Homeless advocate shares story of life on the streets
By Jonathan Lowe, TV5 Anchor, Reporter - bio | email
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -
No one would choose to live their life on the streets. But Mike Yankowski did for five months in six different U.S. cities back in 2010. The experience changed his life forever.
"We woke up completely soaked through, covered in mud, covered in trash with bits of dirt, bird feathers, cigarette butts caked on to us, it was quite disgusting," said as he talked about sleeping one night under a bridge in Portland, OR.
Mike shared his experience at a homeless awareness luncheon Tuesday at SVSU. It's sponsored by Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan. Yankowski told representatives from various area human services agencies his time on the streets was not meant to trivialize being homeless.
"When it came right down to it, I was walking right by people on the streets pretending like they did not exist. I was choosing to be intentionally ignorant."
But as a homeless person, he says, there was one group that didn't ignore him: homeless shelters.
"Like Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan. Those services that they provide, the place of stability, the place of community, the place where people can come for help. We made use of those facilities"
Last year, more than 1,800 men, women, and children were fed and housed at the three Rescue Ministries of Mid-Michigan sites.
"We have a lot of productive solutions but we need teamwork," said Dan Streeter, executive director of Rescue Ministries.
He said that was the idea of the luncheon - to trade ideas on how to better serve those in our community.
"It's helping them to see some of the great services that are being done," Streeter said.
And as Mike Yankowski reinforced, "When groups come together like this, really exciting change can begin to happen."
Copyright 2012 WNEM (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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