Friday afternoon is always busy and kind of crazy at the Mesilla Valley Community of Hope center. People scrambling for showers and laundry, trying to get case work in, and the agency closes early, at 4pm, so everyone is always TGIF. This last Friday was a little extreme, starting with Sue having her Android phone stolen off her desk by a young man who she was finishing up his disability paperwork for. In less than two hours he erased all her phone info, contacts music pictures and removed the SD card and personalized it to himself. Of course he didn’t get very far, putting his address in the phone, so the LCPD got it back to her, albeit in less than functional condition. Around 6pm Sue the got a call from LCPD asking her to identify the body of a dead man found by the canal behind the Gospel Rescue Mission. She came to Camp around 7pm, still wearing those blue forensic booties over her shoes, and very upset. She said she couldn’t identify him just by looking at him because his face was all smashed in. The next morning, Saturday, several Detectives showed up to ask residents and other homeless folks on the campus questions trying to find out what happened. Then the news came and a reporter interviewed James Sassek who is a member of our Camp Safety Team. Then later Saturday afternoon another investigator came and hung up some flyers asking for help in solving the case.
In the evening we all could tell it was going to rain, but none of us expected the massive down pour and powerful winds that would batter the camp for over half an hour. By the time the rain stopped we had lost one complete canvas tent who’s roof was literally ripped off, tarps were shredded into pom-poms, every single tent got water logged and the camp site was full of puddles in the eerie approaching twilight. Sunday morning every one was busy repairing their sites and drying out stuff. Sue came because the Police had finally ID’d the victim and wanted to see if he was in the Hope’s system. His name is James Vaughn in his early 60’s and has been a client here since 2008. Hopefully this will help the police.Then one of our older residents, Dennis Duncan had a seizure while sitting in the mister area by the garden. He was surrounded by other campers who kept him from falling out of his chair and alerted me immediately. I called 911 and the paramedics arrived in less than 15 minutes. While they were examining Dennis he had another seizure and they got him on a stretcher and took him to Memorial. After all that has happened this long weekend, is good to see how together and supportive the campers have been to each other, and Sue Campbell, out this tragedy and these hardships. The resilience of these folks is sometimes quite astounding, and I can only hope and pray that we continue to have the opportunity to integrate the greater community here in Las Cruces into all the positive work going on through Camp Hope and MVCH, and offer the support the homeless need to grow and heal.