By Darryl Dawkins
This has been a year of fantastic outcomes for the men I work with at one of the local shelters for fragile and disabled men. We have consistently been able to house those individuals deemed hard to work with and impossible to reach by many in the rest of the homeless shelter system.
In this shelter we work on establishing relationships with the men, time is not as important as breaking through any barriers that may exist at the time of the introduction the shelter. We don’t pressure them to leave as soon as possible like the other shelters. We help to get the resident and their case manager worker together on a regular basis, this helps with the steady administration of meds, contact with Social Security so that any benefits they are entitled to can start and housing can be obtained.
This may seem easy, but it all comes back to the relationship. We take our residents out into the shelter for haircuts, plays, shopping, movies, fishing, picnics and toys and gifts for loved ones at Christmas. Many things we do normally and take for granted, homeless people often feel excluded from being able to do. By reintroducing them to these activities we help them to open up and talk about life outside the shelter.
If landlords are willing to work with and accept the vouchers that assist with rent, there are case managers who keep their doors open to help, even when a client is being difficult to work with. The doctors and nurses that glove up and dive in when we have a situation that may others would run away from and the individuals and organizations that provide us with blankets, coats socks, boots and hygiene products throughout the year enable us to concentrate on all the other things needed to make a broken life whole again. All of the volunteers and people who donate to the homeless programs make it possible for all of this to work.
THANK YOU CLEVELAND for all you do! The agencies in the city are only able to make the strides we do because of the people in the city that care.
They helped motivate me into believing that I could change my life into something better. They encouraged me to become a leader in the struggle to end homelessness in Cleveland.
I now find myself trying to encourage and motivate some of the men at the local disabled men’s shelter into believing in themselves. Over the years I think I’ve reached a few at least if you count the thank you’s I get whenever I run into somebody that was at the shelter and we helped get housing.
Sometimes we make a difference even when we aren’t looking to. Thank you all for giving me a chance to do so.
Dawkins out--still on this side of the grass.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle December 2015 all rights reserved