Monday, January 6, 2014

Heroes and Alternatives Emerging in Frigid Crisis

Carol Tuning with a donation.
When I wrote a blog post yesterday morning before going out of town for the day, naming some places where people could drop off warm clothing and blankets for the homeless and poor I had no idea it would turn into a movement, for heaven's sake. But it has.

Catina Wright distributing clothing last night.
People like Catina Dillon Wright have become heroes overnight because she's willing to look into the cold eyes of the crisis and get something done, person-to-person. Catina has been on the streets handing out clothing and blankets to the poor for a couple of days now, venturing alone into neighborhoods where many would not even drive. She's doing the one-on-one contributing so many people say they want when a crisis hits.

The problem yesterday morning was finding places to take contributions and figuring out how to help without having to go through bureaucracies, whether public or private. None of us likes the layers of people and process between us and giving help and Catina simply outflanked it. 

Carol Tuning is doing the same with a government agency in Roanoke, the Homeless Assistance Street Outreach Team, (540-8531721 or cell 540-420-4286). This is an organization housed next to the Virginia Museum of Transportation on Salem Avenue in downtown Roanoke where you can take your goods and rest assured that they will get to people who need them with almost no wait, no fuss and no bother. I took a pickup truck load of stuff over this morning and it was being distributed almost before I left the building. 

A lot of homeless people live--or at least "stay"--in that neighborhood and they know the program, which also helps them with medications and a list of other needs. Right now the emphasis is helping people make it through tonight's arctic winter. 

Carol is especially interested in coordinating with individuals and agencies and hopes to put together some kind of coalition in the near future. She's trying to figure out how to do that and I can tell her it won't be easy to combine governmental and charity feifdoms into a single working unit because people and egos and program money are all involved. None of those element feeds, clothes or houses a single person and they are an impediment to doing it efficiently, regardless of what the "professionals" tell us.

Catina has it right in an energency: gather the goods, drive to a distribution spot and hand them out. That way, it works.

No comments:

Post a Comment