SEX IN THE SHELTER PG. 5
HOMELESS RECIPES PG. 7
THE PSYCH ROOM PG. 8
Writer experiences a lonely night at Broward Outreach homeless shelter PAGE 10
PHOTO BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
ALONE IN THE DARK
STAFF CO-DIRECTORS Michele Boyet Michael Koretzky
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Gideon Grudo
Florida Atlantic University
Barbara “Babs” Astrini
Coastal Carolina University
Florida Atlantic University
20 college journalists spend 36 hours writing for food BEFORE
University of Central Florida
University of Florida
Stephanie Hardiman DePaul University
Michael Newberger Flagler College
University of Central Florida
Texas Southern University
Moraine Valley Community College
University of Alaska Fairbanks
University of Central Florida
University of Oklahoma
University of Florida
University of Florida
University of Florida
Devin Desjarlais Pam Geiser Rachael Joyner Rebekah Monson Sergy Odiduro Mike Rice Dan Sweeney Dori Zinn Special thanks to the Society of Professional Journalists South Florida Chapter, SPJ Region 3 and the Florida College Press Association 2
Note: the content in this issue does not represent the views of the shelter or the views of its Founder/ Director Sean Cononie.
ver Labor Day weekend, 20 college journalists from around Florida and eight out-of-state schools visited the COSAC homeless shelter in Hollywood, Fla. We got to know some of the shelter’s more than 180 residents — the homeless whom the government shelters can’t handle or refuse to take. What we learned from them is in this special issue, which we put together in 36 hours. We know that government shelters take in raggedy 19-yearold girls (pg. 9) and that the residents of COSAC might have to walk far to get ice cream (pg. 6). We also found out that the UHFHVVLRQ KDV ÀQDOO\ JRWWHQ WR the doors of the shelter, forcing it to give out ‘lesser quality’ cigarettes for free (pg. 12). Finally, the shelter goes by three different names: Coalition of Service and Charity, the Johnny McCormick Foundation and the Homeless Voice Homeless Shelter — in this issue, we’ll After a day and a half in a cramped newsroom, the remianing staff wraps up their project and be referring to it as the COSAC heads on home at about 5 in the morning. shelter, or just COSAC.
Want to see more? Visit spjwillwriteforfood.wordpress.com for photos, blogs, videos and more.
From a house to a home COSAC offers homeless non-traditional housing options
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO
Emily Â Summars University Â of Â Oklahoma
ichael Biglen worked magic in one month, turning a shack into transitional housing. Biglenâ€™s technical training: â€œThis Old House,â€? Home and Garden TV shows and learning from COSAC Homeless Shelterâ€™s maintenance man. Yellow paint peels off of the homeâ€™s outer walls and trash is piled in the yard, but the front door opens to reveal freshly painted beige walls, PDWFKLQJWLOHQHZOLJKWĂ€[WXUHVDQG appliances. This house is one of nine transitional homes operated by the COSAC homeless shelter. Transitional housing is used for homeless residents who become independent, can earn and manage money and arenâ€™t reliant on drugs or alcohol, said Sean Cononie, COSAC founder and director. Roger Wickham, 51, who has lived in transitional housing for three years, loves having a space he can call his own. â€œItâ€™s my duty in life now to work at the shelter,â€? Wickham said. â€œFor so many years now, I never thought about homelessness until it happened to me and now Iâ€™ve dedicated myself to it. Iâ€™ve UHDOL]HGZKDWDVHOĂ€VKSHUVRQ,DP Homelessness totally changed me.â€? Wickham, COSAC operations director, said itâ€™s hard for homeless UHVLGHQWVWRĂ€QGKRXVLQJEHFDXVHRI stereotypes, even though many can DIIRUGOLYLQJH[SHQVHV â€œNobody wants this population in their neighborhood,â€? Wickham said. &26$& SURYLGHV LQH[SHQVLYH living for residents who may not be approved for other housing. â€œWhy canâ€™t we provide housing for the poor people?â€? Cononie said. â€œWe donâ€™t force them to live anywhere. Iâ€™m not pushing people outside. Sometimes, we are their family, and Iâ€™m not taking their family away.â€? Cononie knows neighbors arenâ€™t happy about the transitional homes, but he also knows those ready to leave the shelter arenâ€™t always ready to leave the â€œfamily.â€? Biglen remodels transitional housing as a project, not for a home. Biglen works from 6 a.m. to around 3 p.m. patching walls, repairing SOXPELQJZLULQJOLJKWĂ€[WXUHVDQG turning houses into homes. â€œIâ€™d stay until 6 p.m. if I could,â€? he said. Biglen said heâ€™s proud of his work, but aggravated that surrounding residents donâ€™t appreciate the project. â€œPeople have one track in mind; they think people are homeless because they want to be,â€? Biglen said. â€œThe economy makes them homeless. People donâ€™t want to be homeless.â€? Â„
Michael Â Biglen, Â COSAC Â shelter Â resident, Â stands Â proudly Â in Â a Â future Â half-Â way Â house Â he Â has Â helped Â renovate.
WHAT Â IS Â COSAC Â CITY? Transitional housing is just the beginning for COSAC homeless shelter. They want to build a city. Sean Cononie said the shelter has several problems with housing and city codes, but his dream is create a city for the homeless similar, to independent living communities for seniors. â€œInstead of the person
conforming to society, we conform to them,â€? Cononie said. Cononie wants specialized medical care, restaurants, transportation and housing within a few city blocks. The shelter recently purchased and transformed a threeacre tract of land into transitional housing. But now, Cononie faces one more obstacle: Florida residents. â€œThese people arenâ€™t going to be happy with us, I can tell you that
right off the bat,â€? Cononie said. Cononie told a next door neighbor his plans for COSAC City. The manâ€™s response was to kick Cononie off his property. Michael Biglen thinks in 15 years, Cononie will have his dream. But until then, heâ€™s going to build COSAC City one house at a time. â€œIâ€™m one of these guys that if God tells me to buy a Powerball lottery ticket for COSAC city, I will,â€? Cononie said. Â„
LOVE & DRUGS PHOTO BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
Lost love found Dee Davis believes that her husband Nick, who she met at COSAC, helped her turn her life around â€” even though they are 17 years apart.
Dee and Nick Davis met at COSAC where they fell in love and got married Ashley Â Sikand Â University Â of Â Central Â Florida
hree years ago, Dee Davis met her husband at the COSAC homeless shelter. â€œYou donâ€™t go into a homeless shelter looking for love,â€? she said. But Nick Davis had other plans. They became close friends, bonding from the beginning. She said he would invite her out to lunch just to talk, but she never knew it was anything more. â€œShe had a great personality and a pretty smile. Wanting to be with her was an easy choice,â€? said Davis, a security guard at the shelter who is 17 years his wifeâ€™s senior. Before working at the front desk, Dee Davis worked as a vendor on the streets, selling newspapers for the shelter. One day someone gave her a ring. Since it was too big for her to wear, she let Nick wear it. Much to her surprise, the ring foreshadowed their future together, a future that would result in marriage. Dee, 22, said she knew she fell in love with Nick after seeing him take care of Johnny McCormick, a well-known resident and namesake for the shelter. â€œI admired his kindness and good heart,â€? Dee said. â€œHe never reacts badly when people push his buttons.â€? Sean Cononie, founder and director of COSAC, married the couple on May 23, 2009. Â´$W Ă€UVW , WKRXJKW LW ZDV NLQG RI crazy, I was only 20, but looking back on it now it was so worth it,â€? Dee said. They didnâ€™t pay a single dime for their wedding. Their closest friends from the shelter took on positions as their maid of honor and best man. One client gave Nick a suit to wear at no cost on his special day. Although Dee and Nick do not have much privacy in the shelter, Dee said other homeless shelters separate the men and the women regardless of relationship status. At COSAC they are able to share a bed and have the same living quarters with other couples. â€œIt bothers me at times but there is a curtain attached to our bed that I can close to get a little privacy,â€? Dee said. Besides living in the shelter, she 4
said they are just like regular married couples. Once a week, they go out on date nights to restaurants in the area and Deeâ€™s sister set them up on her 1HWĂ L[DFFRXQW â€œI am a grandma,â€? Dee boasted proudly. â€œNick has a daughter who recently had a son. I am probably the youngest grandmother around but I wouldnâ€™t have it any other way.â€? She said her and Nick hope to have kids one day but until then, she enjoys spoiling her niece and nephew who live in Vero Beach. â€œWe try to see them twice a year. The kids love Nick more than I do,â€? Dee said. â€œI canâ€™t wait to see him as a stay at home dad.â€? Cynthia Waters, the shelterâ€™s FHUWLĂ€HG SXEOLF DFFRXQWDQW VDLG WKH\ DUHDSHUIHFWH[DPSOHRIDORYHVWRU\ â€œI have always been very impressed by their relationship,â€? she said. â€œThey are both mild mannered, loving and caring people.â€? Dee said she has never had anyone permanently there for her, day in and GD\ RXW 1RZ 1LFN FDQ Ă€OO WKDW YRLG and give her full emotional support. â€œNick is always there for me, he knows my whole life story and LQĂ XHQFHG PH WR JR EDFN WR VFKRROÂľ she said. Dee has high aspirations and many goals for her future and currently attends Broward College to become a registered nurse. She said she goes WRVFKRROĂ€YHGD\VDZHHNDQGZRUNV four days. â€œI admire her ambition; if she wants something she will go get it,â€? Nick said. â€œShe has helped me grow as a person, made me more aware of what I need to be doing, she motivates me.â€? Dee said by working at the front desk she is able to see couples that seek shelter who have been together through it all. â€œI see many people who care about having real lifelong relationships; we get two or three couples a week that check in. We have feelings, we deserve love,â€? Dee said. â€œJust because you donâ€™t have your own house or car doesnâ€™t mean you canâ€™t fall in love.â€? Â„
Rx lockdown Shelter residents are given a space to keep their meds under lock and key
Laura Â Newberry Â University Â of Â Central Â Florida Â Â RXU\HDUVDJR5DPRQD0RQWD\QHZRNHXSLQDKRPHOHVVVKHOWHUWRĂ€QG KHUĂ€DQFp-DVRQ$QGUHZVGHDGEHVLGHKHULQWKHWZLQVL]HGEXQNWKH\ shared. Andrews mistakenly took his blood-pressure medication twice in a matter of hours, causing his heartbeat to slow to a stop. Â´,WZDVVRKDUG,KDGWRZDLWXQWLO,ZDVLQP\VWRĂ€QGP\Ă€UVWORYHDQG he died,â€? Montayne said. â€œIf the staff had seen him taking his meds, maybe they would have prevented it from happening.â€? In response to tenants overdosing and medication theft, the COSAC homeOHVVVKHOWHULQVWDOOHGSUHVFULSWLRQGUXJORFNER[HVLQWKHLURSHUDWLRQVRIĂ€FH allowing staff to monitor the use of narcotics in the facility. â€œLaw says that clients have to administer their own meds, so we developed a system that would make sure they donâ€™t overdose, and the meds donâ€™t get stolen or sold,â€? COSAC Founder and Director Sean Cononie said. 0RQWD\QHZKRKDVEHHQOLYLQJDWWKHVKHOWHUIRUQLQH\HDUVWDNHV2[\FRQWLQIRUKHUPXVFXODUG\VWURSK\DQGVDLGWKHORFNER[HVJLYHKHUDVHQVHRI security. â€œThere used to be times when, depending on my emotional state, I would get out of control and take too much too often,â€? Montayne said. â€œNow I have WRJHWXSJRDQGDFWXDOO\JHWP\PHGLFLQHLQWKHRIĂ€FHDQGLWPDNHVPH think about when the last time I took it was.â€? 2[\FRQWLQRIWHQUHIHUUHGWRDVÂ´SRRUPDQÂˇVKHURLQÂľLVDSDLQNLOOHULQKLJK GHPDQGRQWKHVWUHHWVRIPRVWXUEDQDUHDV7KHORFNER[HVKHOSSUHYHQW 2[\FRQWLQDQGRWKHUSRSXODUSLOOVIURPEHLQJVWROHQIURPWKHUHVLGHQWVZKR need it. â€œI was too trusting, and I left my jacket in the cafeteria one day and my pills were in my pocket. I came back and they were gone,â€? Montayne said. â€œNow I can go downstairs and donâ€™t have to worry about running back to my URRPDQGFKHFNLQJRQP\PHGLFDWLRQHYHU\Ă€YHPLQXWHVÂľ :KHWKHUDUHVLGHQWXVHVDORFNER[WRVWRUHWKHLUPHGLFDWLRQVLVDPDWWHURI choice, but staff members strongly encourage those with a history of prescripWLRQGUXJDEXVHWRNHHSWKHPLQWKHRIĂ€FH &26$&VWDIIWKDWRYHUVHHVWKHER[HV are careful to make note of who takes what medication, and when. While staff cannot physically prevent a resident from overdosing, COSAC employee Mike Oâ€™Hara said merely knowing someone is watching them keeps their tendency to overindulge in check. He said that a resident could access WKHLUORFNER[LQJHVWWKHLUHQWLUHERWWOH of pills, and the staff would be unable to intervene until after the fact. Residents are also able to take their medication back to their room at any given time. Even though these legally required ORRSKROHVH[LVW2Âˇ+DUDVDLGWKDWWKHUH KDYHEHHQQRH[WUHPHLQFLGHQWVRI overdose since the installation of the ER[HV â€œIf we know theyâ€™re going to hurt themselves purposefully, staff will generDOO\VWRSWKHPRUFDOOWKHSROLFHÂľ&RQRQLHVDLGÂ´,IWKH\ÂˇUHJRLQJWRWDNHDQH[WUD two or three pills and say itâ€™s for pain, then by law it has to be OK â€” even when they want to get high, it has to be OK. Roger Wickham said from time to time, a resident will purposefully take their medication right before staff members leave IRUWKHGD\DQGLPPHGLDWHO\UHWXUQWRWKHRIĂ€FHIRUDQRWKHUKLWRQFHDQHZHPployee arrives. â€œThey can be very, very manipulative,â€? Oâ€™Hara said. 7RSUHYHQWWKHH[FKDQJHDQGPL[LQJRIGUXJVDPRQJUHVLGHQWVRQO\RQHWHQDQW at a time is able to retrieve their medication. Â´%HOLHYHLWRUQRWWKH\ZDQWWKHER[HVÂľ2Âˇ+DUDVDLGÂ´:HKDYHSHRSOHWKDWDUH easily taken advantage of, and theyâ€™re gullible and give their meds away to other people in the shelter. Our system helps keep that from happening.â€? Jeff Doe, another long-term resident of the shelter, said he used to keep his PHGLFDWLRQLQDVDIHLQKLVURRPEHIRUHWKHORFNER[HVZHUHSXWLQWKHRIĂ€FH â€œPeople have chain cutters and they cut your locks when you ainâ€™t in there,â€? 'RHVDLGÂ´7KLVVDIHLVLQWKHRIĂ€FHVR,NQRZDLQÂˇWQRERG\JRLQJWRWRXFKLWÂľ Although Doe insisted he understands the freedom that comes along with the ORFNER[HVKHVWLOOIHHOVOLNHWKHVWDIIZRXOGVWRSKLPLIKHGHFLGHGWRRYHUGRVHRQ his medication. Â´,WÂˇVWKHQHZSHRSOHWKDWXVHWKHER[HVWKDW\RXKDYHWRORRNRXWIRU7KH\ÂˇOOWU\ DQGWULFNWKHSHRSOHLQWKHRIĂ€FHÂľ'RHVDLGÂ´7KH\GRQÂˇWNQRZKRZLWZRUNVEXW WKH\Ă€QGRXWUHDOTXLFNÂľ Cononie said he hopes that legislation will one day allow homeless shelters to regulate, rather than just monitor, how much medication each resident is taking. â€œThe law that has to be rewritten in a way that covers homeless shelters, &RQRQLHVDLGÂ´:HZDQWWRH[SODLQWRWKHPWKDWZHKDYHWRVWDUWUHJXODWLQJ this, in the way that assisted living facilities regulate it. We have to be able to limit the pills.â€? Â„
â€œIt was so hard. I had to wait until I was in my 40s to find my first love, and he died.â€?
Safe sex a priority in shelter PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO
Director Sean Cononie requires residents to use protection between the sheets
COSAC Â shelter Â resident, Â Dana, Â argues Â with Â Founder Â and Â Director Â 3EANĂ’#ONONIEĂ’INĂ’HISĂ’OFÂľCE LEFTÂ—â€” Â COSAC Â resident, Â Chris, Â discusses Â matters Â of Â sexual Â health Â with Â #ONONIE
A former HIV-Â positive resident (not pictured) slept around without telling his partners about the virus. In response, Cononie had a T-Âshirt made that read â€˜HIV positive.â€™
Stephanie Â Hardiman DePaul Â University
ll three times Chris and Dana have had sex at COSAC homeless shelter, sheâ€™s asked him not to use a condom. And he hasnâ€™t. For shelter Founder and Director Sean Cononie, this is a big problem. He called the couple, who have been dating for about two weeks, into his ofĂ€FHRQD6DWXUGD\QLJKWWRWDON&RQRQLH LVFRQFHUQHGDERXWWKHVSUHDGRIVH[XDOO\ WUDQVPLWWHG LQIHFWLRQV SDUWLFXODUO\ +,9 in his shelter and among people he conVLGHUVIDPLO\ Â´:RXOG\RXVWLFN\RXUSHQLVLQDPHDW grinder?â€? Cononie asks Chris, an oliveskinned man with his name tattooed in script on his neck. Â´1RÂľ&KULVVD\V Â´:K\"Âľ â€œBecause itâ€™s dangerous.â€? Â´7KHUH \RX JRÂľ VD\V &RQRQLH ZKR WKHQ VHQGV D VKHOWHU HPSOR\HH WR EX\ D pack of condoms. /LNH DQ\ JRRG GDG &RQRQLH OLNHV WR know whatâ€™s going on under his roof, where he is landlord to about 180 homeless residents. Â´,I\RXFDWFK+,9DQGGLHKRZGR\RX WKLQN ZHÂˇUH JRLQJ WR IHHO"Âľ KH VD\V WR &KULVDVVKHOWHUHPSOR\HHVQRGLQDJUHHPHQWÂ´:HORYH\RXÂľ COSAC takes in residents who are denied access to government-owned shelters, because of drugs, sex or unwillingness to follow rules. &KULVLVELSRODUDQGKDVEHHQDĂ€[WXUH in the shelter since 1998. Heâ€™s competent,
slow to understand the consequences of his decisions, Cononie said. Heâ€™s also a ladiesâ€™ man who has had PDQ\JLUOIULHQGVVLQFHOLYLQJDW&26$& Cononie hasnâ€™t outlawed sex in the shelter. Some couples share a room, and he doesnâ€™t mind people hooking up. He RQO\DVNVIRUVDIHW\DQGGLVFUHWLRQ6RPHtimes he catches residents having sex in common areas and reprimands them, HVSHFLDOO\LIWKH\ÂˇUHKDYLQJVH[ZLWKRXWD condom. Â´7KH\QHHGWREHORYHGKHOGFDUHVVHG ZKDWHYHUÂľ HYHQ LI WKH\ÂˇUH KRPHOHVV KH said. But he doesnâ€™t let outsiders up to resiGHQWURRPVIRUVH[7KH\KDYHWRJRHOVHwhere. He hears the golf course is a popular location. 6DIHW\LVWKHXOWLPDWHLVVXH Once, a resident performed unprotectHGRUDOVH[RQDQRSHQO\+,9SRVLWLYHUHVident, in exchange for 45 cents he wanted WREX\DVRGD Â´,ZHQWEHUVHUN,MXVWFRXOGQÂˇWEHOLHYH LWÂľ&RQRQLHVDLGÂ´,ZDVVFUHDPLQJÂś+RZ FRXOG \RX GR WKLV" :K\ GLGQÂˇW \RX MXVW ask me for 45 cents?â€™â€? Chrisâ€™ girlfriend, Dana, is a short-haired \HDUROG6KHÂˇVRQO\EHHQDWWKHVKHOWHU for about a month, and the staff is unsure of her past. Danaâ€™s also causing problems. She doesnâ€™t get up in time for her shift to sell newspapers in the morning and she argues with the staff. â€œShe has that whole ghetto attitude,â€?
VDLG6KDZQ3LWWVKHDGRIVHFXULW\IRUWKH shelter. â€œShe thinks she knows whatâ€™s best for her.â€? 3LWWV DQG RWKHUV ZRUU\ WKDW 'DQDÂˇV WU\LQJ WR JHW SUHJQDQW IRU PRQH\ 6KH DOUHDG\ KDV D \HDUROG ZKR ZDV WDNHQ DZD\IURPKHUE\WKHVWDWH &RQRQLH DOVR GRHVQÂˇW NQRZ KHU +,9 VWDWXV 6RPHWLPHV SHRSOH WU\ WR VSUHDG WKHYLUXVEHFDXVHWKH\IHHOYLFWLPL]HGKH said. $Q +,9SRVLWLYH IRUPHU UHVLGHQW VOHSW around without telling his partners about WKHYLUXV,QUHVSRQVH&RQRQLHKDGD7 VKLUWPDGHWKDWUHDGÂ´+,9SRVLWLYHÂľ Â´,WROGKLPLI\RXÂˇUHVWD\LQJKHUH\RX have to wear this shirt,â€? Cononie said. Â´+HFKRVHWROHDYH>+H@VDLGÂś7KDWÂˇVWKHLU SUREOHPLIWKH\GRQÂˇWDVNÂˇÂľ Florida is one of 34 states that has conYLFWHG +,9SRVLWLYH LQGLYLGXDOV IRU SXUSRVHIXOO\H[SRVLQJDQXQNQRZLQJVH[XDO partner to the disease. Homeless people in the United States DUHPRUHWKDQHLJKWWLPHVDVOLNHO\WREH LQIHFWHGZLWK+,9WKDQRWKHU$PHULFDQV DFFRUGLQJ WR D VWXG\ IURP 7KH 1Dtional Alliance to End Homelessness. 6H[XDOO\WUDQVPLWWHGLQIHFWLRQVOLNHKHSDWLWLVDUHDOVRPRUHFRPPRQ'LUW\DQGXQVWDEOHOLYLQJFRQGLWLRQVSRRUK\JLHQHDQG drug use all contribute to high incidences of illness among the homeless. Cononie often sends residents to local hospitals for STD diagnosis or treatment, but he can test them on-site. Doctors and QXUVH SUDFWLWLRQHUV DOVR YLVLW ZHHNO\ WR
address residentsâ€™ medical issues. After the meeting, Chris has thought more about his relationship with Dana. 6KH \HOOHG DQG VODPPHG GRRUV DIWHU WKH LQWHUYHQWLRQZKLFKUHDOO\WXUQHGKLPRII Â´,I VKH GRHVQÂˇW FKDQJH KHU DWWLWXGH ,ÂˇPQRWJRQQDZDQWWRWDONWRKHUÂľ&KULV VDLG+HLVDOVRZRUULHGVKHÂˇVWU\LQJWRJHW pregnant, and he isnâ€™t prepared to have a child. Whether with Dana in the future or not, &KULVSODQVRQJHWWLQJWHVWHGIRU+,9DQG other infections later this week. And he promised heâ€™d start using his new condoms. Â„
SEX Â LAWS Â‹(-SVYPKHZ[H[\[LZH`ZP[ÂťZ \USH^M\SMVYHU/0=WVZP[P]L PUKP]PK\HS^P[ORUV^SLKNL VM[OLPUMLJ[PVUHUKYPZRVM [YHUZTPZZPVU[VOH]LZL_ ^P[OV\[KPZJSVZPUN[OPZ[VH JVUZLU[PUNWHY[ULY Â‹0U(\N\Z[[OLZ[H[L Z\WYLTLJV\Y[Y\SLK[OLSH^ VUS`HWWSPLZ[VOL[LYVZL_\HS JV\WSLZILJH\ZLVM[OL KLĂ„UP[PVUVMÂ¸ZL_\HSPU[LY JV\YZLÂš
Bad business PHOTOS BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
Homeless population in Hollywood brings aversion and appreciation
D Founder of COSAC, Sean Cononie, says that while some businesses like “The Shop Liquor Store” have no qualms with the homeless, places like “Rosie’s Gourmet Italian Ice and Ice Cream” despise them.
Liz Richardson Moraine Valley Community College
he palm-lined streets and souvenir stores of Federal Highway attract tourists, money and people who have nowhere else to go. Business owners on the strip worry that the area’s homeless are driving customers away. “[They] walk up and down the streets like the walking dead,” said Scott Lawrence of Rosie’s Gourmet Italian Ices, located across the street from the COSAC homeless shelter. Lawrence says he’s been dealing with this problem for 15 years. The proximity of the shelter to businesses that cater to families is a part of the problem and shelter Founder and Director Sean Cononie agrees. Shelter residents will walk right up to families and ask for money. “Our population doesn’t do the best job” of dealing with the public, Cononie admits. Rosie’s has not outright banned the homeless, as it’s illegal for a business to discriminate against customers. However, Cononie
has advised residents not to visit the shop. Lawrence said the loitering and panhandling used to have an effect on Rosie’s, but since “having it out,” with Cononies, the problem has decreased. The Shop, a skate shop and supply store located next door to the
the animosity or loss of revenue at other businesses. The presence of the homeless is the least of O’Keefe’s worries as far as losing business, which he attributes to other factors. “I’ve never had a customer say ‘I’m not coming here because there are homeless people.’”
“[They] walk up and down the streets like the walking dead.”
shelter, does not have the same issue. If anything, the store holds them in a positive light. Employee Mickey 2·.HHIHVD\VKHÀQGVWKHUHVLGHQWVRI the shelter to be friendly and helpful. “Not too many problems happen [but there are] a few bad apples,” O’Keefe explained. He often interacts with the homeless. They shop at the store occasionally, buying a shirt or shoes when they get a check. O’Keefe doesn’t understand
The delicate balance of income and image is a tough one. Raj Mangabura of Hollywood Market & Wine said the homeless population has never been a large part of sales, but they are still a part. He also noted residents of the shelter used to loiter around the parking lot, but no longer do. Loitering, and the ability to do so, is a large factor. The Shop has no place for the homeless to hang around and no families to potentially offend. Rosie’s
is an outdoor, casual establishment— perfect for loitering, and perfect for problems to erupt. This is, however, discouraged by the COSAC shelter. Cononie sees his advisory as PRUHRIDOHJDODQGÀQDQFLDOPDWWHU than one of complacency with the community. There’s a snowball effect at play for loitering charges. “One city problem can consume hours of time and … hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Cononie said. To lessen community dissent, some COSAC residents participate in a community clean-up twice a week. O’Keefe noted that the shelter residents always seem to be cleaning something, and they do their best to contribute to the community. At the core, the homeless presence is an image issue larger than just one business. “[The homeless people are] what people see … from the airport to Hollywood,” explained Lawrence, motioning widely toward the roadway, showing the true expanse of a problem that’s nowhere near a solution.
Makeshift gourmet PHOTO BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
Not all food at homeless shelters are like the movie depictions of soup
RECIPES Chicken Salad ' 6 oz of Fresh chicken, cooked not canned ' 2 tbs of Sweet relish or diced pickles ' 1 tsp of Dijon mustard ' Half a stock of celery, chopped ' Spiced to taste with oregano, garlic and pepper ' 4 tbs of Mayo Mix all well and serve. Serves 1.
Meat loaf Ken Â Grippo, Â 60, Â makes Â a Â feast Â of Â a Â lunch Â for Â the Â clients Â of Â the Â COSAC Â homeless Â shelter.
Hannah Â Winston University Â of Â Florida en Grippo makes stuffed crab legs, chicken cordon bleu and, his specialty, the Grippo family ziti in his kitchen. +HLVQÂˇWDFKHIDWDĂ€YHVWDUUHVWDX rant. His kitchen is in the back of the COSAC homeless shelter in Holly wood, Fla. â€œFor a homeless shelter, weâ€™ve put out some pretty fantastic meals,â€? he said. The shelter serves more than 500 trays for breakfast, lunch and din ner every day. Itâ€™s open to residents of the shelter and others who are just hungry. The kitchen runs on dona tions so the meals are free. *ULSSR ZRUNV WR KRXU days in the kitchen and never turns anyone away, even after hours. â€œI was meant to feed people,â€? he said. From roasting the chicken for lunch to dicing the onions for din ner, his mind is always on to the next meal. Will there be fresh vegetables? Are there enough chicken legs? What if we run out of French fries? But thereâ€™s never a shortage of hot dogs, he explained, laughing, open ing a freezer full of the frozen meat. Sometimes, he said, the shelter will be treated with donations like lavish cakes. Steady food donations come ev HU\ZKHUH IURP :LQQ'L[LH WR ORFDO hospitals, said Cynthia Waters, do nations director. But random acts of kindness come as large as excess
wedding food and as small as left overs from individuals, she said. But, donations donâ€™t cover every thing. Basic needs like mayo, pan cake mix, syrup and tuna are rare donations but are necessities in the kitchen. So, a weekly budget of $500 is split between the kitchen and housekeeping, but Grippo tries to use as little as possible. Still, he likes to have options, dona tions willing. He goes as far as hav ing meals for special dietary needs. From vegetarians to those with reli gious practices, he tries to please ev HU\RQH +H DYRLGV VKHOOĂ€VK EHFDXVH he knows a few residents are allergic and never cooks with salt because many people at the shelter have high blood pressure. Instead, heâ€™s heavy on the garlic. â€œBeing Italian, itâ€™s inherited that I add garlic to everything,â€? he said. Joanna Butts, a resident of COSAC, said she usually cooks for herself, but Grippoâ€™s food is good for now. Grippo prepares potatoes with the care he learned in his grandmotherâ€™s kitchen as a boy, and throws out the rotten bits that others might use any way. Things that have gone bad are the only things he will part with. He triesâ€”and usually succeedsâ€”to use everything that is donated. He said all it takes is some imagi nation. He jokingly brags to have found more uses from the boxes of apple sauce that the shelter get from the
food bank than anyone could think of. He adds it to sauces, chicken and sometimes even the pancakes known as Kenny Cakes. He can take lunch meat, without bread, and roll it up with cheese and bake it. â€œIf I wouldnâ€™t want to eat it, Iâ€™m not going to serve it.â€? What he wonâ€™t eat, his human garbage disposal, Glenn Greene, probably will. Greene, who works as Grippoâ€™s assistant in the kitchen, considers himself â€œthe man behind the scenes,â€? chopping the chicken, FOHDQLQJ WKH Ă RRUV DQG VHUYLQJ WKH food. Heâ€™s never worked in a kitchen before, but heâ€™s learning. He said that he never thought the kitchen would be as busy as it is, but when three people run a kitchen that feeds hundreds of people a week, itâ€™s no small operation. eGrippo keeps cooking and cre ating new foods for the shelter he once called home. Now, he lives in the transitional housing that COSAC offers in the city. He said that even after his long shifts, he used to cook for the whole house when he got home. +H FHOHEUDWHG KLV WZR\HDU DQ niversary with Roger Wickham, his partner who he met at the shelter, on Sept. 9. When asked if he plans on cooking a big dinner for the celebra tion he replied: â€œHell no!â€? He stopped to laugh. â€œHe better be cooking for me.â€? Â„
' 1 pound of ground turkey ' 2 eggs '1 sleeve of unsalted saltine crackers, crushed ' 8 oz of tomato sauce Mix ground turkey, eggs and crushed saltines. Put in loaf pan. Pour tomato sauce on top. Bake at 350Â° F for 45 minutes. Serves 6-8
Breakfast Scramble ' 12 eggs ' 1 roll of breakfast sausage, loose ' Hash brown potatoes, (amount equal to eggs) ' Pepper ' Any wrap, tortilla, etc ' Cheddar cheese optional Scramble 12 eggs with sausage. Cook hash brown separate. Mix both, add cheese, and pepper to taste and put in wrap. Serves 8
Recipes courtesy of Ken Grippo
The room at the end of the hall PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO
Residents of Room 221 are some of the most troubled individuals in the shelter â€” the room has gained a reputation as a shelter boogeyman
Room Â 221 Â is Â dark, Â dank Â and Â home Â to Â some Â of Â COSACÂ’â€™s Â biggest Â troublemakers. Â But Â for Â those Â individuals, Â it Â is Â a Â refuge.
Andrew Â Sheeler University Â of Â Alaska Â Fairbanks
or the Hollywood homeless, the COSAC homeless shelter often serves as a refuge of last resort. At the end of the hall on the secRQG Ă RRU 5RRP LV D ODVW UHVRUW even by the shelterâ€™s own standards, home to residents with serious mental health or behavioral issues. â€œWe call it the â€˜special room,â€™â€? said Founder and Director Sean Cononie. Four people currently call Room 221 home. This room is a stark contrast to others in the shelter, which are clean and decorated with personDOĂ RXULVKHV The air burns your nose as you walk inside Room 221. It tastes acrid and smells like an infected wound. Every surface is grimy and slick. The bathroom has no mirror and looks like it hasnâ€™t been scrubbed for years. Five bunk beds box the room in and a cracked TV set is the only other piece of furniture. Even with
the light on, the room is dimly lit with the one window obscured by trees. In the hallway outside, a sign reads: â€œAbandon hope, all ye who enter here.â€? Five to eight people can live in Room 221, but all of them are in there because they could not cut it in the shelterâ€™s general population. The room has been home to crack addicts, paranoid schizophrenics and people who simply do not bathe â€Ś ever. Nick Davis, who works security at WKH VKHOWHU VDLG Ă€JKWV DQG RWKHU LQcidents are a daily occurrence in the room. Yet, for the occupants of Room 221, the room offers a respite from harassment and stares. Take Mike Nadel, for example. Heâ€™s no angel. Davis and Cononie said Nadel, 56, from Brooklyn, was put in Room 221 because he has a
KLVWRU\ RI VWDUWLQJ Ă€JKWV ZLWK RWKHU UHVLGHQWV)RU1DGHOWKDWÂˇVMXVWĂ€QH Room 221 offers him a sanctuary, a way to escape the antagonism of the shelterâ€™s general population. â€œThey tease me, they taunt me,â€? Nadel said. â€œThey say â€˜Bozo the Clown, Bozo the Clown.â€™â€? From the security of his grime-covered retreat, Nadel can watch National Geographic shows on TV (he loves animals) or gaze out the window at the occasional perching bird (he likes birds, too.) He came to the shelter in the summer of 2006, after spending three months on the Fort Lauderdale streets. As troublesome as Nadel can be, heâ€™s a model citizen compared to others whoâ€™ve called Room 221 home. $IWHUVWDUWLQJVHYHUDOĂ€JKWVDSDUanoid schizophrenic named Randy was kicked out of the shelter for a month. When heâ€™s allowed at the
shelter, Randy calls Room 221 home. Nadel was relieved when Randy was kicked out. He said Randy would VWDUWĂ€JKWVWRWXUQRQWKHOLJKWVDQG loud music at 1 a.m. Cononie said Randy constantly looks for trouble and has been VWDEEHGĂ€YHWLPHV â€œIf he takes his shirt off, youâ€™ll see knife wounds,â€? Cononie said. With his month-long exile ended, the shelter director added he expects Randy will be back in Room 221 soon. Mark, a shelter resident who gave RQO\ KLV Ă€UVW QDPH VDLG LW FDQ EH D challenge living with the occupants of Room 221. â€œThey have issues, mental issues,â€? Mark said. But he said it was important for them to have a place to go and somebody to help them. â€œI do what I can to help them, pray for them," Mark said. Â„
Smokes, pills & H20 COSAC brings aid and offers shelter to homeless in the city Morgan Watkins University of Florida Most people the Outreach teams encounter on these trips are like that couple – they accept the cigarettes and the blankets they bring but don’t want to return to the shelter. For the few that do, Tucholski-Dekeles talks to them about their medical histories to make sure they’re in good health and works with them to make their stay at the shelter has helpful as possible. “You don’t see a lot of success unfortunately,” she said. But there’s always a chance that they’ll agree to return with her to stay the night. During one trip, she ran into a young man named Danny who had previously spent a few days at the shelter but left. When she saw him on a routine Outreach stop, she persuaded him to come back and give COSAC another shot. One year later, he’s still at the shelter and is taking medication to manage his mental illness. It’s those stories, however rare, that make Outreach worth it for TucholskiDekeles. In the winter months, Outreach is much more successful. More people accept aid – hot coffee and blankets – and agree to come back to the shelter. On this night, it’s muggy outside and Cononie and 7XFKROVNL'HNHOHVDUHXSVHWWKH\FDQ·WÀQG0D\ODU
Tales from Stranahan Park Ashley Sikand University of Central Florida
Kerrie, 50, and Tim, 51, said they went from an upscale lifestyle to having absolutely nothing. Tim ran his own business, raised his own cattle and bought a ranch at the age of 22. He met Kerrie in 1977 through mutual friends. Things changed once Tim blew out two discs in his back, which caused him to retire from welding. Kerrie suffers from cerebral palsy and is unable to work. For the past year and a half they have hitchhiked from California to Florida looking for a job and a roof over their heads. So far they have found neither. The couple refuses to step foot in a shelter because they say they are Christian and Úf\eYfqg^l`][gfn]jkYlagfkl`YllYc]hdYl`]j]g^^]fkan]&9dkg$alakflYhYjla[mdYjdq uplifting atmosphere. “Homeless shelters are hard to be around and I do not need anyone bringing me \gof$LaekYa\$Ydl`gm_``akoa^]fgl]\k`]`Y\ogjc]\afY;Yda^gjfaYk`]dl]j^gjÚn] years. He has been using the public library to look up soup kitchens and possible apartments they could afford, their next step is to head to Virginia. Their advice to others is to never give up and always research. “You gotta know what you are walking into. There are some nice people out there but we have met some creeps Yf\ÛYc]k& For personal reasons they did not want to pose for photographs and mentioned they had a son who died in 2000.
WHAT IS OUTREACH? It is a COSAC homeless shelter program that sends shelter staff and volunteers into Broward County with supplies for the homeless. They provide cold water, hot coffee, cigarettes, blankets and medical aid. Outreach trips typically visit four to six locations frequented by homeless. The team goes out year-round, but more often during cold fronts and bad weather.
Darius, 23, of Fort Lauderdale has been living off and on the streets since he was 12 years old. His father left when he was a kid and his mother was an Y\\a[l&@]`Ykf]n]jklYq]\afYk`]dl]jYf\\g]kfl see it as an option. In the past, he has worked at an amusement park, retail stores and a lawn care service. <YjamkYf\`akÚYf[?]gj_aYImaffYj]]ph][laf_ a son, Darius Jr., in January. He has four other [`ad\j]f&Imaff`Ykk]n]jYdg^`]jgof$oal`\a^^]j]fl ^Yl`]jk& Imaff kYa\ k`] `Yk gfdq Z]]f lg l`] \g[lgj gf Yf\ akfl lYcaf_ Yfq hj]fYlYd nalYeafk& 9dd g^ the children stay with their grandparents. Due to ^Yeadq\akY_j]]e]flkYf\Ú_`lkl`][gmhd]`Yk^gmf\ l`]ek]dn]kZgmf[af_Z]lo]]f^Yeadqe]eZ]jk`ge]k and the streets. Darius said he spends most of his days practicing his beliefs and contacting priests and pastors. He hopes they will be able to donate food and money to his family. His goal is to get out of the streets and keep his faith. If you were wondering why he is dressed for the occasion, he said he was in church all day and he `Ykfl]Yl]fkafl`]\YqZ]^gj]$Zml`]kYn]\kge] money to take his girl on a date. Sara is 23 years old and seven months pregnant. She is expecting her fourth child and has been on the street for two years. She has worked several labor pool jobs and has done some writing. Finding a job has been her biggest obstacle thus far. She approached many places in Fort Lauderdale ZmlÚf\kl`]j]akdalld]afl]j]klaf`ajaf_`]j&Gf her child is born, a friend will take temporary [mklg\qkgk`][Yf_]lZY[cgf`]j^]]l&AfÚn]q]Yjk she hopes to have a stable job and own her own house or apartment. In the meantime, she plans on staying in the streets and refuses to go back to a shelter. “When my daughter was two months gd\k`]oYl[`]\e]_]ljYh]\afYKYf9flgfag shelter,” she said. “I will never go back to one of l`gk]`gjjaZd]hdYkY_Yaf&9ogj\g^Y\nak`] `Yk^gj]n]jqgf]ak$ KlYqo`]j]qgmYj]$\gfldgk] anything because in a blink of an eye you could lose everything.” HOMELESS VOICE
PHOTOS BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO
ean Cononie stares at a chain-link fence. The fence covers the entrance to an underpass Cononie has been visiting for four years with volunteers of Outreach, a COSAC shelter program that brings aid to the homeless. The underpass was a makeshift home for a woman named Maylar and her boyfriend – people that Cononie, COSAC founder and director, has regularly visited on such trips to bring water, cigarettes and blankets. This time, the couple is nowhere in sight. If they’re still living there, Cononie and Yvette TucholskiDekeles, the shelter’s licensed mental health counselor, FDQ·WÀQGWKHPGXHWRWKHQHZO\HUHFWHGIHQFHWKDWZDVQ·W there four weeks ago. They think the fence blocking their way was put up by the Hollywood city government, and they’re angry. According to Cononie, the city has agreed not to put up fences at regular Outreach locations. “They [the couple] don’t do anything,” Tucholski-Dekeles said. “They don’t bother anyone.” On previous Outreach trips, she asked Maylar and her boyfriend to spend the night in the shelter. They never did, although she said Maylar had expressed interest in going during one-on-one conversations. However, her boyfriend always nixed the idea.
Af]]\YhdYlgklYq PHOTOS BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
College journalist goes homeless to explore goverment-run shelter
Loan Â Le, Â a Â student Â from Â Connecticut, Â experiences Â ÂľRST HANDĂ’WHATĂ’LIFEĂ’ISĂ’ LIKEĂ’ONĂ’THEĂ’STREETSĂ’OFĂ’ (OLLYWOOD Ă’&LA
Loan Â Le &AIRÂľELDĂ’5NIVERSITY
he man at the front desk of Broward Outreach Center stared at me blankly. The walk to the homeless shelter had left the ends of my jeans soaked from puddles left by the latest rainstorm, and the hair on my arms clung to my skin. Wet streaks of black mascara outlined my eyes and my hair was disheveled. â€œPlease,â€? I told them. I just broke up with my cheating boyfriend and couldnâ€™t stand it anymore; I had left in a hurry, bringing nothing with me. I didnâ€™t think Iâ€™d get in; the sign outside had said: â€œFull House. No beds.â€? After what seemed like two minutes of silence, he sighed and shook his head. Then he jerked his head to the left and quietly told me to sit, his manner wary and tired. I, too shocked to respond, sat down. I started crying after he left, and in the moment, I dropped my act. Everything was real, I thought. The man came back later and I thought he was going to turn me away. Full House. No beds. But then, he reached for a paper, eyes down, and asked, â€œID?â€? And for one night, I was no longer a college journalist, living in a bubble and 10
reporting through emails and phone conversations. I was a heartbroken, homeless girl who was given a place to sleep for one night. Aubrey, a resident at the shelter, came into the lobby. He nodded nonchalantly to the man, asking, â€œNeed any help?â€? I learned later on that heâ€™d lead me to the sleeping quarters. I hugged my arms to my chest and tried not to look at Aubrey, who was a tall African American man wearing basketball shorts and an oversized T-shirt. He had his IPod earphones stuck in his ears. I felt his eyes sweep over my face, taking in the redness and dry tears. â€œAre you okay?â€? he asked. I jumped slightly when I heard his voice. I didnâ€™t expect him to actually talk to me, but I looked over and he had his earphones dangling. It was odd to tell him my cover story, when the front desk didnâ€™t even bother to ask. I adopted an angry tone when talking about my boyfriend of one and a half years. Aubrey was nothing but sympathetic. â€œItâ€™s going to get better, really. Just get VRPHVOHHSDQG\RXÂˇOOZDNHXSĂ€QHÂľ
It sounded like practiced adviceâ€”like a parent consoling his or her child over a bad gradeâ€”and it might have been that. Who knows how many residents have trickled in with relationship problems? I just didnâ€™t expect Aubrey to care. I didnâ€™t answer him; I only shook his hand. Aubrey brought me to another room where I met Connie, one of the shelterâ€™s staff members. Like the man at the front desk, she didnâ€™t ask me any questions, except for my name. On a bulletin board hanging on the green walls of the lobby, she wrote my name under the heading â€˜overnight.â€™ Next to another name on the board, it looked like the person had written a thank you note to the shelter. Every part of me ached, heavy with fatigue. I wanted a shower, because the sheets smelled like cigarettes, and it didnâ€™t make me feel clean. My hair itched. Goosebumps lined my arms and I ran my hands up and down to make them go away. Yet my mind came alive during this time. The exit sign was too distracting. Even as I closed my eyes, I felt the bright red light streaming through my lids. The airconditioning was cranked too high and every cold particle hit my skin, causing shivers to run through my body. I traced WKHFUDFNVDQGFKLSVRIWKHĂ RRUZLWKP\ H\HV,FRXQWHGWKHVHFRQGVWKHĂ€UHDODUP light would blinkâ€”every three secondsâ€” and I kept on waiting for the next cycle. The homeless residents at the shelter lay in white cocoons, their thin sheets wrapped tightly around them. I tossed
and turned, tucking my sheets in too, trying to save heat, but the cold ate at my feet and shoulders. Itâ€™s the type of cold that never leaves you. Phlegm-racked coughs sounded in echoes as the time on my cell phone turned 2 a.m. In the packed corridor where thick PDWVOLWWHUHGWKHĂ RRUOLNHSODFHVLQDZDU shelter, a man cursed about the cold in his sleep. The woman who lay behind me moaned, as if in pain. Connie still sat at the front of the shelter, but she was snoring. At one time, I felt her near me, but I pretended to be asleep. What did she want? Did she know? I froze, just waiting for a pair of hands to grab my arms and pull me up. In the back of my mind, I would have wanted to go outside just for the heat. At least Iâ€™d be warm. I wanted to go home. I wanted a home. Because here, in a place where people minded their own business and slept in their cocoons, I didnâ€™t have a home. I found myself thinking of the person I created that night, the girl who had no friends or family to help her when she had suffered heartbreak. She needed a shelter, not a home, and this was where she had ended up going to. I snuck past the front desk at 3:15 a.m., leaving without a word. In the parking lot, Michele Boyet, program coordinator of Will Write for Food, greeted me with a hug and I fell into her, the weight of what I had just done pushing me. And even after I left her arms, even after I felt the humidity of Florida on my skin, I was still shivering. Â„
HELTER VS. COSAC
C]]haf_l`]hYklYdan] PHOTOS BY HILARY COLES
History and personality packed into paraphanelia of Room 217 residents
Ramone Â Montayne Â keeps Â her Â personal Â space Â at Â #/3!#Ă’ÂľLLEDĂ’WITHĂ’HERĂ’ MOSTĂ’PRECIOUSĂ’BELONGINGS
Loan Â Le &AIRÂľELDĂ’5NIVERSITY Piles of Star magazines. Spoons fed into the air-conditioning vent. Floral quilts as curtains for their bed bunks. These are a few things found in the co-ed room 217 of the COSAC homeless shelter. Ramona Montayne, 52, is one of the Ă€YHUHVLGHQWVLQWKHFRHGURRPDQGVKH has lived in the same place for nine years. During her time there, sheâ€™s accumulated things that show her personality. She eats frozen dinners since she canâ€™t eat a lot of the shelterâ€™s food because of her poor health. Montayne has a stash of magazines waiting to be read. She keeps articles that she wrote for the Homeless Voice and picWXUHVRIKHUODWHĂ€DQFpRQDZKLWHVKHOILQ her room. â€œHe was the only guy who treated me right,â€? she said. She holds on to the thought of her daughter and sonâ€”two things that are constant in her life, she said. But Montayne is not the only one to Ă€QG D KRPH LQ WKH VKHOWHU DQG KDYH D SODFHWKDWUHĂ HFWVKHUSDVWDQGSUHVHQW The residents invite visitors to see pictures of their daughters, sons, fathersâ€” their whole family. They are just as comfortable to let people wander into their rooms. Itâ€™s a glimpse into their personal lives that only other residents see. Bill, who sleeps next to Montayneâ€™s bunk, maintains a neat environment. His
shirts and jeans are folded neatly and lay in a stack. The top of his bunk used to be his girlfriendâ€™s, but she moved out. Montayne uses that bunk as her extra storage space for clothes and several boxes of toothpaste that she gives to new residents. 5LFKDUG Â´5LFKLHÂľ 0D\Ă€HOG DQRWKHU roommate, sleeps in a bunk on the other side of the room. According to Montayne, 0D\Ă€HOG ZDV WKHUH MXVW DV ORQJ DV VKH was, though his bunk didnâ€™t convey it. Underneath his bed, there are jersey shirts and empty plastic bags. Unlike the other bunks, he has no curtain, no privacy; his sleeping form is there for all to see. â€œBut single people donâ€™t usually use curtains,â€? Montayne chimed in. :KHWKHU0D\Ă€HOGUHIXVHVWRDFNQRZOedge a past, or has a past he wants to remember, is unknown. For now, only his social security checks leave a paper trail of his past. It might be easy for some to try and imagine how their courses of life could have been different. Maybe Montayne could have gone to college. Maybe she could have been closer to her family. Director and founder of the shelter Sean Cononie hopes for the best for his clients. â€œI think they need to have their connection with family, friends and good memories,â€? he said. â€œThey should live like anybody else.â€? Â„
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In Loving Memory of Angela J. Fante “Mimi” June 4, 1917 June 12, 2010
RUNNING THE PLACE
Working from home PHOTO ABOVE AND BOTTOM RIGHT BY HILLARY COLES/PHOTO TOP RIGHT BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO
The COSAC shelter staffers know how to relate to their residents because most of them were once homeless
Roger Wickham, a former COSAC resident, works in the shelter even though he lives off property. Cynthia Waters (top right) and Susie, last name withheld, (bottom right) are both employees who still live in the shelter.
Meg Â Wagner University Â of Â Florida
hen Roger Wickham has to discipline a homeless client at the COSAC homeless shelter, he does so with sympathy. When a new resident comes in, he knows how to comfort them and what advice to give. His eyes, hidden behind the bill of a tattered Ohio State baseball cap, glow when he talks about the clients, who he calls friends. Thatâ€™s because 12 years ago Wickham, DQRIĂ€FHDVVLVWDQWDWWKHVKHOWHUZDVLQ their shoes. Of the roughly 18 staff members at the shelter, all but two have been homeless, and some continue living on the premises. They stay for friendship, to give back, to earn a living. But for all of them, the biggest reason they stay is because the shelter feels like home. â€œI just love giving back,â€? said Cynthia Waters. Waters doesnâ€™t look homeless. Her QDLOV DUH SDLQWHG LQ D Ă DZOHVV FRDW RI taupe polish, and her teeth are white DQGSHUIHFWO\VWUDLJKW6KHÂˇGĂ€WLQDWDQ\ 37$ PHHWLQJ VKRSSLQJ PDOO RU RIĂ€FH job. %XW HYHQ LI VKH GRHVQÂˇW Ă€W WKH homeless stereotype, Waters, a 47-year-old accountant, calls the shelter home. Sheâ€™s lived there off and on since 2002, when she lost her freelance jobs and was evicted from her home.
She leaves the shelter when she FDQ Ă€QG ZRUN QRUPDOO\ WHPSRUDU\ Ă€QDQFLDODQGWD[MREVEXWUHWXUQVZKHQ her money runs out. Now, she works LQWKHVKHOWHUDVDQRIĂ€FHDVVLVWDQWDQG VOHHSVGRZQWKHKDOOIURPKHURIĂ€FH Â´6XUH ,ÂˇG ORYH WR Ă€QG D MRE DQG JHW EDFNLQWRP\Ă€HOGÂľVKHVDLGÂ´%XWIRU now Iâ€™m comfortable and happy where I am.â€? (YHQ LI VKH GUHDPV RI Ă€QGLQJ employment outside of the shelter, Waters knows that sheâ€™ll never stray too far. â€œEven when Iâ€™m not living here, Iâ€™m always emailing Sean [the shelterâ€™s director] and seeing how I can help,â€? she said. â€œI just love giving back, and I love how this place helps people.â€? â€œI have absolutely no desire to leave.â€? Susie is the head housekeeper at COSAC. Previously a photographer, a Ă RULVWDQGDZDLWUHVVKHUOLIHFKDQJHG last year when she broke her ankle. Always a little bit klutzy, she tripped over her own feet and wound up bedridden for three months. She lost her job as a waitress and moved from Jacksonville to South Florida in hopes of starting over. She collected unemployment and searched for work while her bones healed. When the checks stopped coming, the reality of homelessness sunk in.
â€œNo shelter would take me because I hadnâ€™t lived the county for 30 days,â€? she said. After begging other shelters to let her in, she found COSAC, which doesnâ€™t have residency requirements. â€œItâ€™s like Sean [Cononie] is a crazy cat lady, and weâ€™re all of his kitties,â€? she said. â€œEven if youâ€™re a little scruffy, even if youâ€™ve only got one eye, heâ€™ll take you in.â€? Susie started living in the shelter as a vendor, selling newspapers on the street, but she quickly became the head of housekeeping. :KLOHVKHVD\VVKHFRXOGĂ€QGRWKHU employment if she wanted to, sheâ€™s happy in the shelter. â€œI have absolutely no desire to leave,â€? she said. â€œI am needed. I am useful. I am productive. I have all I want.â€? Sheâ€™d miss her friends if she left. Sheâ€™d miss talking to people at dinner and joking with her roommates late at night when she canâ€™t sleep. â€œI think Iâ€™d be lonely, sitting alone in a apartment,â€? she said. â€œWhat would I do with all that quiet?â€? â€œIâ€™m twice as happy as I ever was.â€? Twelve years ago, Roger Wickham didnâ€™t think about homelessness much. He lived comfortably in Virginia Beach and worked in retail. â€œI donâ€™t even remember seeing homeless people,â€? Wickham said.
â€œYou hear about it on the TV, but it seems like something thatâ€™s just going on in New York.â€? Recently divorced, Wickham came out of the closet as a gay man, packed his bags and fled to Hollywood, Fla., a destination he chose on a whim. He booked a URRPLQDORFDOPRWHODQGH[SHFWHG to find work immediately. Heâ€™d job hunt in the day and go to clubs at night. Just two days after he arrived in Florida, he met a guy in a bar. When he woke up, the man was gone and so was his wallet. â€œI literally had nothing,â€? he said. â€œI was restarting my life, so there was nothing I could fall back on.â€? Wickham lived on the street for three days, before learning about the shelter from a Salvation Army volunteer. He lived as a client in the shelter for two years then moved to Kentucky for a year. But while he was gone, he couldnâ€™t stop thinking about COSAC. Now, Wickham lives in one of the shelterâ€™s halfway houses and serves as its house manager. He pays rent and has his own apartment. He stays because itâ€™s something heâ€™s â€œmeant to do.â€? â€œFor so much of my life, I took and took,â€? he said. â€œI donâ€™t have half the money I had before, but Iâ€™m twice as happy as I ever was.â€? Â„
PHOTO BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
For Sean Cononie, founder and director of COSAC, the YLZPKLU[ZHS^H`ZJVTLĂ„YZ[ He is always willing to help â€” YLNHYKSLZZVM^OH[[PTLP[PZ
Founder and Director of COSAC, Sean Cononie, works almost nonstop â€” even if it means his own needs arenâ€™t met Morgan Watkins University of Florida
ean Cononie pees in a red Folgers coffee can. As the founder and director of the COSAC homeless shelter in Hollywood, Fla., the 47-year-old Cononie is always working at his desk. A constant parade of residents walk LQWRKLVRIĂ€FHGD\DQGQLJKWORRNLQJ for help bandaging wounds, solving Ă€JKWV ZLWK URRPPDWHV DQG JHWWLQJ condoms so they can have safe sex with the cute girl crashing in a room a few doors down from them. Cononie is such a workaholic, he often forgets to eat. Or pee. The solution to his urination stagnation: the Folgers coffee can he keeps next to his bed in a room FRQQHFWHGWRKLVRIĂ€FH Heâ€™s so wrapped up in the work he does at the shelter he sleeps there most nights, and every time he wakes up with the urge to pee he just grabs the can next to his bed and relieves himself on the spot. Then itâ€™s back to bed. If he were to ditch the coffee can and just get up DQG ZDON DFURVV WKH RIĂ€FH WR SHH LQ the restroom there, heâ€™d never get back to sleep â€” because every time he passes his desk, he remembers the work that needs to be done and starts taking care of that instead. â€œHeâ€™s a workaholic. Stern, but nice. Keeps you in line but keeps you happy,â€? said Tom Crilley, a resident at the shelter for 14 years. â€œIf I need DQ\WKLQJ,FDOOKLPĂ€UVWÂľ Cononie doesnâ€™t take many breaks from his work. He sits at his desk, making calls and talking to residents who pass through KLV RIĂ€FH Â˛ DOZD\V ZLWK D 0DUOERUR Red in his mouth and a glass of lemonĂ DYRUHGGLHW1HVWHDZLWKLQUHDFK The other operations staff members keep an eye on him, making sure heâ€™s remembered to eat or take a shower
amid the controlled chaos of the shelter. â€œItâ€™s a battle because thereâ€™s always someone knocking on his door. It never stops,â€? Cynthia Waters said. When he has to make a choice between taking care of his own needs or those of his residents, they always FRPHĂ€UVW Heâ€™ll take care of anything they need, whether heâ€™s known them for years or just met them. At about 10 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 4, D1LFDUDJXDQPDQQDPHG-DPLH5L]R Pallias, who had only been at COSAC for a few days, needed a wound cleaned and bandaged. &RQRQLHZKRLVWUDLQHGLQĂ€UVWDLG DQG DV D Ă€UVW UHVSRQGHU JUDEEHG D pair of plastic gloves. Peeling off each OD\HURIZKLWHPHGLFDOWDSHDQGJDX]H he smelled the yellow-brown residue on them to check for any odors that might indicate an infection. Pallias spoke little English, so &RQRQLH FRXOGQÂˇW Ă€QG RXW ZK\ KH needed to have surgery on his chest. A thin surgical scar trailed from the center of his chest down to an open wound on his stomach, exposing the pink and red healing tissues. Cononieâ€™s seen worse. It only took a few minutes to clean the exposed wound with sterile water and bandage it. Then, it was on to the next personâ€™s problem. â€œHe puts himself last in the hierarchy,â€? Waters said. â€œEveryone HOVHJHWVWDNHQFDUHRIĂ€UVWÂľ But Cononieâ€™s tireless drive to help residents like Pallias takes a toll on his health. Cononie, who has had about 18 major surgeries since the 1980s for various health problems, is also in need of surgeries on his knees, shoulders and ankle. He injured them in 2010 when he carried two residents downstairs
Â˛ WKH Ă€UVW DIWHU DQ HOHFWULFDO VXUJH damaged the shelter and the second ZKHQDQHOHFWULFDOĂ€UHEURNHRXWLQD separate incident. Pounding down the steps with a man in his arms did serious damage to his body. He tore the meniscus in his left knee, a ligament in his right knee, the Achilles tendon in his left ankle and rotator cuffs in both his shoulders. He sometimes uses a walker to take some of the stress of moving off of his body. The injuries were almost a blessing, though, because it forced him to slow down, Cononie said. â€œRight now, Iâ€™m taking care of myself,â€? he said. He had surgery to repair a torn stomach muscle three weeks ago, and heâ€™s now focused on losing at least SRXQGVÂ˛WKHDPRXQWKHQHHGVWR lose to undergo the other surgeries he needs. Although he still spends most of his time at the shelter, he is technically serving only as a board member until his health improves. He hired two additional staff members during the past year to help cover his duties at COSAC. He is spending more time visiting KLV IDWKHU &DUPHQ ZKR LV Ă€JKWLQJ pancreatic and liver cancer, in -DFNVRQYLOOH)OD+HWULHVWRYLVLWKLV dad at least twice a month, traveling with fellow staff member Lois Cross in an RV where they work on COSAC issues during the trip. Even though his role at COSAC is less hands-on for now, he is still the soul of the shelter. â€œHe loves everybody. He gives hugs and kisses constantly. â€˜I donâ€™t care if youâ€™ve had a bath or not,â€™â€? said Waters, a staff member who also serves as Cononieâ€™s personal assistant. â€œThis is home for a lot of
people.â€? Cononie founded COSAC in 1996, running the ever-expanding operation with a seemingly LQH[KDXVWLEOH ZRUN HWKLF Â˛ EXW KHÂˇV not invincible. In 2004, he dealt with a severe FDVHRIPHQLQJLWLVÂ˛DQLQĂ DPPDWLRQ caused by a bacterial or viral infection that affects the brain and spinal cord Â˛WKDWSXWKLPLQDFRPDIRUDERXWD week. â€œWe thought he was gone,â€? said Roger Wickham, a former shelter resident who is now the operations director at COSAC. Cononie survived, but the fact he will one day die is a specter the staff doesnâ€™t forget. â€œWhen you lose your leader, you have that fear of: Is everyone going to be okay? Are we going to live up to his expectations of what he wanted the shelter to be?â€? Wickham said. â€œItâ€™s always sort of in the back of your head.â€? Cononie is also keenly aware of his own mortality. â€œThey have to be ready,â€? Cononie said. â€œIf I die, they have to know what to do.â€? Every time he thinks of something important his staff needs to remember about running the shelter, he writes DQHPDLODERXWLWRUĂ€OPVDYLGHRFOLS of himself discussing it. Itâ€™s a resource IRUWKHGD\Â˛ZKHWKHULWÂˇVLQKRXUV RU\HDUVÂ˛KHGLHV Itâ€™s information that will help the remaining staff to carry on. Despite his health problems and the stress he is often under as founder of the COSAC, Cononie said he had to provide these opportunities for the homeless. â€œHow could I not do it? How could I stop?â€? he said. â€œI canâ€™t stop. It helps too many people. If I did, Iâ€™d be a shmuck.â€? Â„
PHOTO BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
Command central: Cononie’s workspace piles up with the unorthodox tools of his trade Party Monster DVD
Taser Marlboro Reds TiVo
Diet iced tea
From pills to print Targett has been the editor of Homeless Voice since its inception in 1999 PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO
Michael Newberger Flagler College
ark Targett isn’t your average editor. While he’s in charge of the second largest homeless newspaper in the country, he lives 2,000 miles from where it’s published, isn’t homeless and doesn’t have any newspaper experience. Targett, 32, a father of four who lives in New Jersey and has battled through jail, rehab and detox, helped start the Homeless Voice 12 years ago to raise funds for the COSAC homeless shelter. “The paper kind of happened by chance,” he said. “We used to have to get solicitation permits to collect money. But we didn’t need a permit to sell the papers.” Targett has been working with COSAC Director and Founder Sean Cononie since 1996 when they were collecting money for various charities in buckets. He needed community service hours for high school graduation and started working full time with the organization six months later. As the shelter grew, Targett’s responsibilities went along with it. With the paper’s increased presence, the city started enforcing the use of permits to accept donations from motorists around town. Instead of dealing with the bureaucratic red tape required to gain funding, Targett WRRNFRQWURORIFUHDWLQJDIXOOÁHGJHG newspaper. “When the paper’s due, my life stops,” he said. “There’s no time for anything else.” While he was helping others get back on their feet, Targett saw that his own life was headed downhill. After being arrested for a misdemeanor right out of high school, his dream of EHLQJDSROLFHRIÀFHUKDGEHHQGDVKHG and he found himself lost. :KLOHÀJKWLQJDQ2[\FRQWLQDGGLFtion, he struggled to produce the paper, sometimes not even making it to print at all. “I didn’t want to be a hypocrite, telling people how to live their lives when I was living out of my car,” he said. While he never had to resort to living in the shelter itself, after he was kicked out of his mother’s house, he was forced to live in his car for two weeks. Working with the shelter, he saw people with drug and alcohol problems that were similar to his own. “I just kind of looked into my future. This is the route that I was going in. I was going to end up being a guy who came here. It was eye-opening – this can happen to anybody. The stories I heard talking to people, this is how it started.” After he kicked his drug habit in 2004, he focused on running all things tech at the shelter and taught himself how to code the COSAC website. 16
Targett reviews the latest issue of the Homeless Voice in his COSAC newsroom.
“From the websites to the maintenance to everything around here, we learned how to do it ourselves,” he said. “Then I was able to use those skills to start my own company.” Targett still runs the paper with his wife despite the geographical distance. What used to take him almost a month to produce, he’s got down to putting together in three days. While many of the stories he writes for the paper are about the residents of the shelter, he said it used to be easy to get attached to the subjects. But he’s been let down too many times.
“I was heavily involved with people’s lives, then I just got burned out. That’s the difference between me and Sean. You give so much, then you get depleted whether spiritually, mentally or physically. You give so much then you have nothing left to give. Sean’s the type of person that it’s unlimited.” Cononie said Targett has been critical at the shelter. “He’s in the No. 2 spot for a reason,” he said. “He’s good at what he does. He works his butt off. He’s got four kids and one on the way. He handles HPHUJHQFLHVDQGÀOOVLQIRUPHZKHQ
I’m in the hospital.” Mark is focusing on throwing more events and fundraisers for the shelter. This year he organized a charity 5k for the shelter, which raised more than $14,000. There will be another 5k run next March and Targett hopes to throw a carnival in support of the residents. The project he feels the most passionate about is hosting an event ZKHUH ÁHGJOLQJ QRQSURÀWV VWD\ DW the shelter while the staff shows them the ins and outs of running an organization like it.
Memories etched in ink PHOTOS BY PHILLIP SUNKEL
Shelter residents discuss the good and bad memories behind the permanent mark of their tattoos Adrienne Â Cutway University Â of Â Central Â Florida
he eight ball tattoo on Christopher Camerucciâ€™s arm reminds him of the best friend who he hasnâ€™t seen since 1997. Often body art for residents at the shelter serve as a gallery of memories passed and the people theyâ€™ve left behind. â€œThe last time I saw him was at a drug treatment facility,â€? he said. His friend Jason designed and inked the eight ball with blue wings that covers half of Camerucciâ€™s left upper arm. The two have been friends since junior high school, but Camerucci has not seen or heard from Jason since he got the tattoo. He is unsure where Jason is now, but believes he may be in jail because of gang involvement. David Lee, who has been at COSAC for two days, has 10 tattoos from when he was a bodybuilder. With his injured right knee propped up with pillows, Lee tells of his days working as head of security at Automatic Slims, a popular night club in Fort Lauderdale. â€œâ€Ś It was packed every night. They played different music than most of the clubs â€“ most of them played dance music. This one played rock and roll â€Ś It was really cool,â€? Lee said. It was during his time at Automatic Slims that Lee got his favorite tribal tattoo on his upper left arm. The artist tattooed him, and in exchange Lee passed out the artistâ€™s business cards. Although these are some of his fondest memories, bodybuilding and kickboxing led to the gradual disintegration of his knee, which has been replaced three times in the past two years. â€œIt wore away from all the bodybuilding and stuff like that -- secuULW\ZRUNEUHDNLQJXSĂ€JKWVIDOOLQJ on it â€Ś It just wore away where it was bone on bone. It got to the point where it would take me 30 seconds just to be able to walk from getting up from the couch,â€? Lee said. Now struggling to walk, Lee looks to his tattoos to remind him of the power he once had. â€œThe dragon represents power and wisdom. I was in martial arts for a long time and Iâ€™m an Aries, and thatâ€™s just the way I feel mentally anyways,â€? Lee, 55, said of the dragon tattoo twisting up the entirety of his right upper arm. Like Lee, 10-month resident Matt Magnus has tattoos reminding him of his passion: hair cutting. Magnus, 31, has master cutters, scissors, clippers and a barber chair covering
most of his right forearm. But not all of Magnusâ€™ tattoos represent pleasant memories. On the arm opposite tattoos displaying his passion and profession is a memorial for his mother who passed away in 2004 from lung cancer. â€œMe and my mother didnâ€™t have a good relationship. You only have one mother, so I just put it there out of respect â€“ I dedicated my left forearm to her, but my mother wasnâ€™t a good mother,â€? Magnus said. But Magnus doesnâ€™t take these hardships to heart. Etched amongst his hair clippers and barber chair is Magnusâ€™ personal slogan: â€œDyingâ€™s easy, livingâ€™s hard.â€? â€œLifeâ€™s been rough, Iâ€™ve been in and out of jail most of my life so I Ă€QG OLYLQJ LV KDUG LWÂˇV HDV\ WR JLYH up and just let things go but to keep moving on is probably the hardest thing in life,â€? Magnus said. Magnus believes in taking control of your own life and making the best you can out of tough situations. â€œYou gotta just look out for you, no oneâ€™s gonna look out for you but you, you know,â€? he said. â€œSometimes the only luck you have is bad luck, so you have to deal with the cards youâ€™re dealt.â€? The Chinese calligraphy written on Leeâ€™s chest echoed the same sentiment: â€œI donâ€™t trust nobody.â€? â€œYou gotta be careful in life, man,â€? Lee said. â€œYou know, you think somebodyâ€™s your best friend and â€“ bam.â€? Â„ TOP Â Â—â€” Â David Â Lee, Â former Â body Â guard Â for Â Mickey Â Rourke Â and Â Cheap Â Trick, Â shows Â off Â his Â tattoos Â at Â the Â COSAC Â homeless Â shelter.
POPULAR Â TATTOOS Â AT Â COSAC* Tribal
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LEFT Â Â—â€” Â Matt Â MagnusÂ’â€™ Â body Â is Â a Â display Â of Â phases Â of Â his Â life. Â His Â tattooÂ’â€™s Â cover Â almost Â all Â of Â his Â body Â and Â are Â an Â ode Â to Â Â“â€œLiving Â Hard.Â”â€?
Check out more photos at
SPJwillwrite-Â forfood.word-Â press.com
*Out of a survey of 15 residents
Religion inside the homeless community PHOTOS BY HILARY COLES
Local church welcomes every individual, rich or poor, with open arms
During Â the Â church Â service Â at Â COSAC Â on Â Sept. Â 4, Â shelter Â resident Â Brother Â Derek Â raps Â for Â other Â shelter Â residents Â and Â visitors.
Sophia Â Lee University Â of Â Florida
uring his sermon at Little Flower Catholic Church, Rev. Jim Niro declared, â€œYou shall love your neighbor as yourself.â€? Does the same rule apply when your neighbors are homeless? According to several church volunteers, parishioners and homeless individuals, the answer is yes. Through a coaliWLRQZLWK6W9LQFHQWGH3DXODQRQSURĂ€W organization that reaches out to people in need, the church does everything in its power to accommodate the homeless living at COSAC homeless shelter, which also runs its own church services for residents. St. Vincent volunteer Jeanne Schreier and Rev. Thomas Oâ€™Dwyer, another priest at Little Flower, said the organization managed to feed 770 people from the community in August, including many homeless individuals. â€œWe have a lot of potluck dinners, and every Monday through Saturday people can call into
St. Vincent and request aid,â€? Schreier explained. Sitting in mass on a recent Sunday surrounded by traditional hymns and families dressed their best, itâ€™s easy to assume this community embraces the Catholic ideal of reaching out to those in need. Itâ€™s outside the walls of the church where a FRQĂ LFWEHJLQVWRHPHUJH Manuel Martinez is known as the quiet homeless man who is always sitting outside the church with a cup and cigarette in hand. He likes to tell people heâ€™s been part of the Little Flower community for years and that everybody treats him like family. However, Jack Doss, another volunteer with St. Vincent, says this isnâ€™t the case. According to Doss, Martinez sits outside to panhandle and support his alcoholism. â€œWhen the Spanish parishioners come out, thatâ€™s when he asks for change,â€? said Doss.
Although he agreed everyone is welcome inside the church, he is annoyed by the panhandling that occurs outside the sacred building. He says the homeless only come to church on the weekends to grab doughnuts and cups of coffee, not to hear the sermons. â€œI know they [the church] donâ€™t like them panhandling hereâ€Śit makes people uncomfortable,â€? said Wayne M., an active churchgoer. â€œBut theyâ€™re all welcome here.â€? Thomas, who is aware of the many homeless individuals who attend his church, agrees. â€œAll are welcome! We havenâ€™t turned anybody away,â€? he said. Even the homeless residents at COSAC feel a strong sense of community with the local churches. When asked whether she felt welcomed at Little Flower, Carol Massed, a resident at the shelter, replied, â€œOh sure, And so is the COSAC church here. Theyâ€™re all very welcoming.â€? Â„
INFORMATION Little Flower Catholic Church 1805 Pierce Street Hollywood, Florida 33020
Mass schedule (Weekday Masses Chapel of Roses) Monday-Friday - 7 am, 8:30 am Saturday - 8:30 am (Weekend Masses Main Church) Saturday Vigil - 4:00 pm Sunday - 7:30 am, 9:30 am, 11 am, 5:30 pm Spanish - 12:30 pm French - 7 pm
LET ME IN
College journalist lies her way into shelter to offer inside look at homelessness PAGE 10
PHOTO BY CHRISTINE CAPOZZIELLO