Where the heartlessness is
My Twitter friend Deborah Megivern (@dmf71) in Saint Paul, MN, turned me on to this stunning video that shatters the myths surrounding homelessness:
Funny because homelessness has been very much on my mind since last Friday when I met up with the inspiring Lia Grimanis, a real go-getter who used to be homeless herself.
Lia Grimanis is the Number 3 sales executive for SAS Canada, the largest privately held business software company in the world. In her off hours, she swims with sharks, races motorcycles and flies helicopters. She's planning to "wing-walk." I'm not sure what that is, but I suspect it involves being on the wrong side of a plane.
What Grimanis says thrills her most, though, is "giving away money." She recently started a charitable foundation, Up With Women, to benefit those who, like Grimanis, were homeless.
When Grimanis was 18, she fled an abusive home with nothing but the clothes on her back. She declines to go into detail beyond stating that, had she stayed, she would not have made it to her 19th birthday.
She found the number of the Woman Abuse Hotline in the phone book and dialed. They got her into Stop 86, a YWCA shelter. The first night there, a fight broke out in her room. She cried herself to sleep.
Today, Grimanis helps other homeless women through her foundation Up With Women.
One thing that came through loud and clear. Homeless people, especially women, are not what you think -- and it's astonishingly easy to find yourself on the street. You have to wonder if, the economy being what it is, we won't see more people out there.
Needless to say, women, often with children, are especially vulnerable. And many homeless, especially young people, are on the run from abuse.
Anyway, Lia told me that, today in Toronto, a survey of the homeless would be conducted all over town. That's to assess their numbers and needs, with the intent of getting people off the streets.
The Star did an editorial on the subject. Read it here. Then read the comments.
I wonder how many of those people who don't seem to get it, or who clearly don't care, would feel if they learned how the homeless became that way.
Speaking of abuse, this moved on Reuters today:
One 4-month-old baby was shaken so violently she needed surgery. Another 3-week-old suffered fractured ribs from abuse at home. A 9-year-old diabetic boy stopped receiving proper treatment for his condition.
Those cases reported by Boston hospitals are part of a spike in child abuse in United States during a recession that has driven some families to the brink and overwhelmed cash-strapped child-protection agencies.
"In the last three months we have twice as many severe inflicted injury cases as we did in the three months the previous year," said Allison Scobie, program director of the Child Protection Team at Boston's Children's Hospital.
Typically, her hospital handles about 1,500 such cases a year. That rose to 1,800 last year.
"We're finding that it is directly attributable to what is happening economically," she said. "Many of the hospitals around here report an increase of 20 to 30 percent of requests for consultation regarding suspected child maltreatment."
Obviously, in Canada, we have the health insurance safety net. But how many kids are suffering at the hands of parents who just can't cope with the stress of joblessness? How many more teens will run away, and end up on the streets?