Sunday, August 12, 2012

Like a good neighbor State Farm agent Pam Williams was there

Pam Williams (center) State Farm Insurance
Tampa - By Steven L Donaldson

Homeless recovery is about solving someone's problems. And, problem solving, in a time of limited resources and cut backs, is about being resourceful.

For those on the streets recovery is sometimes a dicey game of mental fitness and critical thinking skills. But, the most redeeming personal quality for those experiencing the hardship of individual consequence is simply asking for help.

That's what Michael DeMary did after an ill-conceived plan with relocating to Tampa landed him homeless and depending on the Salvation Army for his shelter.

Following a word-of-mouth referral we soon met up to talk about his situation and devise a plan to remedy his problem. It was during the initial assessment interview where DeMary sat in my front passenger seat and I started with the probing questions.

I never finished the interview.

For someone like DeMary his problem-solving answer didn't need the deep tissue rub it often takes to get to his kernel of truth -- the essence of every first encounter. After being homeless in Tampa for just over a month, DeMary's most direct route off the streets would be returning home to Rochester, New York where he has family and a support structure.

It's a simple answer with a more complicated follow-through although -- since homeless resources don't cover tickets home for any mode of transportation, we have to be more creative.

DeMary gives a thumbs-up at Tampa International
Pamela Williams has been my State Farm insurance agent for more than fifteen years and my next likely sponsor sharing with her the opportunity to help a neighbor in need. I met up with Williams at her Town N' Country office and delivered my best homeless recovery pitch which met with a head nod and an affirming grin.

"I'd be more than happy to help out," Williams said.

Soon enough her husband and fellow business partner, John Williams, jumps on a travel search engine and DeMary is one TSA pat-down away from returning home to family on a US Airways flight leaving  6:00 am the following morning.

There is little time to waste and I hunt DeMary down at a homeless shelter check-in they call "The Shop" and greet him with the good news. Michael's response after hearing his flight would be leaving in less than twelve hours:

"Take me to the airport now, I'll sleep there overnight -- I'm not going to miss that plane!"

And with another homeless soul off the streets of Hillsborough County a big Thanks goes out to Pam Williams -- my Town N' Country State Farm insurance agent.

Thanks Pam and John for being good neighbors and for being there for those in need.

Deputy Steven Donaldson
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
Homeless Initiative
District III Office: (813) 247-033

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