From Judy Gile
and Lynne Schlaht
On a blustery, cold morning on Nov. 26 after a snowstorm, my friend and I were busy doing errands for a project. On Highway 34, we passed a person walking west carrying a very large pack on his back. He appeared middle aged or older, Afro-American and very tired. Finishing quickly with an errand, we talked and decided to turn the car around and see if we could find him. Sure enough, he was still trudging along heading west. We pulled over and greeted him and then inquired where he might be headed. He was pleasant and said he was walking to Corning.
We talked about the distance to Corning and that there was help for him here in Creston. He told me that I had no idea the trouble he had dealt with in Creston. He then said that his skin was the wrong color to get help in this town. After more discussion, we decided to take him to Corning. Placing his large tattered pack in the trunk, he got in front seat and I got in the back seat. (Yes, I know I was breaking a lifelong preached rule to never pick up a stranger.)
During the ride, he visited about where he was from and the people he had approached for help in Creston. He specifically named a minister known in Creston who told him there was no help for him. Nor was he directed to where he might get help in our community. Needless to say, he had a definite impression of Creston and the people he had interacted with, and it was not positive.
Arriving in Corning, he gave directions to a home of friends who would help him. Driving up to a well kept home, he thanked us, and we wished him well. He was admitted to the home and we drove away.
My purpose for this letter is to share this man’s opinion of our community. I sadly remember him saying “My skin is the wrong color to get any help in this town.” Having worked for 30 years in the mental health field, I knew of areas where people who were experiencing financial problems, homelessness or physical/mental health could get some help. The fact he mentioned specifically visiting with a Creston minister (by name) was jarring. Certainly ministers should be aware where help is available for individuals in need.
If there is no longer help available for these people, this needs to be addressed! If only certain people can get help, this needs to addressed! It’s my understanding that a percentage of funds from Crop Walk come back to our town to be used for helping those in need. If those funds are gone, we need a back-up plan. We are all painted with the same brush when someone says “My skin is the wrong color to get help in this town.”
We can and must do better!