[Hpn] FAMILIAR FACES GIVE HOPE TO THE HOMELESS

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Thu, 30 Jun 2005 13:22:11 -0400


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    =20


      Familiar faces give hope to homeless
      =20
      City caseworkers return to streets they once called home


      Thursday, June 30, 2005
      =20

      By KIM HORNER / The Dallas Morning News=20


      City caseworker Monica Ladet walked up to a man lying on a chunk =
of cardboard on a South Dallas sidewalk.


       =20
      BRAD LOPER/DMN=20
      Crisis Intervention caseworker Monica Ladet pays a visit to Paul =
Stringer at his camp near Interstate 35E in Dallas. "Are you OK?" she =
asked.

      Nathaniel Jacobs nodded.

      Then he did a double take.

      "I know you," he said. Mr. Jacobs recognized Ms. Ladet, but not =
because of her job or dark-blue jacket with Crisis Intervention in bold =
white letters. He remembered her from a much different time in her life =
-- when she, too, might have been found sleeping on cardboard in the =
middle of the day.

      Ms. Ladet is among a handful of area caseworkers who help the =
homeless with credentials they would not wish upon anyone. Each has been =
homeless and understands firsthand the suffering of the people they =
encounter. Their experiences give them insight and credibility other =
social workers can never match, and their successes show that leaving =
the streets is not impossible.

      While many homeless people help peers in shelter programs, few =
become social workers, according to the National Coalition for the =
Homeless advocacy group in Washington, D.C. And going public about =
having lived on the streets takes courage because of negative =
perceptions about the homeless, said Michael Stoops, the agency's acting =
executive director.

      "It's remarkable that they have survived homelessness and got =
training on their own and are willing to help people like themselves who =
are on the streets," he said. "The only downside is it might make them =
remember how it was, and that could bring back some bad memories."

      Back on the streets=20
      Going back to shelters, encampments and under bridges makes it =
difficult for the workers to forget their own horrible experiences on =
the streets. But Ben Johnson said he simply couldn't walk away from that =
life.

       =20
      Photos by BRAD LOPER/DMN=20
      Crisis Intervention caseworkers Monica Ladet ! (center) and Carol =
Webster (right) check on Paula Morends, who lives under a railroad =
bridge off Industrial Boulevard in Dallas.=20
      "Someone has to do it," said Mr. Johnson, who lived in his car =
after a business venture went sour. He got off the streets after signing =
up for what's considered the domestic Peace Corps, and he is looking for =
a full-time job working with the homeless. "I can't turn my head from =
it."

      On a recent afternoon, Mr. Johnson set up voice-mail accounts for =
several homeless men at The Stewpot downtown so potential employers can =
reach them.

      "I'm committed to helping people who can't help themselves," he =
said. "I'm out here plugging for them and helping them get what they've =
got coming at last."

      James Waghorne, a mental-health worker for Dallas MetroCare =
Services who once lived in a camp near White Rock Lake, said returning =
to work on the streets can prove too painful for those who have been =
homeless.

      The caseworker and president of the Dallas Homeless Neighborhood =
Association said he keeps at it because he is outraged by the tragedy of =
people disabled by mental illnesses living on the streets.

      Every day Mr. Waghorne tries to help people who are so sick they =
cannot function well enough to care for themselves without more help =
than the system provides, he said. Mental health and addiction services =
have been cut statewide, making it more difficult to get people the =
treatment they need.

      A local count in January found nearly 6,000 homeless people, with =
nearly 1,000 considered chronic or long-term homeless who suffer severe =
mental illnesses and/or addictions.

      Mr. Waghorne spends much of his free time advocating for the =
homeless, including speaking out against the city in May for razing a =
homeless camp under Interstate 45. He has had to bury homeless people he =
knew from the streets, including two who were killed in October when a =
truck ran into them outside the Day Resource Center.

      Seeing so much suffering every day inflicts emotional wear and =
tear. "You cannot do enough to try to save everyone you come across," =
Mr. Waghorne said.

      Many homeless people consider Mr. Waghorne family, and some call =
him "uncle." But he struggles to walk a fine line between being family =
and working at Dallas MetroCare's clinic at the resource center.

      "A doctor can't get too close to his patients or it will hurt him =
in the long run. I don't know if I can ever get the lines straight," he =
said.

      Mr. Waghorne, who became homeless while suffering major =
depression, said the success stories -- when someone reconnects with =
family, for example -- keep him going.

      Caseworkers for the homeless face another challenge: Many homeless =
people do not trust the system that is supposed to help them. Part of a =
caseworker's job is building a rapport with people so they will =
eventually accept treatment. That might mean a visit to someone under a =
bridge just to say hello.

      Despite low salaries, social workers sometimes dig into their own =
pockets to buy a hamburger or bottled water for a person on the streets.

      All in a day's work=20
      A day's work for Ms. Ladet recently included climbing down a steep =
embankment covered with knee-high grass along Interstate 30 downtown. =
The constant roar of cars on the freeway drowned out all other sound.

      At the highest point under the bridge, a man slept curled under a =
blanket on a narrow concrete slab. The stench of urine overpowered the =
area littered with cigarette butts. Ms. Ladet encouraged him to come see =
her at the Day Resource Center.

      Ms. Ladet and fellow caseworker Carol Webster applied insect =
repellant on another warm muggy day and took out their walking sticks =
before heading into a wooded area west of Interstate 35 in the city's =
Design District.

      "Hello, anybody home?" Ms. Webster asked before walking into the =
campsite.

      Carl Cagle sat in a dome tent under a tree, drinking from a quart =
bottle of Bud Ice. Beige carpet scraps lined his tidy camp area, which =
included a wooden spool that served as a table, an American flag, a lawn =
chair and an unobstructed view of downtown.

      Mr. Cagle, a Persian Gulf War veteran, has been homeless for 10 =
years. He said he has cirrhosis of the liver and wants rehab, but got =
discouraged when no bed was immediately available from the Department of =
Veterans Affairs.

      Ms. Webster said she would arrange treatment and come back to pick =
him up. He signed up for treatment the following week.

      "I really want to get out of here," Mr. Cagle said. "I'm tired of =
this."

      'Ungodly sadness'=20
      Ms. Ladet remembers that feeling. The former bartender lost her =
job and apartment after crack cocaine became more important than paying =
bills. She lived under the I-45 overpass in 1993.

      One day when Ms. Ladet was washing her clothes at the Day Resource =
Center, Ms. Webster, who was counseling her at the time, told her she =
had a drinking problem. Ms. Ladet stormed off.

      "I said, 'OK, you'll be back,' " Ms. Webster said.

      Those words haunted Ms. Ladet.

      "I couldn't get high after that," she said.

      Like Mr. Cagle, Ms. Ladet got sick of her way of life. Ms. Ladet =
entered rehab and could no longer run from the pain of her mother's =
violent death in Natchitoches, La. when she was 18. Ms. Ladet's father =
was indicted for manslaughter in the case in 1976, but the jury could =
not reach a verdict.

      After so much pain on the streets, Ms. Ladet did not originally =
plan to work with the homeless.

      "At first I worried, 'Can I take going back?' " she said. "I call =
it surrender."

      Last year, she received a bachelor's degree in psychology from the =
University of Texas at Dallas and is working on a master's. In January, =
Ms. Ladet became the city's first Crisis Intervention caseworker who had =
been homeless. Now her former counselor, Ms. Webster, is her work =
partner.

      "She's been there and she knows what it's like living homeless, =
with no self-esteem and people looking down on you," said Dave Hogan, =
the program's manager. "She has a lot of empathy for these folks, but =
she knows people have to put effort into changing their lives."

      The woman who once lived in a shanty under the bridge, addicted to =
alcohol and crack cocaine said she owes her recovery to the fact that =
Ms. Webster refused to give up on her. Ms. Ladet prays that she can do =
the same for others.

      "You look into their eyes and see this ungodly sadness," she said. =
"You can't give up on them. They're human beings."

      E-mail khorner@dallasnews.com

      LEADING THE HOMELESS BY EXAMPLE
      =20
      A handful of Dallas caseworkers who work with the homeless have =
been there themselves. Their stories:

      BEN JOHNSON

      Age: 56

      When he was homeless: Between 1999 and 2003, when he lived in his =
car in a vacant Dallas field

      What he does now: Volunteer for AmeriCorps*VISTA assigned to the =
Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance. Mr. Johnson's VISTA assignment ends in =
July. He is looking for a full-time job working with the homeless.

      MONICA LADET

      Age: 47

      When she was homeless: In 1993, when she lived under the =
Interstate 45 bridge in Dallas

      What she does now: Caseworker for Dallas' Crisis Intervention Unit

      JAMES WAGHORNE

      Age: 46

      When he was homeless: Between 2000 and 2002, when he lived in a =
camp near Skillman Street and Abrams Road in Dallas

      What he does now: Mental-health worker, Dallas MetroCare Services

    =20

 
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      <DIV id=3Dbitext><BR><!-- vstory begin --><FONT size=3D+2><B><SPAN =

      class=3Dvitstoryheadline>Familiar faces give hope to =
homeless</SPAN><SPAN=20
      class=3Dvitstoryheadline></SPAN> </B></FONT>
      <P><FONT size=3D+1><B><SPAN class=3Dvitstorydeck>City caseworkers =
return to=20
      streets they once called home<BR></SPAN></B></FONT>
      <P><FONT size=3D-1><B><SPAN class=3Dvitstorydate>Thursday, June =
30,=20
      2005</SPAN> </B></FONT>
      <P><FONT size=3D-1><B><SPAN class=3Dvitstorybyline>By KIM HORNER / =
The Dallas=20
      Morning News </SPAN></B></FONT><SPAN class=3Dvitstorybody>
      <P>
      <P>City caseworker Monica Ladet walked up to a man lying on a =
chunk of=20
      cardboard on a South Dallas sidewalk.</P>
      <P><!-- image1 starts here --></P>
      <DIV class=3Dbiimage=20
      style=3D"PADDING-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 3px; FLOAT: right; =
PADDING-BOTTOM: 3px; WIDTH: 175px; PADDING-TOP: 3px"><IMG=20
      title=3D"Click image for a larger version"=20
      style=3D"BORDER-TOP-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-LEFT-WIDTH: 0px; =
BORDER-BOTTOM-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-RIGHT-WIDTH: 0px"=20
      height=3D16 =
src=3D"http://www.dallasnews.com/bi/images/clikEnlarge.gif"=20
      width=3D80 border=3D0> <IMG onmouseover=3D" =
this.style.cursor=3D'hand'"=20
      title=3D"Crisis Intervention caseworker Monica Ladet pays a visit =
to Paul Stringer at his camp near Interstate 35E in Dallas. Ms. Ladet is =
among a handful of Dallas social workers who understand the plight of =
the homeless firsthand. "=20
      onclick=3D"return clickedImage(this);" alt=3D"BRAD LOPER/DMN"=20
      =
src=3D"http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/img/v3/06-30-2005.N1A_=
30caseworkermain.GMH1KM001.1.jpg"=20
      width=3D175>=20
      <DIV class=3Dbithumbcaption>
      <DIV class=3Dbithumbcredit>BRAD LOPER/DMN </DIV>Crisis =
Intervention=20
      caseworker Monica Ladet pays a visit to Paul Stringer at his camp =
near=20
      Interstate 35E in Dallas. </DIV></DIV>
      <P><!-- image1 ends here -->"Are you OK?" she asked.</P>
      <P>Nathaniel Jacobs nodded.</P>
      <P>Then he did a double take.</P>
      <P>"I know you," he said. Mr. Jacobs recognized Ms. Ladet, but not =
because=20
      of her job or dark-blue jacket with Crisis Intervention in bold =
white=20
      letters. He remembered her from a much different time in her life =
-- when=20
      she, too, might have been found sleeping on cardboard in the =
middle of the=20
      day.</P>
      <P>Ms. Ladet is among a handful of area caseworkers who help the =
homeless=20
      with credentials they would not wish upon anyone. Each has been =
homeless=20
      and understands firsthand the suffering of the people they =
encounter.=20
      Their experiences give them insight and credibility other social =
workers=20
      can never match, and their successes show that leaving the streets =
is not=20
      impossible.</P>
      <P>While many homeless people help peers in shelter programs, few =
become=20
      social workers, according to the National Coalition for the =
Homeless=20
      advocacy group in Washington, D.C. And going public about having =
lived on=20
      the streets takes courage because of negative perceptions about =
the=20
      homeless, said Michael Stoops, the agency's acting executive =
director.</P>
      <P>"It's remarkable that they have survived homelessness and got =
training=20
      on their own and are willing to help people like themselves who =
are on the=20
      streets," he said. "The only downside is it might make them =
remember how=20
      it was, and that could bring back some bad memories."</P>
      <DIV class=3Ddwssubhead>Back on the streets </DIV>
      <P>Going back to shelters, encampments and under bridges makes it=20
      difficult for the workers to forget their own horrible experiences =
on the=20
      streets. But Ben Johnson said he simply couldn't walk away from =
that=20
      life.</P><!-- image2 starts here -->
      <DIV class=3Dbiimage=20
      style=3D"PADDING-RIGHT: 3px; PADDING-LEFT: 0px; FLOAT: left; =
PADDING-BOTTOM: 3px; WIDTH: 175px; PADDING-TOP: 3px"><IMG=20
      title=3D"Click image for a larger version"=20
      style=3D"BORDER-TOP-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-LEFT-WIDTH: 0px; =
BORDER-BOTTOM-WIDTH: 0px; BORDER-RIGHT-WIDTH: 0px"=20
      height=3D16 =
src=3D"http://www.dallasnews.com/bi/images/clikEnlarge.gif"=20
      width=3D80 border=3D0> <IMG onmouseover=3D" =
this.style.cursor=3D'hand'"=20
      title=3D"Crisis Intervention caseworkers Monica Ladet (center) and =
Carol Webster (right) check on Paula Morends, who lives under a railroad =
bridge off Industrial Boulevard in Dallas. Ms. Ladet, who credits Ms. =
Webster with helping her get off the street and into rehab, now counts =
her former counselor among her co-workers. "=20
      onclick=3D"return clickedImage(this);" alt=3D"Photos by BRAD =
LOPER/DMN"=20
      =
src=3D"http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/img/v3/06-30-2005.N1A_=
30caseworkerinsidemain.GMH1KLSQO.1.jpg"=20
      width=3D175>=20
      <DIV class=3Dbithumbcaption>
      <DIV class=3Dbithumbcredit>Photos by BRAD LOPER/DMN </DIV>Crisis=20
      Intervention caseworkers Monica Ladet ! (center) and Carol Webster =
(right)=20
      check on Paula Morends, who lives under a railroad bridge off =
Industrial=20
      Boulevard in Dallas. </DIV></DIV>
      <P><!-- image2 ends here --></P>
      <P>"Someone has to do it," said Mr. Johnson, who lived in his car =
after a=20
      business venture went sour. He got off the streets after signing =
up for=20
      what's considered the domestic Peace Corps, and he is looking for =
a=20
      full-time job working with the homeless. "I can't turn my head =
from=20
      it."</P>
      <P>On a recent afternoon, Mr. Johnson set up voice-mail accounts =
for=20
      several homeless men at The Stewpot downtown so potential =
employers can=20
      reach them.</P>
      <P>"I'm committed to helping people who can't help themselves," he =
said.=20
      "I'm out here plugging for them and helping them get what they've =
got=20
      coming at last."</P>
      <P>James Waghorne, a mental-health worker for Dallas MetroCare =
Services=20
      who once lived in a camp near White Rock Lake, said returning to =
work on=20
      the streets can prove too painful for those who have been =
homeless.</P>
      <P>The caseworker and president of the Dallas Homeless =
Neighborhood=20
      Association said he keeps at it because he is outraged by the =
tragedy of=20
      people disabled by mental illnesses living on the streets.</P>
      <P>Every day Mr. Waghorne tries to help people who are so sick =
they cannot=20
      function well enough to care for themselves without more help than =
the=20
      system provides, he said. Mental health and addiction services =
have been=20
      cut statewide, making it more difficult to get people the =
treatment they=20
      need.</P>
      <P>A local count in January found nearly 6,000 homeless people, =
with=20
      nearly 1,000 considered chronic or long-term homeless who suffer =
severe=20
      mental illnesses and/or addictions.</P>
      <P>Mr. Waghorne spends much of his free time advocating for the =
homeless,=20
      including speaking out against the city in May for razing a =
homeless camp=20
      under Interstate 45. He has had to bury homeless people he knew =
from the=20
      streets, including two who were killed in October when a truck ran =
into=20
      them outside the Day Resource Center.</P>
      <P>Seeing so much suffering every day inflicts emotional wear and =
tear.=20
      "You cannot do enough to try to save everyone you come across," =
Mr.=20
      Waghorne said.</P>
      <P>Many homeless people consider Mr. Waghorne family, and some =
call him=20
      "uncle." But he struggles to walk a fine line between being family =
and=20
      working at Dallas MetroCare's clinic at the resource center.</P>
      <P>"A doctor can't get too close to his patients or it will hurt =
him in=20
      the long run. I don't know if I can ever get the lines straight," =
he=20
      said.</P>
      <P>Mr. Waghorne, who became homeless while suffering major =
depression,=20
      said the success stories -- when someone reconnects with family, =
for=20
      example -- keep him going.</P>
      <P>Caseworkers for the homeless face another challenge: Many =
homeless=20
      people do not trust the system that is supposed to help them. Part =
of a=20
      caseworker's job is building a rapport with people so they will =
eventually=20
      accept treatment. That might mean a visit to someone under a =
bridge just=20
      to say hello.</P>
      <P>Despite low salaries, social workers sometimes dig into their =
own=20
      pockets to buy a hamburger or bottled water for a person on the=20
      streets.</P>
      <DIV class=3Ddwssubhead>All in a day's work </DIV>
      <P>A day's work for Ms. Ladet recently included climbing down a =
steep=20
      embankment covered with knee-high grass along Interstate 30 =
downtown. The=20
      constant roar of cars on the freeway drowned out all other =
sound.</P>
      <P>At the highest point under the bridge, a man slept curled under =
a=20
      blanket on a narrow concrete slab. The stench of urine overpowered =
the=20
      area littered with cigarette butts. Ms. Ladet encouraged him to =
come see=20
      her at the Day Resource Center.</P>
      <P>Ms. Ladet and fellow caseworker Carol Webster applied insect =
repellant=20
      on another warm muggy day and took out their walking sticks before =
heading=20
      into a wooded area west of Interstate 35 in the city's Design=20
District.</P>
      <P>"Hello, anybody home?" Ms. Webster asked before walking into =
the=20
      campsite.</P>
      <P>Carl Cagle sat in a dome tent under a tree, drinking from a =
quart=20
      bottle of Bud Ice. Beige carpet scraps lined his tidy camp area, =
which=20
      included a wooden spool that served as a table, an American flag, =
a lawn=20
      chair and an unobstructed view of downtown.</P>
      <P>Mr. Cagle, a Persian Gulf War veteran, has been homeless for 10 =
years.=20
      He said he has cirrhosis of the liver and wants rehab, but got =
discouraged=20
      when no bed was immediately available from the Department of =
Veterans=20
      Affairs.</P>
      <P>Ms. Webster said she would arrange treatment and come back to =
pick him=20
      up. He signed up for treatment the following week.</P>
      <P>"I really want to get out of here," Mr. Cagle said. "I'm tired =
of=20
      this."</P>
      <DIV class=3Ddwssubhead>'Ungodly sadness' </DIV>
      <P>Ms. Ladet remembers that feeling. The former bartender lost her =
job and=20
      apartment after crack cocaine became more important than paying =
bills. She=20
      lived under the I-45 overpass in 1993.</P>
      <P>One day when Ms. Ladet was washing her clothes at the Day =
Resource=20
      Center, Ms. Webster, who was counseling her at the time, told her =
she had=20
      a drinking problem. Ms. Ladet stormed off.</P>
      <P>"I said, 'OK, you'll be back,' " Ms. Webster said.</P>
      <P>Those words haunted Ms. Ladet.</P>
      <P>"I couldn't get high after that," she said.</P>
      <P>Like Mr. Cagle, Ms. Ladet got sick of her way of life. Ms. =
Ladet=20
      entered rehab and could no longer run from the pain of her =
mother's=20
      violent death in Natchitoches, La. when she was 18. Ms. Ladet's =
father was=20
      indicted for manslaughter in the case in 1976, but the jury could =
not=20
      reach a verdict.</P>
      <P>After so much pain on the streets, Ms. Ladet did not originally =
plan to=20
      work with the homeless.</P>
      <P>"At first I worried, 'Can I take going back?' " she said. "I =
call it=20
      surrender."</P>
      <P>Last year, she received a bachelor's degree in psychology from =
the=20
      University of Texas at Dallas and is working on a master's. In =
January,=20
      Ms. Ladet became the city's first Crisis Intervention caseworker =
who had=20
      been homeless. Now her former counselor, Ms. Webster, is her work=20
      partner.</P>
      <P>"She's been there and she knows what it's like living homeless, =
with no=20
      self-esteem and people looking down on you," said Dave Hogan, the=20
      program's manager. "She has a lot of empathy for these folks, but =
she=20
      knows people have to put effort into changing their lives."</P>
      <P>The woman who once lived in a shanty under the bridge, addicted =
to=20
      alcohol and crack cocaine said she owes her recovery to the fact =
that Ms.=20
      Webster refused to give up on her. Ms. Ladet prays that she can do =
the=20
      same for others.</P>
      <P>"You look into their eyes and see this ungodly sadness," she =
said. "You=20
      can't give up on them. They're human beings."</P>
      <P>E-mail <A=20
      =
href=3D"mailto:khorner@dallasnews.com">khorner@dallasnews.com</A></P>
      <DIV style=3D"CLEAR: right; WIDTH: 100%"><STRONG><A =
class=3Dbilabel=20
      style=3D"PADDING-BOTTOM: 3px; PADDING-TOP: 3px">LEADING THE =
HOMELESS BY=20
      EXAMPLE</A></STRONG> </DIV>
      <P>A handful of Dallas caseworkers who work with the homeless have =
been=20
      there themselves. Their stories:</P>
      <P>BEN JOHNSON</P>
      <P>Age: 56</P>
      <P>When he was homeless: Between 1999 and 2003, when he lived in =
his car=20
      in a vacant Dallas field</P>
      <P>What he does now: Volunteer for AmeriCorps*VISTA assigned to =
the Metro=20
      Dallas Homeless Alliance. Mr. Johnson's VISTA assignment ends in =
July. He=20
      is looking for a full-time job working with the homeless.</P>
      <P>MONICA LADET</P>
      <P>Age: 47</P>
      <P>When she was homeless: In 1993, when she lived under the =
Interstate 45=20
      bridge in Dallas</P>
      <P>What she does now: Caseworker for Dallas' Crisis Intervention =
Unit</P>
      <P>JAMES WAGHORNE</P>
      <P>Age: 46</P>
      <P>When he was homeless: Between 2000 and 2002, when he lived in a =
camp=20
      near Skillman Street and Abrams Road in Dallas</P>
      <P>What he does now: Mental-health worker, Dallas MetroCare =
Services</P>
      <P><!-- Image3 start //<div class=3D"biimage" =
style=3D"width:175px;padding:3px 0px 3px 3px;float:right;" >	<img =
src=3D"http://www.dallasnews.com/bi/images/clikEnlarge.gif" width=3D"80" =
height=3D"16" border=3D"0" title=3D"Click image for a larger version" =
style=3D"border: 0px; align: left;">	 <img =
src=3D"http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/img/v3/06-30-2005.N1A_=
30caseworkersecondary.GMH1KLSUN.1.jpg" width=3D"0" =
style=3D"cursor:pointer;" onClick=3D"return clickedImage(this);" =
onMouseOver=3D" this.style.cursor=3D'hand'" alt=3D"" title=3D"Ms. Ladet =
and Ms. Webster visited Steve Fitzpatrick (left) and Chuck Root behind a =
coin laundry off Gaston Avenue in Dallas. Mr. Fitzpatrick thanked Ms. =
Ladet for her help. "><div class=3D"bithumbcaption"><div =
class=3D"bithumbcredit"></div>Ms. Ladet and Ms. Webster visited Steve =
Fitzpatrick (left) and Chuck Root behind a coin laundry off Gaston =
Avenue in Dallas. Mr. Fitzpatrick thanked Ms. Ladet for her help. =
</div></div><p> // Image3 end --></P></SPAN><!-- vstory end =
--></SPAN></DIV></TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE><PRE>&nbsp;</PRE></BODY></HTML>=


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