Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Loaves & Fishes to Homeless: Drop Dead

Famous newspaper headline from 1975.
Loaves & Fishes indefinite closure of its Friendship Park and other unspecified services continues.

Green Hat Ed was in the North C Street cul-de-sac and informed me that the park would not be open today. A few homeless fellows standing about in the cul-de-sac informed me that they had heard that Loaves & Fishes's park would be closed until Friday, Good Friday. [I guess it's an imitation of Christ. Dead for three days, and then emerging from the tomb!]

Ed told me that 250 leaflets had been handed out, informing homeless folk something of the situation. I did not get one of those leaflets.

Yesterday, I emailed each of the the L&F Board of Directors members; I've received no response. Following is the text:
Dear Board of Directors, and others associated with Loaves & Fishes,

I am writing to repudiate the action of Sister Libby Fernandez this morning in closing Friendship Park, without notice, due to the actions of a very few in Friendship Park, yesterday.

Ms. Fernandez is in the bad habit of dealing with the adult denizens of Friendship Park, and adult users of others of L&F's services, as if they are Children and she (and her staff) are Parents.

This Parent-to-Child transactional mode is repugnant and harmful, irrespective of its specific effects. It would be good if the too-quiescent Board would address this element in isolation, in an effort to re-make management of Loaves & Fishes so that it might be wise and compassionate, rather than precipitant and arbitrarily punative.

It is Nazis in Poland and kindergarten teachers that punish everyone for the actions of a few. Loaves & Fishes should stop acting like a Nazi kindergarten teacher in Poland.

If you are not aware of what happened this morning, allow me to fill you in of what I learned before I left L&F property five minutes after 7AM: A large banner was put up, minutes before 7AM, along the FP bathroom wall, facing the fence gates. It read (something like): "Friendship Park will be Closed Until Further Notice."

A sheet of paper was put up on the chainlink-fence gate telling those waiting to get into the park that the reason for the closure was evidence of alcohol and drug use yesterday in the park. The sheet ended with expression of thanks to those who do not use or deal drugs or drink alcohol in the park.

It is a bizarre sentiment of "thanks," to the great great majority of Friendship Park denizens, when the park is closed without notice, without giving immediate access to rented lockers in the park and without providing information of when the shutdown policy will end.

The current management of Loaves and Fishes is greatly unworthy of the people it should be there to serve. Today, Loaves & Fishes acts as if homeless people exist to serve Loaves & Fishes management. It is disgusting.

Under Libby Fernandez's management, Loaves & Fishes never informs users of its services when facilities it manages will be closed in advance of closure. This has been true for the three-day winterizing closure, staff retreats, and when holidays are taken. I can think of no other business -- I cannot imagine a respectable business -- whether profit or non-profit, acting this way.

Board of Directors: Please wake up and do something.

Respectfully,

Tom Armstrong

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