Several days ago I sent Pat Farr – who is on the Lane County Board of commissioners – my idea of having a permanent Stand-down for Veterans near the new VA Center. On Wednesday, I took this idea before the friends of Hollis Williams. We took a table at the C Street Dinner where many homeless people dine. At our table was Shea Beck, Steve Martin, Michelle Carr, and Sandy Maricle. No sooner did I begin my presentation, then Shea is lighting up the board – and blowing my mind! She is talking about growing flowers at the H Center, as well as growing food for hungry Vets and others. We aske Reverend June if she would like to be a part of this, and she said she would.
Listen to this real miracle unfold that can be replicated across America. We could put fresh flowers in every office at the Eugene VA Healthcare Center, and sell flowers to those visiting loved-ones at the Riverbend Hospital. There is Veterans Day – and Valentines Day. How about a Vet run flower stand downtown? Homeless Vets can be put to work growing flowers.
After I filmed the Grand Opening I went to my community garden, and talked to my friend Don about getting together a Welcoming Committee to say hello to our new neighbors. I am not a Veteran, but, an original proponent of Flower Power. Hollis opened my eyes to another world. We went to a couple of Stand-downs, and he invited me to his Hud-Vash group. His spirit made me feel welcome at the opening. Hollis’s sprit was with us at dinner. We had dinner at my home every Sunday.
We could find no family for Hollis when he died, so I adopted him through the Elk’s Society so I – his family – could deal with his burial which I paid for because I would be part of placing this word on his permanent military record. “IDIGENT”. Hollis was Christian, and as far as I was concerned, he was home with God. He had been homeless for ten years. Many who loved Mr. H came to say ‘Hello’ at his memorial. A month later, I found his half sisters who told me their father never married Hollis’s mother, and excluded him from his family. This is when he joined the Army.
.I began the memorial by quoting Jesusl
“I will not leave you as orphans in the world.”
We can grow flowers for adopted Veterans.
Hollis was born in Kentucky. He had a big heart and loved the family he beheld every day when he crawled out from under a bridge and walked over to Safeway. When I see rich people get out of a fancy car and enter Safeway with a scowl, I thank God for Hollis, thank him for the greatest lesson one can own.
“Be kind to one another.”
I extend a warm welcome to the new VA Center, and all who come to our neighborhood to get healed in body….and in spirit.
Memorial for Mr. H. After we were thrown out of the vacant building we were going to hold the memorial, by the very rude owner, Pat of Gyzmobytes rented space in the Campbell Center. Many folks who loved H went to the first site and missed the event. Steve Martin, Hollis’ best friend, did much to make this work. He is in Duck hat and standing up.
Many older veterans in hospitals, VA homes, nursing homes and care centers have limited or no family nearby. Without social engagement and positive interaction, veterans’ health can suffer and they lack support. The Elks family is all over the nation, and Elks volunteers can support local veterans by participating in the Adopt-a-Veterans Program and providing friendship and assistance.
Eligibility: This program is targeted toward any veterans that are lonely or isolated. Veterans in VA hospitals, assisted care homes, community living center, retirement homes, homeless and transitional shelters, and hospital domiciliary programs are all eligible. Individuals can adopt more than one veteran, and Lodges can adopt certain floors, units or even whole facilities.
Here is CBS News wanting to get a story on my homeless friend.
“Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2013 12:28 PM
Subject: CBS News Request/VA Backlog/Hollis Williams
I’m a producer with the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley and I’m working on a piece about the VA backlogs and how in spite of these backlogs, and other issues some administrators were given bonuses. I ran across your blog/tribute to your friend Hollis and saw that you believe he might still be alive if he had not been denied medical help by the U.S. Government– the VA, SSI, or Medicare. I’d love to talk to you more about this. Could you please email me with your contact info, or give me a call. My contact info is below. Hope to talk to you soon.”