The people in Dickinson had better hope and pray that I never win the lottery, because if I did, there would be some changes, and they wouldn’t like it.
There is no homeless shelter in Dickinson now. That is the first thing I would do. In fact, I would put Dickinson “Light-years Ahead” in the homeless shelter business.
Many affluent people in Dickinson live on “Palm Beach Drive”, which runs adjacent to the Dickinson Golf Course. At the beginning of Palm Beach Drive, there is a very large old industrial warehouse, in the middle of a large field. That, would be the homeless shelter.
My focus, would be on restoring hope in the homeless people. To lift them up. And also, to irritate the people in Dickinson, who did not want to help their fellow man. There are probably about five Catholic Churches in Dickinson, yet none have heard,”So as you do to the the least of my people, so do you to me.”
For now, I will just describe what I have in mind for the men’s homeless shelter. A very large facility. A very large entrance and lobby, where friendly staff can greet the new arrivals, ask what difficulties they are having, asses what is needed, and then show the new arrival around. In the dormitory, of course there is a bed and locker for each individual. Here are the bathrooms and showers. Here is the laundry room. Here is the dining hall. Here are the cubicles with computers. Here is the television room and lounge. Here is the recreation area, we have treadmills, free weights, basketball court.
Dinner is served from 5:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m., we have an excellent cook. Tonight, we are having fried chicken, collard greens, black eyed peas with rice, corn bread, and beanie-weenie. In the lounge, after dinner we are watching the newest Terminator movie that just came out.
In the morning, for breakfast, we usually serve eggs and toast, but we have a very large selection of cereal, Captain Crunch, Cocoa Puffs, Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops. At 9:00 a.m., we have several Lincoln Town Cars that deliver people to the North Dakota Job Service office, and to the day labor offices such as the Command Center. At 10:00 a.m., in the classroom, we have an instructor/job coach that will give some information about creating a resume, what jobs are available, what to expect at these jobs, and answer any questions that you may have.
Usually, we request that individuals take the rides in the morning to go to North Dakota Job Service, or the Command Center, or that they attend the 10:00 a.m. job coaching class. If an individual is recovering from travel or stress, they can remain on the premises and do laundry, telephone or e-mail relatives, but they will need to attend the counseling session that we have here at 2:00 p.m. in order to make sure that you are O.K., not feeling physically ill, and to address any problems that you may have. Since there are not that many people here during the day, we normally just have sandwiches for lunch between 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.
If you need clothing, we have clothing here that has been donated. If you need dress clothes for a white-collar job, we have them. If you need clothes for construction work, we have them. If you are going to work on a construction site, we give you a bucket in the morning that has a hammer, measuring tape, level, square, wire cutters, screw drivers, adjustable wrench, work gloves, safety glasses, tool belt, and hard hat. We ask that you bring it all back with you at the end of the day.
We want the individuals here to get back on their feet. We understand that they have undergone much stress in being homeless, not having any help, and not knowing what they are going to do. In order to get people back to a normal life, we want to provide them with a safe, clean, comfortable place to stay, with adequate food and clothing. We want to provide job coaching in order to help individuals become employed. We offer other counseling in order to determine what other help is needed.
The people who drive the Lincoln Town Cars to deliver people in the morning, and pick them up in the afternoon, they are homeless people who came here, who have good driving records and suitability for that job. The people who cook, they are homeless people who came here, who showed that they were trustworthy and were good cooks. The security staff who work here, they were homeless people who came here, who we recognized could maintain order.
The security staff here, they are all older men, they are all level-headed, they maintain order and calm. We make sure that there are more than enough of them, so that it is always safe here. They have their own rooms. We go over with them again and again, that there is to be no drug or alcohol use on the premises; there is to be no fighting, bullying, or intimidation; there is to be no destruction of property, no misuse of property, no theft.
We do have individuals who return here at night, who are over intoxicated. We do not allow them in the dormitory when they are like this, we allow them to remain in what we call the “ER”. Anyone who is over-intoxicated, on drugs, or is physically sick, we have a large room which is kind of like an Emergency Room waiting area, where staff is able to observe everyone during the night.
There are individuals that we come to realize, are mentally ill, and are not currently able to be employed. In order to stay here, we require that they maintain good personal hygeine, they must shower at least every other day, they must wear clean clothes, we provide them with clean clothes. If they have a lot of junk personal property, we require that they keep it locked up in one of the outside storage bins. If they can maintain civility, we allow them to stay here. We try to find things for them to do. We like for them to take the old bread from the kitchen and go feed the birds out behind the building, and we encourage them to be sure to wave to the people driving by on Palm Beach Drive.
(I had been thinking about this for a long time. I had thought about more obnoxious and offensive things that I could do, like having the non-working homeless people in Dickinson put on the tackiest possible clothing from thrift stores, and then take them golfing for the afternoon in Dickinson, just to put them in the face of the affluent people here in Dickinson. As I began to write this post, I became not in the mood to joke about this. I really would like to have a very large homeless shelter in Dickinson, right there in the field next to Palm Beach Drive. I don’t want homelessness in Dickinson swept under the rug, I want everybody to know about it and see it. I have met and known many people in Dickinson who were living in their cars, some of them had current valid commercial driver’s licenses, some of them were skilled tradesmen, some of them had college degrees. When a person is living in their vehicle, it is very easy for them to become despaired, they worry about buying food, they worry about buying gas for their car, they don’t have good access to showers or bathrooms, and the community treats them with disgust because of their circumstances and appearance. What is disgusting to me, is that Dickinson could well afford to have had a big warehouse where homeless people could get something to eat, get cleaned up, and get some advisement on what to do, and possibly get some help to get out of town, but Dickinson is not about being kind or helpful to people.)