March 1999, I participated in a five-day photojournalism workshop, entitled Truth with a Camera, hosted by Dr. Vme Smith at Tidewater Community College.
My project was trying to photograph the activities of a homeless outreach worker. I was fortunate enough to have a coworker who was willing to let me tag along for a week.
Sarah Paige Fuller has worked with the homeless for about eight years. Presently she is responsible for offering assistance to our city's homeless population. She is a walking resource for what is available to the approximately 350 homeless people she tries to assist annually. She helps them get mental health, medical and dental services, jobs, shelter, food, and offers assistance in seeing that they get whatever financial benefits they are entitled to.
She also collects clothing, attends the various meetings that affect the homeless, writes grants, and if that isn't enough, attends school fulltime and is a few weeks off from completing her masters degree in social work.
For the five days of the workshop we visited the local shelters and food kitchens, and trolled the streets and the two downtown libraries (hey, in the wintertime it's cold and the libraries are a warm place to hangout). Sarah Paige has scheduled office hours at The Union Mission and The Salvation Army.
In addition to these duties she is called on by other workers in the city who look to her for advice when they have a homeless client. The five days I spent with her was a real eye opener, and my view of who and why people are homeless has changed forever.
Paper Work and MeetingsSometimes working with the homeless folks seemed to interfere with the paper work and the meetings.
What's Going on Here?Just looking at this gentleman you might think he's going through an interview for a mid-level manager's position. Not true. This person, who works everyday, is homeless and is living at The Union Mission until he can get back on his feet.
The Union MissionThe Union Mission has been serving the needs of the homeless in Norfolk since 1892. The Mission provides shelter, food, religious services, and a limited number of jobs.