View homeless ministry through other eyes

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As a resident of the boarding house of Mercy Ministries, I would like to provide some insights and observations.


Drugs and crime affect every family in America, and more than 50 percent of America is living one paycheck away from homelessness. We better support places such as Mercy Ministries because we are going to find ourselves needing them more and more.


MM Executive Director Fran Oliver does have a physical address in Columbia County, but spends more time here, free, than at home. Here is where she saw a problem that she sought to help fix. Most "Christians" worship a homeless man on Sunday and spit on the homeless Monday through Saturday.

With regard to the condition of the boarding house, we are anxiously and hopefully awaiting the time we can lock in a purchase price for the building so we can begin renovations. Any ideas are welcome as a conservative estimate for these costs is more than $160,000.


With regard to some of the people here living in "filth" within their own rooms, how many of us have homes with attics, basements, the space under our kids' beds that, under a building, health or fire department inspection, would be labeled as filthy? We are grateful that this was pointed out, as we have helped and are helping those individuals clean and disinfect.


Many of us know of homes that have cousins who are crackheads, or in which deviant sexual behavior is practiced, but are not yet brought out to the public scrutiny we welcome, for it helps us see our faults, correct them and get better at doing our jobs. If we were 100 percent successful all the time, we would not be challenging ourselves enough.


We have approximately 18 people living in about 11 rooms, many of whom are parents and grandparents. Of course we have lots of people coming in and out. I don't know why the young lady mentioned in The Augusta Chronicle's April 20 article ("Uneasy streets") wondered who lived here or not, especially when she is one of those who comes over, and in and out.


I would love to meet Mr. Palmer and his neighborhood activist group, to work together to allay his fears and help one another accomplish what is really our mutual goal: the betterment of Harrisburg, and to make it a safe and great place to live.

Ms. Oliver is an inspiration and we call her the Quiet Warrior. She has been at her husband's hospital bedside for more than weeks. She continues to retain an optimistic demeanor reflective of her faith. Like a great conductor who has worked long and hard with his orchestra, when she leaves the stage the music continues to play inspiring music. Fran says, "A problem is opportunity in work clothes. Let's work hard and pure."


If we as a people send somewhere else those who don't live to our standards, we will all live in one-person neighborhoods, harboring anger and hatred as population increases and the world shrinks. We must find solutions, especially to drugs and crime - issues that affect every person in America. Raking that to the back corner of our lot will only create a fire hazard.

The writer is an Augusta resident.

Comments (35) Add comment
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SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 06:45 am
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The writer has no

The writer has no name.....how interesting.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 06:49 am
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Why dosent' fran sell out of

Why dosent' fran sell out of columbia county and move into the boarding house?

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 06:53 am
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The flop house needs to go.

The flop house needs to go.

The_Last_Word
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The_Last_Word 04/27/08 - 07:48 am
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Thank you for a great letter.

Thank you for a great letter. Fran Oliver has dedicated her life to those at Mercy Ministries. She is a truly loving woman who practices what she reads in the Bible. Since I did not read the criticism of her or her work I can only say that we all should be a little more like her and less like those who sit on the sidelines and criticize those on the field.

christian134
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christian134 04/27/08 - 08:08 am
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Who is charging the people

Who is charging the people living there 300 hundred a month? That is what has been reported....I might agree with some of what is being said concerning the good of this ministry but I do not agree with charging that kind of fee for the delight of living in such squalor without anyone being given tasks of everyday living entails....One can read the Bible all day long, preach the Word all day long but if one's walk does not measure up to the walk they are preaching then they need to do a reassessment of their own lives before they can reach out to others....Fran live with the folks who are living and sleeping in that "boarding house" for 6 months and then others might be inclined to listen and help....

Itll be alright
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Itll be alright 04/27/08 - 10:02 am
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Christian134 YOU need to look

Christian134 YOU need to look in the mirror friend. AND sargentMidTown. SHUT UP

dani
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dani 04/27/08 - 10:15 am
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It is so easy to be

It is so easy to be "goody-goody" when it affects other and not you. Do you have an extra bedroom? Is it empty? You say you haven't yet invited a homeless person in to sleep and share a meal or two? Please, folks, think about what you doing. You are asking a community to accept a situation that you yourself would never stand for on your street.

NedaKlugh
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NedaKlugh 04/27/08 - 10:29 am
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Agree with dani - Fran Oliver

Agree with dani - Fran Oliver is wonderful, upstanding, quiet warrior is a perfect name for her - but MM needs to move to another location - collaboration with the Salvation Army would be good, there is land around the SA - also the persons leave during the day - she could utilize the space then. In addition, Harrisburg do you know that the Kroc Center (if it comes about) is going to be in your neighborhood? Think you have problems now... just wait.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/27/08 - 10:31 am
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Give me a break. Did you

Give me a break. Did you adopt a child? Dis you adopt an animal? What is wrong with trying to help someone in need? All of this not in my back yard needs to stop. What I would like to know is, what is the rate of criminal activty associated with this place? If there is a rise in crime then you have a point.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 04/27/08 - 11:22 am
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lets see 11 rooms times $300

lets see 11 rooms times $300 a room = $3300/Month not to shabby Mrs. Oliver. I gotta get me a flop house! I'll make it a full time job too for that kind of money!

DeborahElliott2
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DeborahElliott2 04/27/08 - 11:30 am
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Sounds to me that this is

Sounds to me that this is just another way of saying I don't want so and so to live here cause they would do more harm to me. Some of the other organizations run out of rooms for these people especially during the winter months, so just where are they suppose to go? I know it was in the news last winter that homeless people were turned away due to lack of food and beds, and these people had to stay OUTSIDE! Did you stay out in the freezing temperatures? If not, then perhaps you should revisit this issue again from that standpoint and tell me where these people SHOULD go! Otherwise, the Ministry should fight and STAY! I may not like it either, but .....

christian134
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christian134 04/27/08 - 11:31 am
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Hey angie1961 a good Sunday

Hey angie1961 a good Sunday to you too.....:-) You want to know something yelling at others without knowing whom you are speaking is nonsense friend...My mirror just might see things just a tad clearer than yours pal......

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 04/27/08 - 01:40 pm
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Hypo, do you have homeless

Hypo, do you have homeless living in your house? Neither do I, probably for the same reason. I'd rather have them living in some other place so I don't have to deal with the POTENTIAL problems associated with the situation. I'd much rather have them live in Harrisburg then next door to me too. How about you?

jack
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jack 04/27/08 - 02:26 pm
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I Have to ask what the lady

I Have to ask what the lady would do if some one opened a homeless shelter next to her home in CC? My Sunday School class supports the homeless by giving time at the soup kitchen and donations. Unfortunately, most of those homeless today are those that used to be in mental hopitals where they were cared for 24/7/365. Then, in the 70's the blue nosed "rights" advocates got involved and now they no longer go to a mental hospital but on the streets. From what I hear about those that live in that establishment are not the type you want wandering in YOUR neighborhood.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 04:36 pm
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What about the fellons who

What about the fellons who are homeless? They have provlems finding jobs. Many times their families do not want to have them back......What about the potential outlaws who duck into shelters hiding from the law ? What about the no accout pure bums...dead beat dads and crack heads that use places like MM for help? Do you want them comming into your neighborhood ? This is simplyu about the location. Together we can find a good place for this type of establishment. The majority of the neighbors do not want it here. MM should respect their wishes and relocate.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 04:49 pm
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Is it safe for the homeless

Is it safe for the homeless who walk through the neighborhood ? There are many people who are mad as hell and it is possible that they could resort to forceful tactics. I sure as hell would not want an entire neighborhood after me.....Since Fran Oliver knows that there are dozens of people surrounding MM who singed a petition to have them relocate....since Fran is responsible for the homeless walking through the neighborhood .....How would fran feel if something happened to some of the homeless....Does she not understand that she may be putting them in jeopardy ? The whole idea of problems with this location could work both ways. This situation is crazy. They need to relocate.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 04:57 pm
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I wonder too about the

I wonder too about the homeless who read the paper and know that they are not wanted in our neighborhood. That would be enough to drive a paranoid schizophrenic off of the edge. They keep bringing up Butch Palmer. He is only one of dozens of people who feel the same way. I think that Butch may be gearing up for a run for public office or something. You got to give it to him. The man has guts.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/27/08 - 06:57 pm
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Yeah, it takes real guts to

Yeah, it takes real guts to beat up on a person when they are already on the ground. To answer your question PT, Yes I have allowed homeless people into my house, so have several other members of my family. So if it makes you feel better to step on someone while you are down, I am sorry but I am not one to cheer you on. However, it does seem that there are plenty that will.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 07:10 pm
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HypocriteS2008..........Where

HypocriteS2008..........Where is your neighborhood located ?

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/27/08 - 07:17 pm
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Why do you need to know? I

Why do you need to know? I know just like yours, my taxes support every neighborhood.

sneaky pete
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sneaky pete 04/27/08 - 08:02 pm
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This argument is not going

This argument is not going away. Some people want one thing and others want to lay blame. There is no easy answer either way. Sarge, do you have any proof that Harrisburg is worse off because of MM? Or is it just rhetoric. I always hear the term riff raff thrown around. Have they always been riff raff or did their conditions make them do things and live in a way they aren't used to? I served in the military with a lot of good men that came home from the Gulf changed. I don't recognize them sometimes when I see them. They are homeless and seem useless to most people that pass them by. But I remember them as the soldier that stood arm in arm with me. There by the grace of god goes each and every one of us.

mayhem2020
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mayhem2020 04/27/08 - 08:32 pm
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Yeah, hippyc has had homeless

Yeah, hippyc has had homeless in his house, he and his realitives swap off staying with each other.

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 04/27/08 - 09:00 pm
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If you are truly "needy" then

If you are truly "needy" then people in this society are willing to help. What is frustrating is when you are "brow beaten" into helping those who don't want to help themselves. To quote a wise old adage" Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, TEACH a man to fish you feed him for life.
Me and many others are willing to help but after a point. when do you say ENOUGH!!!!!

CorporalGripweed
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CorporalGripweed 04/27/08 - 09:00 pm
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If you are truly "needy" then

If you are truly "needy" then people in this society are willing to help. What is frustrating is when you are "brow beaten" into helping those who don't want to help themselves. To quote a wise old adage" Give a man a fish, you feed him for a day, TEACH a man to fish you feed him for life.
Me and many others are willing to help but after a point. when do you say ENOUGH!!!!!

dani
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dani 04/27/08 - 09:12 pm
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Corporal..Do you mean like

Corporal..Do you mean like have a working home. A place where they can learn a trade and earn a little pocket money just to get started.

SargentMidTown
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SargentMidTown 04/27/08 - 09:24 pm
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Michael L. Weintraub| Special

Michael L. Weintraub| Special Columnist is living in a flop house and paying 300 a month.......Weintraub is able to write and think so why is he "homeless" ? Is he party to MM grant seeking to expand the "homeless" industry? Homelessness in a Non Profit industry just like food banks. There needs to be more accountability.

rodchar
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rodchar 04/27/08 - 09:49 pm
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The "Homeless people" that

The "Homeless people" that you are talking about are people, flesh and blood humans! What is wrong with you. The newspaper already reported that the crime rate has not increased in that area, that the Richmond County was doing drug busts in that area LONG before Mercy Ministries showed up. Go to MM and meet some of these people! They are like you and me! Sometimes they just fell on really hard times, sometimes it was addictions that put them where they are. Some of them were doctors, engineers, people with degrees that for whatever reason cannot pick themselves up. They need a hand and some compassion. They don't need anyone else beating up on them. Go and help Fran, volunteer with her. And by the way Fran has like 8 people living in her house! Where do you think she started all this, she started it in her home first. She is the kindest lady and has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met! And right now while you all are talking about her and raking her name through the mud, she is sitting in a hospital with her husband who is in a coma and has been for almost 4 weeks! Remove the plank from you own eye before try to remove the speck from hers!

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 04/27/08 - 09:53 pm
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Beat up? Cheer on? Who are

Beat up? Cheer on? Who are you replying to Hypo? Odd stuff. You mean to tell me you allow mentally disturbed people with no sense of right and wrong to live in your house? or do you know someone that got thrown out by their parents so you helped them out? Do you intentionally misunderstand or are my comments really that confusing?

rodchar
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rodchar 04/27/08 - 10:04 pm
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Hey Patricia, there are some

Hey Patricia, there are some people with compassion left in this world. Apparently Hypo is one of them. Do you help the homeless or the downtrodden or the "mentally disturbed" people. When was the last time you helped one of these people, who are made in the image of God just like you and I? Have you ever helped one of them get a job? Maybe they just need your help to do that. There have been many people who MM has helped get their GED, get jobs, and even get into college.

patriciathomas
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patriciathomas 04/27/08 - 10:12 pm
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rodchar, yeah, maybe. It

rodchar, yeah, maybe. It could happen...in a pbs special. The vast majority at the bottom of the homeless scale are seriously damaged mentally. While I sympathize with them and am willing to offer aid to those unable to help themselves, I sure am not going to turn them loose in my house to do what ever damage to my family they want. That's way more compassion then any smart person has. Telling a lie on this thread doesn't make it true and telling a big lie is easy to spot.

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