Visit To a Homeless Camp
Updated: Apr 23
ASSIGNMENT UPDATE: Fix the vehicle of a homeless couple and their two pups before they have to move out of their encampment on Monday. If you're not familiar with the original post, it's available here.
REFERRING OFFICER: Columbus Division of Police Community Liaison Officer Kelly Shay (8 Precinct, Franklinton)
Today we accompanied Officer Shay to the homeless camp where Heath and Leona are living with their two dogs until they need to move on Monday. We wanted to check in with them and see how they're doing, and we also wanted to educate ourselves and the Starfish community about what a homeless camp might look like.
Their truck made it safely to Clark's Auto Repair and is being worked on. We hope to be able to provide you an update on Monday. We have raised enough money to pay for the initial repairs, plus $57 extra at the time of this posting. Thank you very much for your generosity in helping this couple. If nothing else needs to be done to the truck, we'll give the extra $57 to them. They need the money.
Ofc Shay is dismayed that they haven't started to pack up their camp. They seem to be hoping that they'll have another pardon and be able to stay longer. They've made this wooded area off of Sullivant a surprisingly comfortable place. The path has rugs and tarps laid down to prevent it from becoming too muddy. A cute wooden door marks the main entrance to their home, which is surrounded by fencing. Blankets are hung from clotheslines for privacy and decoration.
There are distinct areas for various activities--there is an outdoor seating area farther from the main living area, which one might regard as the front deck. It has a couch and additional seating for entertaining, as well as a Christmas tree. A Garfield stuffed animal sits on an end table like an honored guest.
Their main tent/sleeping area is covered with blankets and is heated with a propane heater. They let us inside and it was indeed warm and cozy. There is a functional fire area just outside.
Behind it, the fencing has metal cans hung from it as makeshift burglar alarms. But there is beauty in them as well--one area has all of the same types of cans--another area has blues, yellows, greens, and reds.
Throughout the camp, the couple has hung stuffed animals and other items in the trees as decoration. Art even in these circumstances.
The dogs were very friendly and wanted to see everyone, as well as get pets from everyone. The bigger of the two wagged his tail so hard his whole body moved. They were very excited to have visitors.
A social worker is helping the couple to hopefully improve their circumstances for the long term. It's true that helping them get their truck fixed will be fantastic, and we hope that long term the work Ofc Shay and the team she's bringing in to help them will be able to make a difference in the lives of Heath and Leona and their pups.
As we mentioned, we've reached our goal in regards to how much money we needed for this Assignment. However, if you would like to contribute more, we will either use the additional funds towards car repairs (if necessary) or pass the money on to Heath, Leona, and their fur babies. They were very grateful for the assistance, and it was extremely nice to be able to do something for them. Thank you again for allowing us to help people like this. We really appreciate you.