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by / Monday, 21 January 2008 / Published in Uncategorized

“Keeping it Real”

When we had the meeting with the 100+ homeless friends two weeks ago, they liked that we were keeping it real.  While we were there we made a commitment to get action, to get stuff done, and report back to them quarterly.  This is our accountability to them.  

At that meeting we identified 9 certain issues.

  1. Lack of consistent access to health-care
  2. Lack of consistent access to mental health-care
  3. Lack of consistent medication for either
  4. Assistance filling out applications online
  5. Job Contact barriers: No address/phone for application/interview clothes/criminal history/addiction
  6. Storage areas for goods, can’t take backpack on interview
  7. Transportation for interviews
  8. Supportive safe housing after coming out from a program
  9. Provide services to the 3 Levels of Motivation- Ready/Mid Tier/Not ready
  10. Lack of reading and writing skills, or incomplete education. (GED)    

We know the biggest reasons for homelessness are addiction and mental health issues. From a priority standpoint point we chose the ones we can address NOW for immediate results, for an immediately impact. 

Our methodology is to invite all the participants in an issue, define the issue and agree on paths to a solution, then assign an interested, accountable project manager and team to get the solution(s) executed and accountable to the group.

Our first target’s are item’s 1,2 & 3.  Having consistent access to mental health-care and the medicine’s associated with it was cited by many as a huge problem, as well as consistent access to health-care and medicines.

We had 20 people attend the meeting Saturday morning.  Represented were the primary care systems for both medical and mental health:  The Mildred Bayer Clinic for the Homeless, St. Paul’s and the Lucas County Mental Health and  Recovery Services Board, St. V’s as well as homeless and formerly homeless to help “keep it real”.

It was interesting to see normal human dynamics at this two hour meeting. For example when we started to mention the gaps, one of the agencies at first felt defensive and justified things. Once he realized we were there to help them provide SOLUTIONS rather than attack them, the meeting got rolling. 

We are too swamped now to detail all the items and progress, but to give you an idea of what we are working on are: Getting the ability to make appointments at the clinics so people don’t have to arrive there at 5.30 am to get a spot;  Access to mental health medications for example on Friday nights for people released at that time or anytime on a weekend: As well as access to doctors nights and weekends. 

To that end the ideas are to work with Mildred Bayer to get project Black Bag back, as well as an idea Ruth Arden generated with her comment about how St. Paul’s does it.  She said she has a doctor friend that she can call for emergencies on nights and weekends.  My thinking is an alternative might be easier to recruit a doctor, or even a retired doctor for each shelter to be there for “phone support”  or if needed visit the shelter.  For some shelters this might be used once a month, other’s more. 

But this kind of 1 on 1, the  1Matters concept of 1 doctor mattering to 1 shelter might be easier to manage for all involved. We have 3 medical people working on this as we speak and will know the viability by the next meeting the 2nd of February. 

I should note the BIGGEST gap is communication: Not only not knowing what services are available, but also how to access them.    For example the solution here is Mildred Bayer will start emailing their calendar to the shelters who will post it prominently as well as the info on how to access their services, and they will also post it on the TAAEH website for easy access by all agencies.  When United Way’s 211 goes on the internet shortly, it will dramatically and immediately improve communication of services as well.   

You get the idea. 

1Mentors

Using Tent City as an example, one thing we have consistently been very good at is bringing the community, bringing new people, new energy to the cause of homelessness.

Furthering the 1Matters mission of being 1 that Matters to 1 that Matters, we are creating a program called 1Mentors. We are seeking people that want to provide 1 on 1 mentoring and/or tutoring to our homeless friends starting in specified times and locations.  We already have 2 dozen people signed up as mentors as well as a woman to coordinate the project.

Our first slots are for Mondays 5-7 p.m. at the Cherry Street Mission Community Center; and Monday’s 7-9 p.m. will be at the Furtherance Foundation men and women’s house. 

We are starting with three locations and will spread to other shelters, locations and existing mentoring programs that sign up.  We already have three committed churches and will be having lunch Friday with the pastor of one of the largest who also expressed significant interest.

1Mentors will be the platform we will use to staff the 1Works program with mentors as well.

In particular right now we want to find people that can provide tutoring to start addressing items 4 and 10 above.   Where appropriate the mentors will also work to help connect individuals to any needed services.    If you are interested in signing up as a mentor/tutor please email amanda at 1matters dot org.

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