Saturday, July 5, 2008

Homeless Tom, part II

Remember Tom from an earlier post? So he comes up to me the other day (in the afternoon blazing hot sun) and asked if he could mow the grass which was about 12" high (against City Code). I have to respect Tom because he has always been one of the "good guys" in our homeless population who has always been willing to "work" for the dollars. I've never seen or heard of him hurting anyone, he has never just come up and ask for money. This particular day, he didn't look well -- said he had just got out of the hospital the day before (still had bandaids on his arms). I said, "Tom you can't mow grass in the heat of the day, especially in the condition you are in, you may have a heat stroke and die." Tom says, "Oh, I'll be ok." I said, "Tom if you don't change your choices, you are going to die." He says, "Yhea that's what my doctor told me." We batted around those words for a while and I got the impression that indeed Tom may be ready to create a healthier, "better" more safe life for himself. He said he had been going to Billy Gregory (Detox place) every morning and "there is never any beds available". A shot of adrenaline hit me inside and that's about all it took for me to get on the trail of tracking down some services and sounding some bells in the beaurocratic offices of such agencies and people around town who claim they are doing their jobs (at the taxpayer's expense, I might add). I asked Tom to check with me every single day because I am unable to get in touch with him any other way. Tom fullfilled this request, everyday he came by like I had asked. That honesty and dedication to at least be as good as his word spoke millions to me. I sent out emails asking for help getting a bed in detox. One late afternoon during this time, Tom came up to my door drunk as hell, could not walk straight, hung on to poles trying to leave my sidewalk, saying he was ready to change his life "right now". It was about 5 - 5:30pm, I knew there was no way he could get in Billy Gregory Detox Center right then. I told him to sit down in the shade, gave him a coke and made phone calls and sent urgent emails for help with Tom. It came down to two choices for Tom:

1. Let me take him over the North Ft. Worth where there is a 24/7 AA meeting place. (NON of these in EAST FT. WORTH -- NOT EVEN AT THE SALVATION ARMY WHOSE ORIGINAL MISSION WAS TO "rehabilitate alcoholics."!)
Call an ambulance.

He choose the ambulance because he said he had "heard everything they would be saying at the AA meeting and he had tried that way).

I called the ambulance, they could/would not take him to hospital because he didn't meet the criteria to be taken. I was leaving to go home so Tom had to walk away to his camp to go sleep. It was bothering/worrisome to me, it wasn't a good feeling for me to leave work that day. A few hours later, I was going to work again and saw Tom walking the streets, I stopped and we talked for a mintue. He seemed better, less intoxicated and ok for then.

Long story short, it took someone knowing who to contact to get Tom some attention, otherwise he was just a number and "a nobody" in the circles of the Ft. Worth's Homeless mess because Tom, like many, has no one who offers encouragement/support/care/concern for him. (opportunity for CFW). This is where it gets expensive to truly "help" the homeless individuals who desire better for themselves. It takes people to personally care or be able to make the person think they care. It's called mentoring, counseling and various other nice words. It's basically "the human connection" that people need out here. There is not enough, if any, street outreach. The agencies are not real big on "street outreach" as I have found when asking about it in various meetings with some of the non-profits.


Suzette said...

As of Monday, July 7th, Tom has been admitted to ICU JPS Hospital.

Suzette said...

As of Thursday, July 24th, Tom is out of JPS after 2 weeks of intensive, expensive care (paid for by us, the taxpayers). He had funding for 28 day residential treatment program (taxpayer paid) being that he had been "detoxified" and no longer needed detox program. Tom said he wasn't ready for treatment and returned to E. Lancaster street for more drugging and drinking.