Twelve year old teaches legislators a lesson in humanity

by Carol Thompson

There is a homeless coordinator within the county but no homeless shelter.

That’s one of the many points a 12-year-old Oswego girl pointed out as she addressed the Oswego County Legislature Thursday evening.

Emily Bradshaw spoke during the public comment session about the growing homeless problem in the county. She is so devoted to the cause that she has spoken with or contacted local officials.

“This is a very important and serious matter,” Bradshaw told legislators. “When I discovered that Oswego did not have a homeless shelter, I was upset. ‘How could this be?’ I thought. So, I started asking questions and writing letters to the mayor, my alderman, and all of you, the legislators.”

She noted that she had also spoken to the Oswego police chief and Oswego school district officials.

Oswego Mayor Tom Gillen responded to her, Bradshaw said, and did acknowledge that there is a need, but no solution.

She also received responses from some who told her of existing problems.

“These programs are wonderful and they help many people,” Bradshaw said. “But they have limited funds, requirements and lots of paperwork.”

She noted they do not fill the need for a shelter, a safe place to go for a hot dinner and a warm bed.

Bradshaw said she learned that Social Services placed 263 people in emergency temporary housing due to homelessness in 2011.

“I felt sad. I felt sad for those people,” she said. “But I felt worse for all the countless people that didn’t have the courage or the means to ask for help. If 263 people did ask, imagine how many did not.”

Bradshaw said when she spoke with someone at the Oswego Police Department, she was told that homelessness has been on the rise within the last five years.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

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