This was at the OM Campsite in November, 2011.
We're interviewing one of the founding members.
(video is on YouTube)



While serving displaced people selected by Family Promise1, or even just offering to the collection plate, I ponder the value of my contribution. I feel a duty to help others, but frustrated because the need is so great and is growing. Things have been getting noticeably worse for fifty years2.

Soon after the Occupy Wall Street movement gained national attention, some friends and I started a local version called Occupy Muskegon, complete with a campsite. It attracted activists as well as some homeless people who had no interest other than to eat and staying warm. I remember one whose name was Hope.

It was obvious from the start that she was white, very pregnant, young, and cognitively deficient; she could not take care of herself.

The regular campers had been dropping her off in front of hospitals and the like, expecting that she would get attention and care, as you might do with a stray cat. She kept wandering back because nobody could help her.

She said that she had sheltered at the Rescue Mission3; but that after returning 15 minutes late on Halloween she was barred for two weeks as a consequence. That she had no warm clothes didn’t matter. It was snowing, but she was turned out.

I got another camper to ride with me and took her to Every Woman’ Place4. I watched her walk up and ring the bell and I heard them say over the PA that they were full. She came back with tears in her eyes but tried to make light of it.

We called all around Muskegon and Ottawa counties without luck.

She said she knew that there was a Mel Trotter Institute5 in Grand Rapids, and that they put mats on the floor. We called, but nobody answered. It turns out that there’s no office staff there on the weekends.

The Muskegon Greyhound station was empty too. Nobody works there anymore. So we just waited for a bus to arrive.

We gave the driver money for her ticket to Grand Rapids, and hoped that this would meet her immediate need.

This was in America: the most powerful country in the world.


1. Family Promise: http://familypromise.org/
2. Understanding the Historic Divergence Between Productivity and a Typical Worker’s Pay - Why It Matters and Why It’s Real: http://www.epi.org/publication/understanding-the-historic-divergence-between-productivity-and-a-typical-workers-pay-why-it-matters-and-why-its-real/
3. Muskegon Rescue Mission: http://www.muskegonmission.org/
4. Every Woman’s Place: http://www.everywomansplace.org/
5. Mel Trotter Ministries: http://www.meltrotter.org/home



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