Written by Carson Dean, Executive Director
Earlier this week I was driving through the parking lot at our Tryon Street shelter campus about 7am when I noticed one of our 3rd shift staff heading towards his car. He was just getting off work, so I pulled over to chat with him for a minute. I asked how the night had gone and he responded that it had been quiet and pleasant. Assuming I knew his next response, I then said “I bet you’re headed home to get some sleep.” To my surprise, he told me he’d sleep later but, instead, was on his way over to a neighborhood church outreach center to help serve breakfast to folks in that community who are experiencing homelessness. I told him I thought that was great and he said he just wanted to do things that were positive and helped others. We continued to chat for a moment and then I pulled up to the building and he got into his car and left. Since then, our very brief conversation has stuck with me. I don’t know exactly how to express what I’m feeling other than I know that Anthony is all in. More of us need to be all in. How about you?
Fathers. There are so many different ways to describe dads – biological, adoptive, stepfather, grandfather, absent father. The one thing that all fathers have in common is their responsibility for another person. My dad died of alcoholism when I was in high school. He gave me life but did little to guide me through it. My father was actually my stepdad, Jim. He came into my life also when I was in high school and quietly, in many ways without me even knowing it, guided me through life until his passing 5 years ago. Fathers don’t wear badges announcing who they are but they know it. I believe most fathers are like Jim – they know they have a responsibility for guiding another person and they try their best to live up to that obligation. Some are better at it than others. Some were given lots of guidance from their own fathers or other male role models. Some don’t have the tools and think they have to struggle to figure it out on their own.
One things is for certain, there are many fathers, all kinds of fathers, being helped at Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. As I’ve gotten to know some of our fathers over the years, the one common theme I hear consistently is their desire to get their own lives back on track so they can fulfill their responsibility to their children. Now that’s a good dad in my opinion. They just need some support, to know that others care about them and are rooting for them, and that it’s ok to seek help for yourself now in order to be able to help others later. I often wonder if my own biological father could have turned things around with a bit more support. While I’ll never know the answer to that question, I do know that we have hundreds of men, fathers, experiencing homelessness who want and need our support.
My desire every day at Men’s Shelter of Charlotte is that we provide as much support as needed to each man while, in return, he takes responsibility for his own life today. By doing so these dads can raise their own games as fathers in the near future. We have many dads doing a great job. I remember a young dad not too long ago who would get up before daylight to leave the shelter and walk his child to elementary school. After school he walked her to the library to do homework before walking her to his mother’s house where she stayed at night. He’d then walk back to the shelter after dark. That’s a dad I admire and one we have to support. We also have to support our fathers who struggle with how to be responsible for their children, who want to be better parents, who are motivated to do the right thing.
So, this Father’s Day please say a prayer for the fathers staying at Men’s Shelter of Charlotte and consider participating in our Father’s Day Wallet Drive. Your donation of a new or gently used wallet is an easy, yet impactful, way of showing our men that others care about them and are supporting them as they move beyond one of the most difficult experiences of their lives. Your financial gift will go towards providing support for our men. To learn more about how to get involved please visit our website www.MensShelterofCharlotte.org.
Happy Father’s Day!
This Father’s Day – celebrate a father, donate a wallet!
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte remembers while its clients are experiencing homelessness – it is not an identity. The men are fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, friends and play many roles in our community.
To honor those roles and remember our common humanity, gently used and new wallets will be collected for clients of Men’s Shelter of Charlotte. To support programming for men experiencing homelessness and who are ready to transform their lives by enrolling in our programs, $20 or more inserted into the wallet is suggested.
When to donate your wallet-
Friday, June 13 – Monday, June 16, 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. daily
Where to donate wallets –
Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, 1210 North Tryon Street, side entrance
(704) 334.3187 x103 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Carson Dean, Riley’s Dad & Men’s Shelter of Charlotte Executive Director
Father’s Day for me is a reminder of how special a gift my son is to me. Being a father is a joy and a tremendous responsibility. Having my son look up to me and love me unconditionally has humbled me in so many ways. My son’s need for guidance, accountability, and someone to act goofy with has taught me so much about being a father. I only hope I’m half as good as a dad that I know my son will one day be for his kids. This Father’s Day I’m making a gift to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte in Riley’s name because he understands there are so many fathers in the shelter who want nothing more than to be dad to their own children.
Amy Tribble, Director of Development, daughter of Paul Shafer (1913-1992)
Though my father has been deceased for nearly 22 years, I still miss him terribly and frequently long for his guidance. The heartfelt letters of encouragement and support he wrote to me my Freshman year in college are filled with insights I still hang on to. How lucky I was to be loved and supported so unconditionally. My father was a role model who made a habit of practicing random acts of kindness long before the phrase was coined. He was one of the most thoughtful, generous people I have ever known. This Father’s Day I will make a contribution to Men’s Shelter of Charlotte in his memory and in the spirit of giving the same type of unconditional support that was given to me to men who are experiencing homelessness.
Did you know very few people experiencing homelessness die from exposure to the weather? Neither hypothermia (exposure to cold) or hyperthermia (exposure to heat) is hardly ever the primary cause of death.
In 2012, Philadelphia released a significant research report, City of Philadelphia Homeless Death Review, analyzing data from 2009-2010. Of 90 people experiencing homelessness who died during 2009-2010, the top five primary causes of death were
- drug intoxication or alcoholism,
- circulatory system diseases,
- diseases of an infectious etiology, and
Only 6% of deaths resulted primarily from hypothermia and hyperthermia combined.
The other important finding in their report was that homeless deaths do not follow a clear pattern of increase during cold months. In fact, almost 50% of the deaths studied in Philadelphia’s review occurred during the six months between April and September, the hottest months of the year (annual average high and low temperatures are strikingly similar in Philadelphia and Charlotte).
The reason I’m sharing this information is to debunk a major myth. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve heard over the years, “now that’s its getting warmer I bet fewer people need shelter because they can stay outside.”
It’s not about the weather, it’s about the other issues that cause death among people experiencing homelessness – poor health, accidents and injuries, and terminal illnesses – issues that can be exacerbated in hot and cold temperatures but are independent of the weather. It’s about making sure our citizens experiencing homelessness have safe shelter and assistance year round, not just in the winter months.
As we approach the first day of summer (June 21st), and prepare for pool parties, summer vacations, and time on the lake, please take a moment to support the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte with your time, treasure, and talent. We’re working hard 24/7/365 to help all men experiencing homelessness stay safe, healthy, and move beyond homelessness.
“Homelessness is decreasing.” Now that’s a headline so many of us working in this field have longed to hear.
Today, the National Alliance to End Homelessness released their annual report The State of Homelessness in America 2014 (www.endhomelessness.org). As I began to look through the report there it was – the first sentence under the Moving Forward section in the Executive Summary – Homelessness is decreasing.
A major reason for the decrease, according to the report, is because “shifts in the way communities respond to homelessness have primed the country to make great strides in ending homelessness nationally.” At this point I really became excited… decrease, great strides, ending homelessness… all in the same sentence! (Yes, I’m aware that getting excited about a statistical report makes me a bit geeky.)
Now, I know and will be the first to admit that we still have serious issues related to homelessness and so much work ahead of us. But let’s take just a moment (which is all we can afford to take knowing so many people still need help) to let those words sink in and celebrate the progress we’re making. While this is a national report, it could just as well be talking about Charlotte. Overall, homelessness is decreasing in our community. We’re making progress because our community is starting to really believe homelessness is an issue we can solve, not just one we need to manage.
At the Men’s Shelter of Charlotte, we continue to see men move out of our shelter into more appropriate housing and not come back. We continue to see men increasing their income so they are no longer reliant on emergency shelter. We continue to see men reunite with their families and build back support systems that long ago caused them to seek our emergency shelter services.
Homelessness is decreasing – let’s say this together! Let’s continue to build on our successes, knowing that we’re approaching what Malcolm Gladwell calls the “tipping point,” the point when we begin to experience the end of homelessness in our community.