A Path Out….A Fantasy?

By Angelo Anderson

Suppose there was a shelter in the heart of the city that provided an opportunity for on- the-job training, career development, housing, permanent employment and education.  Would you support it? 

If there was skilled and trained labor supported by city and county government that provided for the care of basic needs such as cleaning and janitorial services for all of their office buildings and maintenance of public grounds, including tree services, snow removal and landscaping.  Would you support it? 

If there was an auto cleaning service that washed, waxed, and detailed city and county vehicles, worked with the business sector to provide food and merchandise vendors for all sporting events and cleaning staff that provided cleaning of the facilities before and after each event.  Would you support it?  

Suppose there were built in components to provide full laundry service to other shelter agency venues housing families, men, women and children.  Would you support it? 

Suppose part of the mission was to feed the hungry by providing cafeteria style meals prepared by the residents themselves.  And suppose those services also included take out and delivery to all city and county building employees.  Would you support it? 

These services are not far from our reach.  They just need to be executed.  Providing education and vocational training opportunities to individuals is just one way to boost the economy while enhancing individual skills.  Our leadership must begin to take an active role in supporting the kinds of relative development opportunities that will not only provide goods and services that can fuel our economy, but will also provide those basics skill foundations that all citizens are able to use to be self sufficient.

It starts by speaking up and putting structures in place that will create a process to assist and not enable.  It starts with providing employment for those individuals who have felonies that exclude them from working conventional jobs but place them in settings that will bring them into in-direct contact with the public.  The employment opportunities would offer them an avenue to provide services to the community in a non-traditional setting.  They would become a contributing part of society; gain an increase in self esteem and self worth.

The alternative may well be a building full of society’s misfits, vagrants, social outcasts who are undereducated, underemployed and misunderstood.  This drain on the economy of any city, without a pathway out….would never end.  Would you support it?

It starts by looking for “out of the box” options rather than the same “in the box” solutions.  It starts with community activism as an outcry to enhance social standards that support “true” self-sufficiency which includes food, clothing and shelter.

It starts with education… of individuals, communities, and government.  The adage that if you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day, but if you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime is real….it is not a fantasy.   A commitment to create “self development” pathways to self sufficient is the only path out.  Would you support it?

If you support it….drop me a note at the Chronicle office

Copyright Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Street Chronicle published April 2011 Cleveland, Ohio