Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Skid Row Social Network Locates a Missing Person

Construction is moving along on the new SRO Housing project, on 5th and San Julian.

Every day people come to Skid Row to search for friends and relatives. You can see the desperation in their eyes when they show you a flier. They wait anxiously to see
signs of recognition in the eyes of everyone who sees the faces of their loved ones. The guard shack at the Midnight Mission is filled with fliers of missing persons.

Yesterday something special happened and I was glad that I could bring a little joy to someone.

A friend of mine has been reading my blog. She lives in New York but was raised out here in Los Angeles. She has a high school friend who lives in New York as well.
The woman has not seen or spoken to her brother in seventeen years. He was believed to be wandering the streets of Skid Row.

My Friend emailed me, describing the man's accomplishments in addition to providing me with his real and street name. I recognized the name. He was a very well known basketball player in Los Angeles and in the college ranks.

Basketball is very popular on Skid Row and if anybody is any good they are known in the area. Superstars like this missing basketball player are celebrities.

I knew that if the man were alive and in Skid Row there was one person who would know him. I made a call to Jeff Page, The Director of Marketing for the Skid Row Street 3 on 3 Basketball League. He not only recognized the name, immediately, he had seen the missing man a couple of months ago in Hollywood. In the not too distant past, they played basketball together.

Upon receiving the information, I called the man's sister in New York. She immediately broke out into tears. She thought that her brother could have been dead. She resolved in her mind that she may only be able to give him a decent burial.

I can not describe the feeling that came over me when I was able to tell "Ms New York" that her brother was last seen alive a couple of months ago. I made a difference and it camewith the help of the community organization that has been so successful in the short time that it has been in existence.

People do make a difference. I encourage people who are looking for individuals in Skid Row to talk to the men in the guard shacks at the missions. They know everyone or at least see everyone. Do not leave before contacting the Skid Row Street league. They are very active and they have far reaching tentacles into every area of street living. The communication network is vast.

A few months ago I wrote about this very thing. I begged for people to check in certain locations for their loved ones. Never would I have guessed that I would have played a part in locating someone who has been missing for 17 years.

The job is not done. The next step is to inform the appropriate police division and have them look for him. He is "hard to miss". There are few people who are 6'10" in height.

If a homeless organization has an inventory of missing people in their files, please email me. I will make sure that the Skid Row communication network does its part to determine if the missing individuals are in this community.

Joe Wright, the director of The Soloist, said this morning to a crowd of background extras that he experienced a great deal of love and humanity when he spent a week
on Skid Row. He is right. People do care for each other and for the relatives of those that are missing. Many of them had been on the Missing In Action list themselves.

If you have a missing person in your life, please email me. The email address is in my profile. Give us a chance, in the homeless capital of the nations, to find your loved one. This is the "freeway interchange for the homeless". If someone has been down here for any length of time, someone knows that person. The missing person may not be here but they may be in another homeless community. People know where those communities are and they know people in those communities with whom they can access vital information.

At a time when Blogs and Social Networking are all the rage, the people on Skid Row are doing their part in showing how the latest craze on the internet can serve
to bring people together who have been long apart.

Oh yes. Kevin, call me tomorrow and I will give you the details on where to find this gentleman in Hollywood. We need your hope to create some more happiness and joy for the man's sister. For those of you that do not know, Kevin is my friend who is on the LAPD police force. He manages the Safer Cities Initiative. People believe it is an "us versus them" mentality in Skid Row. WRONG. We are working together to bring about not only great change in Skid Row but change in how communities view EVERY MEMBER OF THEIR COMMUNITY. We will have this man talking to his sister within a week or two. It will happen because residents of the community and the people who protect the community are working together as one.


Anonymous said...

I really enjoy your blog - keep up the good work, and good luck in your job search!

City Center POZ said...

I'm uncertain about this, Walter.

Do the people being looked for in Skid Row want to be found? Surely they know how to contact their friends and relatives. For some reason, however, they are not doing so.

Except in the case of mental illness, shouldn't those reasons be honored?

Also, if someone is badly addicted to drugs, what good can a relative visit do? Could a friend or relative have pulled you back up during the deepest part of your addiction?

I don't mean this to be critical, but I'm just not sure about the wisdom and propriety of turning someone in to the police and his relatives---if that's not what he wants.

What are your thoughts about this?


skidrowscribe said...

just saw your comment Joe. My computer time is over in 5 minutes. I will comment in the morning. However, let me say this. We are not turning anyone in to the police. We simply will ask the police to locate the man and when they do give him a phone number and address of his sister.

There are cases where the LAPD has paid for bus tickets for homeless people to return to their families.

I was never homelesss. I did not think anyone cared. I wished I had someone to talk to. It is a difficult thing to talk to someone about drugs. It is probably just as difficult to listen. I worked steadlly for years to quit using cocaine and during those years, it was a very lonely process. That was when I started writing. Yes, it would have made a difference. It could have helped me find the strength to cut the chord alot faster.

Yes, there are people who do not want to be found. Some people do not want to be found and some people SAY they do not want to be found. Most people let their pride and ego get in the way of receiving the love that is waiting for them. They do not want to let people see them in the condition they are in.

I will elaborate more tomorrow, Joe. In fact, I will do some more research on this so I can give my opinion as well as the opinion of others who have experience from a professional standpoint as well as from an observer standpoint. Thanks for the question