We continue to operate in COVID-mode with relatively few positive client cases (thankfully). The news of vaccines gives us hope that 2021 will be an improvement over 2020. We are nine months in working to keep clients and employees as safe and healthy as possible. County Public Health believes we will be in an early tier of vaccine distribution, which will mean development of new policies, procedures and protocols. Temperatures have dropped in Phoenix with overnight lows in the 30s. Our concerns from heat response now shift to cold weather response. We could be sheltering more people by now if our request to add beds had moved faster than it has... we filed our application in January of 2019. Two summers and now two winters will pass while we abandon nearly 500 people within a few blocks of the Campus nightly. My heart hurts. And we carry on, working to understand what business neighbors would like to see in stipulations to ensure enforceability, and working to build more support for our request to provide a basic needs response for people who are unhoused.
Homelessness requires short term solutions and long term solutions. Conflating one zoning request with a demand for county-wide solutions is insulting to the people who are living unhoused and unsheltered. I wish the people in power would visit the streets and explain to people directly why they cannot support our request. How should these folks hang on while public/private partnerships form to address a regional plan that will take months to develop and years to implement?
And we carry on. Last Friday community participated in our first virtual Mike McQuaid I am Home Breakfast event. Thank you for those who watched! It was a surreal experience to be broadcasting in an empty baseball stadium with no audience interaction. We think that nearly 400 people watched the event live, and we are still tallying the dollars raised. Thank you.
And we carry on. Today I learned that a former client who experienced chronic homelessness and was surrounded by a collective of social service organizations at the Campus to find him an apartment has passed away. His last months were filled with medical issues. And because of our collaboration he had moved into a home. He did receive hospice care. And he did not die alone. What we provide is more than short term services, it is dignity and humanity. It is compassion and love. Everyone deserves that.
And we carry on. We fight. We live our mission. We honor the legacy of our hero, Mike. We treat each person with dignity. We offer hope and home. As Alicia Keys sings:
"She was walking in the street, looked up and noticed
He was nameless, he was homeless
She asked him his name and told him what hers was
He gave her a story 'bout a life
With a glint in his eye and a corner of a smile
One conversation, a simple moment
The things that change us if we notice
When we look up, sometimes.... this goes out to the underdog."
And we carry on.