Stories from the Basement

Stories from the Basement #8

By Donna Clark RN, Director

When we open our doors to those in need we never know what is going to happen on any given day. Usually there are 3 or 4 people waiting at the top of the steps when we arrive. They often help unload and carry the donations and supplies down the steep steps and then find their seats. We see between 17 to 27 people in the four hours we are open. Some folks never sign in; they just enjoy the warm safe environment; drinking coffee, eating cookies or soup and “chillin” as some put on their contact sheets.

We find that each of our clients has a unique need and a unique history. Our task is to fashion a unique solution for each client. Often times those we serve have more than their share of frustration! Dealing with the bureaucracy of the government, confusion in medical care and their difficult lives, often leaves them angry. Our mission is to remain gentle and caring in the face of this anger and frustration.

This past month brought us a big challenge and with God’s guidance we will be able to help this very nice gentleman. He was part of the Community Emergency Shelter Project and came to us to find help getting disability assistance. He was a fisherman by trade; working all his life on the water. Last year, while out at sea, he was severely injured in an onboard accident. His life as described to us was one of long hard days and little sleep. Drinking became a way of passing time and led to an addiction to alcohol. After his accident he was able to overcome this addiction, but he had no money, no job, and was unable to get disability in a timely fashion. Finding himself homeless on the streets to Salisbury, he came to us at H.O.P.E. for help.

As we were guiding him through the steps required to get disability, he developed blood in his urine. Seen at the Emergency Room, he was diagnosed with a bladder tumor. Local specialists were reluctant to take on another indigent case. However they were willing to supply the information we needed to connect with Health Care for the Homeless in Baltimore. This program provides shelter and free care to any homeless person. This week we will transport him to Baltimore and turn him over to their very competent and loving hands. Please keep this gentleman in your prayers.