Everyday Jerome McRae talks to the people who live on the street in Southwest D.C., he asks them if they are hungry, if they need anything and how they’re feeling. He listens and offers help when he can. Jerome, earned the nickname “Oatmeal” when he once ate two bowls at a team breakfast. He doesn’t often talk much, but always offers a gentle smile. Oatmeal was homeless himself for a brief time, he has slept outside and in shelters.
“He has a gift with these people,” says Andre Witt his supervisor at the Southwest BID, “They open up to him.” Andre asked Oatmeal to send him daily reports on how the area’s homeless were doing to see if the BID could offer any assistance. Oatmeal was excited about this new responsibility, and wanted to show Andre that he could handle his new tasks, but Oatmeal was having trouble articulating what he was trying to say via text.
“I could see he was having trouble sending me text messages,” said Andre, “He told me that he was teaching himself grammar and vocabulary in the evenings so that he could text me updates. After a few weeks, it’s amazing, the texts he sends me contain no spelling errors."
On Thursday, March 23rd, Sara Varnado and Guy Laryea from Community Connections met with our Ambassador team. Sara and Guy discussed the unique challenges that homeless people face in The District and how the SWBID Ambassadors could help them in getting supplies and services to the homeless folks in the SW area.
“The SWBID was limited in what we could do to help the homeless in Southwest DC. The relationship with Community Connections is a win/win because now we can make sure that needs of the homeless are being met,” said Andre, “We like this work. We want to get a little better at this every day.”
We are honored to have someone like Oatmeal on our team and can’t wait to see how he evolves and grows!