Saturday, July 17, 2010

Homeless man drowns in Connecticut River

Not a lot of information right now (and maybe there won't much to come) but a homeless man named Keith Rainville drowned in the Connecticut River in Springfield yesterday and his body was recovered this afternoon.  Apparently he and some friends were trying to cool off when Mr. Rainville slipped away.

Yesterday a homeless man and woman came into Arise to ask for advice, and when I asked where they were staying, they said, "The Riverfront."  They said quite a few others were also camped out there, but that's been true for years, especially in the summer.

On Thursday, a woman I've known for more than 15 years,  who's been an on again, off again member of Arise, stopped into Arise to help with petitioning.  She was on her second day of a three day ban from the Worthington St. Women's Shelter, because she'd been complaining about the bedbugs and scabies infection.

"Where did you sleep last night?" I asked her.

"In the doorway of an apartment on ________ Street.," she said, "with a couple other people.  A few people in the building brought us down water and some food."

The new women's shelter has been built, but the women haven't been moved up the street yet-- the men have been moved into it instead while their quarters are renovated.

"The men have bedbugs too,"  she said.

When I started this blog three years ago,  Arise was at the tail end of a long fight to have the city to stop ignoring homeless people and help them.  Although there's much still to be done, the city has stepped up through the Office for Housing/Special Homeless Initiative.  Finally, after many, many years of people and organizations asking why you had to become homeless first, to get any help,  preventing homelessness has become a major strategy.  Many homeless policy people think they thought up this strategy all by themselves, but no-- it's simply that they had the power to make it happen.

I've kept homelessness a major focus of this blog, but gradually my day to day contact with homeless people has lessened.  I've felt less comfortable writing about homelessness in general if I couldn't balance that with my own ongoing perceptions.  Meanwhile I've become consumed with the environment assaults against poor people-- against all people, really.  I won't write about this now.  But two months ago I just stopped writing.

Thinking about starting again has felt like starting over. Yet I'm going to try.

Photo from rbglasson's photostream at Flickr.


Matt P. said...

Welcome back! I missed your writings while you were on your blogging hiatus, but don't feel like you've got to "catch up" on what's happened in the last two months; that's just way too overwhelming.

scribadiva said...

Okay, you know you can not stop writing. I'm grateful for the work you do. I'm on another track, not only with Amnesty and the ACLU, but a blog for people in pain. It's not ready, but almost.
I got a noodle-lashing from other chronic pain patients. YOU have to do it, they said. You have the skills, you are suffering, and no one is speaking for us. It's an obligation for me now.
Whatever you do, I appreciate all you have done. I was homeless, and extremely ill. I'm lucky someone didn't pick me off like a lame gazelle. Whatever you do, I miss seeing your work. Enough guilt? OK. Sweet tides, and I mean all of this in a loving way, Linda

Michaelann Bewsee said...

Yes, good to be back. Thanks for letting me know it matters.