[Hpn] Vans give homeless free ride

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Thu, 06 Mar 2008 07:51:52 -0500


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http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/1204798595277=
250.xml&coll=3D1newh;hpn;
Vans give homeless free ride
Thursday, March 06, 2008=20
By PATRICIA C. McCARTER

Times Staff Writer patricia.mccarter@htimes.com=20
Churches provide transport to clinic from shelters=20

The four-mile round-trip between the Community Free Clinic and =
Huntsville's most populated homeless shelters doesn't sound far - if you =
have a car, and it isn't dark, and it isn't cold, and you aren't sick.=20

But four miles can feel like forever when any of those other conditions =
are involved. Having a church van pick you up in the morning, take you =
to the doctor and then bring you back to your home - as loosely as that =
term can be defined - can seem almost like a luxury.=20

     =20
    =20
=20
"Sweet Jesus, it's nice," said Bobby Dent, a 43-year-old man who lives =
under a bridge and suffers from hypertension.=20

Dent was one of 14 patients seen by a doctor Wednesday from 9 a.m. until =
noon at the Community Free Clinic. Many were there for flu, colds and =
respiratory ailments. Another 35 homeless patients came by to get =
prescriptions refilled.=20

The clinic began special hours for the homeless in that time slot a =
month ago, and the director said the need is every bit as dire as she'd =
been told when the clinic was asked by the Interfaith Mission Service to =
consider it.=20

"Since we opened nine years ago, we've seen several homeless people =
during our regular clinic hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings," said =
clinic director Shotsie Platt. "But we didn't realize what an issue =
transportation was for them.=20

"By churches getting involved in providing vans to get the patients here =
and back to the shelters, it really helps these people out. Plus, it =
frees up some of the evening hours for other patients. It's definitely =
been a plus."=20

The vans pick up patients from the Downtown Rescue Mission, the =
Salvation Army and First Stop homeless day shelter. HEMSI donates the =
time of two paramedics to ride in the van and help tend to the patients =
once they arrive at the clinic.=20

A head count in Madison, Morgan and Limestone counties in late January =
showed that there were 781 homeless people living in north-central =
Alabama. Over half of those were counted in emergency shelters.=20

Dent and his girlfriend, 37-year-old LaShon Powell, don't live in a =
shelter. They stay outdoors, and they keep hoping their fortunes will =
change and they'll find a real place to live. Something that's kept them =
from that is health problems for both of them.=20

With free health care and medications, they can envision a future where =
they both work and can eventually afford an apartment.=20

"I can do roofing, but it's not good to get up on a roof when you're =
dizzy and weak," Dent said. "I plan on getting better, saving a little =
money and getting us a place to live.=20

"I would hate to think that this kind life was permanent. We are going =
to get better."=20

Platt said the annual cost of running the Wednesday morning clinic for =
homeless is about $32,000, and half of that has been raised or pledged =
by churches, businesses and individuals.=20

"We operate entirely on donations," Platt said. "Any time or money that =
the public wants to give will be appreciated and is much needed."=20

Platt can be reached at 533-2910, ext. 5. Donations can be mailed to the =
Community Free Clinic, 711 Franklin St., Huntsville, AL 35801


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href=3D"http://www.al.com/news/huntsvilletimes/index.ssf?/base/news/12047=
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<H1 class=3Dred><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>Vans give homeless free =
ride</H1></DIV>
<DIV>
<DIV class=3Dsubhead>
<DIV class=3Dsubhead><B></B></DIV></DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyln>Thursday, March 06, 2008=20
<DIV>
<DIV>By PATRICIA C. McCARTER</DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV></DIV><B><B>Times Staff Writer=20
patricia.mccarter@htimes.com</B></B> </DIV>
<P>Churches provide transport to clinic from shelters </P>
<P>The four-mile round-trip between the Community Free Clinic and =
Huntsville's=20
most populated homeless shelters doesn't sound far - if you have a car, =
and it=20
isn't dark, and it isn't cold, and you aren't sick. </P>
<P>But four miles can feel like forever when any of those other =
conditions are=20
involved. Having a church van pick you up in the morning, take you to =
the doctor=20
and then bring you back to your home - as loosely as that term can be =
defined -=20
can seem almost like a luxury. </P>
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<P>"Sweet Jesus, it's nice," said Bobby Dent, a 43-year-old man who =
lives under=20
a bridge and suffers from hypertension. </P>
<P>Dent was one of 14 patients seen by a doctor Wednesday from 9 a.m. =
until noon=20
at the Community Free Clinic. Many were there for flu, colds and =
respiratory=20
ailments. Another 35 homeless patients came by to get prescriptions =
refilled.=20
</P>
<P>The clinic began special hours for the homeless in that time slot a =
month=20
ago, and the director said the need is every bit as dire as she'd been =
told when=20
the clinic was asked by the Interfaith Mission Service to consider it. =
</P>
<P>"Since we opened nine years ago, we've seen several homeless people =
during=20
our regular clinic hours on Tuesday and Thursday evenings," said clinic =
director=20
Shotsie Platt. "But we didn't realize what an issue transportation was =
for them.=20
</P>
<P>"By churches getting involved in providing vans to get the patients =
here and=20
back to the shelters, it really helps these people out. Plus, it frees =
up some=20
of the evening hours for other patients. It's definitely been a plus." =
</P>
<P>The vans pick up patients from the Downtown Rescue Mission, the =
Salvation=20
Army and First Stop homeless day shelter. HEMSI donates the time of two=20
paramedics to ride in the van and help tend to the patients once they =
arrive at=20
the clinic. </P>
<P>A head count in Madison, Morgan and Limestone counties in late =
January showed=20
that there were 781 homeless people living in north-central Alabama. =
Over half=20
of those were counted in emergency shelters. </P>
<P>Dent and his girlfriend, 37-year-old LaShon Powell, don't live in a =
shelter.=20
They stay outdoors, and they keep hoping their fortunes will change and =
they'll=20
find a real place to live. Something that's kept them from that is =
health=20
problems for both of them. </P>
<P>With free health care and medications, they can envision a future =
where they=20
both work and can eventually afford an apartment. </P>
<P>"I can do roofing, but it's not good to get up on a roof when you're =
dizzy=20
and weak," Dent said. "I plan on getting better, saving a little money =
and=20
getting us a place to live. </P>
<P>"I would hate to think that this kind life was permanent. We are =
going to get=20
better." </P>
<P>Platt said the annual cost of running the Wednesday morning clinic =
for=20
homeless is about $32,000, and half of that has been raised or pledged =
by=20
churches, businesses and individuals. </P>
<P>"We operate entirely on donations," Platt said. "Any time or money =
that the=20
public wants to give will be appreciated and is much needed." </P>
<P>Platt can be reached at 533-2910, ext. 5. Donations can be mailed to =
the=20
Community Free Clinic, 711 Franklin St., Huntsville, AL=20
35801<BR></FONT></P></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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