CAO helping provide food for homeless

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Jamie Waller grew up in Coal Grove and moved away more than a decade ago when he joined the Army. His tenure with Uncle Sam left him disabled and without work. A little more than a year ago, he moved back to Lawrence County with his wife, Raven.

"We're looking for a new start, a fresh perspective," Jamie Waller said.

The last few years have been rough: At one point, Waller was living on a couple hundred dollars a month before his veteran's disability fully took effect. Right now they're living with his mother and hoping for better times.

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Wednesday, they sat down to the table with several other people for the first-ever "Dinner for the Homeless," the brainchild of the staff at the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization's Health Care for the Homeless Program at the Family Guidance Center on South Third Street.

"I was always taught to do everything you can not to use social services," Waller said. Still, the dinner was a nice gesture from people who cared, and that was exactly the point, said HCH director Robin Linkfield,.

"We want people to get out, have a good meal and find out about programs that can help them,"

she said.

This is national Health Care for the Homeless Week, set aside to draw attention to those who are without homes altogether, who live in substandard housing or who are forced to live with other families out of necessity.

These people often fall through the cracks of

the nation's social service safety net and almost always lack basic health care, except for that provided by programs such as the CAO's.

All of the food and other necessities for the dinner were donated by numerous local business. Even the service was donated: Approximately 15 Dawson-Bryant High School seniors made this their senior project and served up food and conversation.

Dawson-Bryant senior Ami Waller said the dinner was also an opportunity to meet new people and see the world from a different point of view.

"A lot of people are not what they seem at first," she said. "But you get to know them and find out they're nice."