Friday, February 5, 2016

Evicted from Graceland

Post by Grandma KoKo, your scout in the homeless zone. Author of More to Come. A book written over time, part 1 chapters 1-4 are available.

Gainesville Florida, February 3, 2016

Grace Marketplace is supported by the City of Gainesville and Alachua County

ABSTRACT
Grace Marketplace, is the end of the line homeless place outside of Gainesville, Florida USA. This is where they dump human beings the system has designated as trash: out of sight, out of mind. Michael Davis, landed there over a year ago, after a brief hospitalization for back pain he was advised by Shands hospital to go there. Being elderly and disabled, he was looking for help. What he found was a 14 month ordeal of constant harassment, poor food and meager accommodations. Now, after failing him miserably in what should have been an easy and quick placement into housing, Grace Marketplace is evicting him from the Dorm because he has stayed there too long. He was forced to sign a ridiculous document called a BEHAVIORAL CONTRACT. It is worded to make him believe he is a naughty boy and has to behave or else, out in the cold. He was told if he didn’t sign this he was out of the Dorm that very day. He begged to let him have someone else present, but was bullied into signing it anyway. Meetings are not scheduled for any time, just maybe sometime tomorrow was all we knew. I couldn’t miss work to sit around all day waiting for a meeting that might not even happen.

In Mr. Davis’s case they plan to move him into the outdoor open air pavilion where he can sleep on a plastic pallet on the ground. With his fragile health and painful disability, this is a death sentence. He doesn’t know what to do or where to turn. He lives in constant terror. He is afraid for his life and I don't blame him. The staff can do whatever they like and ‘guests?’ must comply. After all, he doesn’t have to be there. (But where else can he go?) Homelessness is not a choice.

It is as if he is stranded on a deserted island that is more like a Nazi prison camp, except it is noisy and chaotic, populated by crazy, loud, sick and downtrodden people. Worst of all are the sloppy drunks who affectionately attempt to maul him. He suffers from an uncommon bone disease that makes it easy to break his bones, and he is in such constant pain that the slightest touch can be painful. Once he was almost strangled to death by a friendly drunk before help arrived.  Despite his meager circumstance Michael remains cheerful, compassionate, humble and loving.

Michael’s story is only one of the many stories of suffering caused in large part by the poor management. It seems as if there is no management. There are no written rules, yet inmates must comply with nebulous ‘rules’ on the whim of the staff who are few and far between. There are no rights for clients, simply obey or leave. The conditions at this place are deplorable, unsanitary, and unnecessary. We can do better.


CONTACT INFORMATION

Gainseville City Hall
200 East University Ave
Gainesville FL 32601
352-334-5000

Alachua County Contact
Adm., & Courts
201 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601

Adm., Civil and Family
201 E. University Avenue
Gainesville, FL 32601

State of Florida
Office of Governor Rick Scott
State of Florida
The Capitol
400 S. Monroe St.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001
(850) 488-7146

Grace Marketplace  http://gracemarketplace.org/ 

Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry   http://acchh.org/



WELCOME TO GRACE MARKETPLACE

GRACE Marketplace
Key service agencies in one location.
Phone: 352.792.0800
Address: 3055 NE 28th Drive, Gainesville, FL 32609

Site of Grace Marketplace sometime before it opened in the fall of 2014. Looks like a jail, feels like a loony bin/psycho asylum. Vast sturdy fencing surrounds the complex with only one gate for passage. The gate is kept locked sometimes, I'm not sure why. Are they locking people in or keeping people out? It sure makes it hard for people to get from the tents to the 'services'.
Grace Marketplace is NOT a homeless shelter. It does not offer shelter that is fit for humans. Yet the City of Gainesville considers it is the answer to homelessness and it is the best they offer. It is growing exponentially as people keep pouring in.  

The aerial photo was taken before Grace Marketplace opened in the fall of 2014. Now in February of 2016 it has hundreds of people sleeping outside, most in tents or nothing. Choice campsites may be sold for perhaps $100. Campsites can be rented. There are a few water spigots by the road and port-a-potties. All other amenities are located inside the complex, accessible only through the front gate, a long walk from the tents. The tents go way back into the woods. Let’s call them primitive campsites. 

WELCOME TO GRACE MARKETPLACE, your one stop homeless shopping stop. Bring your own cart. This used to be a jail and before that a psychiatric facility. It features tall secure fencing and one gate. About half of the large buildings stand empty with windows broken. Only one of the large buildings is used for people to sleep inside on a bed. The Dorm is the large building in the upper right, farthest away from the Welcome Center-Chapel-Dining Hall area located on the lower right. The Dorm has men on one wing and women on the other. Showers and bathrooms take up the third wing. There were 30 beds in the apx. 30x60 ft. open room men’s side, until recently when bunk-beds were put in to accommodate up to 60 men. There are significantly fewer women than men at Graceland, and only 17 beds on the woman’s side.

Oddly enough the few beds in the Dorm are only available to people who work or have money coming in, like a disability check. Everyone else sleeps outside. Grace Marketplace is NOT really a homeless shelter.

The Pavilion sleeps 60 on plastic pallets called ‘boats’ with makeshift padding. Places in the Pavilion are sought after and there is a waiting list. Both men and women are crammed in there and it is nick named ‘the pigeon coop’. Recently, body lice was found in there and everyone was required to take a pill and have there belongings sprayed. Rumor has it there is a guy, nicknamed ‘itchy-scratchy’ because he is always scratching himself, especially his crotch. And he smells bad, but he is still sleeping in the pavilion. I don’t like even going in there.



DIGNITY VILLAGE is the name given to where the tents are outside the fence. 

Home Sweet Home for Judy  -  January 2016

This is what Judy can call home. The other night she broke bones stumbling around in the night. I heard this from the woman who stays in a tent near her. She said she had also injured herself while helping Judy.

At the website of Grace Marketplace, Judy’s face is featured on their home page and in videos. Her picture that is used for the purpose of soliciting donations was taken over a year ago. Clearly Graceland has not helped her exit homelessness, while using her compelling beauty has likely charmed lots of donations. Judy tells me she has worked hard all her life, starting at the age of 13. She suffers from bi-polar and is still 2 years away from age 62 when she can draw Social Security.

Graceland should be called a homeless NON-shelter. Over half of the buildings stand empty, assumable waiting for more 'something' before renovation can continue. Initially, roofs were all repaired and a fresh coat of paint was applied, then they stopped renovations.

They do keep the fence up and intact. The only entrance to the compound is through the one front gate, slightly beyond the bottom of the aerial photo. They keep the compound locked a fair amount of the time. We wonder if they are keeping people out or locking people in. I was detained 45 minutes last night against my will. They have ‘rules’ that are not written down and change depending on what the staff member on duty is thinking or doing. I learned the hard way last night that the gate is locked at 9pm for the night. If people want to leave they have to wait until one opportunity to leave at 10pm and another at 11pm

I was pretty steamed at being locked in when I wanted out. On another night the gate had been open after 9pm. Another woman was weeping, sobbing pitifully. She had just found out her beloved aunt had passed away and they would not let her out the gate. Pictured below with Judy, I saw her one morning that was especially cold. She had arrived via police escort, with only the clothes on her back, basically pajamas, at 1:30 in the morning. Something about trumped up charges of trespassing. People are often given the choice of going to jail or Graceland. Which would you choose?

Woman at Graceland

MORE NOTES
  • The County Jail is located very nearby so when folks are released they naturally come to Grace.
  • The bus stop is a long walk and the bus on that route is reported to often run on an irregular schedule. One young man told me he waited over an hour, almost two, and was late to work because of that bus. Why not have the bus come down to Grace to pick up folks rather than causing all these people who are already challenged in so many ways, to have to walk so far?
  • There is no flashing stop-crossing on 39th to allow people to cross at that road to get to and from the bus stop by Grace Marketplace.  December 2015 a man and woman were hit by a car while crossing there to get the bus.
  • Disease and unsanitary conditions are rampant. When I arrived in early January, there was some kind of coughing sickness running through the place. Then there was the body lice in the Pavilion. In general people tend to be sickly. I have come to notice something resembling spotty eczema is common enough among the homeless. Poor food and unsanitary conditions breed more illness so I call that a downward spiral.
  • The so-called services that are supposed to come to us, Grace Marketplace ‘guests’ are sometimes not so available. One gentleman has been trying to meet up with Meridian for some time. They don’t show up for the scheduled time or make appointments. On the bright side, the Mobile Health Clinic has helped folks in many ways and is a great convenience to have it there. In general people don’t talk about actually using the services much.
  • When Grace Marketplace first opened about 80 people moved in from the tent city closer to town. They received no assistance in moving their belongings. Who would ever think of that, actually helping homeless people? Gainesville wanted to get rid of the people perceived as trash and clutter. Put them far away and ostensibly give them a little something. Free bus pass and meals. Many are still camping out after well over a year of ‘services’ at Grace Marketplace.

Keep in mind there is huge money in the charities business. When I visited the Grace Marketplace website I found it to be all about soliciting donations and fundraising activities. There not much else, and no contact information. 

Grace marketplace seems to be run by something called Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry. They claim to be working together to end homelessness in our community. Their website is a little better, at least it offers one contact. The latest news offered is from March 2014. They have monthly meetings and someone who went once said it was basically a pat each other on the back situation.
Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry   http://acchh.org/

Please watch this promotional video for Graceland, knowing the conditions are in fact deplorable. I invite you to come and see for yourselves.
YouTube: GRACE Marketplace 2015 #FundGRACE Campaign

Just like in Robin Hood’s time, the discarded people live as best they can in the wilderness. The camping section is officially called Dignity Village and is somehow a separate entity from Grace Marketplace. Some have nick-named it Sherwood Forest. Anyone interested in studying anarchy in action would have a field day here.

TWO BATHROOMS
Strangest of all is that there are only two indoor bathrooms available for the hundreds of people who live here and they are not available for an hour twice a day. Does that seem like a good plan? It isn’t, believe me. When I got here they would open the chapel so folks could use the bathrooms there while the Welcome Center was closed for cleaning. After someone made a mess in there it was decided to keep the Chapel closed, no matter that there is no toilet available for an hour.

The Welcome Center actually has three bathrooms, but one is not available, perhaps it is used for storage. The two available bathrooms are used both by men and women. They have no mirror. The other morning I was first in line for the next open door. As I waited over ten minutes a line of people, mostly women gathered and some were doing the pee-pee dance. My needs weren’t so urgent so I went elsewhere to be nice to the ones left waiting. 

Welcome Center bathrooms. Gotta love indoor plumbing.
Take it from me; don’t forget to wipe the seat first.

There are port-a-potties out closer to the tent area and quite a hike from the Welcome Center. I peeked into a couple of them and they weren’t too bad. Even with regular maintenance, you never know what surprises could lurk inside. The two handicapped port-a-potties are located way out in the tent area, the handicapped accessible tent area I presume?



MICHAEL’S STORY

Michael suffers constant chronic pain, with both hips replaced, osteoporosis, scoliosis and Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI)

Definition
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) is a genetic disorder characterized by bones that break easily, often from little or no apparent cause. A classification system of different types of OI is commonly used to help describe how severely a person with OI is affected. For example, a person may have just a few or as many as several hundred fractures in a lifetime.

Recommending a person in fragile health go to Grace Marketplace is tantamount to condemning them to death row. It’s not a place for sissies. Michael is not a criminal or drug addict. He is charming, compassionate, and intelligent, has a great sense of humor and is a highly sensitive person who has a lot of wisdom about life to share. He has been a target for bullies all his life, and is not quick to defend himself. It’s often hard for him to express himself with words, especially when dealing with insensitive folks. He is especially shy about situations that involve authority and/or bureaucratic BS. So naturally, he took the suggestion of the nice people at the hospital, and rode the bus to Graceland.

Now after 14 months of austerity, having lots of stuff stolen, (including the back brace the hospital discharged him with) Michael continues to live his life as best he can. He was dreading the verdict about whether he could stay on after a year or be kicked out. On Tuesday January 26, 2016, his caseworker Jeff, the gentle giant, informed him it was over. He had to choose between assisted living or an apartment. Michael was overwhelmed with dismay and terror at the prospect of ending back on the streets. Jeff wanted an immediate answer right away. Michael, in shock about it managed to ask for another day. He could have easily answered, he absolutely DOES NOT want assisted living, but the news of eviction from the dorm was overwhelming.

The meeting the next day was not scheduled, Jeff just says sometime tomorrow and Michael waits where he always sits in the Welcome Center for the dreaded meeting, not knowing what to expect. He begged someone to go with him, preferable me. But I couldn’t take off work for a meeting that might not even happen. Scott was gone and Maria said she would go, but since we don’t have a time, she was also not to be found whenever Jeff did arrive for the meeting. Michael told him at the start he wanted someone else there. Jeff bullied him into proceeding anyway, and then told him to sign this thing called a BEHAVIORAL CONTRACT or he was out that very day.

 
BEHAVIORAL CONTRACT Michael was bullied into signing. 

BEHAVIORAL CONTRACT
I, Michael Davis acknowledge the fact that I have been in the Dorm for over a year and it is time to move on from Grace. I have been given 10 days to find suitable housing. By 10 days it means the days my case manager is working and does not include weekends and days the office are closed. I acknowledge that my Case manager will be working with me in depth to find housing. If I fail to work with the Case manager in any fashion my time in the dorm will come to an end. This does not mean that Michael Davis can not receive any services or get a spot in the pavilion however Dorm stay has reached its maximum time allowed. This contract goes into effect 1-27-2016 my exit date is 2-15-2016

Before I knew of the Behavioral Contract, I had the opportunity to talk with Jeff who wholeheartedly assured me they were NOT going to kick him out of the dorm before adequate housing was located. He was bald faced lying to me. The eviction date was set. It sounds to me like they plan on putting him in the Pavilion, whether or not Jeff succeeds in locating housing. Knowing that Jeff is a dishonest, uncaring person who can barely write a ‘legal’ contract (Michael tells me Jeff had made 2 or three attempts at writing this that got discarded prior to this one. I wonder about his education, qualifications, experience or training to prepare him as a case manager.  

In a desperate hope that maybe this was just some kind of misunderstanding or mistake and if someone higher up was contacted, we could work it out, I sent the following email.

from:    Grandma KoKo <gmakoko@gmail.com>
to:        Acchh.ed@gmail.com
date:     Wed, Jan 27, 2016 at 8:09 AM
subject: Grace Marketplace

Am writing to ask for your assistance. I have been homeless and living in my van for over a year. Just before new year I arrived in Gainesville and found Grace Marketplace, also found a great job north of town. So I plan to stay for the winter before I return to my hometown in Michigan.

During the weeks I have been at 'Graceland' I have witnessed many things as you can imagine. What I found out yesterday takes the prize for sinking to low levels of human depravity. An elderly handicapped, gentleman in a wheelchair, who has been there a year without 'Grace' being able to help him find housing was told yesterday that his time is up. He has ten days before he is turned back out into the streets. Imagine how worried he is about that.

Grace Marketplace has had a year to work with him and has failed to help him find something else. He doesn't know what to do. Frankly, my best advice is that he become suicidal, (quite understandable given his circumstance), and take a ride to the 'looney bin' where he will enjoy much better accommodations. Perhaps people there will be better equipped to help him find housing.

First of all he is starving like in a concentration camp. It is hard for him to get going in time for breakfast M-F and if it is raining he fears the raindrops will short out his motorized chair. So he misses breakfast and gets along on crackers and crumbs. He used to enjoy his dinner before a Nazi staff member decided to harass him about getting done with dinner at a certain time. She has threatened him and punished him by locking access to his wheelchair. He is so nervous about the harassment that it's hard for him to eat. He needs three square meals a day.

If any staff in a nursing home was found to deprive a person of their wheelchair as punishment, that is called elder abuse and we talk about resident's rights. The staff responsible should be fired immediately at the very least. Here at Grace it is simply called a domestic dispute. Despite filling out grievance forms and a direct email to Jon, nothing has changed regarding this violation of his civil rights and he continues to be harassed and now kicked out. 

I am literally begging and pleading for some help for this guy.



There was no response to this email. Yet the next day Jeff, his caseworker asked Michael if he was suicidal. I had not discussed my great advice about going to a mental hospital being better than Graceland with Michael. So I knew someone had gotten the email. This first email was sent before Michael was forced to sign the BEHAVIORAL CONTRACT, and before Jeff lied to me about not evicting Michael.

What follows is the next email I sent. This one got a brief and terse response, the only response to date I have received from anyone representing Grace Marketplace. The response directly follows the email.

from:    Grandma KoKo <gmakoko@gmail.com>
to:        Acchh.ed@gmail.com
date:     Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 8:22 AM
subject: Michael at Grace

Hello Again, it’s me Grandma KoKo
I know you received the email I sent yesterday despite getting no response from you. So I will continue to attempt to communicate with this email.

Michael was apprehensive the night before about his meeting with Jeff on January 27, 2016. He desperately wanted someone to accompany him. Clearly he doesn’t feel Jeff is in his corner. When I arrived at the Welcome Center he was troubled but unwilling to talk about the problem in the busy noisy WC.

When I asked how it went he indicated not good, he surreptitiously indicated that something even more horrible had happened, but I had to wait until later to hear about it.

As it turned out Jeff came to the Welcome Center and I was able to talk with him. Jeff assured me Michael was not going to be expelled from the dorm before adequate housing was provided.

Sharing this with Michael didn’t reassure him. Later he talked about the horrible thing. It was that Jeff had betrayed him (my words) by talking with another client about the plans for his moving out. Michael was not ready to announce to ‘the community’ about this. He thought what they talked about was confidential and Jeff should not have done this.

Then we talked about the Behavioral Contract that he said he had been forced to sign under the threat of being expelled from the dorm that very day if he didn’t sign it. After reading that contract I myself am not reassured that he is not still under threat of having to move out of the dorm before his home is ready for him. .

I am asking you to respond to this email and I am asking you to state in writing that you are not intending to force him to leave the dorm before adequate housing is secured for him.

I assume since you expect this to happen in 10 business days that everything is already lined up and all he has to do is choose which apartment he wants. I also assume that a working budget has been planned for him. I would like to see that budget plan if possible. I know how long it can take to make this happen.

I am also offering to work with you to assist in his smooth transition out of Graceland.

Carolyn Maple ‘Grandma KoKo’
my phone number



from:    Executive Director <acchh.ed@gmail.com>
to:        Grandma KoKo <gmakoko@gmail.com>
date:     Thu, Jan 28, 2016 at 9:31 AM
subject: Re: Michael at Grace
mailed-by:        gmail.com

Good morning,

I relayed your concerns to our case managers. I am not at liberty to discuss our guests with others.

Theresa
--
Theresa

Theresa Lowe, Executive Director
Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, Inc.
dba North Central Florida Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry
3055 NE 28th Drive
Gainesville, FL 32609
(352) 792-0800
FAX: (352) 505-3977
acchh.ed@gmail.com
www.acchh.org
Serving Alachua, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Putnam Counties

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On Friday I prepared an authorization to release information form. Michael signed it and I delivered it. On Sunday I happened to find Jeff on site. He was reluctant to speak with me. He venomously restated the Michael was out on the 15th of February. He said he was still checking but he didn’t think I could be Michaels advocate because I am also a client. Note: I really don’t know what to call myself, client, resident, or what? I can tell you I sure don’t feel like a guest, as Theresa Lowe chooses to call us. On Sunday I sent the following email. No surprise it got no response to date.

from:    Grandma KoKo <gmakoko@gmail.com>
to:        Acchh.ed@gmail.com
date:     Sun, Jan 31, 2016 at 6:29 AM
subject: finding a home for Michael Davis

Dear Executive Director for Grace Marketplace,

There has been no response from the case management at Grace Marketplace, so I will continue to communicate directly to you.

I am pleading and begging you for mercy. Do not continue to terrorize this gentle soul with your threat of eviction.

The so-called Behavioral Agreement he was forced to sign (by threat of eviction that very day if he didn't sign) Wed, January 27, 2016. Michael clearly stated to Jeff, his case worker that he wanted to have someone else present with him.

 I wanted to be there but the meeting was never scheduled. The day before Michael was told by Jeff there would be a meeting about ending his over a year stay in the dormitory. There was no set time, just sometime that day. In the past I had experienced a staff say there would be a meeting at some nebulous time, like 'in the morning' The meeting never happened. So there was no way of knowing when or if this meeting would occur.

Michael thought the Behavioral Agreement meant he needed to be doing something every day or he would be kicked out sooner than the February 15 deadline. He thought Jeff would be taking him out to look at apartments on Thursday, the next day. He waited all day for Jeff. The only contact from Jeff was that he stopped into the Welcome Center and asked Michael if he wanted to talk. Michael said no.

So Michael thinks because he isn't doing anything he will be evicted any day. Each night he asks me to stay until he checks in to be sure he has a bed.

In order to better understand the situation I request to see any records you have about his approximately 14 month stay as a guest at Grace Marketplace.

I had the opportunity to contact Occupy Gainesville. Perhaps they can help secure adequate housing for Michael. I, personally am not confident that Jeff -the gentle giant- will be successful in his quest to find Michael a home before Feb. 15.

Sincerely,

Carolyn Maple


I have not sent anymore emails, what’s the point?

Next I’d like to share more about another way the staff and management have been harassing Michael. Back in November of 2015 a staff member had withheld Michael’s wheelchair to punish him. A grievance form had been filled out at that time, the response to the grievance indicated that Michael really does have to follow the ‘rules’. End of story. No concern for his wheelchair problem or that this means he has about 15 minutes to eat his dinner in order to comply.

I was present on Tuesday, January 19, 2016 when his wheelchair was withheld for punishment. I called 911 and sent Jon DeCarmine the following email. I have worked in a nursing home and know this is unacceptable, possibly illegal. I assumed Jon would address this problem quickly. It turns out he walked by the dining hall at breakfast time the very next morning and someone pointed him out so I went to meet him and engage him in conversation about this. He said he got the email but was too busy with putting kids to bed and such to have given it any attention. He said, ‘Do me a favor and fill out a grievance form’. His demeanor was cold and uncaring. He didn’t really give a flying fig. I knew the request for a grievance form meant he wasn’t going to do anything about it. I didn’t know at that time about the previous incident and grievance form receiving no resolution.

The grievance form I did file will explain things in more detail and is included directly after the email to Jon.


Grandma KoKo <gmakoko@gmail.com>
to:        jdecarmine@gracemarketplace.org
date:     Tue, Jan 19, 2016 at 7:21 PM
subject: incident 1-19-16 at the Welcome center
Dear Jon,
Am writing to share the incident/disturbance that occurred tonight. Michael our elderly handicapped client who depends on his motorized wheelchair was harassed by Angelica. She refused to let him get it after dinner. Apparently she enjoys treating a small person like he is a naughty school boy.
He leaves his chair in the welcome center to keep it safe. The dining hall is not wheelchair friendly and he does not have room to maneuver in there. So he walks to the dining hall. His chair has his stuff so he can't leave it outside or his stuff could get stolen. Angelica is the only staff that gives him grief about this.
Am writing to tell you the story and to ask for help. Michael should be allowed to enjoy his dinner without rushing to meet her deadline. I'm sure together we can find a better way.
thank you,
Grandma KoKo
aka Carolyn Maple


Grievance and incident report  1-19-16  6:30 pm.

Brief description of incident as handwritten on the official NCFCHH/GRACE Marketplace Grievance Form

On Tuesday 1-19-2016 when Michael came to the Welcome Center to retrieve his motorized chair the door was locked and he was denied access to his chair. This is illegal, it is called elder abuse among other things. 911 was called at 6:40 by myself. Officer Meek was dispatched. He allowed Michael to get his chair. Angelica has harassed and threatened Michael on previous occasions regarding this issue. She continued to terrorize him later the same evening by threatening him with a meeting in the morning that was in fact fictional. She intentionally lied to him.

More details are attached.


Content of more details:
 On January 19, 2016 Michael was denied access to his motorized vehicle. A staff named Angelica was holding it hostage to punish him. She and she alone among the staff decided to harass Michael by insisting he move his cart by a certain time. Michael is a peaceful, gentle person, who simply wants to eat his supper with friends. Grace Marketplace is not equipped to adequately accommodate the needs of the handicapped client population.

Just a night or two before this incident, I had witnessed Michael returning from dinner to retrieve his motorized chair. Angelica met him at the door and verbally assaulted him. Michael is a mild mannered person who tries hard to follow the rules and not make trouble. Angelica treated him like he was a naughty child and her tone of voice was like a schoolmarm scolding a wayward child. At first I thought she was joking with him, but it quickly became apparent that she was in earnest. She said something like this “Now Michael, you know you HAVE to get your chair before we clean. You’ve been told repeatedly and you better shape up! Don’t let this happen again. You are handicapped so you can just go to the front of the line early, get your food and be done in time.”

I was shocked and appalled that something as insignificant as him coming in a few minutes after they start cleaning to get his chair should be any problem at all. According to Michael, none of the other staff have talked to him about this or prevented him from getting his chair. They start cleaning at the bathrooms on the other side of the room anyway.

On January 19, 2016, the night of the incident, Michael arrived very close to 6:30. Yet the door was locked. I knocked and the volunteer inside cleaning seemed flustered, but did not open the door. I continued to knock louder. The volunteer went to Mission Control, (the little office for staff in the Welcome Center) briefly to consult Angelica then returned to work by the door, ignoring me. I continued to bang on the door, after a long pause Angelica emerged from Mission Control and seems to ignore my pounding. I continued to pound and call, even after she waved dismissively at me. I directly asked her to open the door. She refused. I walked around the building to the open front entrance and spoke to her directly, rather than attempting to communicate through the locked door. After speaking with her, it took me a few minutes to find my phone to call 911 for assistance. The call was placed at 6:40.

Officer Meek arrived shortly and first consulted with Angelica. Then both Angelica and the Officer spoke with Michael. Angelica made it seem like Michael was deliberately not following ‘the rules’, when in reality there is no rule about this and Michael is an elder, disabled, slow moving gentleman who would enjoy having more than 15 minutes to eat his dinner. Michael manages to keep a cheerful and compassionate nature, despite his crippling pain and meager circumstance. He is well loved by so many. Michael was reminded by the officer that he doesn’t have to be here at Grace Marketplace. What a terrible thing to have said to him. Last I knew, homelessness is not a choice. Imagine how Michael felt being caught in the center of this chaotic storm, with a covert threat of being expelled from the compound. This incident comes while Michael is worried about getting kicked out anyway, not knowing if Grace would let him stay longer than a year. Michael feared the wheelchair ruckus would result in him being kicked out.

After the additional haranguing by the Officer, who later called it a domestic dispute, and  Angelica gloating because she feels somehow this justifies her cruelty; Michael was allowed to get his chair. Please note that in all this time Michael had been left standing.

Michael moved out in his chair by the back bench where he usually sits while they clean the Welcome Center for about an hour. Before long Angelica comes out to authoritatively say, “We’re having a meeting tomorrow morning, you, me and Ariel.” Angelica doesn’t provide a time or place for the meeting, only the threat. Michael was not looking forward to more humiliation and reprimand implicit at such a meeting. The next day we ascertained that Ariel knew nothing of such a meeting. Turns out it was cruel, falsehood concocted by Angelica alone. There was no meeting or any additional mention of it. Everything swept under the rug.

Michael was shaken by the incident and the police attention. (Not to mention being center show at the Graceland Welcome Center. Lots of people watching the goings-on) He thanked the officer repeatedly.

He was terrified at the prospect of the fictional meeting in the morning.

Next I’d like to explain a little more about the situation with his wheelchair and dinnertime by explaining more about suppertime at Graceland.

On Friday night January 22, 2016, the doors opened to begin serving about 5:45.  People stand in line outside. There is a separate line for the handicapped and they go first. The other line was already quite long. When the doors open there is more commotion than if a person waits until later. It is my preference, as well as many others to wait until the line gets down. Avoid the hubbub. Many people get their food and take it somewhere else, and that’s a good thing because the dining hall could not seat but a fraction of the meals served.

So Michael prefers to wait until the line is shorter. Then he walks over, leaving his wheelchair in the Welcome Center, moves toward the front of the line. Even with entering the line near the front he is still standing for a while before he gets through the line and seated. It would be swell if he could simply drive his chair over to the dining hall, but the space is very cramped and hard for even regular chairs to get thru. His motorized cart needs room to maneuver.

So on this night of January 22, 2016, I timed things exactly to give an accurate report. Michael headed over earlier than he might have and even so, by the time he got through the line and seated it was 6:10pm. Keep in mind it is an effort for him to walk over and stand so he likes to have a minute to settle and catch his breath. Michael is always joined by his friends and it is nice to be able to share some social time over dinner. Instead of being able to enjoy his dinner, Michael is nervous about the time, watching the clock, wondering if Angelica is working. Angelica wasn’t working, but at 6:30 promptly the staff closes the kitchen, asking people to leave so they can start cleaning. As it turned out that night they didn’t start cleaning the Welcome Center until after 7:00pm.

Michael would prefer to have his chair with him for dinner, but since he has to leave it somewhere, better in the Welcome Center than outside, because of the possibility of theft.

Possible solutions:
  1. Simply allow him to leave his chair in the Welcome Center until he gets done with dinner. This solution, while not optimal has worked well for some time, until Angelica made a big deal about it.

  1. Make a way for him to ride his chair to dinner.

  1. Change the time for cleaning the Welcome Center. Perhaps it should be at least an hour and a half after dinner is served, or an entirely different time. I wonder how the schedule for cleaning was decided. It seems to me and many others that right after dinner is a bad time.

Thank you for reading this, I hope and pray that you will find a speedy solution to this problem.


In closing I want to thank every brave soul who has read this far. I have many ideas about how to make Graceland a much better place. Thinking about calling it KoKo’s wish list; making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice.  

This is but one of many stories about people ‘evicted’ from ‘Grace’. There will be more to come on telling stories.

I am your scout and this is my report.


6 comments:

  1. It always amazes me that people who work at these places are really on a power trip. The world sees them as do-gooders, but what they really do is enjoy having power over those who have none.

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    1. i'm not sure the workers are on a power trip. a lot of times i think it's a reaction to the system. the direct care workers to those with health issues and disabilities do a lot of hard work, are greatly underappreciated, and grossly underpaid. so i think it's more a matter of them taking their frustrations out on an vulnerable target. doesn't really make it any better and not trying to justify, but it helps me to feel less insane if i have a deeper understanding of the world. sigh.

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  2. Systemic pointless cruelty. We should be honouring our elders at every opportunity. So awful.

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  3. According to this blog, GRACE Marketplace has become just another #homeless shelter. I'm not there so I can't say its true or not.

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  4. Hola from Costa Rica! Here is a new vid of our ROMELIA sea turtle rescue program. The young ladies in the video forgot to mention that keeping humans from stealing and eating the eggs is a primary goal. There has been a big recovery since preventing the sale of turtle eggs to the nearby largest city of Puntarenas.

    Not that any of this matters in the long-term but for now it feels like living in excellence. Right actions are probably only a feeling while I'm anchored here but I thank Guy for being a guide to sailing away from Empire once again.

    Decommissioning all nuclear power plants on Earth would certainly be the most helpful thing a public figure like Guy could suggest to those who admire him. It's worth the effort to reduce the grid.

    Per my video above our national park is totally off the electric grid. It is a big deal to get to the jungle town of Montezuma and spend a rainy day in this internet café. This is where we buy candles and bags of rice to hike on our backs out to the preserve. Almost 20 years have flown by since I first started funding this refugio. I realize it will all be gone if the bioshield weapons we developed in D.C. do get used in a surprise event. Personally I think some people can fit into both catagories. Bad man developing Blue Beam & biological warfare. Good GUY if the depopulation event helps reduce the destruction of so many other species per day. The close call will be if the teams can shut down the nuclear reactors when/if the pandemic is released.

    Mo the moderator on NBL has my passport number and all my personal data for tracking. I wrote him almost weekly from each port across the Caribbean to Panama Canal. If plans for WW3 are postponed this fall, I will briefly return to D.C. around Thanksgiving time. For economic reasons I'm fairly sure they would try Applied Molecular Evolution and other geoengineering projects before resorting to population reductions. Then again War and the aftermath of clean up can also be very profitable. Months after the radio show with Guy you can see they did the NYC subway bio-tests exactly as I described according to plan. The only real proof will be after-the-fact for those who do survive phase one.

    LOVE to you KoKo. Even though I might be the worst former NSA agent on Earth, I hope the best will result for the future of Earth. Keep working to reduce all the radiation that might remain. Glad to hear you are up north safe in MI.

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