Recently, Chris Oliver, one of our outreach workers to the homeless who live on the streets of the central business district here in Dallas, shared the following story with me. It is not an exceptional story really. However, it is, like so many others I could report, powerful.
Actually, this reports on two women. Tara, a young girl in a terrible spot. And, Daneille, the dedicated leader of our team of street outreach workers.
Feed back invited.
We were first alerted to Tara in May by the Dallas Police Department. Daneille was the first to make contact with Tara, a sweet, scared, attractive 17-year old runaway from Arkansas. Initial contact included establishing trust, with Daneille gently listening to the young girl’s story, even sitting on the pavement with her outside The Stewpot under the hot sun. Though Daneille would get a little closer with each encounter, Tara would constantly refuse any help and run off again to her encampment under an I-45 bridge.
Then one day, as I’m doing some early morning paperwork in the office, in walks Daneille followed closely behind by Tara.
For the next three days, Daneille mothered Tara like she was her own daughter. Daneille spent her own money to feed Tara, let Tara play games on her computer to keep her engaged and occupied, brought in a radio and CD’s for Tara to listen to, called in personal favors to find her shelter and used her personal vehicle to get Tara there and back.
Tara stayed in the office with us from morning to as late as 8-9 pm each day, and stuck to Daneille like glue.
The whole time, Daneille was working tirelessly on accessing services for Tara, both here in Dallas and back in Arkansas. Her persistence eventually paid off as Daneille was able to contact Tara’s support system back in Arkansas as well as get her hooked up with the appropriate agency here in Dallas that would work on getting Tara back to Arkansas safely.
I was with Daneille when she brought Tara to the CPS office at the end of the third day, and though Tara was reluctant at first to go along with the plan, Daneille was able to console her and show her that this was for the best and everything would be alright.
There were tears all around as Tara gave Daneille a big, long hug before saying good-bye. A few days later, Tara was back safely with her support system in Arkansas. Since then, Tara has called Daneille on several occasions to let her know how well she is doing, the most recent of those calls coming just last week.
This is just one of many similar stories illustrating how Daneille has set an example for me to follow by going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we get our neighbors the help they need.