Sometimes a small picket line can nudge a large institution to do the right thing. The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless called an impromptu protest April 6 at the Cincinnati office of the American Red Cross. At issue was the need for emergency housing and services for 44 men and six women displaced by a fire at the Decker Senior Citizen Hotel downtown. The Red Cross housed the evacuees for four days at the Ramada Inn on Eighth Street downtown and gave them each $115. The agency then planned to deliver the people to the Drop Inn Center, a shelter for homeless people.
"These folks have gotten no counseling, no case management, nothing," said Georgine Getty, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless. "And now they're getting dumped into an already crowded and cash-strapped shelter."
But not any more. Just before the protest, the Red Cross contacted Getty and said it had changed its plans.
"We went ahead anyway to get a commitment from them that they'd stick with the Decker guys," she says.
"The Decker folks are being taken care of now. The Red Cross opened up a shelter at Linwood school — the place they had set up for Katrina — and they started doing case management and committed to making sure all of the Decker victims are re-settled and re-stabilized. Also, churches and non profits started coming forward with help offers, so hopefully those are being utilized."
Who would use vacation time to do unpaid construction work in a swamp in August during hurricane season — and pay for the opportunity? A growing number of people who want to make a difference are signing up for community service trips designed to help people and places in need. Give Back Cincinnati, a young professionals volunteer organization, and Katrina Collaboration are taking a group of 50 volunteers to New Orleans Aug. 6-12 to help Habitat for Humanity build new homes.
Membership isn't required, even though it's free. Give Back describes itself as an organization for professionals ages 21-40 but that designation is simply to let people know the general age range of its approximately 2,500 members.
"Anyone is welcome," says Joe Hansbauer, chair of the group's advisory board.
Yet another sign that the Hamilton County Democratic Party is serious about rebuilding: The party is moving its headquarters to a larger office at 6109 Webbland Place in Pleasant Ridge. The new facility includes several free parking spaces, has room to run phone banks and canvassing on-site and can accommodate campaigns. The move is effective May 1.
Lawyers as Defendants and the State as Killer
The Internet vigilantes at PervertedJustice.com are crowing about Cincinnati attorney Rob Andrews' conviction. Arrested last year after he tried to meet someone posing as a 13-year-old girl, Andrews pleaded no contest April 14 in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to charges of attempted importuning and attempted tampering with evidence. He faces up to 18 months in prison and possible loss of his law license when he's sentenced June 15.
Perverted Justice targets online predators but has faced criticism for its methods (see "The Wild, Wild Web," issue of June 15-21, 2005). Because a no-contest plea doesn't involve an admission of guilt, Andrews will be able to appeal the conviction.
Jeffrey Hill killed his mother while high on crack, and now Ohio plans to kill him June 15, even though his family doesn't want to lose another family member (see "Killing a Family," issue of March 1-7.) Hill's family is pleading for clemency now that the Ohio Supreme Court has set his execution date.
"As the family of Emma Hill, the victim, we have found it in our hearts to forgive Jeff," says a statement issued by his relatives. "As the family of Emma Hill, we implore the governor and the parole board to not seek final retribution in our name, to not kill on our behalf. As the family of Jeff Hill, the defendant, we ask the governor and the parole board to spare our family from another senseless death."
Hill's clemency hearing with the state parole board is scheduled for May 17. To sign the family's clemency petition, contact Eunice Timoney-Ravenna of the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center at 513-579-8547.
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