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Homeless veteran gets help

 

Roger Lucas

Clarence Jerred has coffee in the lobby of the Center Lodge Motel, where people helped him find a solution to his homelessness.

Put yourself in this situation.

You are elderly, diabetic, have a memory problem, and you're homeless, and you don't know how to get help.

That's the situation Clarence Roosevelt Jerred was in until he met up with Kathy and Dale Baty, owners of Center Lodge Motel in Grand Coulee. They have housed him at the motel since Sept. 25, while they sought ways to help him.

Homelessness is increasingly a problem, not only in urban areas, but in small towns across America.

Last January, more than 20,000 homeless persons were counted on the state's annual "Point in Time" count, more than 8,000 of them unsheltered. The homeless census, conducted in the field the night of Jan. 28, included some 624 individuals residing in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan and Lincoln counties.

Fern Blaylock, who manages the local Care and Share Food Bank, says she regularly sees homeless people who come to get food. "I have had as high as 14 homeless people come for food," she stated last week.

Blaylock said that information on homeless people is confidential, and they seem to "fend for themselves."

In Grand Coulee, police Chief John Tufts said Monday that his department hasn't seen that many homeless people. In this area, when a homeless person needs overnight accommodations, local churches have a fund to provide a night's lodging in one of the area motels.

"Usually it's someone who is just passing through on the way to Omak or Spokane," Tufts said.

In Coulee Dam, there had been reports that a woman was living under the bridge. However, interim police Chief Larry Hall said this week that he didn't know of anyone living under the bridge.

"I did run into an elderly man who was homeless (Jerred) and put him in contact with relatives in Keller," Hall said.

Occasionally, there's a successful homeless story.

Jerred's story is one of them.

He arrived in the area Sept. 25 from Spokane where he had been at the Veterans Hospital, and came here with a complicated and confusing story.

Jerred is listed as 84, but he says he is really 86. He was born in Keller, and was kicked out of his home when he was 9 years old. He is a member of the Colville Tribes and a veteran of the Korean Police Action, having served in the U.S. Army with the 72nd Tank Battalion.

Jerred is forgetful but has instant recall of his military service.

After his army days, Jerred spent about 40 years in Alaska. In his earlier days, Jerred was with the tribal police.

After landing here in September somewhat disoriented, police got him an overnight stay at Center Lodge Motel in Grand Coulee. The overnight stay has turned into a four-week stay, scheduled to end this week.

A couple of weeks ago, Jerred tried to get help from social services, the tribe, and the Veterans Administration but couldn't find a way to penetrate the system.

He was told that he wasn't homeless if he had a place to stay.

"I wasn't going to turn him out on the street," Kathy Baty said.

Jerred had gone in to see several agencies on his own a couple of weeks ago.

No luck.

But Baty and her staff, Josh and Brenda Ristine, Lacee Olsen, Charlene Fountain and Jennifer Hartbarger, took an interest in Jerred, trying to piece together who he was, what his needs were, and how they could get help for him.

Last week, Josh and Kathy took Jerred to the Colville Tribes headquarters, stayed with him and had an opportunity to talk with Harvey Moses Jr. at the tribal Veterans Program.

That's when things began to change.

A relative of Jerred had power of attorney over his assets, and, at the same time, a restraining order against him. None of his assets were available to him - not veteran's benefits, tribal per-capita payments, Social Security, or stocks and bonds he owned while in Alaska.

Moses got tribal authorities to untangle the power-of-attorney problem, restore his per capita, and follow through on getting additional help for him.

On Monday this week, things got a whole lot better for Jerred.

He now has a place to stay, a six-patient home in Omak, where he can come and go as he pleases. The power of attorney has been removed from the relative, and he will soon start receiving funds to use however he wants.

Lionel Marcial, of the Department of Social and Health Services, is getting him new shoes, and he will go to Indian Health Services to check out his diabetic needs and to have them look at a rib problem he has.

His rather sudden change is due to the good Samaritans at Center Lodge, and Harvey Moses Jr. at the tribal Veterans' Program.

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