To the Editor:
This letter is to the whole community of Switzerland County in appreciation of the great support and love that was shown to us at the time of the death of our Aaron.
The grief that is so pressing that you don’t know if you will be able to draw your next breath was made a little easier as food for us started arriving the morning of his death and kept coming so we didn’t have to worry about the kids, babysitters to help care for the little ones, friends who came to help bear us up, a meal for us on the day of the funeral that covered tables and tables, prepared by church ladies.
You came by the hundreds and stood in line for hours to offer your condolences and to share moments/remembrances that you had with Aaron and the rest of the family – some funny, some downright hilarious – because he was a humorous, lovable and very loved young man.
Then there are those gracious young men at the funeral home who go so far above their call of duty to make this time as easy for the family as they possibly can.
The family of Aaron Clayton Hughes says thank you all.
To the Editor:
I am writing in response to Mike Cooney’s article dated 12/21/06 regarding homeless puppies and people.
First . . . throw away puppies. I would like to say thank you to the lonely, angry, heartless soul that threw away a perfectly good dog and dumped him near our home on Nell Lee Road. “Stovepipe” showed up in our neighborhood about a week before Thanksgiving. He found his way to our property and started following us around on Thanksgiving Day. Mike and I were walking through the woods and he refused to leave our side. He is now our dog and is a wonderful addition to our home.
He has developed a close bond with Bubba and Maverick, neighboring dogs. The three of them can often be seen basking in the sun in our front yard. His temperament is perfect, he loves affection, and he is equally happy digging up mice in the field or sleeping on the couch. I cannot imagine what led someone to throw him away. Had we searched the country high and low seeking the ideal animal companion, we could not have found any better. He is perfect.
Second . . . throw away humans. Prior to moving to Switzerland County, Mike and I lived in Indianapolis; he for his lifetime, me for 15 years. As a social worker, I was employed for over two years by the Homeless Initiative Program, a local non-profit agency that works with the homeless population in Marion County. They provide case management, employment workshops and outreach services to homeless of all ages. I can tell you that everything Mike shared in his article is true. I would like to add a few additional notes for those that are interested.
While poverty is a definite predictor of homelessness, the number 1 cause of children being homeless, from my experience, is domestic violence. I would estimate that 75 percent of the families I worked with were homeless because the woman had made the courageous decision to leave her abuser. She may have let him that day and just become homeless, or she may have left him a year ago and had never been able to get back on her feet. Either way, domestic violence played a role in her current situation.
Drug addiction and mental illness are also key factors that lead to homelessness. From my experience, I can tell you why people are more compassionate to homeless animals than they are to homeless people. It is because a large part of the population feels that people are homeless through some fault of their own. It’s easy to feel sorry for a puppy . . . he had no control over what happened to him. It is more difficult to feel sorry for someone when you feel that they put themselves in the situation they are in. When I used to tell people where I worked, I often heard things like, “Why don’t they just get a job?”, “Most of them are just lazy, aren’t they?”, “I think they want to be homeless.”
In fact, homeless people are just like you and me. They have hopes and dreams. Many have tried, and failed, to get out of their situation so many times that they have given up hope that anything can change. Many have come to believe that our society does not care about them. If you were sitting on the sidewalk and someone stepped farther towards the road, tried to avoid eye contact, and walked right past you . . . and this happened hundreds of times a day . . . you would start to think people didn’t care too.
If you want to help end homelessness, there are four things, in my opinion, that each and every person reading this can do to help.
1. If you know a woman in an abusive relationship, be supportive and encouraging. Don’t pressure her to leave, just be there for her when she does. Offer your home and your hearts to her and her children. Remember, the average woman leaves her abuser seven times before it sticks.
2. If you know someone with an addiction, encourage them to get help. Let them know that you care about them and that you will be there for them through good times and bad. If they try to stop and relapse, don’t give up on them. Relapse is a normal part of recovery.
3. If you suspect that someone you know has a mental illness, be supportive and encourage them to get help. If you’re not sure what to say, call your local mental health center and ask for guidance. Asking for help is hard for some folks. Let them know that you care . . . don’t judge them.
4. Do not give cash to the homeless you see on the street. If you really want to help, donate to organizations that are trained to work with them and have the resources needed to provide real assistance.
There is an annual walk-a-thon in the State of Indiana called “Homeward Bound.” Its sole purpose is to provide funding for agencies that work with the homeless population. There are 10 walks across the state, each supporting agencies in that area. I am currently raising funds to support the Indianapolis walk. You can choose Indianapolis, Jeffersonville, Bloomington, Evansville, or any others that you may have ties to.
The website is www.homelesswalks.org.
The Indianapolis walk is on April 22nd and my team name is the HIP HIPSTERS. Thank you for your time.