Friday, October 13, 2017

CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic - Improve Access and Coordination of Services and Emergency Housing and Rapidly House Family Households with Children

Some of the most important systems change work in our Continuum of Care (CoC) is done on the committee level. The Family and Domestic Violence Services Committee’s work over the last few months is a great example of this. Back in August, the two committee co-chairs, Ellen Magnis, CEO of Family Gateway and Blake Fetterman, Executive Director of the Salvation Army Carr P. Collins Social Service Center, treated us, at the CoC General Assembly, to a fascinating progress report on how they are working through various elements of Goals III and IV of the CoC Strategic Work Plan.
In this installment of the CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic, we will zero in on specific points they discussed in this presentation. We encourage you to carefully review the entire PowerPoint presentation from Ellen and Blake’s progress report, as well as Goals III and IV, to understand the full context of the discussion.
Ellen Magnis
The first part of the presentation focuses on system mapping and alignment of rules and procedures of different shelters. Why is it important to map a system of care, especially to the level of specificity that Ellen and Blake exhibit on page 2 of their presentation? Why is it important to align the rules of different shelters? Simple: Without doing this work, there is no system; there is only an uncoordinated environment. That hurts those experiencing homelessness, and hampers the work of those trying to help them.

In an uncoordinated environment, the National Alliance to End Homelessness explains, “families with housing crises may end up going to multiple agencies that cannot serve them before they get to the one most appropriate for their needs.” And when each agency has different rules and procedures, this ends up, “slowing down families’ receipt of assistance.” Furthermore, “extra staff, time, and money are spent doing intake and assessment, taking time away from other, more housing-focused tasks, such as case management, housing location, and landlord negotiation.” This type of environment is detrimental to those who need our help the most, as, “research suggests that, in many systems, resources are being conferred on a small subset of families whose needs may primarily be economic, while those with more significant challenges (co-occurring disorders, complete lack of a social support system, etc.) are falling through the cracks.”

Laura Zeilinger
Indeed, as we have shared before, former Executive Director of USICH, Laura Zeilinger, argues that the essence of transforming homeless services into an effective homeless response system may be summed up in the right entity asking the right question: An effective homeless response system is one where individual programs no longer ask, "Will this person be successful in our program?" Rather, the system as a whole asks, “What solutions best match the needs of this person or household, and will end their homelessness quickly and permanently?"  
This focus on solutions rather than programs is what drives another important idea Ellen and Blake reiterate, the cardinal importance of diversion. As we explain in our playbook (pg. 8), “An effective homeless response system, counterintuitively perhaps, seeks to divert individuals from having to enter into or engage with the system. It recognizes that homelessness is not homogeneous, rather it is on a continuum. Many of those who seek our help have the capacity to self-resolve, with the help of mainstream resources, or ‘light touch’ one-time assistance.”
A recent excellent piece on the Austin Street Center website elaborates on this, and is worth quoting at length:
It’s easy to think that anyone who seeks services at a homeless shelter is actually homeless and in need of a safe place to stay for the night. However, according to Austin Street’s Executive Director, Daniel Roby, that’s not always the case, ‘Sometimes people come to us in shock, having just been kicked out of their apartment. They often haven’t had the time to think through what other options might be available to them. They are just thinking, ‘I need shelter tonight.’”
According to Director of Programs, Dustin Perkins, “Diversion allows us to have a comprehensive understanding of a person’s true needs. When you’re overwhelmed, when something traumatic has happened, sometimes it’s hard to see when you do really have options. We can help with that.”

Dustin Perkins
Diversion is better for the individual or family in crisis, and it is better for the system as a whole. After all, diverting an individual or family, who can self-resolve, eases the pressure on the limited resources of the system, allowing us to serve those who cannot self-resolve and cannot be diverted. This is why both Austin Street Center and Family Gateway have made significant investments in diversion.

By the end of this month, we will tackle the remaining two goals we have not covered yet in this Online Learning Clinic: End Chronic, Veteran and Elderly Homelessness and Drive Decision-making with HMIS Data. Stay tuned!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Does it Matter Where People Experiencing Homelessness in Dallas Come From?

Our mission statement at MDHA is very specifically worded: The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) leads the development of an effective homeless response system that will make the experience of homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties rare, brief, and non-recurring. That language is directly derived from the 2009 Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act, and Opening Doors, the national strategic plan to end homelessness, established under the Act.

Perhaps one of the most important words in our mission statement is “system”. Housing is the only solution that can end homelessness. Effectively and efficiently delivering any resource, especially a scarce one, like housing for those experiencing homelessness, cannot be done without a well-oiled delivery system.
That is why systems thinking is so central to what we do. I was, personally, first introduced to systems thinking, when I was studying for my Texas school principal certification. Perhaps that is why I really like this concise straightforward explanation from the Waters Foundation: “Systems thinking utilizes habits, tools and concepts to develop an understanding of the interdependent structures of dynamic systems. When individuals have a better understanding of systems, they are better able to identify the leverage points that lead to desired outcomes.”
One of my favorite aspects of systems thinking is that it, a la Stephen Covey, begins with the end in mind. It first asks what the desired outcomes or outputs are. Once you have figured that out, it backs up, and asks what inputs are needed to deliver those outputs. Any suggested input, however attractive, must be rejected, if it does not lead to the desired output. Covey rightly points out that one must be ruthless in doing this, because, “If your ladder is not leaning against the right wall, every step you take gets you to the wrong place faster.”

Stephen Covey
Recently, Cindy J. Crain, MDHA’s President and CEO addressed a question in a way that illustrates this idea very well. The question was, “Where do people experiencing homelessness in Dallas come from?” There is an honest misconception in many communities that those experiencing homelessness are not from that community. In fact, when this was measured in Dallas homeless counts, the numbers indicated that the vast majority of our homeless friends became homeless in Dallas. This number seems to be in line with other locales’ past homeless counts too.
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) actually conducted a long-term study on this very issue. Their findings not only back up what we knew already, but answer a question communities seldom wonder about: How many natives of our community are experiencing homelessness elsewhere? They arrived at this not surprising result: “In-migration roughly balanced out-migration. For most (communities) there was a small net impact of migration on homeless population size. In (communities) with larger numbers of homeless, the net impact of migration attenuated towards zero (emphasis mine-DSG).”

Now, Crain did mention this misconception and the facts on the ground in passing, but she did not dwell on them. Instead she explained that there is very little utility in answering this question on a macro level. The answer would not and should not cause MDHA and its partners to do anything differently in the effort to make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring in our community. There are data points that are very important on the macro level, such as age, gender identity, veteran status, race and more, because they have utility in the systems thinking frame. This data point, on the other hand, simply does not, which is probably why the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development removed it from its guidelines regarding annual homeless counts.

What utility do these other data points have? Let’s take an issue we just blogged about, as an example, the overrepresentation of African Americans in the homeless population. The current output is that 60-70% of those experiencing homelessness in Dallas County are African American. Ideally, one would hope their percentage would roughly equal their percentage in Dallas County’s population at large, about 13%. So, what inputs do we need to change on the system level to get that desired output, is a very important question, which we seek to address.

Crain did explain that on the micro or individual level, the question of where the person comes from is tremendously important, and is a routine part of best practice case management. Why? Because, as we point out in our playbook (pg. 8), the first step in engaging an individual person seeking services in the homeless response system should be diversion. One of the easiest ways to divert, is to help the person reunite with family, if possible. This is true regardless of where the person is from. A great example of this is our story from about a year and a half ago, Solomon’s Ticket out of Homelessness. An incredible example of this, is the story of Gershon Campbell, who with the help of Austin Street Center returned to his home 5,600(!) miles away.

Gershon Campbell
(Courtesy of KHOU)
Once again, this goes back to systems thinking. Imagine, you are a case manager, and you are approached by an individual person experiencing homelessness. The desired output is that they be housed. Can their origin be a useful input? You don’t know yet, because you need to know more about them. If they are from Dallas, for instance, their family moved away to Rhode Island, has invited the individual to join them, and the individual so desires, then the fact that the individual is from Dallas is not a useful input at all. It would be a dereliction of duty to insist the person stay homeless in Dallas, and not join family and be housed in Rhode Island!

Conversely, in Leonard’s case, which we wrote about exactly a year ago, even though he had no intention of returning to Florida, where he was from, this data point was a very relevant input. Why? Because, Leonard wanted to self-resolve his homelessness. His plan was to return to his career as a truck driver, which would enable him to obtain housing, the desired output of our system. He had a Commercial Driver's License or CDL, but alas it was from Florida, not from Texas. The necessary additional input was to transfer the license from Florida to Texas, with the help of Austin Street Center and MDHA.

In summary, does it matter where people experiencing homelessness in Dallas come from? On the macro level, because it does not contribute to our desired output, housing, not really. (Parenthetically, the vast majority are from here, anyway, and in-migration vs. out-migration attenuate to zero.) On the micro level, when helping individuals experiencing homelessness, it depends on the client, so one should always ask. The answer should be factored as an input into the system, but only if it can help our desired output, the housing of that individual.

Monday, September 25, 2017

CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic: Address Racial Disparities in Homelessness and Service Delivery - SPARC

A recent interview on Think on KERA really got me thinking, to belabor the pun. The host, Krys Boyd, was talking to Margaret Biser. Biser had written about her experiences, as an African-American guide at a colonial plantation museum. 
A man called in and was incredulous as to how descendants of slave masters could feel anything but shame. He told of the shame he felt having discovered that he shared that heritage. He asked for her guidance, in how he should deal with this. 
Biser shared that she had discovered that not only was she descended from a specific slave owner; the man she was descended of had a role in the slave trade! 
Then she drove this point home: There is nothing we can do about the past. Our ancestors, good, bad or in between are gone. There is something we can do about the present and the future, and there we must act. 
I find this tremendously edifying regarding the fight to end the modern homelessness crisis. We can and should ask how our country so colossally failed our citizens, that we allowed the modern homelessness crisis to happen. We can and should help individuals discover how they themselves became homeless. We must reckon with the fact that each one of us had a role to play in perpetuating, if not creating this crisis. However, this dwelling in the past is of utility only insofar as it helps all of us learn from it. 

The main question we need to ask, again, as a society and as individuals, is what do we do now? What do the facts on the ground tell us about what will end the modern homelessness crisis, and make homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring in our community. Fortunately, we have evidence based practices to answer that question. We know diversion works, we know coordinated access and assessment work, we know Housing First works, and we know that there is no substitute for a unified effective homeless response system, where we all share our data with each other and with the public. 
And, we know that the very issues Biser discusses are relevant to the discussion of homelessness. The overrepresentation of African Americans in the homeless population is not something we can ignore or explain away. It is a hard truth we must face, and all of us are responsible to fix this problem. 
This is why, about one year ago we embarked on an open-ended journey to rectify this ill. With the support of United Way of Metropolitan DallasUnite Dallas Relief Fund, and in concert with other communities across the nation, we embarked on SPARC. This program, Supporting Partnerships for Anti-Racist Communities, led by the Center for Social Innovation, has helped all of us begin to come to terms with what we need to do, as well as act on it. 
Indeed, because the numbers show us how important an issue this is, we devoted the seventh of our seven goals in the CoC Strategic Work Plan to this issue. We recognize that unless we, as a community and as individuals, face this issue of overrepresentation of African Americans in homelessness, we will never end homelessness. 
We encourage you to review this goal in whole in our CoC Strategic Work Plan. And again, don't just use this as an interesting learning exercise; figure out what aspect of this work you can get involved with, so you can become part of the solution. We all have much work ahead of us. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic - Increase Access to Affordable Housing - The MDHA Flex Fund

Read the first blog post in our CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic series, Rapidly House Youth, here. Each post drills down into another aspect of the plan, to encourage you to get involved, and help us make measurable progress in ending homelessness. To maximize your learning and your ability to make an impact, we recommend you carefully read the entire first page now. Then review the entire page or pages that the individual blog post pertains to, as you read each post.

This time we focus on Goal I on page 2: Increase Access to Affordable Housing. The only thing that truly ends homelessness is housing. However, like any other scarce resource, you need a delivery system to ensure that this resource is deployed in the most efficient manner. This delivery system is made up of all of the different entities who are working together in our community to end homelessness. Our role is to serve as the backbone organization that brings these partners together, and turns them into a unified homeless response system. This is systems thinking at its best.

Now, proper systems thinking entails, at its very basic level, figuring out what input is needed to arrive at the optimal output. Our homeless response system is a leader in recognizing that one of the most important inputs in such a system, is a flexible assistance fund, like the MDHA Flex Fund. This is why one of the action items under this goal is to raise money for this fund. Since its founding by MDHA and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas in late August 2015, it has proven to be one of the most powerful weapons we wield in the fight to end homelessness in Dallas and Collin Counties.

The idea behind the MDHA Flex Fund is simple: A minor but impactful expenditure inhibits a person from ending his or her homelessness. The MDHA Flex Fund pays that expenditure, and the person can make progress in ending his or her homelessness, if not end it altogether, in short order.

Much of what we do is, well, complicated. I usually say that if you need our elevator speech, we better be going up to the top floor of a very tall building! This why we have a Strategic Work Plan and a Playbook. In that context, one of the most beautiful things about the MDHA Flex Fund is its simplicity. In fact, we can even tell stories about it backwards, starting from the end, and as long as we include a link, you not only understand what it’s all about, but probably need a tissue to dab your eyes:

  • $103.53. $103.53 allowed Jonathan to reconnect his electricity, and avoid a return to homelessness (and a miserable Christmas).
  • $120.75. $120.75 allowed Daniel and Karla to remain housed, Abraham to pursue a job, and Richard to become eligible for a housing voucher. No, not $120.75 each; $120.75 total.
  • $95, $149, $200. $95, $149, $200, respectively, allowed Kisha, Sarah and Laura to move from shelter into housing.
Recently, as a requirement of our United Way funding, we were asked to submit a detailed report on the MDHA Flex Fund’s impact for July 1, 2016-June 30, 2017. A few months ago, I wrote about how I love site visits, and I equally love having to report on our performance. A report, when done well, forces you to take a step back, reflect on how you are doing, learn what is working well and what is not, and move forward with renewed vigor and purpose. This is why we actually chose, in the site visit and in our reporting, to go a few steps farther than what United Way requires, and report on the MDHA Flex Fund in a more granular manner. We broke down the solutions provided by the MDHA Flex Fund into 17 categories:

Even a cursory observation of these numbers tells you a number of interesting things. Most of us don’t realize how important critical documents are in escaping homelessness, yet this category is the top category in sheer numbers, while not being that high in cost.  If you took the statement we opened with, “The only thing that truly ends homelessness is housing,” too simplistically, you might not realize the importance of basic furniture in ending homelessness. This is the fifth highest category in sheer numbers and the fourth highest in cost. And, not surprisingly, almost $30,000 was spent on categories that have the word “rent” in them.

These numbers remind us, when we dig a little deeper, that this program is fully dependent on the folks we call our “unsung heroes,” case managers, whom we celebrate in just a few days. The MDHA Flex Fund is an important tool in their hands, and any tool is only as good as the person wielding it. They also remind us that our system is most powerful when partners join hands to work together, be it these case managers, utilizing the MDHA Flex Fund, be it the MDHA Flex Fund and the Dallas Furniture Bank, be it MDHA and DART.

Based on the numbers we reported, here is our current estimate for MDHA Flex Fund expenditures for July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018:

This is why it remains vital, as this action item states, to continue to raise funds for this important and vital tool: the MDHA Flex Fund. Through adept use of this tool, we can and will increase access to affordable housing for our homeless friends.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Sneak Preview of the Case Manager of the Year Award Luncheon

We wanted to give you a sneak preview of our preparations for our first annual...

September 19, 2017, 11.30am-1.30pm
J. Erik Jonsson Central Library - O'Hara Hall (7th floor)

While some luncheons feature a keynote speaker, our luncheon is a little different. You will get to hear two-three minute testimonials of clients of our nominees, as they share what a difference these professionals made in their lives
Kayla Modesto, Nominee
This last Friday, we spent all day recording interviews with these clients, to capture these testimonials. I wasn't in the room, but Rebecca Cox, our Vice President, who conducted them, kept asking for more tissues to dry her eyes, for some reason...
Tiffany Price, Nominee
We also conducted interviews with a few of the nominees themselves, of which we will share two-three minute highlights. I was personally struck not only by how impressive each and every one of these individuals is, but how humble they are.
Benjamin Bailey, Nominee
We are so lucky to have such people in our community, working day in and day out, with our homeless friends! Don't miss out on the chance to join us in honoring them.

Get your tickets today, for just $25 a piece, by
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Thursday, August 31, 2017

This is Why We Do What We Do...

Yesterday, we had the honor of helping our grantee and partner, Housing Crisis Center, move Mr. Coleman into his new home. Mr. Coleman, a veteran of our armed forces has experienced years of unsheltered homelessness.

Rebecca Cox, Vice President, and Shavon Moore, Director, Coordinated Access and Assessment, even baked cookies with Mr. Coleman, and left a batch of cookie dough, so he can bake more.

Thank you, Housing Crisis Center, for your work. Thank you, Mr. Coleman, for your service, and for your patience. Days like yesterday remind us why we do what we do.

We will not rest until we house each and every one of our homeless friends, because housing is the only solution for homelessness. Also, we really love any excuse to bake cookies...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic Rapidly House Youth

Have you had a chance to review our Continuum of Care Strategic Work Plan? If you want to be part of the solution, in making homelessness rare, brief and nonrecurring in Dallas and Collin Counties, we encourage you to carefully review the plan. Whether you are a professional or lay leader, a case manager or a volunteer, a program director or an advocate, there is bound to be something you can help with.

Over the next few weeks, we will be posting a series of blog posts, which we are calling the CoC Strategic Work Plan Online Learning Clinic. Each post will drill down into another aspect of the plan, to encourage you to get involved, and help us make measurable progress in ending homelessness. To maximize your learning and your ability to make an impact, we recommend you carefully read the entire first page now. Then review the entire page or pages that the individual blog post pertains to, as you read each post.
We will start with Goal V on page 6: Rapidly House Youth. We have already made great progress on the first action item: Develop youth housing and services resource guide/web based/smart device application. Our Resource Development VISTA, Victoria Jackson, completed our Youth Services Directory, we posted it on our website, and she sent a hard copy to each middle and high school in Dallas and Collin Counties. She is currently working on the web based version.
Victoria Jackson
MDHA’s Resource Development VISTA
We are already planning for how we can make progress on the seventh action item: Develop more accurate methods to conduct census of homeless youth. Stay tuned over the next few months, especially during our See Me Now event, which focuses on youth homelessness, for more information on how you can help us with just that.

One of the most important things to remember about this specific item, the entire goal, and Goal IV on page 5, is that homelessness, specifically when it refers to youth and children, has more than one meaning. Therefore, counting youth and children experiencing homelessness will produce more than one number.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines homelessness more narrowly, while the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) defines homelessness more expansively. HUD’s more narrow definition is due to the legislators’ desire to more carefully target scarce funding for homeless housing programs. DOE’s more expansive definition is due to the legislators’ desire to err on the side of caution and provide services in the educational environment to a broader set of students.

The method of counting itself is also different, for much the same rationales, under each definition. We conduct an annual homeless count, and track numbers throughout the year through our Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), to arrive at the most accurate numbers we can, under the HUD definition. School districts ask families to self-report whether they are homeless, typically during school registration, and by aggregating these self-reports, school districts arrive at the numbers under the DOE definition. 
Mark Pierce
 Dallas ISD District Homeless Liaison (Courtesy of the Dallas Morning News)
Therefore, it is quite normal to see school district numbers, such as those discussed by Mark Pierce, Dallas ISD District Homeless Liaison and MDHA board member, in this excellent article from earlier this year, that dwarf the numbers we report. It’s not because we disagree; it’s because we are talking about different definitions. Indeed, that is why, once again, this action item, this entire goal and Goal IV are so important. Along with our counterparts in other American communities, our CoC is committed, to continuing to build and develop a homeless response system that serves the unique and different needs of homeless youth and children, whatever definition they fall under.

To that end, among other things, we, as a community, must do what is called for in the fourth, fifth and sixth action items under this goal, namely, gather and report ISD homeless youth data, expand youth drop-in centers, and link these to the rest of the homeless response system. This way, working hand in hand with our partners, area school districts, family and youth homeless services and shelters, as well as mainstream services, we can and will strike a blow against family and youth homelessness, in all its manifestations.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

And the Nominees for Case Manager of the Year Are

The linchpin of our homeless response system is not the board chair, the executive, or the program manager; it is the case manager. To pay tribute to these professionals, MDHA will be holding its first:

And the nominees are...
Lisa Stephenson of the Housing Crisis Center! Gina Norman, who nominated Lisa, emphasizes her profound and deep sense of empathy, so central to case management. She tells us that Lisa lives by the quote, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."
Monica McGee of Austin Street Center! Dustin Perkins, who nominated Monica, marvels at her leadership skills. He tells us that Monica, "has been so effective at developing partnerships that the word has passed beyond the walls of Austin Street, increasing awareness about the problem of homelessness in Dallas."

Tiffany Price of the  VA North Texas Health Care System! Natalie Qualls, who nominated Tiffany, is impressed by her passion and resilience. She tells us that Tiffany, "comes to work with a positive attitude and a desire to serve, which is important given that she spends most of her days outside the comfort of an office building, and in the streets and encampments," with some of the most vulnerable of our veterans.

Kayla Modesto of Hope's Door New Beginning Center! Isabel Camacho, who nominated Kayla, admires her adept deployment of the tools in her case management "toolbox". She says that Kayla, "practices active listening," "empowers her clients," and helps them, "become self-sufficient," using a, "Trauma Informed Care approach and motivational interviewing." 
Brandy Stockton of The Samaritan Inn! Heather Molsbee, who nominated Brandy, loves how she fights for those in need. She says that their clients, "have often given up before they meet us. Brandy is their greatest asset... Always a champion of the underdog, Brandy will push for what is right, with a smile on her face and the tenacity of a bulldog."  

David Swain of The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center! Andrew Lomax, who nominated David, emphasizes how David meets clients where they are in the physical sense, but much much more too. "He might be seen talking with a guest on the sidewalk on St. Paul St., or at an encampment... ultimately he is engaging, hat turned backward, making sure a... guest is all right... exploring who they are at that moment... to figure out the next steps."

Cindy Bailey of The Stewpot! Laura Westerlage, who nominated Cindy, tells us that, actually, it was a unanimous decision of their entire team to nominate her! Laura, who supervises Cindy, reminds us that in our work, leadership is about much more than titles, "Cindy... is the person our small team always leans on and looks to for help and advice... Cindy has been my mentor and sounding board... She is very much the silent and humble leader... who unites us."
Erica Pouncie of the Salvation Army Carr P. Collins Social Service Center! Michael Allen, who nominated Erica, highlights her ongoing learning, so critical tosuccessful case management. He tells us that she is currently working on her PhD, and that shares her learning with her entire team, bringing to them new ideas for training, as well as new clinical solutions to client challenges, that can benefit not only her clients, but their clients too.   

Beatriz Martinez of CitySquare! Joshua Tomko, who nominated Beatriz, talks about her powerful impact on clients, as well as team members. He tells us that multiple supervisors find themselves "tearing up," at, "the power of the impact," Beatriz can have on a client. He explains that, "she can pull someone's dreams out of them, and inspire them to pursue things they never thought possible."

Luis Moreno of Prism Health North Texas! Ben Callaway, who nominated Luis, loves how empathetic, caring and non-judgmental he is. He says that Luis' "sense of social justice, patience, compassion and empathy enable his clients to return even after they relapse, because they are confident that Luis will... help them restart their journey... focusing on their strengths, rather than their weaknesses.

Benjamin Bailey of Metrocare Services! Benjamin was nominated by a client, who speaks movingly about how much he helped her, her husband, her sixteen-year-old son and her four-year-old daughter, who lives with autism. She tells us that when she was consumed with, "fear and hopelessness," Benjamin was there to give her, "hope and courage," taking her to her appointments, making sure her son made it to school and her daughter received the assistance she needed. "I wish there were more Benjamin Baileys," she concludes. 

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