Photos: Top left, Ofc Poole & Sgt Curmode; Top right, Ofc Golden & his son, Dalton. Middle row, some of Nicole's neighbors and the items they donated; Bottom rows, their new apartment.
ASSIGNMENT: Help three developmentally disabled adults who, after being homeless for a year, have just gotten an apartment.
REFERRING OFFICERS: Columbus Division of Police Sergeant Joe Curmode, Traffic Control Unit and Officer Frank Golden, Freeway Patrol
On Tuesday, about 15 minutes after we posted our Assignment with Ofc Roberts and Mr McGeorge, our friend Ofc Frank Golden called Starfish President Nicole Banks. She thought he was just checking in to say hi after seeing our latest Assignment, but in fact he hadn't seen it yet. (It's here if you'd like to read it.)
The conversation went something like this....
"Nicole, can Starfish help us with some furniture? My friend has been helping three young people who were homeless and they just got their own apartment today--"
"Frank! Can you have him call me right now? We JUST posted an Assignment and my neighbors were offering a ton of furniture. I had to turn a bunch of it down. I'll contact them and let them know we need it after all, I just have to get a list of the items they're looking for."
Sgt Joe Curmode was in Walmart with his three friends and their caseworker, Pamela Palmer, shopping for items for their new apartment when he called Nicole. He told her that he'd befriended the trio about a year ago and had been trying to help get them into housing for quite some time. It was a very sad story. They'd been victimized by family members who'd taken their money, and in one case, by a person who'd befriended one of them saying she'd take care of their money but instead had stolen it and left the person with a bad credit history. Sgt Curmode had turned that case over to CPD's fraud unit, but without receipts and other evidence, it was impossible to prove.
So, Sgt Curmode had done what he could to help them. (To protect them from opportunistic family members and acquaintances, we're not publishing any photos or identifying details.) He got them vendors' licenses and bought them water and candy they could re-sell to supplement their meager government income. During bouts of harsh weather, he and his wife, retired CPD Commander Suzanne Curmode, would put them up in temporary housing or hotels.
Several things have worked to get them on the right track. First, their casworker is fantastic. She really cares and has been great. Second, Sgt Curmode was able to convince them to save their stimulus checks and use them as security deposit and first month's rent on their new apartment. Third, he was able to get them connected with a company that acts as their payee--kind of an electronic guardian. They receive their checks, pay their bills, and give them a weekly stipend to live off of.
So with all this legwork coming together, Sgt Curmode was in need of some furniture for this new apartment, which as it turned out, is in our good friend Ofc James Poole's precinct. Nicole took down the list of items they'd need, then asked Sgt Curmode, "I hope you're not buying them anything for the apartment unless it's stuff like paper towels and toilet paper. My neighbors will be able to give you pretty much everything you need."
"I was thinking some pots and pans."
"No, I feel confident that we'll be able to get you some pots and pans."
When Nicole got off the phone, she noticed she'd gotten some texts. One of them was from a coworker, who'd mentioned he'd upgraded his pots and pans after she recommended a set to him about a year ago. Yes, folks that really happened and JUST like that. She immediately wrote him back and asked if she could have his old set for this Assignment. He happily agreed and brought them over that evening.
Then her neighbors came together to get them everything else--a queen size bed, box spring and frame, a full-size platform bed (they already had a mattress for it), comforters for both beds, sheets, a reclining couch, two easy chairs, a kitchen table, two dressers and an end table, and a host of other household items including new towels, a stockpot (the only pot the donated set was missing), a knife set and block, a full set of silverware, a set of Tupperware canisters, a 6-place setting of silverware, cleaning supplies, a lovely candle, lots of lamps since their apartment is dark, and food storage containers.
They did all of this within one day. Nicole asked for it on her neighborhood Facebook group that evening, and by the next day at 5pm, Sgt Curmode, Ofc Golden, his son Dalton, Nicole, and our three intrepid new leaseholders were making the rounds of her neighborhood to pick up everything that hadn't already been dropped off! (Pretty cool neighborhood, huh?)
Back on the Southeast side of Columbus, they met up with Ofc Poole, who'd been in other meetings, but who was able to help with some assembly of the furniture and move some items. He promised to be another person to check in on them, and to work with his apartment contacts to help get them into a nicer neighborhood once they've established a better credit history when this lease is up.
If you would like to make a monetary donation to help this terrific trio, we'll be accepting donations for them up to $1,000. With that we'll be able to cover any incidentals not provided by Nicole's neighbors. What they don't need to spend right now, we'll hold onto and will use as needed. Anything donated above that amount will go towards our emergency fund. Thank you!
Finally, we'd like to leave you with something that Ofc Golden said to one of the three friends, who playfully asked him how he could be friends with Sgt Curmode, given that Sgt Curmode is (horror!) a Michigan fan. "You can still like someone and disagree with them. That's what people need to learn nowadays. Just because you disagree with someone doesn't mean you have to hate them. He's still a good guy."