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."

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

*Emails Received Lately*


I read all your blogs about the homeless situation in Williamsburg and felt
you were partially wrong about our town.

First, people are afraid of the homeless for more reasons than I think they
understand. I am afraid of them after helping a couple and getting robbed.
Also, when I first moved back to town and saw my three year old daughter
have the money yanked out of her hand by a homeless man while she stood in
line to pay for her ball it frightened me. She of all the people in line was
the one selected to be victimized. She was the youngest and the smallest. Of
course, in many crimes this is the situation.....the bigger animal feeding
on the weakest animal.

Second, Williamsburg has come a long way. And believe me, it is hard to
imagine myself saying this as I have no particular fondness for this town at
times. Years ago, it had a hard time admitting its poor, let alone its
homeless. I can remember neighborhoods with inadequate plumbing, roads,
heat, crappy water, etc. I can remember barrels burning in the yards so the
people in the homes could come outside to warm up. I can drive through some
of those neighborhoods today and see marvelous rehab work where poverty was
so much more evident years ago. Instead of focusing on how far we have to
go, focus on how far we have come.

Third, Williamsburg suffers from a disease called "the old boy Network". It
is slowly recovering as the old blood is dieing off and being replaced by
new out of the area blood. However, this is going to be a slow process and
with this network in place new ideas are slow to develop.

Fourth, to tell you the truth, I wouldn't want a homeless shelter in my
neighborhood either. It doesn't mean I am heartless or less of a christian.
Even the good samaritan didn't take the man home and into his house with his
family. I probably even know some of Williamsburg's homeless since I have
grown up here. I know some of them at their worst, their best, their most
violent, etc. and frankly some of them scare me. This is a small town so
word still travels as to who is doing what. I hope you can find a building
over at Eastern State. There are a couple of older ones that are not being
used that would offer the space you guys would need, because with the mental
health background of this town you open and they will come.

Fifth, please don't expect any more from the police. Of course these people
are going to run when they see the police cars and I am sure they (the
police) are not always at their best. However, remember this town has come a
long way. Our police force is much better today than the macho, skirt
chasing thug that used to permeate its force years ago.

I grew up here in a decent neighborhood, however, we were considered the
white trash on the block. I have seen this town at its best and at its worse
over the years. I don't have much love loss when it comes to this place,
however, I have to admit the town has made miraculous progress over the
years. I have seen a part of it that probably makes some of the old local
politicians cringe. While you grew up or were born in Richmond, it is
important to realize that Williamsburg is totally unique. It is not like
either Richmond or Newport News. It is a community with a bubble surrounding
it. In many ways it is more welcoming but less hospitable.

Oh, and another indication that indicates you are not from this area.
Eastern State Hospital is the last place on Earth I would have put my
mother. I grew up and read about the abuses and neglect over the years. Of
course, like everything else, it has improved. Their staff might or might
not be more caring or competent, however, I wouldn't take that chance. My
mother and grandmother died in a private care facility, however, being
familiar with this type of thing we had family members in and out all the
time. We made sure the care was good and the money was being maximized.

Patti, if you want to learn about our town, go to the library and start
reading the gazette years back. This will give a you an idea of the changes
the town has been through and while you may be hitting a brick wall at
times, you might understand it better.

My Reply:
Thank you for your honesty. Yes, there is a lot I am learning about the
area. My hopes is to have the shelter at ESH, because it makes the most
sense. (which I am sure you agree.) In regards to my Mother, she only died
in the past 3 years and by what I understand, ESH was better in the past few
years than many ago. Luckily, UVA saved my Mother, but my 'evil estranged
uncle' carted her to a private nursing home in Roanoke, that lead to her
death (it took us 3-4 months to get a DC because no DR would sign it, since
nobody had a clue what happen, except my uncle.) I do understand
Williamsburg has come a long way, this I see often and have read stories
f5rom days ago. I am so sorry about your past experiences with the homeless,
here or anywhere else. Humans are human and there is good and bad
everywhere. My heart does go out to you in regards to that. I have also had
my bad experiences, but I don't give up. You don't have to be poor, homeless
or black to have comitted a crime against somebody, and this I know because
I have also experienced the opposite of each. I don't and won't say the
people we work with are perfect, but they have been trying and also come a
long way. Some do have mental problems, some alcohol problems and some are
just everyday people with bad circumstances against them. We still try to
reach out to all. I always know that I could be 'the weak animal', but many
of them have grown to trust and respect me. This has been a grace. Those on
the street with children, would have protected your daughter against the one
who stole from her, that I can guarantee you of, because I know how they are
with my husband's children. I have never said nor would I want a shelter in
a neighborhood; it wouldn't make sense. There is a lot I don't put on the
webpage because of my neighborhood, but much I can share with others,
pro or con. This is why I keep my phone number on the page, if they want to
learn more. Yes, in the beginning I was harsh, and over time I have become
better with my words. But again, I do appreciate your opinion and would love
to talk, if you ever want to talk.

In His Name,

Dear Ms. McKenzie,

I am a William & Mary student who attended the April 4th benefit. I am a friend of Ally. Your speech prompted me to do something to help. You mentioned a need for milk jugs so that people will have a source of water overnight. I set up a collection box for milk and soda jugs in the kitchen of my dormitory, and have collected 25 to this date. Do you still have a need for these items? I have a car, so I can deliver them to a location that will be convenient for you. Sarah


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