Vincentians of Wherever: St. Louis

by | Feb 28, 2016 | News, Poverty: Analysis and Responses

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Always found near the poor, Vincentians of Wherever are doing the work of Vincent with constancy and care. Their intimate knowledge of and relationships with real people who struggle to emerge from poverty is what makes them Vincentians. They are meek — approachable people who befriend the poorest of the poor. Read a little of what Rich La Plume and Emily Edwards are doing on the streets of St. Louis.

LaPlume and Harpring were part of a group that canvassed neighborhoods just south of downtown including Soulard, LaSalle Park and Benton Park. They stopped to look around the shuttered Shepard School near the old Lemp Brewery, on warehouse docks near the city’s riverfront and in the emergency room at St. Alexius Hospital on South Broadway.

They found Odell Caldwell outside Soulard Market. He said he has been homeless on and off since 2012, sometimes staying with a friend who lives nearby. Caldwell, 56, said he works security at the market.

“Be careful. It’s dangerous out here,” Caldwell said.

LaPlume, a program director with Depaul USA, drove down First Street, which runs along the Mississippi River.

“If we find someone down here, they don’t want to be found,” he said. There are some homeless who reject services, often because of a mental illness.

“They can be paranoid, thinking someone is after them,” LaPlume said.

But everyone needs to be counted and offered help, he said. So LaPlume checks under viaducts and inside buildings with “no trespassing” signs, in city corners long abandoned.

Read the full St. Louis Dispatch story here.

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