Former Homeless Man Now Helps Others at ‘Stand Down’


Don Messitt

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- To understand how powerful the annual Homeless Stand Down can be, all you have to do is talk to Don Messitt.

"I was a crack cocaine addict," he said, before adding that the first five times he came to the Stand Down, he did so to get help.

Now, for the last eight years, Don has come as a volunteer and a living example for those who find themselves homeless in the city.

"I was jealous," Don said, with a laugh, "of all the fun the volunteers seemed to be having."

The 22nd Stand Down was held Saturday at Cleveland's historic Public Hall. It brought together volunteers from over 200 agencies, community organizations, and congregations, all with one goal in mind: help the homeless.

The head of the organizing group, Jeff Griffiths, said "the most important thing" is to show people who are homeless that others stand with them to try and help them in many different ways.

Everything from food and clothing to haircuts and basic medical care were available.

"And it's totally free," said Carrie Clark, executive director of Medworks, which brought volunteer doctors to offer medical care.

Having the event inside a place as large as Public Hall allowed organizers to bring in more services to help the homeless.

Public Hall has played host to more famous events, notably The Beatles, and a GOP National Convention.

But probably no event was more important than the one that took place on Saturday.

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