WENDY VICTORA: Homeless shelter: Time to get it done

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Most of you have never walked through the newsroom, but if you did I’m betting you would notice that we all sit very close together.

As in so close that it’s impossible to have a conversation that isn’t overheard by at least six or seven people. So we have learned to take our most personal conversations out into the parking lot. And because we live in Florida, that’s not a problem for most of the year.

But this week, as the temperatures dropped steadily, rain fell and winds blew, that solution became less tenable. Late Thursday afternoon, I stepped outside and within 5 minutes was absolutely miserable.

Then it struck me. As much as I write about the plight of homeless individuals, I don’t spend time outdoors on days when it would be particularly excruciating to live on the streets. 

Instead of escaping into a warm, brightly lit building, homeless men and women keep moving, always trying to stay one gazebo ahead of the officers whose job it is to nudge them along.

I’ll be honest. My compassion for these individuals is mixed in equal parts with something approaching revulsion. That makes me feel like a bad person to even write those words.

But the reality of living on the streets is that you get sick and stay sick. You get dirty and stay dirty. You drink to dull the edges of the madness that is camping in the woods on stolen property and either hiding or carrying your belongings everywhere.

You do everything you can to disappear from yourself and a world in which you don’t quite fit.

A few make it indoors and manage to stay there. They are either the strongest or the ones so frail they can be scooped up by non-profit angels and deposited in a better life. The rest suffer year-round.

This area has needed a homeless shelter for more than 30 years and we are finally almost there. By January, One Hopeful Place will be housing 30 individuals. Another $350,000 has to be raised to provide shelter and resources for 100 men and 30 women.

That’s a daunting amount of money. But when this community makes up its mind to do something, we get it done.

If every person that reads this column donated $10, we’d be more than halfway there. Make donations at onehopefulplace.org/donate/ or mail them to 1564 Percy L. Coleman Road, FWB, FL 32547.  Let’s get this done.

Managing Editor Wendy Victora can be reached at 315-4478 or wvictora@nwfdailynews.com

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