Part One. Fictitious names.

During last four years, I have worked in a small homeless shelter(fourteen people). And, I have worked with over four hundred residents. Ages: 18 to 70.

When some people first entered our building - they stood still - in shock and anxiety. Some people walked out, because they were afraid. There were alcoholics, druggies, mental health residents, and out of work persons.

There was a 35 year old woman, pretty black hair, and average weight. She sat at the desk, scribbled notes, and talked to herself. She twisted strands of hair and paid no attention to other people.

Her purse was filled with bulky envelopes and papers. She looked at me and said, "The doctor said that I was bipolar.". But, I told him that he was wrong. I am schizophrenic. She had me convinced, because one day, as i looked outside ----she sat under a tree and talked on and on. No one was nearby.

We had a mental retardation resident. Age 35. The manager had looked at me and said, "Oh, Ralph ran away from home twice. He hated his father, who had abused him. But, this last time - the police brought him here."

Ralph would walk by the office, and knock on the window. Then, he walked inside the building, came around again and tapped on the window. Sometime, he would stand and stare at us.

One night, the night staff person slept on the floor. "I kept knocking on the door," said Ralph, but she would not answer.Staff member was fired.

We called Mental Retardation and after they interviewed him, they placed Ralph in an apartment with three other residents. The last time, that we heard from him, he said, "They are taking me to a baseball game and I know that it will be fun. I ride my bicycle all over town!"

We had one resident,Billy, who would not eat a meal, if a church had brought it. But, after the church left, he would eat their meal. And that happened often.

We had some problems. One night, while a woman resident showered, another woman barged into the shower room, and beat her up.The woman, who had started the fight, was thrown out of the building.

We had four men, who lived in one room. One morning, when I had opened the door, I knew something was wrong. One man looked as if he was drunk. We searched the room, and discovered liquor bottles hidden above ceiling tile. Of course, they were asked to leave - - immediately.

One morning, we almost had a riot. One nurse had been hired and the company fired her. She was very pretty -- and extremely popular with men and women residents. My boss had left, and I knew that I should recall her.

The residents were unhappy. The nurse had cried and the residents became agitated. "Mary," I said, "You had etter return to the shelter. I believe we may have a riot on our hands." My boss returned immediately and calmed things down.

We pushed people, so that they would look for jobs. But, it has been impossible to motivate people, who are over 21. It is difficult to change behavior. So, we have had people --- who sit and stare at TV all day.

That is why I call them "lost" people. Of course, many of them have mental health problems. But, I know people who have mental health problems, that work at regular jobs.

These people have lacked confidence, and I have tried to understand this. When you are broke, do not have transportation,or housing, you are at the bottom. It has been "rare," but, we have had people, who worked two jobs, and had money for an apartment when they de[arted the shelter.

A lost person is one, who doesn't have dreams, nor goals. They have lost their family support system, and some have bad attitudes.

Lost people are floating through space, and are searching for love. Many of these people have lost their support system, their children, and will never regain parenthood. Some of these residents owe child support, have lost driver's licenses and may never get those licenses back.

It is sad.And, we are frustrated, because we have done everything possible that could be done ---- to get people back on life's track.

Most of them are "good," people, who have traveled wrong paths, in life. Those who have mental health problems, seem to be overwhelmed by too much medicine (and/or over the counter medicine).Over drugged many times. And, the alcoholics and druggies can not stabilize their lives.

Some people say, "You can't save the world." We have tried, with our hearts, maybe we have changed one person."



Author's Bio: 

Writer, "Last Hours of Seven Stackers," and many articles. Printer/typographer/proofreader.
Lebanon, Ohio 937 545 6798
Please do not mixme with Charles Hice, poet, Northern Ohio!