An open letter from George Akers, Executive Vice President of First Mortgage:
There is no way I can express the depth of my gratitude for the generosity of the folks at Nebraska Realty. With the money you raised/donated at your Christmas party, along with First Mortgage Company’s matching funds, the Shelter Funds has been able to do something truly amazing. Before I tell you what’s been done let me give you some background information.
If you can remember back to Thanksgiving you’ll remember that it was cold – bitterly cold with temperatures down in the 20s. This is not the kind of weather where you want to be sleeping outside, but that’s what David Busch was doing. His current home had no address; it was simply a strip of cardboard placed on the ground between two buildings near 73rd and Blondo. He was living on the streets of Omaha. Sadly, his body was found Friday morning, the day after Thanksgiving; he died of exposure. David was only 36 years old.
It’s sad to think that something like this can happen in our city, but it does…more than most people know. Now though, thanks to your generosity, something more is being done to help Omaha’s homeless street people. The Shelter Fund made a donation to the Open Door Mission that allowed them to hire a full-time director for their “Streets of Omaha” program and expand this program’s services from two days a week to five days a week. The Streets of Omaha program provides sack lunches, toiletries, and other necessities to those living in abandoned buildings, homeless camps along the levy, camp grounds, vehicles, under bridges, crack allies, dumpsters, rest stops, public bathrooms, etc. The issues are as diverse as the people themselves – families, teenagers aging out of foster care, the mentally ill, abused, afflicted, human trafficking and the addicted. More and more elderly, living on a fixed income, will come to the Streets of Omaha van to receive a sack lunch. Many say it’s their only meal for the day.
With the Shelter Fund’s donation the Open Door Mission has re-worked their Streets of Omaha route and, starting February 29th, began reaching farther west, north and south. And now, by expanding to five days a week, the Open Door Mission’s team of volunteers and staff can cover twice as much ground and find homeless people faster.
Meeting people where they are – geographically, philosophically and emotionally is so important. Street homeless are often disconnected and disengaged with society; living in survival mode often due to trauma and crisis in their lives. Candace Gregory, the executive director of the Open Door Mission said, “Our goal is to reach the street homeless with food, love and toiletries and then offer the resources of a free hot shower, a hot nutritious meal, clean clothing, safe shelter…the basic necessities. We will empower our street homeless to know that there are resources available for them when they are ready to accept the help.”
The sad circumstances of David Busch’s death inspired the Shelter Fund to make an effort to help Omaha’s street homeless. And now, thanks to your generosity, David’s life was not lived in vain. God bless you for your generosity.