Thank you Lake Orion Sheriff’s Deputies for your kindness
A note from Executive Director, Elizabeth Kelly
It ended with a couple of buckets of KFC and a case of water.
Now I don’t usually start a story with the finale, but for ten HOPE guests and two staff, this ending changed their experience from one of rejection, fear and aggravation, to one filled with comfort food and reassurance.
For me, it started with a text at 4 PM on Thursday, June 4. HOPE Navigator Lori alerted me that she just received a call that one of the motels we were using for COVID 19 quarantine and isolation was being shut down by the fire marshal due to an issue with the fire alarm. All guests in the building had to be out by 5 PM. Lori was on her way back to the motel, and Kayle, the onsite staff we share with Lighthouse, was working to notify HOPE’s guests residing there of this change.
Back at HOPE Adult Shelter, Carolyn and Rebecca looked at the issues that brought the guests to the motel, working to identify any who could safely re-enter the congregate shelter and who would still need a motel. Next, we needed to transport these guests from Lake Orion to Pontiac. We tried a couple of options including trying to borrow church vans. However, churches haven’t been open in a long while, so the vehicles weren’t ready to transport anyone.
At that point we decided to use Lyft. But evening rush hour is one of Lyft’s busiest times. We were only able to secure one vehicle at a time, an undertaking that would stretch three vehicle rides into a two plus hour process. LaTonya, already at home, worked diligently to secure these rides.
The staff tried their best to reassure. There seemed to be limited options and some of the guests were growing angry thinking we were pulling something on them because they saw no evidence of resolution of their plight. HOPE guests, displaced by this sudden eviction, began to exhibit signs of their past traumas around housing insecurity. And that trauma morphed into fear over whether they would have a place to stay or food to eat. One man began to act out a bit. Others were angry at having to suddenly leave the safety of their rooms. For people who are used to being on society’s fringes, this felt like one more betrayal and the suddenness of it all shook their fragile sense of security. We promised to keep them safe and now they were displaced--again. Each HOPE guest sat, surrounded by all their worldly possessions crammed into a couple of bags waiting for a ride that they were starting to believe would never come.
Then an Oakland County Sheriff’s Department cruiser rolled up. Lori told me that her first thought was that someone called police because a couple of guests had loudly expressed their displeasure. But instead, the deputies came over to the group with some buckets of KFC and a case of much needed water. They chatted a bit with the group, joking with the guests, who now could hardly believe their good fortune. KFC is a rare treat in shelters and this comfort food was a gift of love for these displaced individuals.
Thank you Lake Orion Sheriff’s Deputies for your kindness. It was greatly appreciated.