The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Joplin Metro

August 12, 2009

Effort brings services to Joplin’s homeless

By Roger McKinney

Joplin’s homeless residents seeking services turned out Wednesday at Memorial Hall for Project Homeless Connect.

It was the second event this year to bring services under one roof for one-stop shopping for the homeless population. The first was in February at the Joplin Salvation Army. The Homeless Coalition of the Jasper and Newton County Area organized both events.

A man who said he wanted to be called Heart, when asked what he was seeking at the event, said: “A way out of homelessness, I guess.”

The man said he lost his job in July 2008, and since then has been living in his car, in shelters and with friends. He said he has no health insurance, so he was grateful for the blood pressure check offered by St. John’s Regional Medical Center.

Carol Thomas is chairwoman of the Homeless Coalition. She said that without the event, people would have to travel all over town to try to obtain assistance. That is nearly impossible for those without transportation, she said.

She said the Economic Security Corp. was assisting people with identification cards and birth certificates. The Social Security Administration was helping people obtain Social Security cards. Without those items, Thomas said, people can’t get jobs.

“Those are some of the barriers that the homeless face,” she said.

Dulise Dean, who said she is known in the homeless community as Mama Harley, was at the event with a man known on the streets as Turtle and her two dogs. Dean said she got the name Mama Harley because she once owned a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and she acts as everyone’s mother among the homeless.

Dean said she has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and needs to be on oxygen, but she has no health insurance.

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