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charlieq
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Anthony came into the Day Center this week, the first time I'd seen him since last spring. Something was off. He has always been thin and his face has the slightly rearranged look of an old injury that had settled... Continue reading
Posted Jan 29, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
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At the end of the table today, two Native women demonstrated techniques for making cigarettes on a budget. Joanne, like a number of smokers, gathers discarded cigarette butts from the street, public ashtrays and other sources. These are typically collected... Continue reading
Posted Jan 27, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Everybody thinks I'm doing meth, she said—but I'm not. I put that one down as a fib, given the evidence—the mouth contortions, the chickenpox face, the rapt but ineffectual focus on dressing the sores on her hands. A shoplifting charge... Continue reading
Posted Jan 13, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
I was cleaning the vestibule area as a prelude to shutting our doors for the day when I saw an overloaded car pull up to the curb. A young man unfolded from the front passenger side and walked awkwardly through... Continue reading
Posted Jan 6, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
We need to have coffee. I always appreciate your point of view. No, of course that was not my intention to accuse, and I apologize for making the implication. Members of the police force of course are sympathetic and helpful to people on the street. I see them often at the Day Center. Nor did I mean to imply they enforce the law discriminantly. It is unlikely, for example, that non-homeless people break the law against living in storage units. "The police would much rather have ability to direct people to a safe place to stay" Absolutely. Police have to enforce the law; they are not the housing authority. My remark was not purposely directed at the police, though the syntax makes it appear that way. I meant to convey that an institutional/community approach to homelessness that focuses on ordinances and not housing is unlikely to stop people from sleeping in dangerous places. I should have noted that I was quoting from the police department's blog, which echoed the news coverage of the tragedy: "At this point, the Grand Junction Police Department is wrapping up interviews with potential witnesses and making sure all appropriate municipal ordinances were followed regarding storage units." http://grandjunctionpolicedepartment.com/2015/02/23/update-to-saturday-nights-storage-unit-fatal-fire-identities-released-cause-determined-gvcopbeat/
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The first time JC said he had come to the Day Center "to change my diaper," I thought it was his droll way of saying he wanted to use the rest room. This week, I realized that in addition to... Continue reading
Posted Jan 1, 2016 at Across the Great Divide
Today was my first day since May as a volunteer at the Catholic Outreach Day Center in Grand Junction, Colorado. Hoping for the best, I looked forward to catching up with some people. The weather has started to turn cold... Continue reading
Posted Dec 23, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
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In this photo, my father is younger than our son. A postage-stamp sized photo of my father in his Navy uniform. On the back it says: guess Who? again. He was serving off the coast of China when I was... Continue reading
Posted May 25, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
Ron came in early this morning. Often, he sits in the vestibule watching the proceedings and aiming silent commentary from his repertoire of grimaces. He may not enter the Day Center at all, even for a cup of coffee. Today,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 23, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
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Fourteen months ago, I wrote this post about a regular guest who disappeared. The day center director and I emptied his storage bin and put his possessions in the back, in case "Abe" returned. One day different either way, and... Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
I ran into a couple Minnesota guys today out here in Western Colorado. Both of them were tired. M, 55, arrived recently after Hennepin County bought him a one-way bus ticket to Grand Junction. (That's how your community may be... Continue reading
Posted Apr 2, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
On his intake form, the bird-like man with russet dreads spilling from his knit cap answered the question How long have you been homeless? with 30+ years. Lindsay wrote his name in the loopy cursive he must've practiced in grade... Continue reading
Posted Mar 13, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
Our homeless guests at the Day Center tend to arrive in streams. There's an early cohort waiting in vestibule when we open at 8 a.m. Some are there to do laundry (the first five machines start up about 7:30). Others... Continue reading
Posted Feb 12, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
Glen is headed back to Scotland where he hasn't lived for 35 years. During many of those years in the U.S., he's been a steelworker, hanging rebar in skyscrapers. Though he can speak some Gaelic, his speech is as American... Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2015 at Across the Great Divide
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November 29th was my second Small Business Saturday spent at a local independent bookseller. Last year, I celebrated Indies First at Valley Bookseller in Stillwater; the location turned out to be serendipitous because I'd scheduled a reading on that date before Indies First came about. My two Indies First Day... Continue reading
Posted Dec 9, 2014 at Charlie Quimby
I've written about bookstores I've met in my travels as community gathering places. This weekend, I'll be hosted by another sort of community-cultural institution, Homewood Studios in North Minneapolis: [A] nexus point in my neighborhood where art and artists, friends and neighbors, students and teachers, children and adults can find... Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2014 at Charlie Quimby
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I'm late posting about my mini-tour of the Fox River Valley in Wisconsin, since my base of operations was a Lake Michigan cottage with iffy internet, where I stayed burrowed in against cold weather and distractions to work on my current manuscript, a successor novel to Monument Road. Fortunately, my... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2014 at Charlie Quimby
Yesterday was the single most taxing day I've experienced in the classroom since I started volunteering in the shelter preschool in early 2009. I don't want to get into detail about all that happened, because I'm afraid an account might... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2014 at Across the Great Divide
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In the flurry of preschool today, I noticed a new title in the library—titled Hershey's Milk Chocolate Weights and Measures. (Yes, that giant candy bar is part of the title.) I didn't have time to check out the quality of... Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Across the Great Divide
After a long break I returned today to the preschool classroom at People Serving People. A state background check has to be done annually to clear me to provide "direct contact services," and for some reason, it took much longer... Continue reading
Posted Aug 8, 2014 at Across the Great Divide
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Small businesses and nonprofits have a lot in common: They operate on thin margins, develop strong local ties and support their communities’ economic and social wellbeing. But what happens to those strong bonds when an online retailing giant comes in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Across the Great Divide
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Small businesses and nonprofits have a lot in common: They operate on thin margins, develop strong local ties and support their communities’ economic and social wellbeing. But what happens to those strong bonds when an online retailing giant comes in with a deal that benefits one side and threatens the... Continue reading
Posted Jul 24, 2014 at Charlie Quimby
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Scout and Morgan owner Judith Kissner (right) and her sister, Jenny Ryan, form a welcoming duo at the front of what has to be the sweetest bookstore in Central Minnesota. Author John Green has a catch phrase for his young audience: "Don't forget to be awesome." I think I know... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2014 at Charlie Quimby
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Trudy was one of those deep and engaged readers a writer is delighted to meet. One of our rules for this book business is that it's supposed to be fun. Fun for audiences and our hosts, of course, but also for Susan and me. Traveling to support book sales is... Continue reading
Posted Jun 18, 2014 at Charlie Quimby
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It's been quiet here as my volunteering has been interrupted by a busy travel schedule. This entry is cross-posted from my author blog as "The old news and a few remarks on events intervening." Last night, we heard artist Andy... Continue reading
Posted May 29, 2014 at Across the Great Divide