Eight months ago Anthony and I embarked on a journey. Anthony was to help me stay on track writing my book about the Year of Giving and I agreed to help Anthony try to get off the streets and into his very own apartment. While we have a long way to go on my book, Anthony is now living in his very own apartment.
I went with Anthony to sign his lease and pick up his keys to his apartment. Catholic Charities, a national organization that helps individuals living in poverty, has a program that helps individuals like Anthony get back into housing. Anthony and I learned about their program and the available apartment through Pathways to Housing, a terrific regional organization that helps find housing for individuals with mental illness, co-occurring substance abuse disorders and/or other medical challenges. We’ve been working with their rock-star outreach worker Elizabeth for several months now.
I’m not celebrating just yet, but we got some amazing news this week. Through a lot of hard work from Elizabeth, the outreach worker that we have been working with, it looks like Anthony will receive his very own set of keys to his apartment next Monday!!!
Sadly I am not in the US to celebrate with him…I am in Bolivia on a business trip. I called him yesterday via and he was so excited and thankful for the hard work, kindness and support so many have offered to him.
He went on Monday to check out the apartment. “It’s got a really nice bed,” he told me. Thoughts of him no longer sleeping on the damp unforgiving pavement made my voice smile back at him.
I have to admit though – I am a bit worried about this transition. This will be a tremendous change for Anthony. I need to find out if they have services available to help homeless individuals deal with moving back indoors. I am certainly not the best option to give him support in that area.
Anyway…I will have more news at the latest by early next week! I hope that I will be able to go with him and watch him receive his keys.
Fungus, bacterial infection and gangrene – all problems that can affect those who do not properly care for their feet. The homeless are particularly vulnerable to these health problems due to a lack of showers, access to proper shoes and socks and the inability to dry feet properly after they become wet.
As you remember, Anthony was admitted to the hospital last week because his feet became so damaged his socks were soaked with blood. After that episode, I thought I would talk to my podiatrist to see if he could treat Anthony. It would be really convenient for Anthony as his office is about 30 yards from where Anthony sells the Street Sense at 19th and M.
Although the doctor explained he did not take Medicaid, he didn’t hesitate to see Anthony. “Not a problem, I’d be happy to see him for free,” he told me. Wow…what a great guy.
So met up with Anthony this morning to take him to his appointment. As we sat in the waiting room I noticed that Anthony was not wearing socks! “You didn’t wear socks today?” I asked him.
“I ran out. I’m sorry,” he said pulling his pant leg up to reveal his bloated ankles.
I’m getting tired of seeing Anthony in a hospital gown. I’m sure I am not as tired as he is though. He’s been in and out of the hospital since we started Anthony & Me. This time he was admitted due to some problems related to his feet, but G.W. Hospital ended up keeping him a few additional days due to his highly elevated blood pressure. Thankfully he was finally released last week.
While he was in the hospital he was supposed to have a meeting with a potential housing provider that we learned about through our superstar outreach worker Elizabeth. They rescheduled for today, but unfortunately the person from the facility either forgot about the meeting or didn’t have it scheduled because she wasn’t there.
Anthony called me from the bus ride home. “The good news is I know exactly where this house is located and it is a great location,” he told me with an enthusiasm in his voice that I hadn’t heard for weeks. But it faded away as quickly as it had returned. “The bad news is the program manager didn’t show up…so now we have to come back later this week or next week” There was a long pause and then I heard him sigh. “It’s like it never ends,” he muttered.
I hope to know tomorrow when the meeting is rescheduled.
Tomorrow morning I’m going to meet up with Anthony and take him to my podiatrist. A doctor of mine for several years, he agreed to see Anthony. The doctor doesn’t take Medicaid but he didn’t hesitate to offer to help. What a nice guy. I will let you know how his appointment goes.
So, Anthony gets out of the hospital, we go get him checked out by his physician later that week and then we meet with Elizabeth, the rockstar social outreach worker we have been working with to help get him housing.
Elizabeth had great news. Anthony has passed the basic qualification requirements for housing. And not just any housing. Now I haven’t seen it yet, but it sounds like an amazing opportunity for my friend. It’s a single room – so he doesn’t have to share it with others – which is important to Anthony. Next, it’s in Columbia Heights! For those of you who are not familiar with DC this is a great neighborhood with excellent access to public transportation.
A few days after my last post about how Anthony’s health seemed to be doing better I called him only to find him admitted at George Washington University Hospital. His blood pressure was dangerously high and he was not feeling well. A customer of his saw him sitting near the spot where he sells the paper and, after seeing that he didn’t look normal, asked if he was feeling alright. He wasn’t…and they called an ambulance.
I learned about this the following day. My office is only a few blocks from the hospital so I walked over on my lunch break to check on him. I was his only visitor he told me. While I was there with him he opened Continue reading →
I have been so derelict in my blog writing. Sometimes I wonder how I wrote every single day back in 2010 when I did the Year of Giving.
So there are several items to update you on. First, Anthony is doing well. We got some amazing news recently. He was approved to receive a small amount of government assistance to help him as we prepare to move him into housing. What? Housing for Anthony?!?! Well, while I have been away there have been some people who have been very busy trying to find housing for Anthony. And with this small supplemental income, I think it will put him in a great position to get into some low-income housing. Special thanks and a shout out to Elizabeth for all of her help with Anthony!!!
The eye drops that Dr. Rubinfeld put in my eyes were starting to take affect when my phone rang. I moved the screen a bit further away than normal and read Anthony’s name on the caller ID. He was calling to say that he might be a little late for our 11:45 meeting – his pants ripped earlier in the day and he needed to get a new pair across town at a thrift store.
My eye exam wrapped up and I was cleared for Lasik eye surgery next Wednesday. I wandered out of the doctor’s office, my eyes fighting off the unwelcome sun that was bathing the sidewalks of Friendship Heights, MD. Although it’s only about a block to the Metro, it took me a few extra minutes to arrive as I kept my head tucked deep into the top of my coat looking straight down as I walked, using my hand to shield my eyes from the sun’s rays. I stepped into the underworld of the Metro and finally found my eyes relaxed in the cool dimly lit concrete world. A few minutes later I was downtown DC near Anthony’s corner. I grabbed a coffee and plopped down in a comfy chair at Caribou Coffee to burn some time until he arrived.
We met; he was upbeat and very chipper. A side of him that I hand’t seen in a while. In fact, I hadn’t really seen any side of Anthony in a weeks as he’d cancelled a few of our meetings.
He slipped me a folded up piece of legal paper – you know the yellow colored type. “We’ll talk about that over lunch,” he said with a smile. Before heading off to lunch, Anthony asked me to take a photo of him to send to a very generous woman named Joyce who has been following the blog and sent a donation to cover a night in hotel for him.
Over quesadillas and tacos we talked about the piece of paper he slipped me earlier. I unfolded it carefully – it seems that it had gotten wet at some point and could potentially tear so I wanted to be gentle with it. Inside I found a business card for an outreach worker that Anthony likes very much. He hopes that she will be able to help him navigate the housing assistance jungle. We’ve got several irons in the fire, but I believe that we really need to stick with one group and work more closely with them if we want to get keys to an apartment in Anthony’s hands.
After lunch we walked back to his corner. He grilled me on my book writing. I’m behind again, but still very committed. But Anthony suggested we up the stakes some. “You need consequences,” he said grinning about as wide as one can. “If you don’t get your draft proposal done in the next 3 weeks, then I think you need to come sleep on the streets with me.”
Not a bad motivator. I don’t have any interest in spending a night on the streets of DC. I nodded my head slowly knowing that Anthony’s suggestion was a good one, despite the fact that I wasn’t wild about the idea. But that is just the kind of consequence that we need to have – something to motivate me to meet my deadlines. So there you go. The clock is ticking and I need to get writing…so I will be back in touch next week.
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play. So we sat in the house. All that cold, cold, wet day.
― Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat
For me the pitter patter sound of falling rain soothes the soul. I often stay inside by the fireplace where I find my eyes wandering toward the windowsill. The only difference today was that when I looked out at the marbles of rain bouncing on the street surface below I knew that Anthony was not snuggled up in a home next to a fireplace drinking freshly brewed coffee.
It was a little after 7am. I was up writing but having trouble focusing. I was supposed to meet him at 11:30am for our bi-weekly meeting. Last week he flaked on it – well maybe that is too harsh. I found him in an exhausted state after being up most the night monitoring a group of college kids that he was supervising as they went through a 48 “urban plunge” where they experience life on the streets. It’s understandable he didn’t feel much like meeting. Hell, he didn’t want to eat. I know he’s not feeling well when he passes up a free meal!
It was shortly after 11am when I got the call. Anthony cancelled again. “Maybe next week,” he said sounding sluggish and melancholy “It’s nasty out there this morning and I’m just going to stay here at the Au Bon Pain and wait it out and maybe try to get some sleep.” I offered to meet him there at the french bakery, but he insisted that today was not a good day.
I let it go. We talked for a minute about a few other items, he checked on my writing progress. “Well, I tried to do some this morning but that didn’t work out. I’ve got some time set aside later this afternoon,” I told him still hopeful that I would get some productive time in on the book after lunch.
This is the first time since we have been working together that he has cancelled twice in a row. I offered to change my schedule and meet with him on Thursday but he preferred to wait until next week.
Something doesn’t seem right.
Sadly I didn’t get any work done on my book. I got a lot of other crap done…but no writing.
Today was supposed to be my regular meeting with Anthony. I called him this morning to make sure we were still on – but he didn’t pick up. Nonetheless, I headed down to his corner to meet up with him around noon.
The southeast corner of 19th and M was full of people but I didn’t see my friend. My feet paced in the same space that Anthony usually occupies as I scanned the area to see if he possibly had wandered away for a moment. While fumbling for my phone to give him a call I spotted his bright yellow vest across 19th street.
His body propped up against one of those newspaper boxes that take quarters, Anthony looked terrible. “I haven’t slept at all,” he said to me explaining that he had chaperoned a group of college students from Richmond doing an urban plunge – a 48 hour experience developed by the National Coalition for the Homeless where young people get matched with a homeless individual and experience life on the streets. “This group had a couple of girls Continue reading →