We met him in the first few weeks of opening Open Door Mission’s South Omaha Family Outreach Center. At this point, we were still figuring out the best ways to run the center. One day he came in and said he wanted a coat. I was at the front and asked to see his ID. He muttered his assent, but simply looked at the coats. He asked another question: whether or not he had to pay for anything. I responded that he didn’t, but that he did need to fill out the paperwork and present his ID. Again, I was ignored. He started putting on a couple of the coats, one over the other, in layers. Once more, I asked him for his ID and to fill out the papers. And once more, he agreed but did nothing. As he continued trying on coats, I went to take care of something on the other side of the Center, turned around, and saw him walking out the door.
The next time he came in, I wasn’t quite so lenient. I told him that he needed to present his ID to get anything, and this time he agreed. He pulled out his wallet, muttering an excuse for last time. I learned his name was Patrick from his ID. Though he gave us an address, it became quickly apparent that he was homeless.
John Michael Den Hartog
Homeless Prevention Manager
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