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Nov 19, 2012

Marc Alexander - New Sheriff at IHS
Truth be told, Marc Alexander is the new Director of Community Relations and Development at IHS, the largest homeless shelter in Hawaii.  Being a clever old geezer, the above snap was found on the Internet and seemed perfect, to illustrate the new wind blowing through IHS and add a little colour to the personality of Mr. Alexander.

Monday afternoon, the old geezer paid a visit to the homeless shelter, at the personal invitation of the new sheriff.  The invite was made at the Homeless Awareness Conference, but at the time did not feel it was a real one.  Do you not realize that the old geezer can be a bit much at times?

Having paid the $45.00 to attend, the old geezer was hell bent on giving a piece of mind to folks felt to be less than Brilliant.  IHS was high on the list of folks not keen on and wanted to let that be known.  Mind, pedantic, shrill and full of hubris are but a few of the things thought of MOI, am well aware of how caustic folks can find the old geezer at times.  It is also true that the approach, while not met with undiluted pleasure by all, is very effective in getting into the tent to be heard...


It was believed by the old geezer that IHS was still guilty of many sins in dealing with the homeless.  The past was held up as present day status.  It had to be so, many of the homeless met told of how horrid the conditions were and the old geezer bought into the 'urban legend' about IHS.  Completely.

When an email was received from Mr. Alexander, gobsmacked as the old geezer was, it was the perfect opportunity to confirm for myself just how horrid IHS was in dealing with the homeless.  I wrote back to Mr. Alexander and told the gentleman that I would come with an open mind and see what was different.  Is it not true that 'no pancake is so flat that it does not have two sides'?

The old geezer arrived early for the tour with Marc Alexander.  This afforded MOI the opportunity to stand and observe the folks at the homeless shelter and check out the appeal of the courtyard and one of the common rooms.

In the past, the smell of urine, sweat, filthy clothes, caked on dirt was ripe.  To enter the courtyard was to reel back in shock at the smell that hung in the air.  Not just the courtyard but the entire building had a stale odor.

The courtyard was clean, very clean.  The clients sitting on the benches seemed to be clean and there was no one dressed in rags or urine soaked clothing.  The same applied to the common room entered.  The floor shined, furniture was clean and well maintained.  The loo, while old, was clean and there was no odor clinging to the walls.  Much impressed the old geezer was, not at all as it was.

In the car park, the clients seemed to be on best behaviour and did not give the impression of a dangerous place to catch a quick ciggie before the tour.

Mr. Alexander was prompt and the tour of the facilities went as scheduled.

There was no attempt to hide anything.  The sleeping areas were seen and the loos peeked into.  Information was free flowing.  IHS has new sleeping mats, not all but a goodly amount.  There were multiple bottles of cleaning solution available to the clients to make the mats safe to sleep on.  There were lockers a plenty for folks to safeguard valuables.

Mr. Alexander told of linen being available for the bunk beds.  Of clothing available for clients to change into after a refreshing shower.

The old geezer stands corrected.  IHS is not the "Black Hole of Calcutta".

After the tour, the old geezer sat down with the Sheriff of IHS and had a right good chin wag.

It is clear that IHS is trying to reach out and touch folks.  Truth be told, there never was any doubt that IHS is well known to the community.  Am not sure that the message is out there to many of the homeless in need of a safe harbour to re-build lives.  Too many bad stories are out there.

IHS does outreach in the Chinatown area, as well as the North Shore.  Waikiki seems to be the reserve of CareAVan, an outreach programme run by Waikiki Health Centre.  There in lies one of the biggest problems in reaching the homeless folks in need of the services of IHS.

Rightly so, Mr. Alexander points out the limits of cash available to do many things.  The old geezer mentioned to Mr. Alexander that the homeless are a group that moves about the island.  Sooner or later, many of the homeless will land in Waikiki.  Many of the most at risk.  Mentally ill men and women, Seniors, youths.  Clients with severe drug and alcohol problems will plague the beaches and neighbourhoods that cater to the visitors to our island.

They come to Waikiki to beg.  They are drawn to the bright lights and assumed 'safety' in sleeping at a bus stop or on a park bench.

Mr. Alexander agrees that outreach needs to be improved.  That homeless folks need to know that there is a safe place to go.  That there is a place dealing in HOPE.

To my mind, that is what IHS is all about.  HOPE.  Regardless of who does it, each and every person doing outreach to the homeless should be dealing in HOPE.  IHS is perfectly situated to get folks on the road to a new life.  They see the homeless first and can get the homeless connected to any other agency that can improve the chances of homeless men and women getting hopeful about the rest of their lives.

The old geezer offered to help in any way, to get more homeless aware of positive changes at IHS, to educate other concern individuals about positive contributions they can make as members of the community.  One does not need a title, or membership in a non-profit, to help a neighbour in need of help.

The old geezer is old fashioned.  I hardly know Mr. Alexander and did not want to use Marc in telling this tale.  So 'au fait' I am not with Mr. Alexander.

Being in a position of authority, Mr. Alexander and his massive sandbox are primed to get folks moving in the same direction as IHS.  It is not about turf, it is about 'what can I do to help YOU (the homeless), in so many words Mr. Alexander seems to get that.

The old geezer listened to what Mr. Alexander had to say.  Being able to read faces, the old geezer is of the opinion that Mr. Alexander listened as well.  He certainly took copious note of the chat...

I offered to help, one can do no more than that.

IHS should not have a single empty bed, More's the pity if it does.

Imported from external blog


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Posted: Monday November 19, 2012, 10:54 pm
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Rob Defrees
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