CLICK HERE to hear, listen to news piece.
I saw Jack probably 4 times a week as I ran from my house to the jogging path thru the park. Granted he seemed fairly healthy then, but many of the homeless that I've written about and also Jeremy Nicholls at his blog: Setting Prisoners Free many of these men and women are in fragile health--both mental and physical. Yet as Jeremy and I have written sometimes all it takes is giving these people a proper bed, a simple room, allowing them to have routine, a chance to take medications, a meal schedule and, as we can testify, a miracle occurs. Read HERE and HERE
(I love how Jeremy gives each reader the client's name. Presents them in all their human fullness--isn't this how we should all be. Treating others as we would wish them to treat us.)
Back to Jack. Not only was he and the other residents living under the bridge interviewed by WBEZ they were also interviewed by Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Now Jack is gone.
We all acknowledge that it was not primarily the eviction, the rude discarding of his possessions, the threat of arrest, fear of being fined that killed him. I don't blame our Alderman James Cappleman
But if the alderman hadn't closed down most of the programs in Uptown that served men in homelessness, shut down specifically a program at CCO that served elderly and chronically ill men, if he hadn't enacted fines and ordinances and in general made life difficult for this man (like the free cup of hot soup--c'mon!), then, yeah, Jack and others like him who have passed away already in 2013 MIGHT HAVE HAD A CHANCE.
Many of us have been raised to lift ourself up by our bootstraps, life in our own terms, what we make of it, God helps those who help themselves. And, to be clear, Jack didn't do himself any favors. He drank. He didn't take care of himself by checking in with a doctor. He probably ate and slept irregularly or sometimes not at all. It all takes a toll.
So Jack died. Ironically his body was found outside a medical clinic not far from the viaduct and the park where many of those tossed out from under the bridge have melted into, sleeping now out in the open or under bushes (until the alderman or the Parks District chases them out again). Maybe he had an inkling something wasn't quite right. We don't know. We don't know all of his story. But I can assure you that this is not the end of the story. Jeremy and I will continue to blog/record/acknowledge about the many more deaths yet to come--because without a PLACE to go in Uptown, some kind of shelter, where the necessary services and help is readily available--they will continue to die.
If interested in donating to Cornerstone Community Outreach--especially as we enter this Holy Week--go HERE.