COMM 4020:Public Life Reporting Christopher Shipman

“Never hinder yourself from talking to anyone. You will never know where that person’s knowledge can lead you. Talking to many people of different races, religious beliefs, and ages can give you a perspective on life that yourself could not even imagine. Look around you. Life is more than one perspective. America has evolved into this enormous melting pot of people that you will gain more insight into how to approach various situations differently based upon the background of different people.”

-Charles Thompson

"I'm a social worker. I have a Master's in Social Work. That's not what I wanted to do. 15-years-ago when I was in college, I wanted to be an attorney, but I had the opportunity to work at a Migrant Head Start. While I was there I came across a little Hispanic girl that disclosed to me that she has been sexually abused by her father...As the only Spanish-speaking person in that building, I became very involved in the little girl's case. I was touched by how the social workers took the baby girl from a dangerous situation to a safe place."

AUGUSTA, Ga—Charles Thompson, a local homeless man of Augusta, is an Army veteran seeking assistance to get back in the working force to get off the streets of Downtown Augusta.

Thompson is usually seen under the shaded area of The Book Tavern which is adjacent to New Moon Cafe. Under the shaded area of The Book Tavern, Thompson is seen listening to music on his mini-laptop. Although Thompson is seeking for work, he uses his music on his laptop as a “mere escape” from his problems to maintain a balance of sanity.

“Life is nothing more than a 24-hour chess game. Each move that you make is a choice you have to live with for the rest of your life,” said by Thompson. Chess plays a significant role in Thompson’s life because people can always see him playing random people outside The Book Tavern every day. Thompson believes that his bad decisions have lead him to no family, work, or resources to keep him afloat in society. Fortunately, he has become likable to other members of the Augusta community to have a temporary place to sit in the daytime from incoming bad weather or cold conditions.

As life continues to go on, many people are struggling to become stable working-class citizens of America due to many circumstances that prohibit them from overcoming these challenges. According to Zenia Negrón, the Director of Social Services, The Salvation Army of Augusta has multiple programs such as Project Share to help people if they are behind on bills. Project Share also assists people to manage their income and to rid away from unnecessary expenses so they can have a financially stable future.

“Never hinder yourself from talking to anyone. You will never know where that person’s knowledge can lead you,” said by Thompson. However, how come his ability to be likable to some people of the Augusta community have not yet led him to a better opportunity? Is it because some people think they do not possess the ability to change someone’s’ life for the better? Or, is it because people are suffering in their lives that they cannot manage to help someone else?

According to Negrón, her original plan, 15-years-ago while in college, was to be an attorney. Instead, Negrón had an opportunity in working at the Migrant Head Start which led to her getting her Masters in Social Work. The journey that signified a change in her profession was a 4-year-old Hispanic girl who disclosed to Negrón that her father sexually abused her. Considering Negrón was the only person that spoke Spanish in her building, she became very involved in the little girl’s case. Negrón was touched by how the social workers took the baby girl from a dangerous situation to a safe place. “Help people, help you,” said by Negrón.

“Think of this chess board as the world; whatever move you make does not only affect you, but it affects everyone around you,” said by Thompson. The world we live in is a reflection of how we treat ourselves and others. During a conversation over chess with Thompson, I gave him a song suggestion that coincides with his chess board analogy. The song I suggested is titled “How Much A Dollar Cost.”

“What is the song about,” said by Thompson. I said, “This song exemplifies how refusing to help someone else in need can cost you a lot in the end.” We both understood that to improve the climate of our socio-economics, here in America, we have to be willing to be brotherly and sisterly to our fellow neighbors. “We are more connected than you think,” said by Thompson.

However, people have to be willing to help themselves rather than waiting for someone to assist, according to the Director of Interfaith Family Network, Latoya Hardman. Interfaith Family Network believes in providing their clients the necessary tools to get them back on their feet, but their customers have to be willing to do the work to ensure success as well. The tools that Interfaith provides are an offsite cost-free daycare for their client’s children while at work or looking for employment. Also, they provide a Case Manager, Karenia Clark, that helps out with budgeting and the next step in completing their program. The agencies that Interfaith partnered with are (EOA) Economic Opportunity Authority, Safe Homes, and (AWP) Augusta Warrior Project. In the future, Interfaith will be partnering with ICare to provide an alternative for children daycare.

Even though helping one another should be a way of life, some people believe it’s what God expects from us. According to Rusty Marsh, the Executive Director of Rescue Mission Housing, he believes in providing people hope. “Hope is what gets people through the day,” said by Marsh. We never know what causes a person to become homeless. “A person could become homeless because of numerous of things: laid-off, job foreclosure, domestic violence, etc.,” said by Marsh. However, Marsh believes it is an excellent opportunity to showcase the grace of what God can provide by just having and maintaining hope in our lives. The only requirement for the Rescue Mission is that the clients have to accept that it’s a faith-based program.

Sometimes placing your faith in something or someone can lead to dropping your guard or even false hope. Sometimes it’s better to be realistic about your goals and what you can achieve than to prematurely set goals that cannot be met due to requirements that conflict with your personal life. Yes, “you can gain more insight into how to approach various situations differently based upon the backgrounds of different people,” said by Thompson. However, life doesn’t start with the other person, life begins and ends with you.

-Zenia Negrón, The Director of Social Services at Salvation Army of Augusta

James Herrington, a 73-year-old man, has worked for four years on the first floor of the Allgood Hall on the Summerville Campus of Augusta University as a janitor. Herrington’s daily routine consists of him managing the cleanliness of three classrooms including the dining room in the Allgood Hall. Previously, Herrington formerly worked for Boral Brick as a lab technician for 48 years. Unfortunately, he was laid-off at Boral Brick and left to be unemployed for almost two years until he placed himself back into the workforce at AU. Herrington said that he would not return back to Boral Brick due to the intense workload and his age. Thus far, Herrington said he is satisfied with his experience at AU. Herrington utilizes his time to think about is the quality of his work satisfactory or needs improvement while cleaning. Herrington’s thinking process is brought about by his concern for his six grandchildren, 2 boys and 4 girls. The work that Herrington does at AU is to assist with whatever needs that his grandchildren may require.

-James Herrington, Janitor for Augusta University

“We’re a company that looks to assist with our clients’ needs while seeking employment to gain stability, not for them to remain dependent on our social affairs,”

The InterFaith Hospitality Network is a program that is recognized for its work ethic in empowering families and communities to achieve independence through events and fundraisers. InterFaith is a multi-purpose organization that caters to Augusta’s homeless by offering host churches, transportation, day care, and personal services.

Latoya Hardman, the director of InterFaith Hospitality Network, said the state of homeless affairs in the CSRA of Augusta places their attention on families. The homeless can be qualified either as a single mother or single father with children at InterFaith.

“As someone that oversees the various evaluations of multiple families, I can say that majority of our clients are single, black women who are divorced,” Hardman said. At InterFaith, there have been 98 single, black women that are divorced.

Karenia Clark, a case manager for InterFaith Hospitality Network, said the demographics that are predominantly clients are black families. Moreover, Anglo-Saxons, Hispanics, and other races are scarce.

For every family, they are given a 36-90 day evaluation to see improvement in financial stability. The evaluation process is a week-by-week examination that involves job logs, strategic planning, and financial help to become independent. From a recent study at InterFaith, there are 8 out of 15 clients that are employed, Clark said.

“We’re a company that looks to assist with our clients’ needs while seeking employment to gain stability, not for them to remain dependent on our social affairs,”

-Latoya Hardman

-Hardy Marsh, the Executive Director of Rescue Mission Housing,

Created By
Christopher Shipman

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