Trouble finding help for struggling couple

DEAR EDITOR:

Some time ago, a woman came in to my place of business and explained that she and her husband are homeless. She offered to work to pay for a one-night stay. I provided the couple with water and coffee and began making contacts. I was shocked at how difficult it would be to find a place for this couple to stay.

I reached out to several organizations that I believed would be willing to assist. After all, personally and professionally, I have provided donations for their causes. I felt certain that one of them would help. This is what I encountered.

Trying to reach an individual instead of an answering machine was impossible. Most of my calls were met with a long list of menu options. I left messages with several charitable organizations. I decided to try a different approach and began to hit the options given, hoping that someone would answer.

I finally contacted the Salvation Army, Aware, Prince of Peace, American Red Cross, Family Services, Catholic Charities and a church.

These were some of the replies received: “We’re at full capacity,” “You need to talk to my director who is not in at this time,” “We don’t have funding for that,” “We only take women,” “Have they suffered abuse?” and “Are they addicted to drugs?”

Many of the organizations required a pre-screening. One organization advised me to call the police because “You never know what’s wrong with them. You could be in danger.”

I eventually contacted the Rescue Mission. I expressed my frustration in trying to find a place for this couple. She explained that most of the rooms were full. They had one room for married couples, but the room was already being used. They agreed to take the woman, but the man would have to stay at a shelter about a mile from the mission. The wife insisted she would not be separated from her husband due to his diabetes. While I was thanking the women from the Rescue Mission, the couple grabbed their belongings and left.

I discovered that unless you have a drug dependency, are a victim of abuse, have a mental disorder, have suffered a fire or flood, or are an alcoholic, few organizations will consider you. I can appreciate that these organizations are willing to give assistance to people with problems, but who helps those displaced persons who are just down on their luck? To the woman at the Rescue Mission, thank you for your time and offer of help. As for myself, I am disappointed in my efforts and pray that the couple has found a safe place to be together.

SUSAN HANIGOSKY

McDonald

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