You Stayed WHERE Last Night?

When this man first came to our Easter Seals office last October, he had two requests for us: to help him upgrade his military discharge status and to help him draft a new resume so that he could find employment. He filled out his intake information and passed the form over to Mother Goose. He met with one of our VA specialists to discuss the DD214 form upgrade.

He walked into my office and sat down in one of my many soft chairs. We began to discuss his employment history, and Mother Goose took copious notes so as to gather as much information as possible. He spoke softly and answered all of my questions with poise and sincerity.

At some points in our meeting, he wrote down exactly what he wanted to say on the resume. Mother Goose was impressed with his eloquent capabilities and could only wonder how this veteran could NOT be employed.

And then he mentioned that he lives and sleeps in the basement of a nearby church. AND has actually been staying in that place since last March! And apparently he was OK with that most of the time…except when he’s walking through neighborhoods and could see families in homes living out their domesticity. He felt a degree of weariness at having to spend his nights in the basement of a church.

He told me how he serves as the watchman and the maintenance man and the custodian for the church. I asked how much they were paying him for his day and night services. “Oh nothing,” he answered.

Mother Goose could feel her feathers getting all ruffled at the thought of this man working for a church for eight months without any visible and monetary signs of gratitude…

Light of Liberty Church

“Does the pastor know that you are doing all of this work for the church?” I asked.

“Oh yes,” David replied.

“And?” I prompted him just a little to expound on this pastor. Could he possibly be a blind man?

“No, they haven’t paid me for my work, but that’s OK. The Lord always provides.”

Well, the weeks have come and gone. David has come into our Easter Seals office occasionally to visit a bit and use our computers. He has been working “side jobs” over the winter, and traveled to Milwaukee to help his sister move around New Year’s Eve. He was VERY sick for a couple of weeks. The pipes and plumbing froze in the church over a cold spell in January — he single-handedly cleaned up the flooded mess in the basement of the church including the very important restrooms for the congregants.

He called me last week to touch base with how things are going.

“Are you still sleeping at the church?” I asked.

“Well no,” he replied. “A woman who is important to the church family came downstairs where I was sleeping and said, ‘You’re still here? I thought you left months ago!’ so I folded up the cot, packed my things and left. I went to the Duncan.”

Mother Goose was very sad to hear this news. As a Veteran Supportive Services Specialist, I try so hard to make life better for anyone who comes to Easter Seals for help. Though I wasn’t jumping and flapping for joy to know my friend (and brother in the Lord) was sleeping and living in a basement of a church, at least he had a place to lay his head at night. Not wanting to appear ignorant, I didn’t inquire of him regarding the Duncan. But the next day at my office, I did inquire of everybody I knew.

“David is at the Duncan,” I asked. “Do you know where that is?”

One woman shook her head sadly. “Oh that’s a transient hotel. I’m not sure where it’s at.”

Another person said, “There’s a Duncan YMCA somewhere.”

Yet another joked, “It wouldn’t be Dunkin Donuts…”

When David called back on Monday, I immediately asked him, “My brother, you sounded really tired last Friday on the phone. You said you’re at the Duncan. Can you please tell me where that is?”

“It’s the Dunkins at Harlem and Circle. They let me stay there all night, but it’s difficult to get rest and sleep sitting up…”

The Dunkin Donut shop. He sleeps sitting up at the Dunkins.

“You slept WHERE last night?”

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dianna
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 13:55:11

    It’s hard to believe the church would treat someone like that who was actually providing services to them…you just never know, do you?

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 20, 2014 @ 14:33:14

      Dianna, I just do not understand this kind of behavior in a so-called Christian — and to think the Pastor has watched this brother clean and mow and shovel and has never given him a dime for his work. Here at Easter Seals, we needed our back parking lot shoveled on Tuesday — he grabbed a shovel and happily went to work making space for seven cars. I happily ran out and got some cash to pay him.

      Reply

  2. Gina left the mall
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 14:09:30

    This is very upsetting. I am grateful that David knows you and hope that he gets into a better situation soon. I have no resources in this area, otherwise I would offer a suggestion. I hope by sharing this story, you will discover a charity or service in your area that can make a difference for this young man.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 20, 2014 @ 14:27:50

      Dear Gina, I am working with a couple of different affordable and transitional housing organizations in the city who offer subsidized housing for veterans. In the meantime, he has stayed at the home of one of our Easter Seals employees, and last night he stayed with his sister. He has family in the area, but does not want to impose… Everybody wants to live independently if possible and some folks will do whatever it takes to stay OUT of a shelter. The PADS facilities around here are completely dehumanizing and gross, and I wouldn’t allow my own doggie to stay there. Hopefully, I will be able to write a story with a very happy ending for one of these guys pretty soon…

      Reply

  3. Bunn
    Feb 20, 2014 @ 14:14:51

    Yes pretty rude of the church lady after all he has done. Very sad.

    Reply

    • Natalie
      Feb 20, 2014 @ 14:29:29

      I feel like throwing up every time I drive past this church. He is so forgiving of them, but I just want to go and punch out a few of the “lights” over there…

      Reply

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