Bob Plain is the editor/publisher of Rhode Island's Future. Previously, he's worked as a reporter for several different news organizations both in Rhode Island and across the country.

One response to “Homeless Like Me: Lost Stars of Harrington Hall”

  1. MiataLiz

    Bob – Thank you for sharing your experiences with the homeless at Harrington House; they were very honest and yet, inspirational.  I stumbled upon your pieces when I was researching “Homelessness in RI.”  This came as a result of a transportation issue in my home (and the terrible economy) which has caused me to recently begin using public transportation so my husband could use our only car to get to a new job in Smithfield. 
    I reside in the Garden City section of Cranston.  I happen to use the 2 buses that transport the homeless men to/from Harrington House every weekday morning and evening (Buses 21 & 22).  For a week or so, I was so naive that I did not even know they were homeless.  I saw men with towels around their necks and thought, “They are getting off at a stop and going to a gym!”  Silly me!  Soon I caught on…and I am a friendly person so I began talking with these men as the opportunities arose.
    I have found many to be people who care and who are articulate as well as thoughtful.  I thought, “What can I do to make my time on the bus a positive contribution for these people that live in my community?”  Chatting with them every day was just not enough for me.
    AS a result I began to prepare hygiene packets filled with toothpaste, shaving cream, razors, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, etc.  As I shared my ideas with friends, they have begun making financial donations for me to prepare these packs.  I carry a number of packs with me every day in a small backpack.  As I chat with the men (in the back of the bus) I ask if they could use some supplies and they are always grateful.  My hope is that the men will begin to know my own routes better and spread the word…telling others to “look for the lady who carries the Brown University backpack!” 
    My husband and I have a home, but we are only a few paychecks short of losing it if we should become unemployed.  We were both let go from our non-profit jobs on the same day 4 years ago (for no reason — it was stated “RI is an ‘at-will’ state, so we do not have give a reason) and could not collect unemployment because the organization did not pay into the system.  We lost everything but our home.  But I truly believe that even though we don’t have much, it doesn’t mean we cannot help out others who have less.  There are always people who have less.
    So, thank you for sharing your story.  I will soon be bringing clothing and other items to Harrington.  I hope that as time goes on, I can do more to make lives more comfortable while the state decides to actually do something to find homes for people so they can get back on their feet!

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