and serving those in need.  There was such a spirit of hope present at the Homeless Stand Down. This could be seen in the smiles and heard in the voices of many who were able to see a doctor for the first time in years. The service providers were very giving and uplifting in a non-judgmental attitude.  It helped people to feel good about themselves.  Those who were guests of the Stand Down had access to employment experts, housing assistance, and medical coverage.  There was a lot of support for both individuals and family.

I would like to say thank all those who attended this day including vendors, care providers and folks from the community at large.  The volunteers in attendance were very kind and thoughtful toward everyone. It is through the sharing of positive values and our love for life that we may create and bring about conditions which are acceptable and pleasing to us all.  

Thanks to the Plain Dealer for the nice article about the event, and most of all thanks for HandsOn Northeast Ohio for all their work on this 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.

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 day’s activities. 

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Cleveland Street Chronicle #19.1 April – May 2012