Summit needs a shelter for the homeless |

Summit needs a shelter for the homeless

Most people in Summit County probably didn’t know Roy. But those who did knew him as funny, sweet and genuinely kind.And then there’s Hugh. Hugh had a lot of friends; he was interesting, very well read and intelligent. He was a lot of fun to talk to about books, politics and religion.What do these two invisible men have to do with us? Probably nothing. They are local transients who died recently of alcoholism. Although they died in public places, they remained invisible to most.Alcoholism is a disease that kills its victims over time. First it takes away their ability to be productive members of society by inducing behavior that is unacceptable. Then it pummels them until some vital organ finally gives out. By that time their former life is ancient history, and they are sleeping wherever they can find a place. They are completely exposed and vulnerable. A person who could get themselves out of this situation would.What is our responsibility to this part of our society? Shall we continue to ignore them? How can we let these people sleep outside while we sleep in our lovely homes? What can we do? Homelessness is on the increase almost everywhere in these United States. It’s quite common in other countries. But my view is that we do have the resources in this country individually to show some compassion. People who are spiraling down in these situations are ill. They are not criminals. To punish them further is just mean. My view is that if they were treated like people with an illness, some might get well. And there are scientific advancements in psychology that would help at least a portion of this population, if not many.Maybe this is a crazy notion, but I would like to see a homeless shelter in Summit County within the next five years.I agree with a recent letter-writer that charity starts at home, and we have our own society of people in need who are already here. With a place to stay, the transients who are severely ill (dying) might be able to at least receive hospice care in their last days, rather than dying in a public bathroom. I would greatly value any advice or assistance.

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