The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog

Befriending People in Dallas Who Are Homeless

Mayor Tom Leppert Volunteers at the Bridge July 22, 2008

 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last Friday evening, July 18, 2008, Mayor Tom Leppert joined a group of volunteers and Stewpot staff to serve dinner to over 700 homeless people at the Bridge, Dallas’ new homeless assistance center.  Typical of the mayor, he was ‘hands on’ with his service, working behind the line filling plates, then moving out into the dining room to work in other positions.

Standing in front of the cafeteria-style serving line, Mr. Leppert handed plates of food to homeless individuals coming through the line, greeting and shaking hands with each personally.  One of my daughters, who was working near him, was touched by his manner with these often-overlooked Dallas citizens, saying, “He looked each person in the eyes, giving them his full attention.  He is such an humble man, so kind and caring.”  Having spent two evenings with Mr. Leppert and the homeless in the past, beginning with a visit he made to the Day Resource Center during the mayoral election, I definitely agree.

After working at the front of the serving line for some time, the mayor moved out into the dining room.  There he went from table to table among homeless citizens, patting them on the back and talking to them for as long as they wished.  He asked them how they were doing and listened to their struggles, their concerns and their successes.  

Several times during the evening, I said to one or the other of my homeless friends, “Come on over here and meet the mayor.”  A number of them said, “I know him already!” and one, Chris, said, “Oh, I’ve met him before.  He’s with us!”  I wonder how many prominent public officials would have the homeless population of their city speak of them in this way.  I said to him during the evening:  “Pretty impressive.  A public official who shows up both before AND after the election!”

I have to praise the mayor for his kindness and caring of this often-maligned and very vulnerable population.  Although many homeless people vote, there is not tremendous political capital in meeting with them in this manner.  My experience of Tom Leppert is that he genuinely wants to be the mayor for every one in Dallas.  He could easily show up for a photo-op (no press were present at this event), he could stay behind the glass counter, he could come and go quickly and say he’d made ‘a stop.’  He doesn’t.  For the third time since I’ve known him, he’s come out among the homeless, touched them, talked to them at length one to one, spent time with them as though he did not have pressing time concerns.  (After he left us at 7:45 PM, he donned a business suit and went on to another event.)

 

Special thanks to Stewpot staff Edward St. John (Director of Operations), Reggie Crawford (Dining Room Coordinator), Brenda Roberts (Food Services Director), Jean Jones (Volunteer Coordinator) and Bruce Buchanan (Executive Director) for graciously hosting the mayor and his staff.  As it always is at the Bridge when I’ve been there, dinner service served by the Stewpot staff and volunteers was virtually flawless:  very efficient, immaculately clean, delicious and nutritious.

And very special thanks to Renee and Paula in the mayor’s office at city hall for making this visit happen.  It was a real treat for all concerned.

KS

Wednesday, July 23, 3008                                                                                                                     ADDITIONAL NOTE:

I received this in an email today from Edward St. John, Director of Operations for Meal Services at the Bridge through the Stewpot, and I want to share it with readers:

“The Dallas Police provided a lot of support that Friday night without any fanfare or pressure on me or my staff…  They deserve a ‘stroke’ for being a positive influence without negating the good stuff that the Downtown Dallas Safety Patrol earns every minute of every day at the Bridge.  The Dallas Police Department presence ‘guaranteed’ a quiet evening, but for the most part, the Meal Service and DDSP have built that environment day by day, meal by meal, since May 20th.  We are proud of that….”

I couldn’t agree more.  Thank you, Edward, for calling attention to the DPD’s important role that evening.

KS

This article linked to:

http://www.pegasusnews.com/news/2008/jul/24/dallas-mayor-tom-leppert-regular-visitor-bridge/

http://dallasprogress.blogspot.com/2008/07/mayor-leppert-and-homeless-under-radar.html

http://cityhallblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2008/07/dallas-city-hall-monitor-july-9.html

http://outside.in/places/bridge-homeless-shelter-dallas

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7 Responses to “Mayor Tom Leppert Volunteers at the Bridge”

  1. SoupMan Says:

    Karen

    Thanks for the insightful words on Mayor Leppert’s visit to the Bridge last Friday. You are correct in your assessment of the Mayor. He is the real deal. With politicians we often hear the phrase, he’s a man of all the people. Usually that’s just a sound bite. However in this case its true. This Mayor seems
    to be equally comfortable rubbing elbows with the homeless or sipping Mint Julips with the gentry.

    Let me also add my kudos to the Stewpot for the wonderful job they are doing feeding the homeless at the Bridge. They have taken on a huge commitment and are doing it well.

    Finally let me encourage Karen’s reader to follow the Mayors example and come down and volunteer at the Bridge. If you’ve never been there before and are feeling a little uncertain about going, call me and I’ll arrange for you to go with me. I’ve worked the streets for years and I would be happy to introduce you to our homeless men and women up close and personal. You will find that the vast majority of them are good and decent people, but just a little down on their luck right now.

    p.s. Special thanks to Karen Shafer for arranging Mayor Leppert’s visit to the Bridge.

    Signed, David Timothy, a.k.a. The SoupMan
    SoupMobile, Inc 1-800-375-5022

  2. Karen Shafer Says:

    Thank you, David. That’s a great invitation!

    Also, today there’s reference to this blog post on “Dallas Progress” blog:

    http://dallasprogress.blogspot.com/2008/07/mayor-leppert-and-homeless-under-radar.html

    It echoes our experience with Tom Leppert.

    Karen

  3. Karen Shafer Says:

    I couldn’t figure out how to post this comment on Dallas Progress (can we say tech-challenged?????), so, Michael Davis (blog owner), if you read this:

    http://dallasprogress.blogspot.com/2008/07/mayor-leppert-and-homeless-under-radar.html

    Dear Michael,

    Thank you so much for referencing this. I’m glad your experience with Tom Leppert is similar to mine. Today I’ve added to yesterday’s post a note about the positive role of the Dallas Police Department the evening of the mayor’s visit, sent to my by the head of Meal Services at the Stewpot, Edward St. John.

    Karen Shafer

  4. Mandy Says:

    I volunteered alongside the mayor that evening serving food to the homeless and I got to see firsthand for more than two hours his genuine interest in each and every person who entered the dining hall for their meal. He took special care to look each person in the eye and ask them how they were. It was very touching to see how much of difference this made to many of the people who came in hot, dirty and hungry – to see that the mayor was there and cared. I urge everyone to go and spend a night volunteering at the Bridge – it will challenge you and I bet you’ll come away with some new ideas about life and your place in it!

  5. Karen Shafer Says:

    Thanks, Mandy. Your presence and hard work were very much appreciated by all concerned that night!

  6. aBEL mEZA Says:

    sHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEr gENIUS hI tRACY

  7. […] Plan Commissioner Mike Davis passes along this nugget about Mayor Tom Leppert from a blog called The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog. Apparently, […]


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