A Ward 14 Reality Story...

Submitted by ANGELnWard14 on Sun, 07/19/2009 - 03:37.
Last night, Friday July 17, 2009 at approximately midnight I was a rear passenger of a car driving down West 25th with Nelson Cintron Jr and his daughter, and my daughter, when a woman stumbled across the street trying to cross from the Applewood Center (Jones Home) to the other side. As she reached the median, she was losing her balance as we passed. Recognizing her distress, we slowed, only to watch her stumble head first to the ground directly next to the car behind us. Both cars, stopped, I jumped out and ran to her with everyone following, traffic stopped, and oncoming traffic was speeding by us.
It took us a few minutes to get her to her feet as she had obviously hit her head and gotten "road rash" on her forehead. She was disoriented, combative and distrusting of everyone around her. She was confused about her location, couldn't tell us her name, and she was unable to tell us where she was at or going at that moment. Collectively, multiple persons worked to call 911, walk her to the other side of the street to a safe sitting spot, and then we tried for several minutes to communicate with her.
Several of the young helpers were confused as to the entire situation, what to do, and how to react. So, I told one to make the 911 call, I told 2 of the young ladies who were trying to get info from her to just let her talk and quit asking so many questions. The lady's disorientation and confusion combined with her intoxication made it completely difficult and yet obvious that she needed some basic help.
As we worked to stop her from running back into the street because of her fears that we were going to "JUDGE" her demeanor, we were all met with her distrust and frantic state of mind. Her tears, incoherence, and world of issues were mind boggling to these helpers. It was readily apparent to me that she needed some elements of basic intervention on the spot to start with protecting her from herself as she had hit the point of being a danger to herself. So, I worked to hug her, embrace her and let her vent-without arguing, dictating, or trying to control her. Within seconds, she was relaxing, trusting, and asking for a cigarette to help her calm down.
She was not able to answer normally. So, between listening to her frustrations of yelling that she didn't want us to call the police (begging us not to call the police), crying about how she had been brutally attacked during a stint of prostitution the night before, guiltily crying that she had failed the "program"  (AA), and seeking  to show us her bruises on her arms and scratches on her legs; I held her hand, reassured her that she was safe, told her that we weren't going to hurt her, and established a moment of invaluable "TRUST" with her in order to protect her from herself and I prayed to God above that she accepted my non judgmental respect for her situation enough to let us help her to help herself. At that moment, she needed someone under the sun to care about her...and as I watched my daughter sit in the car while I held this women like a sister or mother, I cried as the fire truck pulled up from the 911 call.
As they approached with sirens blazing, she started to go ballistic again. She was terrorized by those sirens. She wanted to run, crawl, and hide from them. Multiple attempts to get her name, a name of a friend or family member, or find out where her home was were met with confusion. At that point, I knew in my heart that if I let her go, this situation would turn bad... The trained professionals have a job to do. I respect that. But I also know that they are control freaks who often times simply don't have the wisdom to treat persons like this lady with an ounce of consideration...they dictate, command, and react with a numbing measure of control that CREATES panic, CREATES COMBATIVE responses, and maligns the person's FEAR reactions.
So, as those fire trucks pulled up and she started to panic, I offered the only solace that I could at that moment. I told her not to worry, because "my uncle works for them and he's coming to help me help her." I held her from behind in a hug as she lay on the ground. I hugged her grief and combative actions long enough to whisper in her ears that if she fought, it would make her situation worse. I told her to "BE COOL", my uncle will not allow anyone to hurt her. As she trustingly relaxed enough to let the fire department paramedics take her vitals, check her head, and get some basic details, I was relieved that she found enough trust in me to remain calm. The firemen asked the basic questions and I simply let them know a few facts to include the above, without vocalizing any harshness to this lady in distress.
As the lady had wet her pants earlier (unknown when), I asked the paramedic for something to wipe my hands because during the time we calmed her down to smoke the cigarette, listen to her about the bruises, and wait for help to arrive, I had touched her leg and grabbed the urine soaked pants. While I hugged her from behind, keeping her calm; one paramedic asked for her to sit up so he could take the blood pressure. Another came with the wet nap, wiping my hands, and another started working on her forehead, while another took the paperwork info. My uncle never arrived. But, the thought in her mind that a family of folks gave a damn about her was absolutely empowering, motivating, and it calmed this powerless combatant to relaxed levels that enabled us all to collectively help her.
Then the ambulance pulled up and out came the paramedics and a stretcher. She again got frustrated and combative as the firemen allowed the EMT's to take over stabilizing this lady. While firemen told EMT's the status,  she went frantic saying she didn't want to go. I once again held her tight, hugged her, and whispered in her ear a reminder of this protocol.... When the EMT's come it's common procedure from them to strap you down, take you to the ER, and then you become subject to being locked up against your will for evaluation in the mental health ward at the hospital for 3 days. Her mental illness and experience was prevalent by her actions in this case.
So, as I could see the "attitude" of the one lady EMS worker was not tolerant to her combative actions; I said, "Listen sister- you know the game-if you act like a nut, they are going to take you to the nut ward! Calm down so that they just get you through the ER and then they'll take you home instead of locking you up. If you fight with them, they'll put you in jail. Just be cool and you'll be okay. We're going to get you home instead of the hospital. I will tell them to help you through this, but you have to help me to help you!" She calmed for long enough for them to pull her from my arms, strap her into the gourney and then become combative again as they took her from my safety. So, I worked to offer her an unlit cigarette in the confusion of transfers as she had lost hers in the confusion. The one firemen told me that she couldn't have it because of the oxygen mask that they were going to be putting on her in the ambulance. I told him the significance of that stupid cigarette to this woman in distress and I pushed through to give it to her, to place it in her hand. She calmed and he put the mask on her face.
Then the EMT's worked to take her into the Ambulance. Immediately, the female EMT went to barking orders at the patient. Her result was reactivating the combative nature of this person she was now all powerful over. The power struggle ensued all the way into the ambulance. As I listened to her letting this lady know that she didn't want to get poked by any items like needles, scratches or anything which may cause herself harm; I began to tune out that part of the transition to allow the others to do their jobs as they had to for the best interests of the lady.
With an overflowing feeling of tears welling up inside me, I looked up at my daughter in the car and asked for another rag to wipe my hands. Someone had been passing out wipes, so I worked to wipe my hands. As I held back the tears to thank the firemen, they inquired as to which agency I worked for... and how I knew the lady...and all of those basic questions... I just told them that she was family...and so were they...and this was my community...and we take care of our own...that I understood this women's situation from years of dealing with people just like her in our area. 
I then walked over to the car and got a card, put my name and number on it, and walked to the ambulance where they were continuing to address her needs. The two women, an EMT and the Patient were having their ongoing power struggle as I offered to give this information. As I came to the door, the Patient was fighting to get loose of the straps she had been restrained in and she kicked off her shoes. I knew that they had to do their jobs with firm, fair, and safety practices first. So, I simply put the info in her shoes that had hit the floor in front of me, I grabbed her foot and told her to let them help her, and I let go because I know that they were going to do the right thing. 
As I turned to walk away, I closed my eyes, prayed to my Lord above, and I walked as fast as I could to get into the car with my daughter. As I started to pass the car full of 4 other young adults engaged in talking about these events, I stopped for a moment to say something important. As I looked at these 5 teenagers, the 2 girls were confused about the issues that they just experienced. I looked at them kids and I told them the facts...there are lots of women just like her all over the world. I implored them to stay in school, get their educations, and to respect the mentally ill. Then, I told the 3 boys to take care of the women in our world and to do right by them. Then, I went to my daughter's arms...
As I crawled in that back seat, all I remember was continuing to hold back tears while I held my own daughter with all the love in the world. As my daughter lay in my lap, I put my fingers through her hair and thanked the Lord above for the gift of her presence. As the car drove away, I thanked Nelson Cintron Jr. and his daughter for respecting, assisting, and being so helpful in this matter.
Soon, we were in a driveway, dropping Nelson Cintron Jr's daughter off. As she got out of the car,  discussed how good she felt to be a part of helping another human being. I was amazed by her highly mature, considerate and proactive effort to help this middle aged women last night. The empowerment she found in caring about a fellow citizen of this community was absolutely apparent as she spoke in amazement.
Today, as I sat here mitigating various situations, I thought about that lady. I said some more prayers for her and I wondered what would be her destiny and if she'd call me or if that card had been lost. At approximately 2:00 PM, while I was talking to my dad, a weird number popped up in the caller ID. I told my dad to hang on while I answered this unknown call and I answered the call. On the other end of the phone, a lady asks for me. She is calm, cool, and collected. Her state of mind is back to realistic thinking and she tells me that her name is Evelyn Laughlin-Farrell. She tells me that she's at Metro-South Point Commons. I assume that she's in the nursing home by the hospital, unaware that this is the new EDEN DEVELOPMENT. (see below for details) She gives me her number and name and I tell my dad to let me call him back. Then she and I play phone tag for a few minutes as the phone inadvertently drops the call.
Soon, we are on the phone meeting, talking, and sharing details about the above incidents. She had a black out and has minimal recollections of the events. As it turns out, she is a 51 year old white female who has mental health issues in conjunction with alcohol addiction. She's in a program through South Point to help her work the Alcoholics Anonymous Steps to Recovery. She is in a state of relapse. She is scheduled to go to Cleveland Clinic's inpatient program next week. She has a history of being a "dancer," losing her 3 beautiful daughters to the "system" and of prostituting to support her habits.
According to Evelyn, she is originally from Australia. She lost her mother 2 years ago to cancer. Then, on February 06, 2008 she had her left kidney removed and became a survivor of cancer herself. As I listened to her absolute amazement with the fact that all these folks Mr. Nelson Cintron Jr., myself, his daughter, and 4 other young people stopped to help her last night when she felt so worthless, powerless, and lost; I told her about some things that enabled her to appreciate why I, personally, did care for her, regardless of all those things. 
Soon, she was talking about the five grandchildren she's heard about, but doesn't have communications with them. She explored how empty, isolated, and lonely she was. As she outlined her feelings of being alone and beat herself up about her life, her history, and her choices to be a chronic alcoholic, I offered unconditional friendship, understanding, and no judgment of her life. Evelyn was bewildered with the idea that anyone could care about "her".
Ultimately, I offered Evelyn the solace of knowing that she woke up breathing today! I didn't offer to fix her. I know that I cannot. I offered to refer her to resources where she could find compassion, consideration, and a sense of community that would help her to become a productive member of our society. I offered to respect her questionable life history and I promised not to lay judgment about her past. I invited her to participate in positive things, to share her story, and to embrace the future while overcoming the past. It was comforting to know that EDEN Developments' project had stabilized her from the 2 years of living on the streets which she had experienced before September 31, 2008. It was also quite amazing to listen to her outline the various issues that culminated her life to this stage like starting drinking at 9 years old.
My goal in communicating with Evelyn was to offer her a priceless gift of "HOPE." Living in a world where you feel alone, like no one gives a damn about you and you often don't care about your own self, and where no one has the time to deal with your endless list of "issues" is devastating. When you make poor choices, hurt people, and make mistakes in combination  with acting in self injurious patterns that push others out of your life, many times you end up neglecting your mental health needs and the mentally ill often become isolated from society after years of these cycles of ups and downs.
When people like Evelyn live a life like this, they lose sight of the many vibrant ways to live well, participate in normal activities, and how to simply take care of themselves. They almost punish themselves for their mistakes. They don't need a jail, they become imprisoned in their own minds. Without intervention that gets them back on the track of life, their demise is only a matter of time. And in many cases, intervention doesn't necessarily mean that person will ever be completely healthy of body, mind, and spirit to degrees that are acceptable by folks who cannot appreciate their experiences.
The facts of her case are paralleled by many in our world. There are enumerable similar stories. I asked her for permission to share her story in an effort to empower her. As she had outlined her responsibility to herself to be "Honest" with the world around herself, she found the idea of being able to use her story to help others as something significant.
Evelyn has unlimited unverified stories from her years of living on the streets. According to her, Evelyn was on America's Most Wanted for robbing banks. She was arrested and convicted in North Carolina and  did ten years in Lexington Federal Correction Institution for bank robbery from 1979- December 12-1989 when she was released. She's been through a world of lying, stealing, and drama to survive a life without formal education.
In closing, I share this story, with her permission, to enlighten our world about the real people who live in Ward 14 of the City of Cleveland, Ohio. I gave her too much of my time today, let a few responsibilities slip in giving this woman a little invaluable consideration. I wanted her to know that she is not worthless. She is still a person who has a ton to offer our world. I invited her to participate in community events, to inspire others to overcome lengthy histories, and to work towards finding positive actions which will enable her to have a brighter future within our community.
As my dad would say, "If God's Willing and the Creek Don't Rise...today will be a good day!" My prayers shall remain for Evelyn! 
Evelyn and Nelson Cintron Jr. gave verbal permission for me to publish this TRUE story. 
See Referenced Info below about the South Pointe Commons development project.
South Pointe Commons

South Pointe Commons is a third, new-construction, permanent, supportive housing program being built by the Emerald Development and Economic Network, Inc. (EDEN). Opening in autumn 2008, this program will provide permanent housing and supportive services for 82 residents near the campus of the MetroHealth Medical Center on Cleveland's near west side. MHS will provide supportive services for 41 program participants who have severe mental illnesses, many with co-occurring substance-use disorders. The AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland and the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center will also provide specialized supportive services for some program participants.


South Pointe Commons
82 units

Southpointe Drive
Cleveland, OH 44109

50% MI; 30% HIV/AIDS; 20% Veterans


Fall 2008

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We have to do better

 Thank you for taking the time to share this story.  It has to have a better ending for all of us.  We can not warehouse the problems in our society.  We need to do better by everyone.

Thanks for posting that, a

Thanks for posting that, a snap shot of life. There is power in the positive energy that you brought to this woman , that and conjuring it within this writing. In the bigger picture that can makes a difference offering hope to build on.

The safe place that we all need, it is often taken for granted and by many, once its lost it is difficult to get back to it. Its sometimes impossible for those with a disability…sad reality.

You are an Angel and you may have conjured up some hope, if not…you certainly earned some points for trying.


Dear RealNEO...

Thanks for believing in the possibilities of our community...but most importantly-for believing in the people. I appreciate the spirit, dedication, courage, and respectful bloggers who actively promote healthy, realistic, and considerate information here that empowers our community to be proactive.

If we all just touched a couple other people with positive solutions, actions, and referrals to good things... If we all just smiled and said the simple "HELLO, HOW ARE YOU?" to our fellow man... and if we all just tried to spend that five minutes were were complaining about the little things to actually breath deep and recognize that we woke up breathing this morning.... Well...then,  I believe that our community would have have priceless changes occur that the world would have never predicted out of NEO!