Praise and Scorn


by Pete Domanovic

Regular Columnist Pete Domanovic takes on the Service Providers in Cleveland.  The comments do not reflect the opinion of those who publish or edit the paper.

Salvation Army: 2100 Lakeside

     I have previously written about the waste within the City of Cleveland. I want to call attention to the Salvation Army employee’s drawing paychecks, and do absolutely nothing about what they are supposed to be doing. It is pretty sad that a so-called Christian association can oppress people the way that Salvation Army does. You have to imagine this as their plan. Possibly someone else calling the shots would be helpful.

     The amount of public money that they have received, $1,700,000 a year, has been a complete waste. And that has been every year. For that amount, you could pay the rent for the entire year for four hundred people. That would be more than $400 per month per person. (Right now the Salvation Army is receiving double their monthly allocation, because they are great contract negotiators). The citizens of Cleveland and Cuyahoga County are paying huge sums to the Salvation Army to warehouse people all over the city. They are just giving over money to greedy incompetent people. Duh? The people who receive disability checks should have already been placed into some type of housing. Duh!

     None of this counts the donations the Army takes in, which I have seen to sometimes reach thousands of dollars. I said it once, and I will say it again, if the Salvation Army officials disagree, I ask that you open your books and I will just shut up. No way will they do that.

     To some it may sound that I have a personal grudge against the Salvation Army. Well, here it my history with the Army. In 1989, I became the glorified janitor at the Harbor Light complex. In the two weeks I worked there, I fixed the plumbing in the woman’s section; the drains never did work right because I had to chip out the old concrete type stuff that held the plumbing together from that time period.

     I fixed the toilet in the doctor’s offices, pulled out a rock the size of my fist from the drainpipe. The lady that hired me, (forgot her name), wanted carpet put into her office. I cut the carpet, and told her I would need the carpet tack strips for the wall edges and doorways. It seemed that because I didn’t run out and buy them myself, I could not do the job.

     Several years later, I needed the ten days they offered the homeless people at that time. The person in charge talked to me about the work I had done in the building, and wanted me to do more. Not a job, just do the work. At that time I was trying to find a real job in a machine shop, and declined. The next time I needed them, I found out I was permanently banned from the Harbor Light complex. Yes, I have a grudge. Oh, by the way, the Harbor Light does not accept homeless people off the streets. Everything they do now there is paid for by one of their other programs. A person cannot walk in and get a place to sleep.

     We still need to kill their cash cow!

Father John Henry at Saint Herman’s

     Saint Herman’s House Of Hospitality seems to be a last resort for the homeless in the City of Cleveland. When someone goes there to get out of the cold, or is hungry, they complain that they have to be around the dogs, or have to do chores that seem unnecessary.

     What they fail to realize is that they are just a guest in someone else’s home. The dogs are there to generate income, left by the sick and the dying who just want to make sure their pet is taken care of. St. Herman’s is a kind of pet orphanage. They also don’t realize that Father John Henry never intended to have a full blown shelter. I believe his goal was to help the homeless who happened to be handicapped.

     Yes, his program does discourage the working homeless. This is a man who has been overwhelmed by the homeless, and not once has ever turned anyone away that I am aware of. The small chores and being present at 4:00 is not a problem for disabled people. We all should just say thank you to this man, and never do anything to discourage him, actually, we should encourage him. I thank him.

St. Augustine Meal Program

     When you’re down and out in Cleveland, there isn’t a lot of things you can do to show gratitude for the things that people do for you. Usually the only thing you can do is bow your head and walk away. You can offer to do a little work, or ask if there is anything you can do for them.

     When you’re at St. Augustine’s church on West 14th St. there is no work for the homeless to do unless you are persistent and really need something. That’s because there are people there who just come and do the work for you. Like in January, a very large church group from St. Martin of Tours in Maple Heights, served lunch to the homeless people gathered.

     The group’s leader, Bob, was standing back behind the serving line doing his visual monitoring to make sure everything was going smooth. A very nice lady named MaryAnn, served the food, and then walked around to make sure everyone had enough to eat. Everyone just sat at their table and was served their meal with an all you can eat attitude.

     What makes this special is that everyone there volunteering, including about twenty children with an age range from 10 to 18 years old, were there because they wanted to be there. They weren’t there because they needed their pay check. They weren’t denying anyone anything because they were just lazy or stealing for themselves. They weren’t there on there own agenda. They were there because it was what they wanted to do. These volunteers came to help, because it was in their heart to do that.

     There are always people who don’t understand, and the ones that won’t understand. There are people who just want their check and go home, so damn the homeless. All the professionals feel a great need to tell the volunteers how and what to do, but checking their record, they aren’t very good at it. When the volunteers do things, it is usually, mission accomplished. But no one can take anything away from the people who do things just for love.

Copyright The Homeless Grapevine Issue 59, February-March 2003, Cleveland, Ohio