When I was volunteering at St. Francis House in the mid-nineties, I met a young woman named Duffy. Duffy, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, became a guest at SFH just before giving birth to a child. Her family took the baby to live with them. Duffy lost her bed at St. Francis House and was living on the streets. One day she came into the lobby and fell asleep in a chair. She looked exhausted beyond measure. Since it is against the rules to sleep in the lobby at St. Francis House, a staff member asked me to wake Duffy up and ask her to leave. I did so. Three hours later Duffy lay down in traffic on West University Avenue and died.
For a long time it has been my goal to establish something beautiful in Duffy's name, so she will not be forgotten and so that we will all be inspired to love and help one another, unstintingly.
Now, with the sponsorship of the Helping Hands Clinic, a free medical clinic for homeless and low-income people that has been helping folks, from their enormous hearts, for the past twenty years, this dream is going to become a reality. Helping Hands Clinic is setting up a special fund for homeless women, to be called DUFFY'S HEART FUND. The Home Van will be helping out with fund-raising, referrals, and errands (like going to WalMart and buying a tent).
DUFFY'S HEART FUND will be used, with discretion, intuition and love, for the special needs of homeless women - both practical and, sometimes, impractical. (The Home Van has a small Heart Fund. I once took $30 from it and bought ferret food. This hungry ferret was a homeless woman's child and best friend and, in any case, like all God's children, ferrets gotta eat). This fund can be used to put down rent and utility deposits for a homeless woman who gets a check but never has deposit money. It can be used for tents, a job interview dress, a motel break for a woman who is on the verge of a melt down, a copay on a prescription, a chain of Christmas lights for a lady who just got an apartment, ferret food....
Donations to DUFFY'S HEART FUND should be in the form of checks made out to Helping Hands Clinic, earmarked for Duffy's Heart Fund, and mailed to P.O. Box 1481 Gainesville, Fl 32602-1481. All donations are tax deductible.
love and blessings to all of you,
The Home Van needs tents, tarps, Vienna sausages, creamy peanut butter, jelly, candles, white tube socks, mylar emergency blankets and latex surgical gloves in sizes large and medium. Call 352-372-4825 to arrange for drop off. Financial donations to the Home Van should be in the form of checks made out to the St. Vincent de Paul Society, earmarked for the Home Van, and mailed to 307 SE 6th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601.