By Beth Prebel
The Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Bishop Cosgrove Center sponsored a “min” Stand Down on October 30. The event was held to follow up with clients that had been treated at the larger event in August. Many agencies participated including Xchange Point, CEOGC, Prevent Blindness Ohio, and a number of Cuyahoga County organizations.
George, a 53 year old man, felt that the Stand Down was a good idea, and very helpful. He said that it was really rough out there and that there are a lot of people out there on the streets. “You see a lot of smiles and happy faces in here, but it is really hard out there.” He said that the items that were handed out were good, and the she’s, blankets, thermal underwear, socks, and gloves will really help, especially wit the cold months approaching. George also commented that the Cosgrove Center does a good job.
Cosgrove fed the crowd of 400 with donations from the Cleveland Food Bank while NEOCH distributed donations. The VA Medical Center generously donated a number of cold weather blankets, gloves and sleeping bags, while NEOCH distributed women’s shoes donated by Timberland Company and the Oprah Winfrey’s Angel Network in collaboration with Rob Landau’s Shoesonthenet.com program.
Another man who did not give his name enjoyed the Stand Down, but thought it didn’t do what it was advertised enough. He felt that there some people were treated better than others. He said that some people were given more than one pair of shoes. Event organizer Angelo Anderson said all the shoes were given out in a fair and equitable manner.
A young woman, Andrea, said the Stand Down was good, but she wished it had been better advertised. Items that were handed out were important. She has been homeless for about six months and said, “Weekends are the toughest.” She said jobs are really needed for people.
Ken Vail, Executive Directory of the Xchange Point, was pleased to be at the second Stand Down since he missed the first one. He said he would like to see more of them. He thought that more public figures and politicians should attend. Commissioner Tim McCormack did attend the Stand Down.
Vail also added that it was important for clients to see all levels of personnel from the service agencies present at the Stand Down from director on down. It would give the homeless a sense of self-respect if the were “treated with respect and dignity” from big-name agencies, larger organizations, or public figures – because the clients are the “experts.”
“I thought the Stand Down was needed,” Said Cedric of the Alcohol and Drug Addictions Services Board. “Because of welfare reform, there is a lot of misinformation out there. People need to get good information. A safety net is needed,” Cedric said.
Anderson said, “The event was a great success. In the future these smaller Stand Downs might become the norm, with each focusing on a particular problem that homeless people confront.”
Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine NEOCH December 1998 – January 1999