Jeremy is homeless. He is 18 years old, tall, skinny, with a gap between to his top front teeth. He dresses as well has he can, and is careful to shower every day at Res. House. And to iron his clothes after they have been washed.
He dropped out of school when in 10th grade, and has been more or less on the streets since he was 16.
To say that his background was dysfunctional is to say the least, and to call it a family would degrade that word.
Both of his parents are drug addicts, and his father has recently been sentenced to seven years in the slammer.
He has a sister but when Jeremy said that he hoped her children would not be taken away from her that gave me some indication of her dysfunction.
Jean F is one of our finest volunteers. She has a concern and passion for Jeremy’s well being. She moved heaven and earth last Monday to get Jeremy into a residential programme at the Salvation Army.
By Wednesday Jeremy had left the “Sally”. He could not hack the rules. I called Jean F. To tell her this bad news, but neither of us were shocked or surprised.
For Jeremy has no faculty from which to make good decisions, no framework on which to build a good life. And that’s not his fault.
I saw him on Thursday at Res. House. He was excited because he was going to Nokomis where he had been offered two days of work as a so-called landscaper. Nokomis is some ten miles south of SRQ, but as far as Jeremy was concerned, he was as excited as you or I would be if we were about to take a Mediterranean cruise.
He said that he would be staying overnight at a home in Nokomis. Of course I fear that he has been picked up by some would be “sugar daddy”. Jeremy does not have the experience to figure out that possibility.
The “system” is simply not set up in a way which could have helped Jeremy in his younger years, nor in a way which could help him today.
No wonder we need those “faith based programs” which have proven effective with kids like Jeremy. And I do not particularly worry if they receive government funds, just as long as there are not “government strings”.
Senator Obama’s “Audacity of Hope” may ring true with the educated blue and middle classes. But it means not a damn thing to the Jeremys of this world. For they have no vantage point from which to glimpse even a sliver of hope.