Craig, Booper, Bernie and the mansion.

It really IS a Society of “Professional” Journalists (Photo cred: Chris Whitten).

Chris Whitten and I just finished writing our joint Outreach article.

The only hints I’m giving you are:

1) There’s a man named Craig,

2) There’s a cat named Booper,

3) There’s a man named Bernie,

4) There’s a $15 million mansion built by the state of Florida

I’ll link the actual article when it comes out.

Outreach basically consists of going out into the town, talking to the homeless and telling them about the shelter so that maybe they’ll decide to come back to the shelter.

We rode in an ambulance, a cop car and vans and went with the COSAC staff.

Whenever we met people, we’d offer them water and/or cigarettes.

It was pretty crazy to be walking around in the middle of the night, by the railroad tracks with our phone “flashlight” apps lighting the way.

At the beginning, I was super overwhelmed. I walked away from the first interview, because the state of the homeless was sad. The two guys had this toy chest, similar to one that my sister and I had when we were little. I remember complaining that things never fit in that toy chest, but everything that they owned fit into the chest.

Their beds were an old dirty mattress and a sleeping bag in front of a mural with a giant heart. I wish I had taken a decent picture of it but it was too dark and the picture came out like crap.

(Photo Cred: Either a WWFF12 staffer or COSAC employee, not sure). 

After talking to most of the homeless people, during outreach and throughout the day, I noticed that divorce was a big trend. Someone would get cheated on, keep the money and kick the other to the curb. It’s pretty sad. Disabilities, whether they be mental or physical, were a big trend as well.

We were riding the ambulance to our next spot, when the ambulance broke down on the highway. We had to pull over and wait for the rest of our crew to come and pick us up.

My crappy view from the back of the ambulance. 

(Photo Cred: Mark Targett).

While we were waiting for our ride back to the shelter, I was talking to one of the security guards, Patrick Russell. He is 19 years old and the youngest member of the shelter. He’s been living at the shelter for a few weeks. I scolded him for smoking (which by the way, I feel like everyone and their mother smoke’s here). He’s too young to be cutting his life short this early, I think.

His parents kicked him out of the house because he wasn’t contributing anything. He ended up at the shelter that he now calls home as well as his job. He is currently finishing school and plans to go to college for his A.A. and then enroll in the Army or Coast Guard.

“Every night I text my parents ‘Goodnight,” he said. “They never really text me back.”

I really hope they take him back. He’s such a sweet kid.

I didn’t really think about whether I was going to see everyone again, so I forgot to bid the shelter staff farewell and thank Sean Cononie & Mark Targett for allowing us to be super intrusive for a whole weekend. It’s been a pleasure working with everyone.

And of course, I’d like to thank everyone that put this event together, all the talented journalists I got to meet and lastly, Michael Koretzky, for only being scary via email, but not in real life.


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