By Alex Grabtree
For every two homeless people who attended there was one volunteer present to help at the 2002 Homeless Stand Down. This year there was a tremendous outpouring of volunteer support to serve the homeless on a cold winter Sunday on Public Square. The Stand Down is an all-day service fair for homeless people in which 20 service provider come together to provide comprehensive emergency services. The Stand Down is organized by InterAct Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and was hosted this year by Old Stone Church. There were 471 homeless people that attended the Stand Down the Stand Down.
A few of the hardest to find services on other days throughout the year are massage therapy, and specialized medical services. Free entertainment just for homeless people is a welcomed relief for many.
The Cleveland Homeless Legal Assistance Program and Legal Aid Society provided legal advice the Free Clinic and the Cleveland Health Department provided a medical clinic and the InterAct Cleveland provided two meals and mounds of winter clothing. Nearly 300 volunteers prepared the facility and serve those who attended.
The Veteran Administration provided staff as did First Call for Help. The City of Cleveland’s MOMobile provided medical care to young and expectant mothers. There were glucose screenings and mental health counselors.
InterAct and the Salvation Army donated vans to scour the city in an effort to bring people from the West Side and those who sleep outside to the 2002 Stand Down. There was quiet day of respite available to the growing homeless population on this one day. NEOCH notified the 1,700 homeless and low income people with Cleveland Community Voice Mail to remind them of the event.
This broad community effort brings all those who work for homeless people together in one day. The goal is to provide a day off for Cleveland Homeless population away from worrying about food or finding help. The comments from the participants were generally favorable with many asking for more than one Stand Down per year.
Plans are underway for a Stand Down in 2003 to build on the success and link more volunteers with their brothers and sisters on the street.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle March-April 2002 Cl;eveland, Ohio