If you’ve never been to Yellowstone National Park there aren’t enough adequate words to describe the beauty and magnificence of that place. It transcends human vocabulary.
That’s how I feel about our gathering at last night’s Akron City Council meeting.
Supporters and villagers all came to the Monday, April 9, 2018 Akron City Council meeting to make our case for why we believe Second Chance Village should be allowed to exist. We have officially put in our paperwork for our Conditional Use Permit to allow Second Chance Village to continue to exist.
The stories I heard last night were beyond incredible. They were touching, heart warming, logical, rational. They were just amazing. YOU were amazing.
Here are a recap of the people who spoke:
Paul (OP) – He is a resident of Second Chance Village. He is the physical manifestation of bravery. He has a speech impediment. He had told me earlier that he doesn’t speak in public because it gets worse. He spoke magnificently. He brought the hundreds of signatures many people from Second Chance Village collected. He spoke about the collaboration of the many agencies that collaborate with us.
Ducky (Annette) – She is a resident of Second Chance Village. She spoke about her High End Store she runs. She talked about how the homeless are “here and there. We are everywhere. I am Ms. Baker.”
Ron K. – He is a former resident of Second Chance Village. He talked about how he was once a Second Chance Village resident. And now he has a “beautiful” apartment in Barberton. He talked about how there is nothing like having help when you need it.
Ryan S. – He is a supporter of Second Chance village who was formerly homeless and now owns his own home. He talked about how passionate he is about this cause. He is no longer homeless. And now he has a home he is renovating himself. He talked about how Second Chance Village is a tribe made of survivors.
Melissa “Rocky” Lewis – She is my wife and on the Board of The Homeless Charity. She thanked the city for how they have received us thus far, how other cities have not responded in such a measured and compassionate way. She referenced the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty 2017 study titled “Tent City USA“. And these two articles on a very successful tent city in New Mexico: In New Mexico Tent City, a Glimmer of Hope – The New York Times and Structures improve life at Camp Hope. She talked about shelter barriers like contracts, no safe storage. No day shelters for people that work night jobs. She talked about the cost of sweeping camps is costly and ineffective.
Gary M – He is a resident of Second Chance Village. He talked about how Second Chance Village is exactly what it is… a Second Chance. He talked about how the court system keeps our mistakes on our records for years and years. He talked about how Second Chance Village is now helping him start his own charity to help the homeless get into homes.
Laurie B – She is a supporter of Second Chance Village. She talked about how the homeless are not a group. They are individuals. She talks about how she has made friends with the villagers. She talks about how she has tons of friends at Second Chance Village. She talked about how Second Chance Village has made us look at the homeless.
Elliot – He is a resident of Second Chance Village. He talked about how it is a safe environment for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. He talked about how other options don’t fit his needs and aren’t a place he feels safe. He talked about how Second Chance Village buys birth certificates, IDs and gets social security cards. He talked about how his parole officer said Second Chance Village is a good place to be.
Chana – She is a resident of Second Chance Village. She talked about how her fellow villagers helped her setup her tent and brought her to the food pantry to get groceries. She talked about how grateful she is for the help she has gotten at Second Chance Village and how people there care.
Ernie T. – He is a former resident of Second Chance Village. He said that he was safe at Second Chance Village. He didn’t have to sleep in a doorway and fear for his safety. He believes he’d still be on the street if it wasn’t for Second Chance Village.
Bill – He is a former resident of Second Chance Village. He came to us after being in an intensive treatment facility. He helped us early on to bring structure to the facility. He helped structure the security team and the camera surveillance. He now has a job and works with 37 treatment centers across the US helping people get treatment they need. He was hired right out of Second Chance and now drives a brand new vehicle.
Deloris – She is a resident of Second Chance Village. She talks about how closing Second Chance Village doesn’t add any more beds in shelters or addiction facilities. It doesn’t add a single bed for people that want recovery. She talks about how you can’t just throw people away.
John B. – He is a supporter of Second Chance Village. He is a minister and talked about how Second Chance Village relates to Christianity. He talks about how our greatness is measured by how we treat our most weak. He talks about how these people look out for each other. He talks about how Second Chance Village is a model neighborhood. He talks about how Second Chance Village is a model for innovation and creativity. “Just leave them alone. Let them build it themselves.”
Amy – She is a resident of Second Chance Village. Humanity demands human dignity. “If we have nowhere to go. Where would we go? Why would we be treated as outcasts? Where would we be disposed of? We are the product of a family. We are a consequence of society. We are struggling in society. It isn’t like we’ve chosen to live our lives where people look at us as less than human. What do we do? We look at other nations that outcast men and women. But what happens when we do it in our own country? How can we support closing down anything that supports people trying to find some kind of foundation?
Beth V – She is a supporter of Second Chance Village. She is with Akron City Repair Project. She talks about a “sense of place.” She says she has seen the villagers’ sense of place and dignity that she hasn’t ever seen before. She talked about how it allows people to get their stuff together so they can have the chance to move forward. She talks about how other organizations in Middlebury are extremely supportive of Second Chance Village.
And we had a neighbor come by and offer her support. She said that you can’t even see Second Chance Village from the street.
This is the article Doug Livingston from the Akron Beacon Journal put together on the event: Homeless camp finally seeks proper zoning through City Hall
Here is Channel 3’s coverage: wkyc.com | Push to keep Akron’s ‘Tent City’ open moves forward
Here is the Channel 3 video:
Here is the front page of the newspaper today.
Here’s Cleveland.com’s coverage: Second Chance Village supporters rally at Akron City Council to support homeless encampment | cleveland.com
This is WKSU: Homeless Community in Akron Looks to Comply with Zoning Rules | WKSU
Here is the video of all these comments:
Second Chance Village has come down to city council to voice support on a zoning request submitted today.
Posted by Douglas Livingston on Monday, April 9, 2018
That’s all I can say. You are beautiful, amazing, strong, brave, awesome, wonderful people.
We are on the right side of history. America will do better by its homeless. I truly believe that revolution will be marked in history as starting in Akron Ohio.
Stay strong. Be brave. Have hope. Come to this with endless love. And we’ll win.