Rhonda Costa-Landers
Appeal Staff Writer

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December 27, 2006
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Helping turn lives around

The challenge of getting homeless people off the street and into affordable housing is one Dee Dee Foremaster has accepted head on.

Since the opening of the Do Drop In, a day center for the homeless and mentally ill, Foremaster has accomplished just that - 93 times. The center has helped 423 people in 16-months.

The Do Drop In opened its doors in August 2005. It offers information on jobs, housing and benefits and is a place for people who are homeless or have disabilities to watch TV, relax and get out of the bitter-cold or searing heat. It is open 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Friday.

"We're like a one-stop crisis intervention center," Foremaster said. "Seven to 15 people a day come in (seeking help). It takes a while for the services to come together."

Some of Foremaster's first clients, who have succeeded in getting off the street and securing jobs, make up part of the 10 volunteers who assist others in need. They are invaluable in understanding the needs of the clients as they are people who have been in similar situations.

While homeless, Donna Smokey, 49, went to Foremaster for help.

"It's been a long road," Smokey said. "It's hard to not get discouraged, especially with the paperwork you have to do to get assistance. It takes one person who really cares, like Dee Dee, to keep you going.

"The people work wonders for all of us (in need) without being judgmental. I've always had my faith and my girls. They keep me going."

Smokey's 13-year-old daughter, Rachel, goes to the center to visit her mother, solving Rubik's cube puzzles, eating, and spending time with friend Jayme Foremaster, 14.

"I see my mom getting better," Rachel said. "Things are getting easier for her."

Dee Dee Foremaster said she and the volunteers complete the paperwork required by various agencies for their clients.

"What would you do if I handed you all these forms and said, 'Now go home and fill them out.' You never would. It's so stressful. That's why we do it for them."

There are seven pages required for the Nevada Rural Housing Authority Assistance for Security Deposit; five for energy assistance and 16 for food stamps.

"Nevada Rural Housing took a look at the situation and developed two programs for those seeking housing assistance. They were smart. And if it weren't for the landlords, who are wonderful human beings, we couldn't do this. We couldn't get these people off the street."

Foremaster attributes the Homeless Connect day held in September at Mills Park as another reason for her success.

"We picked up seven homeless people during the Homeless Connect and had them in housing in one week," she said.

Star Beacham, 47, was living in a shelter when she was referred to the Do Drop In by Monte Fast at FISH in October. She is now in her own apartment and goes to the center to help others.

"I have a reason to wake up every morning," Beacham said, stroking her braided hair and offering a wide smile. "Dee Dee did that for me. And I stay away from the wrong kind of people."

To continue operations, Foremaster said they need cash donations.

"We can do a lot with $20," Foremaster said. "A person can do laundry, we can put gas in their vehicle for them to stay warm at night, get a shower voucher. It could mean the difference of getting a job or not.

"With lots of support from the community, volunteers and The Connected Church, we will continue to get people off the streets. We could also use a van to transport clients, should any of the car dealers like to donate one.

"We've done what needs to be done for the people. We've gone the extra mile."

You can help

WHO: Do Drop In, 900 Mallory Way, Carson City

WHAT: Monetary donations; also cookware, nonperishable food including microwaveable foods, and fresh fruit

WHERE: Mail donations payable to: Rural Center for Independent Living/Do Drop In, P.O. Box 3177, Carson City, NV 89702

OPEN: 9 a.m.-3 p.m., Monday-Friday

CALL: 841-2580

• Contact Rhonda Costa-Landers at rcosta-landers@ nevadaappeal.com or 881-1223.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Dec 29, 2006 03:10PM Published Dec 27, 2006 03:00AM Copyright 2006 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.