Out in the Cold

(Last Updated On: December 15, 2010)

by Brian Clarey


It was in a jolly Christmas sweater festooned with knitted Santas that Greensboro City Council District 5 Representative Trudy Wade characterized the city’s Interactive Resource Center as a “revolving door.” She was talking about the frequency with which the IRC comes before council asking for operating funds, but Wade missed the point. The IRC is indeed a revolving door, a place for those with nowhere else to go that offers a few hours, at least, of solace from the harsh reality of life on the street when winter comes rolling in.

The IRC offers showers and laundry services for Greensboro’s homeless, computers and phones, access to services like healthcare, the VA, addiction counseling and sympathetic charities. The operate a newspaper, the Greensboro Voice. More than that, the IRC gives a small slice of hope to folks who might otherwise have none.

And everyone is free to come and go as they please. Wade levied her assessment as council prepared to discuss the reallocation of more than $200,000, earmarked for capital investments to the center, into operating funds, because the non-profit has faltered in its fundraising efforts.

But instead of being granted access to money already slated for the center, organizers were treated instead to something of a lecture backed by a decidedly un-Christmas-y sentiment.

It was District 4 Representative Mary Rakestraw who floated the plan to front the IRC $60,000 of its own money to cover operating expenses for the next three months, and representatives Wade, Zack Matheny (District 3), Danny Thompson (at-large) and Mayor Bill Knight who joined her in the vote it implement it — turning Wade’s characterization of a “revolving door” into self-fulfilling prophecy.

So as the bitter winter descends on Greensboro, our city leaders make a move to marginalize the homeless day center in much the same way the homeless themselves are marginalized — cut off from the mainstream, officially derided, out in the cold.

It’s one thing not to care about the homeless, but it’s quite another to actively work against the most vulnerable people in our community, especially at the beginning of what looks to be a bear of a winter.

People on the street die in weather like this; that’s just one of the ways in which the IRC saves lives.

And at Christmas time, people — particularly those who profess to follow the teachings of the one whose birth we celebrate on the holiday — should at least pretend to care about those less fortunate than themselves.

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