Helping the Least Among Us
Listen to the first episode of Andy’s show with and for the unhoused: The Least Among Us, 2/20/2008
As Winter 2008 approached, the community was informed that the local veterans hall would not be available to the homeless on extreme weather nights as it had been the previous years. For the first time in many years there would be no place but the redwood forest when the weather raged or dropped below freezing.
But Andy didn’t give up. Having been homeless himself for five years and as a sufferer himself of Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he had perhaps more empathy than most of his neighbors for the homeless veterans, substance abusers, runaways from abuse, and the mentally ill abandoned by our society.
So he began calling the Friday morning KMUD talk show, “Thank Jah, It’s Friday,” every week all winter to ask the community for help. At first it was asking for blankets, jackets, gloves, socks, sleeping bags and pads and other items, which could be left for the needy to pick up at Paul & Kathy’s book store in Redway.
Then he met with the local trailer park owners to see if he could rent some spaces to park some RVs which were not being used in the winter, and house a few people when the weather got nasty. But before that was set up, he was directed to a long unrented building, and Andy went back to KMUD to raise money to rent it and to rouse up volunteers to run the shelter.
Andy wanted the homeless to be involved in setting up and running the shelter so he asked the ongoing helpers of the homeless to move their meeting from a local church to the Mateel Community Lunch every Thursday. Andy also started an hour-long homelessness radio show at KMUD called “The Least Among Us.” During the five episodes of the show over the course of the next year, Andy brought homeless people on the air to talk about their various situations, what they needed, and what they thought should be done.
A particularly memorable episode featured five members of a family whose home was devastated by Hurricane Rita, and whose bodies were made severely ill by the toxic FEMA trailers provided by the Bush administration. Thanks to this show, several members were able to get jobs.
Andy also taught the homeless how to use KMUD on their own to get help using the daily classified ads aired before the evening news. Several people were able to find housing, buy campers, and find jobs using the classified ads.
Three people–including two U.S. veterans–gave Andy and the “Church Ladies” who ran the shelter credit with saving their lives that winter.
Thanks to Debra Carey for photos!
Check out Andy’s latest music video for supporting the unhoused: Garberville: The Revolution Begins with a Porta-Potty
Alan Watts on Hermits and Outcasts
George Carlin on Homelessness and Golf