We met with Shaunea this afternoon (Nakeyah is visiting family until the 31st). She's really happy in her cozy apartment and marvels at how peaceful it is. Ofc Poole used to be a burglary detective, so he bought adjustable door security bars for her front and back doors to help make her place more secure. He set them up and showed her how to use them.
We did check with one of the second shift patrol officers who regularly works the area she lives in, and he said that she's in a pretty quiet area. He said he's rarely been there for calls, and when he has, it's never been for anything serious. He also said he'll swing by and introduce himself to her next time he's on duty. (Seriously, Columbus Division of Police is the best.)
Those of you newer to Starfish may not know that we were originally established after Nicole Banks and her son, Rohan, helped out a homeless Vietnam War Purple Heart recipient, Jim Stewart. They gathered together a group of about 300 people who got Jim a "new" car and an apartment in a little over a month. After Jim was taken care of, the group wanted to continue to help others, and Starfish was born. They learned that helping homeless people was generally outside their skill set, however. It typically takes more money and specific educational degrees that Starfish is lacking in, so we are unable to focus on homeless issues as a rule.
When we do have homeless Assignments, Jim is the one we turn to for help. He continues to do well, and is active in Starfish. He and Nicole text every day, and he comes to every Starfish meeting. He didn't need to get involved with Shaunea since Ofc Poole was handling it so well, but he's made a very profound difference with a lot of homeless and veterans referrals. If you'd like to read about Jim and Nicole here's a beautiful written Columbus Dispatch article by Kevin Stankiewicz.
Here is a one year follow up about them by Bryant Somerville, who did the news story on Ofc Poole and Shaunea.
Just as we made sure Jim did well, we want to make sure that we're setting Shaunea up for success and not just tossing her to her own devices. She'd mentioned to us that she was very determined to improve her financial health and eventually own her own home. So, Ofc Poole reached out to a few people at his church, and today we asked her if she'd like to work with a financial planner for several months, and if it fits her schedule, take a class at Columbus State to educate herself about financial planning. She was absolutely thrilled by the idea, hugging Ofc Poole and saying she feels like she has a second family with all of us.
We hope that all of you feel that Starfish is a happy place for you as well. That's what we strive for. We want it to be a place you can come to, where everyone can set aside the things that are troubling them and read happy news. A place where you can come together and make a difference. Because, as you can see, you really are. 💙