PAT FITZPATRICK TRIBUTE PARTY/HOME VAN BENEFIT
Gainesville Liberation Orchestra!
1982 Video Game Bar / Music & Arts Venue
919 West University Avenue
8:30 on (music begins at 9 p.m.)
(all ages / non- smoking inside)
$5 donation ($7 under 21)
Pat Fitzpatrick, founding member of the Home Van and long-time Home Van driver, has retired from the Home Van to focus on some personal challenges, although, as I will explain, he has not retired from helping his friends in the homeless community. This party will celebrate Pat’s enormous contribution to the Home Van and his untiring efforts to combat hunger in our community.
I can’t imagine what the Home Van would be without Pat’s role in making it what it is. He taught me how to reach out to people. I’m a bit of introvert and also grew up in Vermont, the Introvert Capital of the country. I was frozen in place at the idea of going up to strangers, giving them food and even talking to them. On those first few driveouts I just watched Pat, whose resume included a long stretch of union organizing in Immokalee, Florida, where he had his office at Ernie’s Flophouse.
He’d see a down-and-out looking person and he’d walk right up to them with that big, cheesy Irish grin from ear to ear, clap them on the back and say, “Hey, Buddy! Howya doing?” No one could resist him.
That first winter of 2002 was one of the coldest in Florida history, with many nights in the twenties and thirties. We were, to the best of my knowledge, the only group doing direct outreach on the streets. That winter Pat and I would drive around town on cold nights - down alleys, across parking lots, behind dumpsters, into patches of woods – with two gallons of hot chocolate and a load of blankets.
When I got a call from United Way 211 about someone desperate for food, Pat would take them a bag of groceries – any time, anywhere. He says, “This is my job.” He often quotes from books he’s reading on the principles of Catholic Social Justice. He tells me, “If you have two coats, one of those coats belongs to the poor.”
Even in relative retirement, he’s still doing his job. This summer he discovered that the water fountain in the downtown plaza is defective. He brought this to the attention of the Parks and Recreation Department, who plan to replace it. In the meantime, he goes down to the plaza most nights with a big cooler of ice cold bottled water. He sits out schmoozing with the passersby and offering water to anyone who’s thirsty.
The good folks of 1982 are also hosting this event as a benefit for the Home Van. Come join us in honoring Pat.
CHRISTMAS STOCKING TIME
As most of you know, the Home Van hosts a yearly Christmas party for our homeless friends at the downtown community plaza. This year’s party will be on Thursday, December 19 at 6 p.m., in the little parking lot on the east side of the Civil Courthouse and down from the Lunchbox Café. It is a custom that people from all over the community – school children, office staffs, bowling teams, scout troops, families, neighborhoods – stuff Christmas stockings and bring them to the party. Some people also bring home baked goodies. This year the Unitarian Youth Choir is coming down to serenade us with Christmas carols.
For you new folks, here is how you do a Christmas stocking: Buy a pair of white athletic or tube socks. Stuff one sock into the toe of the other sock. Stuff the sock with Christmas presents and tie off the end. Suggested stocking stuffers include but are not limited to: candy canes, chocolate bars, candles, small flashlights, batteries, stamped envelopes, reading glasses, nail files, gloves, caps, hotel-size soaps, and shampoos, lotion, pens, puzzle books, paperback books, playing cards.... The various dollar stores are great places to find affordable stocking stuffers. I have to ask that no one put money into a Christmas stocking. It is painful when some people get money and others don’t, especially toward end of the month when everyone’s broke.
ADVOCACY GROUP MEETING
As you know, about a dozen Home Van supporters are forming a group to do research on homeless issues, followed by efforts to educate the community on who our homeless friends are and what challenges they face. This group’s goal is to shine the light of knowledge on irrational fear of homeless people. The group’s first meeting will be Tuesday, October 8 at the Civic Media Center, 433 South Main Street, 7 p.m. Anyone who did not sign up for this group but feels inspired to come are most welcome. I will be circulating notes by email for those who can’t make this meeting.
It’s time to start collecting mylar blankets. These blankets, also called space blankets, are available at WalMart and at any store that offers camping supplies. They generally cost under a dollar each. They can also be purchased on line at a multitude of sites. Anyone who is charging a dollar or more per blanket, don’t buy from them. You can do better. I think it’s going to be particularly important this winter to have a large supply of these blankets on hand. The number of people coming to us for supplies has doubled since last May and many of them are sick or elderly.
STATUS OF THE ONE-STOP
The City Commission has voted to buy the old Gainesville Correctional Institute on 39th avenue, in it’s entirety. The State has agreed to expedite this purchase, so the city may own the site as early as this November. The center will start offering some services as soon as possible. It is going to be a long process to get this Homeless Empowerment Center, as it is now called, up and running in full. It is likely that our homeless friends are going to have to struggle through another winter on their own for the most part. May this be the last one!
WHAT WE NEED
We are low on double A and triple A batteries, personal hygiene products, and paperback books. You can call me at 372-4825, to arrange for drop off.
peace and blessings to everyone,
The Home Van needs tents, tarps, bottled water, bug spray,Vienna sausages, creamy peanut butter, jelly, candles, white tube socks, batteries, and games. 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 Citizens for Social Justice, Inc., earmarked for the Home Van, and mailed to 307 SE 6th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601, or can be made online at http://homevan.blogspot.com/
THE HOMEVAN IS A PROJECT OF CITIZENS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, INC. (FDACSREGISTRATION #CH35643). A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE.REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.