Just imagine all that you have helped accomplished in the six months since Lincoln Center opened. We have been full since the third day we opened. Frostbitten noses ears and toes were averted. They were kept warm on recliners, with socks, gloves, hats, coats, and blankets donated by you and other generous friends. In past years as many as five people lost their lives each year sleeping outside due to our vicious Minnesota winters. This year we lost no-one. You have provided the means to pay Lincoln Centers rent and utilities to keep everyone alive. Our local EMTs greatly appreciate you for reducing the number of times that they must carry stretchers through the brush down the steep banks of the Mississippi to retrieve folks who have succumbed to their afflictions. It is much easier to pick up these folks at the shelter. Before the Center opened and Lake George food-share started, we were transporting at least one person per week to the emergency room with food poisoning. This was the result of eating from dumpsters or from meals being spoiled or contaminated by racoons, chipmunks, and mice rummaging in and defecating on provisions in the encampments. Thanks to Place of Hope, Catholic Charities, Salvation Army, and all of you who continue to supply us with food and volunteers, we have had no hospital trips for food borne illnesses since we opened.
We have had and continue to have, many challenges and much support. The Tri-Cap funding for motels ran out in October, our funds for food ran out in January, the CDBG funding for motels ran out the end of March. We had to go through two public hearings to get a Conditional Use Permit to enable us stay open nights during the summer. You were right there supporting us all along the way writing letters, giving testimony, rallying for the cause. It passed and we are now open. The permit did come with some conditions that still need our attention, fencing, security cameras, lighting, fire protection, health code improvements, new sinks, bathroom updates and repairs and shower permits were all required as is continuing education of our staff The students at SCSU came to bat for us and raised shower money, a local bank is in the process of raising funds for a fire alarm system, the police department is providing staff education on de-escalation and resources to address mental illness but we are still short funds for the rest. Additionally, with the decreased threat of cold weather, the urgency to contribute to the center has decreased making it hard for us to raise funds to pay for the staffing now required.
Lincoln center is a low barrier shelter. This means that we take many folks others do not. If someone comes to us while still under the influence of drugs or alcohol, are trespassed from hotels or shelters due to mental or physical health crises or difficulty abiding by shelter rules, we will care for them. We monitor folks with medical issues and get them to the emergency room, or detox if needed. We take in guests in the middle of the night, those brought by the police or hospital, or those desperate, suicidal, or abused when other places are closed. We are always open and will take anyone who is non-violent. We and other agencies working with us can refer most to other resources the next business day. Because of your support, dozens have found jobs and housing and are on their way to a better life. Others, challenged by multiple barriers and difficult behaviors, stay with us longer. Some have incurable or degenerative issues that will never go away. The best we can do is to try and find an assisted living center, memory care or group home that is suitable, and those are rare.
We currently have 5 women and 15 men. 3 have jobs and are saving for an apartment. 3 have continence issues, 7 have alcohol addiction, 9 are battling drugs, 2 are suicidal, 7 have serious mental health or behavioral challenges, one with dementia, 4 with serious physical ailments or are on disability, 2 runaways, 8 have been physically, or sexually abused, 5 trafficked, 2 with PTSD. All make less than $17,000 per year. Twenty people most burdened with multiple afflictions. If Lincoln Center were to close most of these folks would have no other place to go. They would be back on the streets, victimized by drug dealers, sex traffickers, bullies, and con artists. They would not fare well.
One thing we have learned while being raised in Central Minnesota is the value and worth of every human being. Even the most incapacitated of us has dignity and something to offer society to make it a better place in which to live. We have learned that every challenge can be addressed if we as a community work together to address it.
What Homeless Helping Homeless and Lincoln Center needs now are people like you to contribute your time, talent, ideas and funds and surplus clothing, food, and furniture to assist us in our efforts to confront the challenges facing many of the most vulnerable in our town. The mandates of the Conditional Use Permit are expensive we need to comply with them to avoid being we will shut down. Without our staff we will have difficulty addressing our client’s myriad tragedies. If it is difficult for you to assist us financially, perhaps you know of an organization or business who might, let us know. We are proud of you and the Saint Cloud Community and grateful for your support.
Drop off donations between 8:00 am and 8:pm any day at 630 Lincoln Ave. SE or mail to: Homeless Helping Homeless, PO Box 475 Saint Cloud MN 56301 or give on-line at: homelesshelpinghomeless.org
Harry, Mary, Troy and all our friends experiencing homelessness.