i need to clarify something also. criticizing the mission does not diminish my opinion of them or the services they offer. it in no way means i am ungrateful for the services, relief and help they have given me. just the opposite as a matter of fact. offering criticism of something or someone you admire, as long as it is not a personal attack or hides a hidden vengeful agenda, can be another form of admiration. this is not based solely on my opinion. this is a compilation of opinions from overniters, dinner guests, residents and myself. i have listened to conversations and heard comments and discussions enough to find some common complaints based in truth and i've tried to take the ones that were stated as a matter of fact and not out of anger or frustration. in other words, i've been careful to sort the whining from the criticism and the ungratefulness from the legitimate complaints.
i know the mission has parameters and guidelines that they set forth for the residents and overniters to follow. i fully realize that these guidelines must be followed for the sake of order and also for the safety of everyone involved. i fully realize the difficulty in making sure these guidelines are followed. i am well aware of the type of people, personalities, moods and issues that have to be dealt with when ensuring those guidelines are followed. there is also the issue of the effects of alcohol, drugs and mild to severe mental disorders thrown in that mix when you are dealing with overniters. but i'm also aware of something else. whenever an employee becomes larger than the problems, then you move into an entirely different scenario. when an employee becomes an instigator, whether intentionally or accidentally then you have complicated an already tedious set of circumstances. when an employee intentionally makes it more difficult to exist as an overniter at the mission then they have crossed the boundary from an employee to a problem within itself. unfortunately, this is what is happening at the mission at the present time. i realize that the overall thought process is to not allow overniters to become "too comfortable" at the mission. alot of missions and shelters employ this philosophy. while i strongly disagree with that philosophy, that is an issue that i will not take argument with because it is solely a judgement call on the leadership of the mission as to what that term means, what it entails and to what lengths they will go to implement that philosophy. but when an employee goes too far in practicing that line of thought and it crosses over into the realm of creating havoc and causing an almost miserable atmosphere while generating resentment and anger, then it becomes something else entirely. when an employee intentionally instigates and escalates a problem, then he becomes part of the problem. when an employee very intentionally and with a sense of only what i can call disruption changes a process or set of procedures solely for the purpose of changing them or to quote, "because i do things differently, because i can", then it becomes something that borders on what i can only call harrassment and a sense of ego and misguided judgement. it does more harm than good and only creates an atmosphere of anger and frustration for the overniters, many of whom are already burdened with issues from the day. the mission should be a place of respite and safe haven and not a place to face this sort of unnecessary harassment...and i use that term mildly for lack of a better adjective.
angry words spoken by an employee only creates anger. overniters pay attention and heed the rules when the other employees are on duty just as well if not better than when this employee is on duty.
whenever the majority of problems, expulsions and issues of anger occur on one employees shift then it could be that the techniques of that employee may need to be examined closer. whenever the majority of complaints from residents or overniters are directed at one employee, then perhaps its time to put some credence in those complaints and not write them off as ungrateful or needless negative statements. there are many logical, sensible, non alcoholic, non drug users and very amiable people that utilize the mission and they have the same complaints and issues with this situation and individual as the typical "problem clients" do. i think the bottom line on this is what the mission states as its own unwritten policy....treat people with respect and as you would want to be treated. at the present this is not happening in this case. i think another very important issue and perhaps the main one to consider when taking this into consideration is simply this...attempting to break the spirit of homeless...whether it be intentional or inadvertently is the wrong approach. their spirit is broken when they walk in the door.
i am not going to nor will i name a specific employee. it would serve no purpose in this entry. i think anyone familiar with the sunday breakfast mission, its residents and i think most of its employees, would recognize this employee. to be honest i have been kind in describing this issue and the problems surrounding it. it is an issue and it is a negative on an otherwise very good record and statement of accomplishment by the mission. but a negative it is. it's not only a negative, but it is a negative that effects lives and the emotional state of the overniters. it effects the atmosphere and general opinion of the mission by the very people the mission is in existence to serve. it can and too frequently escalates bad situations into something much worse. i believe it could be solved by simply speaking with and explaining to that employee that there are boundaries and perhaps some training is in order. that is not for me to decide or make suggestions on however.
in the end...what the mission gets wrong...is what alot of missions get wrong. they allow an employee to cross certain boundaries for the sake of getting a job done and maintaining order. they have inadvertently done this at the expense of the overniters and the overall atmosphere of the mission. they have allowed this employee to become an entity unto himself and perform what i think he views as his own law and order and set of rules and justice. this is a situation that cannot end well and i fear that it will eventually lead to a serious conflict that could have been avoided. as for what the mission gets wrong, i believe most of it is centered around this individual and the havoc that is created by the circumstances. i also believe it could be and should be solved quite simply and easily and in a short period of time. of course before this could be done, the mission would have to recognize and agree that there is a problem and most of all...admit that there is a problem and that it is in the best interest of the clients to solve this problem . but isn't that what the mission is in existence for...to assist the homeless and those struggling with addictions and poverty....and do what's in their best interest?
....since I wrote this entry I have had several clients from the mission say that this individual
struck a client in chapel service a few nites ago. apparently it was justified by the client dozing off in his chair. the reasoning used....he wanted to make sure the client was ok? apparently the client was struck with the back or the ball of the hand. if this is true it is totally unacceptable. at no time should an employee strike a client for any reason other than extreme self defense. as I stated, this situation will continue to escalate if it is not dealt with. I doubt the intent was to harm but striking a client is unacceptable in any circumstance.
see you around town