We work with the Downtown Partnership’s homeless initiative, which is basically run by one guy named Adam Ries. This is one of the few programs I know about that’s totally win-win. The partnership represents downtown businesses, which have been plagued for years by chronically homeless people, primarily men, sleeping in doorways or doing their business in places where they shouldn’t. We’re a tourist town and that’s not what Aunt Sally and Uncle Bubba came from Shreveport to see.
So rather than sort of herd the homeless around, shooing them from one place to the next, the partnership hired Adam to get the most chronic offenders off the streets and into housing. And he’s having spectacular success, in part due to the fact that he’s passionate about his mission and he has a compassionate heart for the people he’s helping.
The other day, he came to CRC on a particular mission that I had not foreseen. He told me about a man he’d helped get housing. The man had a couch and an old TV. But he rarely stayed in his apartment, preferring instead to visit his neighbors. Adam asked him why. The man said that his apartment was so sterile. It didn’t look like a home. Well, CRC is full of new decorative items that make a house a home. And we loaded Adam up.
It’s not House Beautiful material, but it is those little touches that personalize a home. And everyone deserves nice things. This is an aspect of my job I have a hard time explaining – the effect of a few nice things on a person’s dignity and outlook on life. But I hear it over and over from our nonprofit partners. The granny who has no relatives but was gifted a birdhouse from CRC on her birthday. The young man who’d had a tough time in life but went to a job interview in new clothes and shoes from CRC. He got the job. And a homeless guy in a new apartment…with a few nice things.