Tuesday, November 29, 2005

11/26 They're leaving!

Tracy left today--it was her assigned day to leave, so no surprise. I'll miss her though. She's a good mental health worker and fun too. But the bad surprise was that Marian and Bill left. I really became attached to them and hope that we can stay in touch. They have my card, so I guess the ball is in their court. A really nice couple.

I rode in with Bill M and spent the day riding with him and Luis in the dangerous section again. The first family who met the criteria to receive aid caused me to be sad--living in a condemned building because the mother had been hospitalized because of Wilma. When she got out of the hospital she had nowhere else to go except her condemned apartment. All the other residents had gone to shelters or to a relative's house. Her two teenage children lived with her. The smell of mold was overpowering, causing us to stand in the doorway instead of entering fully into the apartment.

When I saw the woman's grandchild--a one-year-old with dimples and shining eyes--I wondered, "When will that sparkle go out?"

I still wonder what I can do to help that baby not become like his aunt, sitting there with dull eyes and no smile.

I'm pleased we could give a CAC to this family and hope the woman uses it to find safe housing. But when her teenage son lifted the couch to find a toy for the baby, I saw what looked like a crack pipe. I had to step outside because that really hit me.

This was far from the first condemned building we went to, but because of that smiling baby it affected me the most. Luckily the baby didn't live there, and the teenagers were going to stay with an older sister, so I felt no obligation to report the pipe.

The baby's mother already received assistance from us, but when she came in with the baby she asked for more--then pretended it was a joke.

It wasn't.

We worked through lunch without realizing it (a fairly common occurence), and by the time we finished I was famished. Rode back to the hotel with Bill, and threw some junk food into my mouth. I relaxed in my room for an hour or so and then went to the pool bar to say hi to folks. Brenda was the only one there. I'd not worked with her before today. But early this morning I went with Mary (another Mental Health worker) to visit one of Brenda's clients and do a lethality assessment (for suicidal ideation, etc.). Brenda is a postal employee--energetic and fun, but also deadly serious about the work we do.

So I spoke to her a moment and then went to the Italian take-out restaurant in the hotel's lower level, and took some delicious pasta to my room. Then sleep.

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