Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The rest of the story

Let me introduce you to the children I spoke of in my last post. The ones who got off the bus just in time to witness the scuffle and cuffing of a homeless dude? Turns out those children are homeless as well. As Paul Harvey taught us, there's almost always "the rest of the story".

Yesterday I started the three month job with United Way as a Loaned Executive. We train for a week and yesterday was the first of those training days. The entire afternoon was spent riding around on a big bus and touring some of the nonprofits that are Partner Agencies and receive funds from the United Way. I thought I knew about most of the nonprofits in this city. It's sort of my thing. But no. I do not know about ALL of the nonprofits in this city. Did you know there is an elder shelter here? Did you know we needed a shelter for elderly folks fleeing abuse or neglect or who have simply been abandoned? A fragile and vulnerable senior would not survive in a typical homeless shelter, so Sunbeam Services operates a nice shelter in a home environment. They only have room for nine, and they stay pretty full.

One gentleman told us his story. While he was in the hospital for surgery (he had throat cancer) his family divided up his stuff, took all his money, and left him for dead. With nowhere to go after the surgery, he came to the elder shelter where they supported him through radiation treatment and recovery until he was able to get out on his own. He's now a dedicated volunteer and considers the Sunbeam family his family.

Then there's the woman who was abandoned by her husband. Former missionaries, they had no assets, no money, no home. Her husband apparently just drove off and left her stranded. Who does that?

Anyway, back to those kids at the library. They are from a school called Positive Tomorrows. We toured their facility and I was like, wait a minute. This name sounds really familiar. That was the name on the bus at the library. Positive Tomorrows is a school for homeless children. Here's what their website says:

Positive Tomorrows is a private, tuition-free school for homeless children,
kindergarten through 5th grade. Our students face significant academic and
social delays due to missing school and chaotic living conditions–such as living
in shelters, on the streets or bouncing from couch to couch. It’s our goal to
bring them up to speed socially and academically so that when they transition
into public school, they will be successful throughout their years in school as
well as life. When we empower them through their education, they begin to see
life outside of poverty and homelessness. Positive Tomorrows is their Sanctuary
of Hope.

And remember that I was complaining that our city needs a place for homeless folks to go during the day (other than the library) - a place where they can receive actual services and helpful support and information? Another place we toured yesterday was the office of the Homeless Alliance. They are this very moment building a day center that will house numerous agencies and support services. It will be a place where homeless folks can go during the day (they must leave the shelters for the daytime hours) to get the services they need, get out of the heat or cold, etc. How cool is that!

I just thought it was interesting how the experience and questions from a few days ago wrapped around to meet the experiences of yesterday. I have to say I was impressed by every place we visited. Good job, Oklahoma City!!


Shari said...

Very interesting. I didn't konw such a school existed!

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Berry said...

Then there is a Ministry that feeds many every Wednesday night in the OKC Community that your husband knows.