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February 17, 2005 - Image 16

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2005-02-17

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6B - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, February 17, 2005


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.here's a small table, near
the back door of Starbucks
on State Street - normally
T reserved for handicapped peo-
ple. The man decided to sit down, choos-
ing the closest table; unaware of staring
faces and seemingly nonchalant people
that looked up warily. He took out his
sandwich - Italian meatball, with extra
mayo and chili peppers - and began to
"I look exactly like my father," Danny
Jones began to say.
"From the time I was a little kid, all
the way until now - I even got his bald,
spot. Sometimes I wish I didn't have it
because it's the same receding hairline
he had. Every time I look at the mirror, it
reminds me of him. It's like my father is
looking at me in the mirror when I wake
up in the morning."
He laughed awkwardly, paused and
laughed awkwardly again. He took off
his tattered black beanie and pointed to
a shiny spot at the top of his head.
His hands were white and calloused
and there was white pus sitting on a
wound on his lower lip, which he dabbed
at occasionally with a napkin. After he
was done, he crumbled up the tissue, and
tossed it on the table. It rolled across the
surface and stopped near the edge.
Danny usually spends his days pan-
handling by Borders Books and Music,
crouched in the corner by the display
window. He has been homeless in Ann
Arbor for over a month. But to the city,
he's just another statistic.
"I dreamed about being a preacher
when I was little," he said proudly. "I
believe in the Holy Ghost, and it's saving
everyone's soul," he said confidently.
"The Holy Spirit gets you up in the
daytime, brings these tree limbs out on
the branches each year, puts the blos-
soms and leaves out; even the way we
breathe, the breath of life that goes in
and out of our body. The way we walk,

talk and sing, the way we do anything."
Once upon a time, he never would
have thought that he would be begging
for money on the street - just trying to
get by - to survive through each cold
winter night.
This child who once had dreams for
the world was now crouched on the floor
by Borders, just a couple of decades
older. People walk past him, as if he
were part of the cement wall he was sit-
ting in front of.
"I'm actually from Ann Arbor. I
was born and raised here," he said. "I
had four brothers, two sisters, two half
brothers, and one half sister. My father
was what you called a 'player.' He got
out there and did what he wanted to do
in the world. He did some things that
most fathers wouldn't do. My family is
so screwed up. It's the most screwed up
thing that you could ever think about."
He continued to summarize his life
chronologically including a sequence
of traumatic events with his father. He
described them as mere historical events
- a pause, seemingly devoid of attached
emotions, sitting isolated in a point in
time that had already passed.
When explaining why he began drink-
ing at twenty-something and popping "be
cool" pills, or anti-depressants, Danny
responded: "My brother Victor enticed
me to do that."
Once again, as far removed as he
could be, he continued to spit out parts
of his past.
"It was a whole lot of different circum-
stances at the time, and I couldn't get my
life straightened out because their lives
and my life were kinda screwed up."
Every morning, Danny wakes up. If
he's survived the night, alcohol helps
him face the next day.
"Well, I don't wanna tell no lie. I'm
gonna be honest, and I'm gonna tell the
truth. When I wake up in the morning, I
get me some alcohol," he said. "And then

omelessness is a nondiscriminatory event. The IN WASH TENAW COUNTY 275(
family is three paychecks away from 7
chomelessness. One major crisis, such as the need WILL EXPERIENCE HOMELESSNI
for an expensive car repair, can financially ruin YE AARgWITHLIA PEOPL
a low-income family, forcing them out into the street. ill' 1 a~U VYI E J.TU L.
For the people who can't avoid this fate, there is help HMELESS ANY GIVEN WEEK ,
available to get them back on their feet and an abun-
dance of people willing to lend a hand. ment. and should be treated'v

Singleton for change.
I go sit down over there, in that cubby-
hole, and I panhandle, while John sits up
here in Starbucks and waits for me."
John, his "brother," a frazzled-looking
man, with long, dirty hair, interjects.
"I watch out for him," he croaked in a
deeper voice.
Danny tacked on to John's response
"...to make sure that the police don't find
me. They just love to mess with me."
Danny continued to dab at the fester-
ing white wound on his lip.
"They say that I'm mental - but I'm
not." His eyes moved around awkward-
ly. "See, La Tanya Green ran this night
shelter called CMT. They said they could
hook me up with a place to stay for the
night. But you have to say that you were
mentally disturbed," he explained.
"Once you're a nut, residential servic-
es were supposed to get me housing."
But according to Danny, the shelter
didn't have room for him to have a place
to stay. forcing him on the street with
$30 a week.
"That wasn't enough to do nothin'
with, but get drunk in the street, and kill
yourself," he said.
Danny Jones, at one point in time, felt
the burden of pain before he turned to
alcohol and drugs. He used to be able
to feel with his hands, before pieces of

rough, calloused skin formed over the
delicate senses that allowed him to touch.
He once was able to sit at Starbucks and
look like he belonged.'
. "Sometimes, when people see me on the
street, they look at me and laugh," he said.
He began to get up.
"Five years from now, I'll be outta
this," he said firmly. "Once I get my
(social security) check back, I should be
okay. That's why I'm gettin' drunk now.
I can't do anything else - can't think
about anything else. I have nothing to do
anything else with." He put on his coat.
"I just need $5 more anyway for
tonight," he said.
As he headed for the door, he turned
"I was thinkin' to myself the other
day. This is something that my mother
has always taught me. She always said,
what you do to God's people, or what you
do to yourself, or what you do to any-
body - no matter who it is - you'll get
it back, sooner or later," he said.
"Cuz I'm sayin', the least that you've
done to ny little ones, you have done it unto
me. See, a lot of people don't know this."
Danny smiled again. "I've never
stopped that thought of wanting to be
a preachir" he said charmingly as he
walked out the door.

Delonis Center
Located at 312 W. Huron St., the Robert J. Delonis
Center serves the largest percentage of those experienc-
ing homelessness in Washtenaw County.
"We see a lot of people who are home-
less for the first time," said Ellen
Schulmeister, Executive Direc-
tor of the Shelter Association
r 4 of Washtenaw County.
Schulmeister said the
center sees a lot of
people who are
homeless for the
first time.
that many
to overcome,
such as being
because of
a low skill
level, leading to
a hard time finding
She added that
some may have a
mental issue or sub-
stance abuse prob-
Helping them get
4 through homeless-
ness, the Delonis
Center offers ser-
vices such as pro-
viding emergency
shelter, referrals
for substance
ers, trans-
health care,
44 4housing
and money
{?44 manage-

Many University students volunteer their time to help with
these programs so the residents can get back on their feet.
"There are no throwaway people. Every person that
is homeless is someone's mother, father, child or grand-
parent. They are a member of aifamily and a member
of the community. Together, we should find ways to
help them. Every person on earth deserves a place to
stay," Schulmeister said.
Looking at the statistics
In Washtenaw County 2,756 people will experience
homelessness within a year, with 41 people becoming
homeless any given week, according to www.ahomefor-
everyone.org. Not all of these people will spend time
in a shelter and are forced to live out in the streets.
The lack of affordable housing is a serious issue for
those in low-income circumstances. According to the
website, the average yearly income for homeless people
is $9,500 - which does not cover the average yearly rent
on a two bedroom apartment in Washtenaw County.
Adam Berge, an LSA junior, said homelessness is a
major issue that a lot of people don't recognize.
"People should be willing to help out the homeless
more," Berge said. "Subtle ways, like saying 'hi' and
treating them with more respect would help ... They
might not have the money, but they are human beings

Service is one opti
interested in helping.
in Ann Arbor working
homelessness. One org
vides therapeutic resp
dren, ages two months
Taking action
Jennifer D'Souza, a
with some homeless pi
that every so often, she
to take them out to lur
to say. Because of thi
has gained a more in-c
"It would be nice if
of us." she said.
"We don't see them ir
living our own lives, n
what they have to go thD
than food that they want
Despite the fact tha
been forced out on the
She said that there
tions about homeless p
"I don't think these
street. Homelessness c


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