|Maura Wood, aka "Cookie"|
I know Maura Wood as "Cookie." For the past two years or so, I have bought McDonald's meals for her when she sits outside with her sign. One time, I asked her about sheltering at the Salvation Army. She told me that she has seizures, so she needs a care-giver, and her care-giver is a man. She said that the Salvation Army does not allow this arrangement.
However, I did not know that , Maura had housing in the past and did not stay there, and the Homeless Outreach Team has reached out to her on many occasions.
At the end of the day, it looks like treatment for mental illness , as Lyons concludes, is a major issue and in Florida, the services are inadequate and may not really take care of people like Maura.
So while progress has been made in Sarasota- not jailing the homeless and mentally ill for being without shelter and for petty violations of the law- there are still big holes in the system.
The Maura Wood's story is heart-breaking, and raises the question what do we do if help is being offered and the individual is too sick to accept it?
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP, www.arcwp.org
See Tom Lyons article in Sarasota Herald Tribune