Finding Mr. Dixson
Street Outreach- April 29, 2020
“The strategy of crisis intervention must then shift to a strategy of development.”
Toxic Charity, Robert Lupton
A normal Street Outreach day for the HOT Team, Giving Hope, and Vision Ministries is never normal. This team has spent the past 4 years hiking through thick woods, wading across creeks and streams, climbing hills and steep paths to reach those that are homeless in the City of Denton. They have one unified mission in mind-build relationships, offer services, and bring a since of care and compassion to those that have lost hope. In the last 4 years, they have spent countless hours locating over 54+ camps within city limits.
They do not just visit the camp once, but over and over again to establish trust. When asked about successes over the years, they will say, very few successes come out of the encampments.
Mr. Dixson was one of those few successes. March of 2020 Covid-19 had the City of Denton on shelter in place orders and only essential workers were asked to be active outside of their homes. The Street Outreach Team chose to continue to go out and check on those that were not in shelters at this time.
The Street Outreach Team had been made aware of a few people living under the bridge, near I-35. Upon arrival at the underpass, they came in contact with several people spread out, living in extremely poor conditions.
As they assessed the situation, they noticed a blanket hanging over the abutment of the underpass with feet jetting out. They found two men behind the abutment and noticed a makeshift bed in the crack. There was an elderly man, Mr. Dixson, sitting on the small ledge speaking to a younger male. As the team spoke to the two men it was made obvious that the younger male was offering to take Mr. Dixson’s Social Security card and identification to go and “cash” his check for him. The Street Outreach Team immediately intervened and took Mr. Dixson down from the crevice of the underpass and started pulling their resources together on what to do.
Denton PD transported Mr. Dixson to a hotel and the continuum of care began. It took several organizations, along with Denton PD pulling together, to help Mr. Dixson get out of a situation- of not only homelessness, but being taken advantage of on a daily basis.
The care and concern for Mr. Dixson did not stop the day he was taken out from the underpass. Each day, his case manager connected with him to assess needs and walk along side him as he slowly began to trust and look for hope out of what seems like a hopeless situation. The process to get Mr. Dixson stable and into housing took weeks and a lot of work by members of the Street Outreach Team.
Mr. Dixson Today: Framework for Hope
What can a clean bed, warm food, nice clothing and many ounces of love do for a person? It is the start to a framework of hope the Street Outreach Team strives for each time they set out on their mission. Each time they enter an encampment, the questions is: how can we help you find hope today?
Mr. Dixson is working hard alongside the Street Outreach Team. Today, he has a place of his own, a stove to cook on, a pillow to rest his head. Today, he faces challenges like we all do – but he can do it without fear of being victimized and without fear of not knowing what is next. Today, Mr. Dixson is smiling.
Crisis intervention has few successes on a daily basis. It takes many organizations and agencies working together to create a continuum of care that works to alleviate poverty and homelessness. Some days, it may look like nothing is getting done for the homeless population in the City of Denton, but the Street Outreach Team will tell you very quickly: “That is absolutely not the truth.” They believe Mr. Dixson would echo that sentiment, as well.
The City of Denton is working hard to mitigate the stress and pain that comes with homelessness. On the surface, it may look like little is happening and “nothing is being done,” but know that there are faithful, essential workers actively serving those in need, each and everyday.