I have always prided myself in being open and accessible to our clients and the residents of Wayne Township. Almost every morning, I greet all the persons in our lobby with a handshake and smile of encouragement. Many times, as I make my way around the lobby, clients tell me their stories of hardship.
Listening to them makes me more aware of the problems so many of our clients have to deal with on a daily basis. Lost jobs, illnesses, no health insurance, not enough money to pay rent or utilities, eviction—their stories are as varied as the clients.
A few weeks ago, when we had particularly cold and snowy weather, a man I greeted in the lobby asked if he could speak privately with me. I took him aside, where he told me he was homeless and had been homeless for seven or eight years.
Back then, he had served some time in jail. While he was in jail, his girlfriend had sold all his belongings and left him. After his release, he was so devastated that he has never had the desire to get another home.
The man said he learned how to survive on the streets, sleeping under bridges or anywhere he can find to block the elements. He leveled with me that he has had problems with drugs and alcohol. He doesn’t like to go to the Rescue Mission because of its rules.
The weather this winter was really taking a toll on him, the man said. The night before, he had spent part of the night at a hospital emergency room. He did not need medical care, but needed a place to thaw his feet because his socks and shoes were frozen. He asked me if I could help get him some insulated boots.
Townships can, by law, help financially with rent payments, utilities, medicine and food. But getting a person a pair of insulated boots is not a request we get everyday. I knew I needed to come up with some help for him. I remembered some insulated boots at home that I seldom wear, and the man looked to be about my size.
I went home and got those boots. On the way back to the office, I purchased a package of insulated socks for him. He was so thankful when I gave him the boots and socks. I asked him to stop by our office periodically and let us know how he is doing. Once he decides he wants to do more with his life, I told him, we will develop a program of assistance for him.
We had another incident recently of using our ingenuity to help one of our clients in a non-traditional way. This gentleman is a client in our Representative Payee Program. Wayne Township serves as Representative Payee for over a hundred clients, most of whom are disabled and receiving disability payments through Social Security.
Our Payee Director, LeRoy Page, learned from the client’s sister that the client’s television was not working and he really missed being able to watch television. Director Page and another township employee, Stan Ostermeyer, went to the client’s home, assessed the situation and took the client to purchase an antenna. They installed the antenna and got the client’s the television working again.
These two examples are among the unique ways the Wayne Township Trustee’s Office finds to help our residents in need. Township government, as the smallest unit of government in the state, is able to provide the personal attention that often is lacking in larger, more bureaucratic governmental entities. This is one of the reasons I love Township government so much and why I find serving as your Trustee is so rewarding.
Richard A. Stevenson, Sr.
Wayne Township Trustee
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