Saturday, October 22, 2005


I saw Jim, (not his real name), the day after Eddie Cook's memorial service. He was coming out of the Oshkosh Public Library. I hadn't seen him all week. "I can't #@%&*&# believe! I just can't $%^&*@# believe it! That #%$&*@!. I can't #$%&*!@# believe that #%$^&** wouldn't let me go to Eddie's funeral!!!" Jim vented for a while and I stood and listened. There was no reason for me to break in. He needed a minute to vent and cool down.

Jim had made a special trip to the library to read the front page Northwestern article on Ed. Jim was a friend of Eddie and knew him much much better than I did. Jim is a barrel chested fellow in his 40's whose physique is a reminder of what hard work can accomplish without trips to a gym. He works hard but has occasional periods of idleness...the bane of being at the whim of the temp. services. He has been homeless for several days here and there between jobs but has an upbeat attitude. Ed had become his friend and he even stayed a few nights in the park with him. Jim hadn't been able to make his rent and had spent a few nights at Father Carr's.

On the Thursday of Ed's memorial service Jim asked Father Carr for permission to go. (Note that the service was at 4pm, with a meal to follow.) Father Carr told Jim that he wouldn't make it back in time.

The key phrase is 'in time'. Father Carr, whose rules change faster than wind direction, expected Jim to be 'in' by 6pm in order to stay there the night. Of course Father Carr expects all 'inmates' to report for meals. Not reporting for a meal means expulsion from the shelter. The evening meal begins at 5pm, thus Jim had to be present at 5pm or find a place to stay for the night.

Jim detailed the situation that day at Father Carr's. Population in that mammoth mens shelter: two inmates. A typical day in a shelter that could easily hold well into the three figures. Jim's request was certainly reasonable. The number 6 city bus route passes the Salvation Army at 4:45pm, 5:15pm, and 5:45pm. It drops passengers at K-Mart, across from Father Carr's about 12-minutes after each of those times. Jim could have returned at 5, 5:30, or 6pm. He could've caught a meal either place.

Father Carr could have...
  • Given him the bus fare and sent him on his way.
  • Called a volunteer to ferry him back and forth.
  • Called the Salvation Army and asked them to send a volunteer.
  • Called a Taxi and guaranteed the fee both ways.
  • With a net worth of almost $5 million, rented a limo.

Father Carr gave him the scare of his life, the threat of being tossed out on the street, just for asking permission to attend a funeral. Jim chose to spend the night inside rather than risk going to Eddie's service.

Jim was livid when I saw him at the library. He said that it isn't so much that he missed the service, as much as it is the incredibly nasty treatment he received from Father Carr. Carr's demeaning 'negative attitude at every opportunity' style is what he hates. He worries about people who are not as strong as he being subject to constant abuse at the hands of Carr.

The good news is that Jim found a job which will carry him to March. He left Father Carr's the day I saw him, and had found a place to stay. He did not want his name used. He has been down on his luck enough, had enough hard times, and just wants privacy. I respect that. If anyone would like to hear his story first person, I would be happy to do the introductions.


You won't read this story in the Northwestern. The reporters would rightly demand to use his name. I don't fault the reporters. They know about the goings-on at this shelter, which houses virtually no one, but can't get the back up commitments to use names. They however could've said what many have, about Father Carr's being worse than jail.


The same day I talked to Jim, a woman about age 50, told me she had called Father Carr and needed a place to stay. She was told the shelter was full (BUNK!!!). She called back three hours later and a guy named Adam also told her that the women's shelter was full.

Everyone in town knows that the shelter is never full and very under utilized.

I'm going to leave it at that today. Please post a comment. Please keep the comments civil.

Thank you.


AngelAiken AKA Thee U.M.O.G said...

This is sad and wrong and we should do something about it. I am glad that you are helping to get the word out, Gary cuz when it comes to where you stay, Oshkosh(generally) is not so good at keeping pace.
I just dont understand how father carr could do such a thing.
Are we not all people? Don't we deserve the freedom to come and go wherever we so choose to please and not someone else for us no matter if we are homeless or not. That funeral for Ed should have been more of respect and joy that he is home, not who are you and what are you doing here? I noticed more things at the funeral then I care to mention here but this whole thing is just absolutely wrong and just, sad. I cant believe my eyes and ears!

Anonymous said...

Miss Angel, your heart is in the right place but you are very misguided on one point.

"Don't we deserve the freedom to come and go wherever we so choose to please..."

Freedom is a benefit from a loving Father in Heaven. That benefit is altered by our actions. There are consequences. Yes, this Father Carr sounds like an ass, for charity should see the need not the cause. However, when "Jim" makes choices that place him in a situation to be dependent on others, he may find his freedom curtailed at their discretion, sad as that may be. Nonetheless, he had a choice. He could have attended the funeral and found other sleeping arrangements.

While this Father Carr might not be very kind, there are many, many shelters across the country that have expectations. If you want a place to stay and opt not to live a lifestyle in which you can provide it for yourself, expect to compromise. Be grateful for any help, even when it comes with stipulations. Perhaps, especially when it comes with stipulations - it means someone might give a damn about getting you back on your feet.

AngelAiken AKA Thee U.M.O.G said...

Yes, it's possible Jim made some choices that have lead him to be dependant on others and yes, he could have found other sleeping arrangements, but where?
Does Jim have family? Is there another shelter here? We dont know the whole story and if Jim needed a place to stay that bad that he gave in to father carr, then he obviously has no where else to go.
I do believe that Jim is grateful for the help but why does going to a good friend's funeral got to be such a radical thing? Have we no respect for the dead? Ed's funeral, just like all the rest were a remembrance of his life and death and good friends should be there to pay last RESPECTS.
it's as simple as that, lets respect the good man that Ed cook was and let's rejoice that he lives in a mansion now!

Anne Thiel said...

This is very sad, I agree, and surprising as well. I have heard from people who both praise and detest the shelter. Personally, I have not had enough first-hand experience to know for myself. It WOULD be good for a reputable organization to investigate this matter, whether it be the police, the news, or whatever agencies or organizations sponsor the shelter. I can't imaging not being able to attend a friend's funeral for fear of losing my place to sleep at night.

AngelAiken AKA Thee U.M.O.G said...

I cant either anne, even if I made my own bed...

someone's gotta do something to give or discredit, but nothing at all is being done and that can be and will be far worse and this will repeat itself...

Anonymous said...

This is not the first time we have heard these kinds of things about Father Carr. He is demanding and tries to rule people with an iron fist. Someone mentioned that things are not reported in the Northwestern. One thing you should know is Father Carr will not speak to the media unless it is done in person and on his time frame only. He won't discuss things with a reporter over the phone, which in this day and age of having to be in several places during the day, often at the same time, is pretty ridiculous. Maybe that's why he doesn't quite get the coverage some one mentioned. Even other advocacy agencies are keenly aware of Father Carr's bias against women, his stringent rules and his unreasonable demands and expectations. Father Carr is not exactly the good benefactor some in the city believe him to be.

Justin said...

I have worked with Fr Carr before and all I have to say is that he had reasons for his actions. People can criticize him all they want but he really is a marvelous person. It is not easy taking care of people there without much help.

I don't think it's fair to judge him based on this one sided story.

Gary said...

To Justin 4:37:
Please drop in at the Salvation Army any day Monday-Friday from 11am to 12:30pm and/or 4:30-5:30pm and sit down with low income folks and ask about Martin Carr.
One word I have never heard personally in conversations about him is 'RESPECT'.

If you fail to do this, you will not learn.