For the People!

by / Wednesday, 13 February 2008 / Published in Uncategorized


I got asked over the weekend why this campaign got started. Truth is it wasn’t planned, it just happened as the result of my significant frustration at the lack of inertia toward anything productive that actually helps the homeless. A large group of likeminded people from across the spectrum joined us in representing those that matter. 

I won’t rehash it here, read this if you would like the history.

But to answer the question, the reason this all got started was because no one seemed accountable:  accountable to the community, and accountable to the homeless.   We (our incredible motley crew! lol) decided enough is enough, there has to be someone who safeguards their interests, who will speak for them when they are not heard.

1Matters was born. 

From that beginning in December much good has happened.  As a result of a town meeting with 100 plus homeless citizens:

  1. There is greater access to medical care including appointments, as well as a 1matters recruiting effort to find 14 doctors (1 for each shelter) as part of the Mildred Mayer Black Bag Project.  With ACCESS as the problem, ACCESS is the solution.  By having a doc for each shelter problems can be resolved in the “minor” status, as opposed to the emergency room when they become “major”. (If you are a  doctor interested in hearing more, email Michelle Patterson, her email is michelle at 1Matters dot org.)
  2. We are working with the mental health system now to create better access to mental health care, especially medications. 
  3.  1Mentors was born to provide literacy, GED, education, computer skills and online job application support and more on an individual basis.

There is much more to do, and those will take some time, such as addresses and/or phone numbers for applications, dress clothes/haircuts/grooming for interviews, transportation, storage areas for backpacks and extra clothes instead of taking them on the interviews, and more, you get the idea.

This Saturday morning @ 8:00 am at Cherry Street Mission we continue our bi-monthly meetings to talk about a lot of these other items.   Most all of these are solvable with the 1Matters team, and most of the resources already exist, it is just a matter of communication and coordination.  

HMIS Update

Fritz got a letter back from FOCUS. It was from David Eddy, President of the FOCUS board. (He’s a really good guy)  The letter said the Board of FOCUS and their legal counsel will review it  at their next regularly scheduled meeting.  Notice the sense of urgency in the non-profit world? 

How easy is it for them to say:  “Yes, we are not doing as good as we can with HMIS, we need to take an honest look at it, and we are going to work NOW to improve it by…..” 

I heard that Kyle Grefe was asking people what I had against her.  Not a thing!  This is not personal.  In fact I like Kyle.  It is just when people want to hide something, more often than not there is something to hide.

We do not seek client data at all.  We seek the SYSTEM operation information. 

We are against the position that what the systems manager and HMIS does/doesn’t do is none of our (you, me, the public, the homeless) business.  Hiding information that is public, especially when the outcome is that people, our people will die on the streets as a result is unconscionable.  How can hiding this information be good for the homeless? Why isn’t everything we do with public money up for scrutiny?  Oh yah, by law it is. 

WHY are they hiding it is the really big question.  Thank God there are people like Fritz Byers that care enough to help us get answers.

When I get  spare moments I am putting together another video explaining my issues with HMIS and Deb Conklin’s opinion on behalf of HMIS that it is none of my business.  I can’t make that stuff up.

In Need 

As we have said earlier, one of our gifts the past 17 years is our constant ability to bring the  community, in particular new people into the cause of homelessness.   As you can see, 1Matters continues this mission whether it be mentors, doctors or volunteers.  We want to be 1 that Matters to those that Matter.

 Additionally when there are significant needs for the homeless or the shelters, we will convey that here as well in this “In Need” section.

Right now for example we need bus passes and bus tokens for Furtherance Foundation.  Furtherance Foundation has two houses, one for men and one for women.  It is a really good program.  They need the bus passes so residents can make it to job interviews, AA meetings and such. 

For the 28 total guests they figure they need at least 15 bus passes, and 20 tokens per week.  This comes out to $170 per week.   ANYTHING you can do to help is appreciated.  Call or email me: ken at 1matters dot org if there is anything you can or want to do, or if you just want more information. 

Furtherance assists men and women coming from incarceration to the streets.   While we are on Furtherance, they have a van that they drive residents to church for 3 different services EVERY WEEKEND, as well as driving them to Food for Thought volunteering EVERY Friday and Saturday, (This is the homeless volunteering to help the homeless. Wow!!!!),   and more.  Problem is it is a gas hog and the director, Jonette Patterson (who is a volunteer, unpaid director!! And a saint in our book!) has been paying for the gas out of her own pocket.  ANYTHING you can do here would be so helpful!

Quick history on Furtherance.  It used to go by another name but the prior leadership, we will gently say was not good at management.  The prior organization was closed, and Furtherance was born.  Jonette was called in simply to help architect the transition as a volunteer board member.   Then she fell in love with the place and the guests, and has been working 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week for their welfare.  Again, she is an UNPAID volunteer director.   Any help you feel called to give to them, let us know.