Sunday, February 27, 2011

One Mission Graduate's Words about his Church, Wayside and Stewardship

Finding My Place in Stewardship by J. P. Hardy

By My Turn... - Posted on 18 October 2010
Going through the recovery process at Wayside Christian Mission allowed me to humble myself a great deal, Which empowered me with the willingness to grow as a Christian. I believe if I had completed the recovery process anywhere else, I would have missed the spiritual part of the program. In being able to accept and love myself, I was able to do the same for others. Prior to recovery, I either thought that I was better than you or that you thought you were better than me. I never could see others eye to eye. As my spirit awakened as the result of the Steps, I began to feel a sense of equality. I began to gain interest in my fellow man and my Creator. Feeling like a part of the community at Highland Baptist Church has opened me up as a person and as a Christian. I am more comfortable in larger groups. Being a part of my community has allowed me the opportunity to recognize the needs of others and why it is important to give back to the community.

I've learned over the last 18 months that it is much more fulfilling to give than to receive. When I began attending Friday Church, I came for myself to help myself. Once God empowered me, I realized the importance of giving back... to the community, to the Church, to support OUR Church. We are the Church. The sense of camaraderie I feel on Friday evenings when the guys from Wayside jump of the bus and greet me and tell me how their week went is indescribable. At this time I feel whole. As a church community, we make up one body... the body of Christ.

Billy Graham was quoted as saying, "A checkbook is a theological document. It will tell you who and what you worship." You see, I'm a person who used to worship my possessions, but after living in a homeless shelter for 15 months and being stripped bare of what I then considered necessities, I was able to realign my priorities to better serve God. This made me a much happier person and free from burden. Technology that is designed to make our lives easier can over-complicate things and become a burden, especially if it affects the decisions we make. Give generously because money does not make you happy, and they don't put luggage racks on coffins either! Or if you are like me and do not have much money and are already giving as much as you can to your church, do not fret. Be creative! There are many other ways to give to the Church and to serve God and to empower your community!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Welcoming JCPS to Hotel Louisville


Wayside Christian Mission’s Hotel Louisville would like to welcome its new neighbor—Jefferson County Public School’s Office of Homeless Education. Diana Warfield and Janice Spicer, who head the Crisis Intervention Intake and Enrollment Center located on the second floor of our building, assist school-age children whose lives have been disrupted by homelessness.

During this school year, some 8,000 school-age children will experience the trauma of homelessness in Jefferson County. According to Ms Spicer, the downturn in today’s economy is the number one cause of homelessness among elementary, middle, and high school students. It comes as no surprise that continuing levels of high unemployment and relatively low earnings have exacted a heavy toll on many of Louisville’s most economically disadvantaged families. Thankfully, JCPS’s Office of Homeless Education assists families in the registration and enrollment process while arranging transportation and tutoring for school-age children living in homeless shelters. Keeping these boys and girls in school is one of best ways of insuring the cycle of homelessness will be broken. By the way, JCPS staff members Diane Morrison and Joyce Shumate spend several nights a week tutoring the children in Wayside Christian Mission’s Family Transitional Program on Broadway.

As this is a collaborative effort that benefits homeless children throughout the community, Wayside Christian Mission agreed to donate the three rooms needed for this project—two offices and a learning lab—that is valued at $900 per month. Considering all that is at stake in the lives of these children, we are pleased in providing this space to the Jefferson County Public Schools without charge to accommodate this vitally important project.

Monday, February 14, 2011

WHAS Comments from a Wayside Case Manager

Just last month Dale and I did CPR on a client for 15 minutes awaiting EMS. The CT had gone to the emergency room at U of L at 2am that morning and had been released to the shelter. We received a call from the 2nd floor monitor at 9:30am about a CT that had fallen out. When we arrived the CT was non responsive. Dale and I went to work, called 911, began chest compressions and continued until EMS arrived. The CT had a pulse when he exited. Unfortunately, we were informed that he died on the way to the hospital. Here is a case where a CT was released back to the shelter and suffered a heart attack after being released from the emergency room 6-7 hours previous. We often have guests come to us from hospitals, emergency rooms with prescriptions that don't get filled. I can't tell you how many times we as case managers have gone to Walgreen's to assist CT's with the purchase of meds.
Often we have poor people dumped at the shelter via cabs with no meds and unsigned discharge documents, but nobody seems to care about that. Recently, had a man dropped via cab from Norton Brownsboro, mental health issues, scripts but nothing to hold him over until they were filled. Spoke with the man for several hours located some family members through the conversation and was able to get him reconnected with his family and some help. Because of the severe situations and problems our guests come to us with I will never take a chance with a guests medical/emotional needs. Their lives are to important to make an impoper or incorrect medical decision, period. And because we deal with so many medically fragile individuals we will have more than our share of medical emergencies, it comes with the territory. It is incumbent upon us, as case managers, to provide not only compassion, but the best care options available.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

An Open Letter to WHAS Investigative Report Concerning EMS and Emergency Room Usage

Homelessness and Emergency Medical Services

In order to insure accurate news reporting regarding the “hundreds of ambulance runs” from Wayside Christian Mission’s Emergency Shelter, there are a number of discernable facts that are not so obvious and yet deserving of your consideration. It must be remembered that Wayside Christian Mission is the “final safety net” and “last chance” in caring for the area’s homeless population. We serve many clients who were turned away by other agencies and, as such, provide vitally needed services to those who are in the highest risk category.

Too, no citizen, homeless or otherwise, can be denied the right to emergency ambulatory care. Both logic and compassion dictate that the seeking of refuge in a homeless shelter does not necessitate a forfeiture of this basic right; furthermore, if Wayside Christian Mission attempted to restrict a client’s access to emergency ambulatory care, this would amount to nothing less than a scandalous violation of a citizen’s protected right. As such, it is unreasonable to assume that Wayside Christian Mission should be held liable if a resident chooses to access emergency medical treatment.

In truth, it is far more reasonable to believe there would be many more ambulance runs if those living in the security of these shelters returned to their abandoned buildings or highway overpasses. Adverse weather is also a determining factor, for during times of searing heat or bitter cold, Wayside Christian Mission’s Operation White Flag brings even more homeless men and women into their Emergency Shelter. These are typically the chronic homeless who shy away from the shelter except during the worst possible weather conditions; as expected, the chronically homeless are often the ones with the most pressing health issues. For the record, Wayside Christian Mission houses more homeless than any other local organization. With all this, it is even more reasonable to believe that, without Wayside Christian Mission and other like-minded organizations, there would be desperate overcrowding in the city’s morgue.

Additionally, recent trends such as the rise in outpatient treatment and the deinstitutionalizing of the mentally ill coupled with the inherent health issues common among the homeless have created greater, almost overwhelming challenges to shelter operators; however, both the homeless and society at large have benefited from the efforts of those who battle homelessness on a number of fronts. Rather than adding to the financial burden, the humanitarian efforts of Wayside Christian Mission and other area shelters have saved the public millions of dollars.

Homelessness and Trends in Outpatient Treatment

According to The Journal of the American Medical Association, the length of the average hospital stay has been substantially reduced in recent years. Owing to today’s skyrocketing health care costs, many illnesses that once prescribed long hospital stays are now being treated on an outpatient basis. This cost-cutter measure may work well in a number of cases; unfortunately, those who are homeless cannot expect to convalesce while living under a viaduct. Proper outpatient treatment requires sanitary living conditions, a healthy diet, and a measure of assistance. These vital requirements for recovery are not found on the streets. In truth, were it not for the services of homeless shelters, the burden of outpatient care would fall upon costly nursing homes or necessitate longer hospital stays; either way, the taxpayer would end up footing a rather exorbitant bill.

The University Hospital refers many of its patients to our Emergency Shelter on Jefferson Street as there are eighty medical beds reserved for convalescing residents. The utilization of Wayside Christian Mission’s eighty medical beds helps to ease the overcrowding of limited floor space while saving the hospital substantial sums of money and manpower.

Inherent Health Issues and Homelessness

Homeless shelters receive residents who are far more likely to be plagued with health-related issues. Poor hygiene, long term substance abuse, inadequate diets, and harsh living conditions ultimately result in a grave toll against the individual’s overall health. According to a study by Mary Ann Burg titled Health Problems of Sheltered Homeless Women and their Dependent Children, risks of illness and disease are the expected byproducts of life on the streets.

“Because of their adverse and transitory living arrangements, homeless people in general have a higher prevalence of illness resulting from exposure to the elements, violence, poor nutrition, parasites, and infectious disease than other impoverished persons.”

These health problems, often life-threatening, present an even greater challenge to the facilities that serve the homeless, yet, without the services provided by homeless shelters, hospitals and convalescent centers and, for that matter, taxpayers would be further burdened by the health issues inherent to homelessness.
Locally, Phoenix Health Care operates a medical clinic that assists in the treating of patients residing in area homeless shelters.

Homelessness and the Deinstitutionalizing of the Mentally Ill

With the introduction of new antipsychotic drugs in the 1950s, the trend of deinstitutionalizing mentally ill persons began. Many who had spent much of their lives under around-the-clock care were suddenly released from institutions onto the streets. It was believed by some mental health experts that the institutionalization of the mentally ill created more harm than good; it was further argued that these new drugs would allow the mentally ill to live among society—making their own choices and benefiting from their new found independence. As an added benefit, it was argued that the closing of these institutions would ultimately save taxpayer dollars. The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill appeared to be a win-win situation; rather than being locked away, mentally ill people would gain by living among society while the steady drain on the public coffers would be substantially reduced.

In theory, mainstreaming the mentally ill appeared to be a favorable alternative to institutionalization; however, according to a study by Crystal Ribeiro titled Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill, this new trend was not without flaw:

“Unfortunately, these programs were not completely well thought out or implemented…The programs thought to replace care given in institutions were not nearly adequate. These programs, attempts to place the mentally ill back in society to be helped by the community members, day programs, and medications were not fully implemented to the full extent needed to replace institutions. This process led to an overwhelming number of mentally ill loose in society, becoming criminals due to lack of treatment.”

While it cannot be rightfully argued that all mentally ill people should be herded back into institutions, statistical studies indicate that mental illness is among the leading causes of homelessness. Where day programs and medications fail, homeless shelters afford a vital safety net. In other words, homeless shelters are providing many essential services to the mentally ill that were once offered by those institutions that have since been closed. It may be furthered argued that America’s streets are somewhat safer because of the fundamental services homeless shelters provide to the mentally ill.

Breaking the Cycle of Homelessness

Wayside Christian Mission combats the ravages of homelessness on a number of fronts. Our Sober Living Program and similar programs offered by other area shelters and agencies can point to literally hundreds of men and women whose lives were once desperately out of control but are now living useful, productive lives. It is worth noting that sobriety programs have saved the public millions of dollars in lost revenue and in the mounting costs of expensive treatment programs funded by the government. Wayside Christian Mission provides more than cots and three hot meals a day—we are teaching life skills to those battling substance abuse, ignorance, and poverty. Ultimately, all of society benefits when a homeless person becomes a self-sustaining member of the community.

Granted, a number of ambulatory request calls placed by clients in our Emergency Homeless Shelter are frivolous. This is unfortunate and yet this is not always preventable; quite simply, mental illness will often impair a client’s better judgment. Too, the anxiety resulting from living in a homeless shelter can induce a sense of uneasiness and panic when a non-threatening illness occurs. Persons experiencing homelessness have limited health care options at their disposal with the Phoenix Health Care for the Homeless Clinic being the only alternative to emergency care they can generally access. Wayside Christian Mission did not create this problem nor does the Mission perpetuate this problem—the problem exists because more health care services do not exist.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


I am well acquainted with the flocks of pigeons that gather atop the high rise buildings of downtown Louisville, but on January 11, Wayside’s Hotel Louisville was visited by a lone stork! Yes, little Talahne Jones was born in our women’s shelter located on the fourth floor of the hotel!
As you might imagine, everyone was surprised—including the baby’s mother Tocheyona Jones! When little Talahne decided she was ready to greet the world, she wasted no time getting here! And the good news is both baby and mother are doing just fine! Little Talahne is absolutely beautiful—of course, all babies are beautiful, but there is something special about this little one! As for the mother, she appreciates the good care and safe environment provided to her and her daughter by the caring staff of Wayside Christian Mission.
Owing to the generosity of our donors, Baby Talahne and her mother are in a safe place.

Monday, February 07, 2011


On January 29, Mr. John Bright of Louisville celebrated his birthday—but this was no ordinary birthday nor was there anything ordinary about the celebration. That Saturday evening, about one hundred fifty family members, friends, and local dignitaries came together in the Hotel Louisville’s lavishly appointed twelfth floor ballroom to celebrate Mr. Bright’s one hundredth birthday!
According to Ms. Ruby Hyde, the party’s organizer, Mr. Hyde was gratified by the gathering of well-wishers! Along with the festivities, both the Mayor’s Office and the City Council decreed January 29 as John Bright Day!
Wayside Christian Mission’s own Down by the Wayside Choir topped off the event with a special concert in Mr. Bright’s honor! Mr. Bright, who enjoys good health and a sound mind, was thoroughly pleased with his one hundredth birthday bash!
When asked about the quality of the Hotel Louisville’s accommodations, Ms. Ruby Hyde said, “Everything was just beautiful! This is one of the best venues in the City of Louisville!”
Well, nothing is too good for Louisville’s most celebrated centurion!


Last Saturday, a spirited troop of singers, actors, and dancers known as the Emerging Artists Group entertained a capacity crowd at a fundraiser hosted at Wayside Christian Mission’s Hotel Louisville. The show, A Culinary Cabaret, featured novelty songs and comic sketches about everyone’s favorite topic—food! From caviar to cheeseburgers, the show was a real smorgasbord of taste-tempting entertainment. As one would expect, some deliciously delightful hors’d oeuvers and deserts were served to the hungry guests, too. Area businesses and local artists added to the festivities by donating their wares for the silent auction. And the fun was for a good cause as the proceeds from the event will benefit Wayside Christian Mission’s battle against homelessness. Hats off to the organizers, performers, businesses, artists, staff members, and attendees who made this a night to remember!