I met Jackie St. Louis and Judy Parker at 7:30 a.m. this past Thursday morning at the Metropolitan Improvement District’s (MID) Offices Downtown.
Jackie and Judy are incredibly talented outreach workers.
Those of us who live and work Downtown know the MID Ambassadors – the 90 women and men who wear bright yellow jackets — who help us clean our sidewalk and remove graffiti. MID also provides outreach services to people who are homeless, connecting them with appropriate housing and services, and helping them move up and on from the streets.
Jackie is the manager of MID’s Outreach Team. He’s a licensed mental health professional and a talented communicator with the ability to connect with people experiencing homelessness: encouraging them to talk, evaluating their needs, and offering them action steps toward appropriate care.
Jackie, Judy, and I walked from their office through Westlake Park, along Third Avenue, to Pike Place Market and Steinbrueck Park, and to Western Avenue. We stopped to talk with the Park Rangers at Westlake Park, and engaged nearly everyone who was sitting or lying on the sidewalk that morning.
While I carried the dry socks, Judy and Jackie worked their magic. In a conversation with four guys at Pike Place Market, Jackie connected with each person, discussed his needs, and made some important recommendations, all within nine minutes. Judy provided some food and Jackie gave his new clients a business card and put the ball solidly back into each of their courts – he urged each man to come see him later that day where they’d talk more.
He suggested a next step for each – one was ready for housing and a job; another needed some therapy and medical care; a third needed and wanted to reconnect to his family.
Judy, the longest serving member of the Outreach Team and a compassionate advocate for her clients, offers a Mental Health First Aid class – a great addition to Basic First Aid. The course teaches the skills to respond to signs of mental illness and substance abuse. I’m planning to attend her next class in May. If you are interested, please let me know and we can go together.
I’m grateful to have spent my morning with MID’s Outreach Team, witnessing compassion and problem-solving in action in my neighborhood.