Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Sunday, April 27, 2003

I know some of you, because you have emailed or called to ask what was the results from the neighborhood meeting yesterday. Well, actually nothing was resolved in my opinion. Basically, it came down to me stopping the webpage (because some have figured out where we live and know people on this street), I have lost the neighbors trust, I am a liar and was caught in 10 lies according to one person yet I was never able to finish an answer and if they would have given me the chance, it wouldn't have seem that way, I was taking it personally although many went into stories of their lives so who was also being persoanl and I should have notified everyone I was doing this, yet here again I never got much more than 20 words at a time out. Have you ever been around people or kids or the press and you have 10 questions at a time or one after another and before you could answer one, another question came out...that is how this was. So I decided, by our kids suggestion, to write down the questions and go ahead and reply via mail, to our landlord and on the website. So here is the basic Q&A's:

I am sorry about how yesterday turned out. Since I was not able to finish a single answer to any of the questions asked, I am typing them up and will give them to everyone. In regards to the others that were here, they are members on our board of directors and we were to meet with Linda Wall. I also included Paul Aron, because he is following the story of homeless and the work we are doing. He was there to find out concerns of others, the homeless/working poor, our new board and the meeting with Linda Wall. But, one of the neighbor's complaints via phone was the fact they didn't know any of the people coming to the house. I wanted to introduce the neighbors to some of the people that would be coming frequently over to the house, so they wouldn't feel 'threatened' any more. But I also thought the meeting with the neighbors would only take 1/2 hour. I thought they would ask me questions and I would have a chance to answer and that would be it. They were upset because of having our members here, but there was a girl at the meeting that no longer lives here, yet she is a friend of the neighbors. That to me was unfair.

1. (They wanted to know different services we provide. When it came to laundry, people were upset about how it would affect the wells and septic systems here.) Laundry service we provide: Here personally at the house we have done laundry 2 times in the past and it was stuff that also went in with Geoff's work clothes (just a couple of pants and shirts.) If people would have let me finished, Vicki, a retired lady who comes over, volunteered a while back at my 2nd meeting to do the laundry at her townhouse (that she owns.) She is in her 60's and her husband has been deceased for several years and she has been looking for some organization to get involved with and choose ours. . When she comes over, if there are any clothing donations (which have always been washed prior to people giving them to us,) she stays and helps sort and lists clothes/sizes that we have and puts them into bins. So no 'extra' laundering will be at our house. Anyone who needs clothing, we go through the bins and get their sizes and what they are requesting and drop it off to them.

2. Screening: As I was trying to say yesterday, people are screened. I do have an account with a company that runs background checks via computer on people. Also, we do talk with family members (who tend to be the most honest in regards to their relative's past and why they are in this situation.) Some of the people as we were saying, have already been screened through Salvation Army, I am not referring to the one here, but also in different areas. Their procedures seem to be very detailed as it takes usually an hour when they are meeting with somebody in need. I call to confirm they have been screened. Salvation Army actually has called us in the past about somebody who has contacted their office looking for work and since they didn't have anything, they either, after they have been screened, give them our number for Geoff to interview or they call me directly about the person. I have also at times, called the local police (of the area the person is from) to find out if somebody here had any priors and what are they if so. Nobody who works for us, with us or us with them have any past history of rape or murder. What I was trying to get through to one person at our meeting, even though I was not able to continue, is that I have also been a rape victim of a gang rape and that is why the doctors don't think I can have children. But, as one knows, rape is an act of violence and not sex. But, because I know this, it doesn't keep me from working with people. All people deserve a chance. How many chances does God give us, even when we fail Him or turn against Him. I would not trust or allow anybody who has a past of rape to work here or with Geoff and this we both agreed on before we started anything, whether it was his company and building a crew or working with the homeless & working poor.

Also, one neighbor is planning on using her property to rent out for summer vacation spot on a weekly basis. Mostly to people she knows, but that doesn't mean we know who the people are she will be renting to. Why aren't people concerned about that. And what kind of screening will she use. Just because she knows them, does that mean we should all trust them?

3. They felt like they lost trust in me because we didn't check with the neighbors first about doing this: Yes, we did take fliers around, not to everyone, because not everyone was home. Many we left on their door. I don't like putting things in people's mailboxes. Even if this is a 'Jeffersonian Area', that doesn't mean the post office would understand that because that is a felony. Duh, I'm not that stupid to even jepordize myself knowing our neighbors are upset. Why give them something that could legally get me into trouble.

But, here again what I was trying to explain is that many of the neighbors have people over or parties and they have never checked with us. We don't know the people coming to their houses. We don't know if any of the workers are bonded and safe. And bonding only covers if that employee steals from you, not if they sexually assault you or cause physical harm to you. But, we understand people are building houses, so we take that into consideration. But, just as they said yesterday we should have contacted them when I had a problem with their workers, they should also contact us. But, they haven't had a problem with anyone working here other than it upsets them. None of our workers have said or done anything (even according to one neighbor that said they have been quiet and to themselves.) I don't know several people that come here to do work or visit with neighbors and I don't question it. So I am still unsure why they need to give permission or know the people that are at our house. This isn't a private neighborhood with security gates like my husband and our workers go into, nor by what I understand are there any by-laws. Is it because we are renters and they are owners? And if that is so, yes, many renters have had people over, some for work, customers and friends. Not all of them 'appear' to be safe, but you can't judge by appearance in today's fads. And here again, I wanted to introduce them to people who have been coming over as friends, workers we have hired and volunteers.

4. Vested Interest: No we aren't on the same level as people who own homes, but we do pay rent. We have always taken pride in any property we have rented and tried to make sure it maintains, not just our standards, but also suitable to the neighborhood we are in. Whenever we move, if requested by the landlord, it is put back to the condition we received it. But typically it is in better shape than when we first received it. We want the landlords to be happy with what we do and that we have pride in where we live. I know you didn't get to see the whole house when you were here, but what we have done, we feel it has been an improvement. I hope I am not wrong in that regard. Even trying to make the yard look nice and appealing says something for us. We keep the yard cut and neat, maybe not as well as past tenants you have had, but in some ways better than others who own here. And as the weather gets better, the yard will also. Rarely, do we ever bother the landlord with anything minor, we fix it ourselves. With them being so busy, we only contact if it is something major, such as the air conditioning. So we do invest time, effort and a little money into where we live.

As one neighbor said they have $200,000 vested in the house they are building, which isn't comparable to what we have in our rented house, but we have $200,000 ++ in our personal belongings and antique furniture and collectibles. Maybe it isn't a vested interest in this area, but I wouldn't want anything to happen to our belongings (insurance companies have even said in the past, it isn't replaceable.)

5. Not bringing business home: My husband does have a business license as a General Contractor. We are in the process of getting worker's Comp. and GC Insurance/Bonding. The paperwork has been in the process for a week now, because he will need it for the big contract we have coming up. Many have asked who we do work for or this big contract coming up, but sorry that is none of your business and we don't trust you to not try and mess it up.

6. Leaving them alone: Yes, once I left one of the workers alone, but I had a volunteer here while I ran up to get gas from Garrett's so he could finish his work. Yes, I left the family that was staying here alone many time because the mother was here. She had been screened and I verified her work in Richmond and she use to do the screening and volunteer work at a shelter in Richmond. I also had contacted them about her. She checked out. Again as I said at the meeting, just because my car isn't here, doesn't mean I am not here. Once I was having my oil changed, but I was here. Another time, one of the guys used my car to go pick up some things (donations) for me. But here again, nobody has had a problem with them, nor have they bothered anyone.

8. In regards to the webpage, it is rare for me to ever talk about the neighborhood, unless it is about us/our house. I do not use names unless I have permission. In regards to the boat, the one neighbor did ask us to visit weekly along with another neighbor because they get lonely. Also at the party, a neighbor stopped us as we were leaving asked if we would take her fishing or visit. Her husband offered to sell us their boat at a cheap price and his wife when they were all looking at it, even pointed things out about the boat. When Geoff came home and told me, it was an answer to a prayer from the night before. We had already been calling newspaper ads about a boat the 2 days prior and most weren't in as good of condition and located too far away for us to get down here since we don't have a trailer hitch yet on our cars.

9. A neighbor, when talking with Geoff, said we were lying in regards that we had picked up other work and bids because of us working with the homeless. But, this is true. Many people support us and our ministry. Geoff has done over 10 bids in 2 weeks and 'won' at least 8 of them. Many people have said one of the main reasons is because of why we moved here and/or our ministry with thepeople on the street. The homeowners know that many people we use WERE homeless and fully support what we do. They live in Kingsmill, Ford's Colony and other places that are private or secluded. The homeowners haven't had a problem with the guys being left alone, either and have found them to be very nice, hardworking people.

So, that is just some of the questions I never got to mention.


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