NEWS BLOG (WSAU) I failed. Last year I failed a basic test of human compassion. I’m ashamed of myself.
Last winter, on a very cold early morning, a homeless man was camped out in the lobby of our radio station. (Our outer doors are open all the time – the inner doors that lead to our offices are locked after hours.)
I threw him out. I told him he had to leave – immediately -- and I told him I’d call the police if he didn’t go. He bundled up a plastic shopping bag filled with his belongings and trudged off into the bitter darkness. He probably wandered the streets for hours until the sun came up.
As a practical matter, we can’t let the homeless camp out in our lobby. But I could have offered to make a phone call for him if there was someone who could have helped. I could have called 2-1-1 and asked what could be done for him… and let him stay until help arrived. What bothers me about that morning from a year ago is that I was unkind.
There are homeless people in Central Wisconsin. Thankfully, not many. But they are human beings, and basic decency tells us that they can’t wander the streets in the middle of winter.
Last night the Wausau City Council approved the final zoning and permits for a downtown warming center. The lower level of St. Paul’s Church of Christ will be open at night, providing a warm place for people who don’t have anywhere else to go. It doesn’t solve the homelessness problem. But it’s necessary.
The next time someone is in our outer lobby at least I can tell them there’s a place a few blocks from here where they can be warm and safe for the night. I hope I’ll do better.