Mission Statement

Our mission is to warm those in need through knitting, crocheting, looming and quilting. Our NEW hand made items provide hope to those living outdoors and those in temporary shelters. We provide for Men, Women, and Children in Central Ohio all year long. Specific details available by clicking item specific tabs, or the Who we Help Tab. If you have further questions, please contact me via the contact form. ALL DONATIONS MUST INCLUDE A NOTE WITH AN EMAIL ADDRESS.

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Jack Otis Memorial Month, the face of Homelessness

Meet my fellow classmate and friend, Jack Otis. By the hair style you might be able to guess the photo is from the sixty's. 1969 was the graduating year to be exact. Look at that infectious smile and twinkle in his eyes. Now for folks younger then me, seeing this picture -- you might be shocked to see someone dressed for their senior picture. Being barefoot, in casual clothes, outside leaning on a tree or sitting with the family pet was never ever done! The men always wore coats and ties, and the ladies always wore the same blouse for uniformity. Ladies could wear a fluffy cape looking thing the photographer supplied for an extra fee.

Jack Otis graduated from Whetstone High School back in 1969 in Columbus, Ohio. Unlike most of my classmates I didn't know Jack for eons and eons. We didn't attend grade school and junior high together. His family didn't live in the same neighborhood forever, like so many of us. In fact, very little is known about Jack's family. Jack lived with his Dad. None of us knew anything about his mother, except that she wasn't around. Those who knew his home life, remembered his Dad as not being a particularly stable person. Jack was new to our school, he came from someplace in Kentucky. Some classmates believe he moved around a lot.

During those high school years, classmates remember Jack as fun to be with, perhaps even a bit on the wilder side. He was full of life, a bit ornery. Not wild as in bad, but not a mild quiet, stay to oneself type of person. He liked to drink PBR (translation for the younger set, Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer). I should also add that drinking at age 18 was legal back in our day. We had what was called low beer, 3.2 and those 18-19 and 20 could drink that, but you had to be 21 to drink hard liquor and or high beer...high beer is the beer that's out now days. 3.2 no longer exists.

Jack like to drive around on old trails in his Bugged Eyed Sprite (sports car). He was chosen to be Nancy Edgars' escort for The Home Coming Court. That was a big deal, back in the day. Jack was popular folks. He was well liked, he was good looking guy...which you can clearly see from his picture.

He was born (as best I can tell from research) on June 14th, 1951. He died in the year 2000, alone and penny-less. He died homeless in the outskirts of Tucson, Arizona. He lived in a hobo camp outside the city limits and is buried in a small paupers grave in Pima County, Arizona. That area set aside in the cemetery for those without family, those who are indigent, those who have no means of another burial.

Did Jack choose this life? Did the life choose him? What happened to make this smiling good looking young man die alone and homeless? We know he chose to travel some after graduation, and for a short while, we know a fellow classmate gave him lodging in Tucson. That didn't last long, as Jack returned to the hobo camp and died sometime later. Did his sad unstable home life play into this? Who knows. But, this is the face of homelessness folks. I'm willing to bet you all have someone in your past with a similar story. He was someone's son. He was a friend. It makes me sad to know he's buried in a pauper's grave. The reality that truly anyone can be homeless is a sobering fact.

(thank you to A. Newman for taking the photo of Jack's stone, you can visit his virtual grave and leave a token if you like)
For years most of us didn't know where Jack was. Sadly, we found out when trying to locate classmates at reunion time. Would knitting or crocheting have changed things for Jack? I don't know, perhaps it would have given him hope to have a hand made item. I do know our hand knit hats, scarves, and mittens provide much needed warmth here in Central Ohio for the homeless, and can truly help someone live through a cold fall and winter and wet spring. And I believe HOPE is a powerful thing.

So, in honor of my friend and classmate Jack Otis, November will be Jack Otis Memorial Month and will focus on the needs of men, homeless men. It will focus on men who live outdoors, men who get a night here and there in a shelter, as well as Men living in temporary shelters/housing trying desperately to keep their families together.

Items needed are hand knitted, crocheted or loomed:
Hats
Scarves
Mittens
Person Care Items
Slippers
Socks (store bought)
Rain poncho's

Think warm, sturdy, color and size appropriate for adult males.

Help me honor and remember Jack and all homeless men.

2011 Donations:

Scarves
357
Hats 737
Mittens 143
Socks 147
Squares 516
Rain Ponchos 84
Cotton Washcloths 324
Sweaters/Poncho's 7
Slippers 90
Afghans 40 (2 sent to our friends at Pine Street)
Misc Items I've not counted misc items like all the personal care items, the neck warmers, head bands, soap, shampoo, combs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotions or yarn etc.

All donations regardless of size and number are valued. All donations are appreciated, and all donations keep someone warm. We help, one stitch at a time. YOU truly DO make a difference. THANK YOU!

13 comments:

  1. The story of Jack is heartbreaking. He was a really good looking kid! It's a reminder to us that the men under the bridges are somebody. They come from families who are gone or don't know what happended to them.
    We may not be able to change their lives but we can help them survive.

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  2. Thank you Suzy for the visit, and the comments. I truly appreciate it, and so agree. We must all do what we can.

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  3. Such a sad story and unfortunately one that could probably be told by many. I wish I could just wave a magic wand and make everything better for everyone. But since I can't I thank you, Sandy, for giving me the opportunity to help you in giving some comfort to others.

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  4. Ladies (and gents) lets all keep our needles, hooks and looms flying and give our neighbors under the bridge hope and love. All in loving memory of Jack Otis! Peace, Jack! You will live on through our efforts!

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  5. Thank you Liz and Sally, very much appreciate your visit, your kind comments, and your continued support of our cause.

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  6. Jack was such a good looking guy. So sorry to read about his story. It make the need to keep the needles & hooks busy so very real.

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  7. Right you are Sue, appreciate your visit and your comment.

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  8. This was heartbreaking, but you're right. Homelessness could (and does) happen to anyone. I'm glad you're working so hard to bring awareness to the issue because I don't think people really think about homelessness much unless/until it happens to them or someone they love.

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  9. Thanks Anna for your visits and comments, always appreciate that.

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  10. It is always sad to read about the homeless, but twice as sad when you find you know someone in these dire straits. Thanks for all you and your partners do for these folks.

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  11. Thank you Sandy for putting Jack's handsome face to our idea of "Homeless" - that makes it so much more real - and heartbreaking - but especially REAL. It's easy to forget how real it can be for so many.

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  12. Right you are Sandie and psmflowerlady. I hope this helps reach some folks who might not understand how it really can happen to anyone.

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  13. Nice tribute, Sandy. I sent this on the Nancy E. and Pat R.

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