Compassionate Care for People Experiencing Homelessness in the Madison Area
Today, members of MACH OneHealth will be marching with the White Coats for Black Lives. But the work does not stop there, we have also issued the following statement of solidarity and commitment to change:
With many around the world, we watched with horror yet another murder of a Black American, George Floyd, at the hands of the police. And then with renewed hope we watched the uprising around the world, signalling that this is the moment when long fought for changes in the American criminal justice system and specifically within policing could finally be achieved.
We wish to express our anger at the continued injustices specifically targeting Black Americans at the hands of our American criminal “justice” system throughout the nation, including here in Madison. We mourn for all the Black men, women and nonbinary people who have been murdered by the police throughout the country, as well as for Tony Robinson, right here in Madison. And we long for the change that has been talked about for the past 5 years. Change that should have already happened. We stand with Urban Triage and Freedom Inc. in their demands for change. We stand with the youth in our streets every night.
And, we stand with the Street Medicine Institute in their abhorrence at the structural racism and implicit biases that perpetuate inequities in health care, criminal justice, education, and economic self-sufficiency. The disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Black Americans is yet another example of racism and structural violence against people of color in the United States. We too grieve and bear witness to the violence, marginalization, and oppression of excluded people throughout the world, some of whom are our rough-sleeping clients. We want the people we work with, especially the people we regularly serve who are black and brown, to know that we stand beside you with our arms linked in your arms against both the overt acts of violence and the insidious silence that surrounds them.
MACH OneHealth commits, similarly to The Street Medicine Institute’s call to action in our fight for equity and justice:
1. We are listening. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share ways in which the MACH (Madison Area Care for the Homeless) OneHealth can improve equity within our organization. We will also do our own work to take all that we have learned in the past few years plus what we learn through our Community Health Needs Assessment to make needed changes as we continue to listen.
2. We will re-examine our advocacy agenda and seek input from those most impacted to develop strategies to meaningfully address structural violence in our community.
3. We commit to educating ourselves about racial disparities within the black and brown unsheltered homeless population and commit to finding ways to directly impact and support erasing that disparity.
4. We re-commit to our 2020 goal of increasing representation of people with lived experience and who are underrepresented in our organization.
MACH OneHealth is a person-centered organization and conducts a Community Health Needs Assessment to direct our activities, and as such we have become a community of volunteers who practice street medicine in various forms. As we work to bridge gaps in the Madison healthcare system for people without homes or who are housing insecure, we continue to fight for equitable housing and healthcare. As with the Street Medicine Institute, that work is defined more by the values and beliefs that guide our daily lives than by the medical care we deliver. Among the core of these values are inclusivity, solidarity, justice and love. We practice inclusion medicine; all people – no matter their race, ethnicity, gender identity, religion, or any other attribute – are worthy of our care. We listen and allow our rough-sleeping friends to define our priorities, rather than forcing them to conform to our agenda. We stand in solidarity with the people we serve, immersing ourselves in their reality. The harsher their reality becomes, the more we strive to share their burden, letting them know we will walk with them no matter what. We bear witness to injustices inflicted on them almost daily, challenging their right to exist, reminding them that no place is their own, not even a (removed) bench on State Street. Most importantly, we understand that of all the things we share, a tender love is needed most.