English 11

How the Other Half Lives:

Can everyone succeed??

Background: The uncertain nature of the economy has had a significant impact on many Americans. The city of Doleville, a mid-sized industrial town in central Illinois, was hit hard recently with the closing of an automotive parts production facility and significant layoffs at a nearby oil refinery. Many people were left out of work. Doleville has always had a significant homeless population, but the recent factory closings and layoffs have added to this total and increased community awareness of a growing problem. Efforts are being made by the Doleville City Council to address the homeless problem in some meaningful way.

Members of the Doleville City Council are interested in probing the extent to which they can assist members of the homeless population of their city, but they feel they must first ascertain the extent to which each individual is capable of returning to mainstream society. Wishing to overlook the stereotype that the homeless are vagrants who are lazy and responsible for their own positions, they see the need to develop a more thoughtful approach to solving the homeless crisis. They have commissioned a local social service agency to develop an understanding of the things that are preventing each person from succeeding, and also the qualities that each individual has that could help them to overcome their obstacles. By examining each homeless person’s situation, the social service agency will be able to help each one get back on track.

As an employee of the Doleville Social Service Agency, you and your coworkers are at the forefront of the effort to help the homeless population in Doleville to get back on the path of success. As you approach this task, you must consider the following questions:

1) What valuable qualities and characteristics does each homeless individual possess, and how might those qualities and characteristics be used to bring each person back into the mainstream?
2) What internal or external obstacles does each face that impede his or her chances at success?

Seven homeless people have been added to your case load, and it is your job to help these 7 get back on track. A photograph and personal statement of each person is attached. Your job is to (1) examine each person’s photograph and statement and get to know your subjects. Then, you will (2) meet with a team of your colleagues to discuss each person’s qualities and determine how best to help him/her. Your team will ultimately (3) discuss the issue with other Social Services teams in an effort to determine the order in which these individuals need outside assistance, and what it would take to help each overcome his or her obstacles. As a class, you will discuss the obstacles and qualities of each, determine an order for administering services, and determine the services necessary to help each person.

Step 1: Getting to know your subjects
Before you and your team can decide how to most effectively and efficiently help your subjects, you need to familiarize yourself with each of the seven homeless men and women on your case load. On your own, review each person one at a time. Read and annotate their passages and examine their photos, marking details that are significant to your understanding of their positions. From the details provided, what can you infer about the obstacles that prevent them from succeeding? What qualities (skills, attitudes, etc.) do they have that could help them overcome the obstacles they face and succeed?

Step 2: Discussing your subjects with your team:
Meet with the members of your social services team, and discuss each subject on your case load, one at a time. In the chart on the next page:
1) Write each subject’s name
2) Discuss and list any OBSTACLES, either internal or external, that impede your subject’s chances of success. Be sure to have clearly marked EVIDENCE (details from the pictures or profiles) to illustrate each inference you make.
3) Discuss and list the QUALITIES that each subject possesses that could help him or her succeed.
4) RANK your subjects in the order in which they need your attention. Number 1 should be the subject who needs the MOST and the most IMMEDIATE intervention, and 7 should be the subject that needs the LEAST amount of help from you. Make sure you can explain WHY you ranked them where you did…what would it take to help them? How do you know? Write a brief rationale for your ranking.

Remember, they ALL have both obstacles and positive qualities, and they ALL need some sort of services to help them overcome their obstacles. You’re just determining which need the MOST help, or need it most immediately (the order in which you should address them)

Rank and Rationale:

1) Allison Wonderland
When I got out of high school, I wanted to travel around the country. My main goal was not to go live in the park, but to be part of the nonconformity. We had our nine-to-five jobs, and a nice apartment, an efficiency, the whole bit. I don’t know, there’s something about surviving day-to-day that is attractive. I noticed that when I’m with family, they don’t look at homeless people like real people.

2) Robert Schuderer
I’m not what you would call homeless. My home is on my back. I’ve been living outside for about ten years. It happened to me ‘cause of my misactions. That’s when I was working. I lost a job. I was a security guard. The job got to interfering with my drinking.

3) Brandy Hazelett
Me and my husband thought we were going to come here and start a new life when we got married. When we came down here, he had work. But the store went out of business and we couldn’t afford to pay rent. So, we’ve been out here ever since.

4) Donald “Boxcar” Johnson
I’m a professional hobo and a UFO-ologist. I was walking home one night and I was terrified; I saw this strange craft coming over. I was on the grounds of the Wayne County General Hospital when I saw this strange craft coming toward me. It was up pretty high and it was strange, the way it looked. They also knew the very moment when I was going to be there. And they stopped, hovered over me, and studied my reactions to them. Fortunately for me, I wasn’t hurt.

5) William Hagar, Patrick Swift, & Nathan Swift
William: I don’t think in America anybody is forced to be out in the street, because you can always get assistance and help if you go through the channels. Although we should take care of our own a little bit better in this country. People that want to be out here are people that have been let down by the establishment.

Patrick: I’m an ex-computer programmer, but I dropped out of society because I didn’t feel that they treat any of their people right, including the homeless. They send aid to other countries, while people here are starving to death in their country. And this is just my way of letting society know that, “Hey, I’m not with you. I’m out here ‘cause I want to be out here.” And I truly believe that a lot of the homeless are the real America. I did one and a half years in the joint. I can get a job right now. But I refuse to pay taxes.

6) Kenneth Ware
Right now I’m unemployed, but when I’m working, I do labor and I do heavy equipment. I’m living in the streets. It’s very tiresome. Very boring. They got a lot of shelters you can go to. Sometimes I would prefer the streets ‘cause I ain’t gotta deal with a lot of people and I can just stay out on the streets. If I gets too tired and I need to clean up, I go in a shelter. I’m gonna get out of this cycle, you know, ‘cause I’m a working-type person sometimes. And if I stay, I’m gonna get bored with government assistance ‘cause it ain’t no money. It’s very lonely. It’s very hard, too. You try to find someone that, you know, you can be with and share with. Life ain’t over with for me yet, I’m not that old yet, so I still probably can have children. I’m not dead yet.

7) Norman Balestrazzi
I was always a very bright student. I got a scholarship to go to college at Miami University of Ohio. And I stayed there two years, then I went to New York City and went to Hunter College. Then I went to California as a teaching assistant in the university. I worked. I have a child.