Racing Against Time

Bruce Dawson returned from the hospital

…at 5:30 in the morning to find his motel room door open, belongings scattered, and the shower door in pieces. After waiting all night at the hospital while his caregiver was undergoing treatment, Dawson was exhausted, and struggling without the assistance of his helper.

Bruce Dawson

He navigated his wheelchair to the telephone and called the police. An officer took a report and left.

“Later that morning, the manager of the motel called and told me I had to leave in two hours. He blamed me for the broken shower door,” says Dawson.

Dawson, a disabled Marine Corps veteran, had already paid ahead for several nights, leaving him without enough cash to pay in advance for another motel.

“I’m on disability. I get my check on the first of the month. I was moving from Long Beach to Medford at the time and looking for a more permanent place to live,” Dawson explains.

Desperate, Dawson called the Oregon Disability Services Office, and they referred him to Help Now!

After talking to the motel manager and getting nowhere, Help Now! Executive Director Larry Kahn asked the police to return to the motel to reassess the situation. After the second officer looked things over and spoke to Dawson, the officer took the motel manager aside to speak to him. When Kahn again called the manager following the manager’s talk with the officer, Kahn found an entirely different attitude. The manager agreed to refund Dawson’s unused payment and allowed Dawson to stay until the afternoon to give time to find a place and move.

“Sometimes, the most important part of our work is showing an authority figure that a seemingly helpless person has recourse,” Kahn adds. “You’d be surprised how quickly the situation improves.”

In the meantime, Help Now! advocates Jolie Wilson and Bonnie Pickering set to work locating another motel and the means to move Dawson and his belongings. Finding a room that was both wheelchair accessible and within Dawson’s budget proved formidable.

Fortunately, Wilson persuaded the manager of the Millwood Inn in Medford to lower the usual rate to accommodate Dawson.

“The next task was to move Bruce and his belongings, and our advocate Bonnie Pickering enlisted Ken Newcomb and two associates from the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Medford,” says Kahn. “They’ve graciously helped move other clients in times of crisis.”

By 2 p.m. that same afternoon, Dawson was in his new room. He is back to his apartment search, now with a secure place to live in the interim.

“In Help Now!’s seven year history, this was one of the most urgent situations we’ve faced,” says Kahn. “Bruce was looking at being out on the street in his wheelchair with his belongings in less than two hours. This is the Now in Help Now!”

With your support, we can continue to make a difference for people in crisis.


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