We Are All Family (May 25-31, 2020)

The death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past week exposed the stark reality of life that many of our neighbors must endure daily. Discrimination, poverty, hate, anger, fear, frustration, a sense of powerlessness, all run rampant when we fail to care for one another. Even though our city has thus far been spared the riots and looting experienced in the Cities, we are hardly free of the insidious hate and fear of those we perceive to be different from us. Hate begets hate, repression fuels rebellion.

To our credit, many of our citizen brothers and sisters are striving to reach out in compassion and empathy in order to bring our communal family together. The hundreds who came together to grieve the loss of a member of our extended family at Lake George, brought flowers, not bricks. From what we have observed from their interaction with our homeless our police force is a far cry from what we witnessed on TV. We have seen restraint, compassion, empathy and caring as officers have faced complicated situations involving potentially volatile interactions between mentally challenged, chemically impaired, or emotionally overcharged individuals of all races and backgrounds. For the most part they have treated folks with dignity and worked hard to exercise restraint.

We have seen the huge response amongst our community siblings in support of our cousins experiencing homelessness, in time, in effort and in money. This has been especially true since the onslaught of the pandemic. The agony of the unsheltered has intensified as the social services upon which they depend has had to socially distance. The chemically dependent no longer have easy access to their AA or NA support groups. Those with illnesses requiring medications, or counseling no longer have the reminders and pats on the back that provided an incentive to continue with their medication regimen. Those seeking food, an apartment, clothing a place to clean up have faced ever mounting obstacles. The grants provided by the government and donations from individuals has enabled us to thankfully provide food, shelter, hygiene, rest and phones to the unsheltered. But still more must be done. We need to take advantage of this opportunity to connect members of our family who are in distress with the opportunities this community has to offer. Folks need to be connected to providers of jobs and housing, healthcare, and social services, so that they may come out of the motels with the tools that they need to re-enter society as fully independent and motivated contributors. This is the challenge we all face as members of this Saint Cloud family.

The events in the Twin Cities metro area has touched us all. One member of our Saint Cloud family that is currently sheltered in one of our hotels, is a long-time member of our community. She is a grandmother with a 20 year old son. He and his young family resided in an apartment above a liquor store in Minneapolis. The fires from the riots destroyed that store, his apartment, all their possessions, and severely burned his two-year-old son. The boy is now in the burn unit of Children’s Hospital. You are helping to assist this family.

Last week one of our motel residents died of natural causes while on an errand. He had been living in a car in the Walmart parking lot until you helped provide the funds to place him in a motel. Although we were distressed by his passing, and were haunted by thoughts of what possibly could have been done to prevent this, we were comforted by the knowledge that you provided him with a clean comfortable place to spend the four last days of his life. Thank you!

This week you also enabled a man living on oxygen and his caretaker daughter to find refuge after their life savings ran out and they had no place to go. A person with neuropathy so bad he could hardly walk, a blind person, someone still suffering from frostbitten feet, an elderly fellow with severe backaches, and two young families , one with a four year old and one with a 5 month old, all were able to be placed in motels and fed because of you. Thank you for taking care of our family.

Thanks to all of you who have donated food, clothing masks, (sleeping bags and tents from the Newman Center crowd) diapers, furniture and $3,675 in funding this past week. Thanks to First United Methodist Church, Saint Michael’s for donations of $500 each, and the Nori and Bob Mahowald fund of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation for their gift of $250. We especially want to thank Pastor Carol from the Place of Hope and her hard working cooks and helpers who provided 765 meals this week The Catholic Workers, of Central MN , Neighbors to Friends, St John’s University , St Ben’s Monastery, St Joseph’s Church in St. Joe, the Salvation Army and the St. Cloud School District for providing 609 breakfasts, lunches, and suppers at our motel in St. Joe, 230 lunches at Lake George, and hundreds of breakfasts, lunches and laundry money at our St Cloud motels. And we cannot forget to acknowledge the immense contributions of all our volunteers from organizations and churches throughout the city who fed and cared for 147 of our brothers and sisters including 32 of their children amounting to 1015 stays this past week .Thank you all for caring for our family.

We are in need of: tents, sleeping bags, tarps, and gas cards.

Donations can be sent to:

Homeless Helping Homeless
PO Box 475
Saint Cloud 56302
Or contact us to make a delivery at:
Phones 612-868-0465 or 320-309-2952
Email: hfleegel@aol.com
Website: homelesshelpinghomeless.org

Your brothers and sister,
Harry, Mary, and Troy