Shining a light for a man in dark despair

Right now, you need some help.

Call me or call the 24-hour mental health hot line of Baltimore Crisis Response Inc. at 410-752-2272. Come on. Don't sit there in the dark. Reach out again and get some help. Don't give up.

Homeless man
Charles, the 36-year-old homeless man who collapsed on snow-covered railroad tracks in Harford County after the big storm of Feb. 12, has been moved to a long-term psychiatric care facility on the Eastern Shore.

Charles had been hospitalized at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air after Jim Fielder, the Maryland secretary of licensing and regulation, found him on CSX tracks near Fielder's home along U.S. 40. Eighteen inches of snow had fallen overnight, and Charles' only shelter apparently had been a highway bridge. He told paramedics who responded to the scene that he took prescription medication for schizophrenia.

A few days after his release from Upper Chesapeake, Charles was back in the hospital, this time Harford Memorial in Havre de Grace. He called me from there to say thanks to the numerous readers who had called or written The Sun to express concern or offer a donation.

Charles said he had been homeless for about 18 months after walking away from a group home. "I couldn't get along with the people there anymore," he said.

In and out of various shelters, he landed under the Route 543 overpass the night of the big snowstorm.

Since then, he's been in warm and dry places, which makes him several degrees luckier than a lot of people who are either chronically or episodically homeless. (Health Care for the Homeless vice president Kevin Lindamood says state records show that Maryland shelters turn away as many homeless people as they take in, and state funding for emergency and transitional shelters has been flat-lined for three fiscal years.)

"I'm doing better now," Charles said. A caseworker, he said, was working on finding him permanent housing.

Here's hoping Charles has spent his last night under a bridge.

Success story?
LaFawn Weaver, the former drug salesman profiled in this space on Feb. 12, reports two prospects in his hunt for a job -- salesman at a car dealership and loan officer at a mortgage company. We can't say which position he took. Yesterday, we couldn't reach LaFawn during the middle of the day at his mother's house -- and I hope that's a sign he's a 9-to-5 man now.
 
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