What color is that rule?

3:00 a.m.  The darkest part of night.  The first big thunderstorm of summer.  Rain poured off her straw-colored hair. She struggled to carry her three children by herself—a newborn and twin toddlers in car seats.  She shuffled slowly along an urban bicycle trail.  The incision from her C-Section was infected. Can you imagine what that […]

The problem with “Conflict De-escalation”

It was one of the hardest de-escalation situations I’ve ever been in. The man was 55ish with a long ZZ Top beard. He had the lean body of someone who had spent the last 25 years in prison lifting weights.  Because he had. He had only been on the “outside” for a week and he […]

My staff is freaking out after an incident.

Dear Ryan, I am a manager at a food pantry. One of our clients (who has an intellectual disability) had an outburst. She physically rushed at one of our staff. Fortunately, she stopped short of physically assaulting the staff member. Barely. The staff member involved is very shaken. The rest of the staff is freaking […]

Someone is stealing donations.

Dear Ryan, I work at a transitional housing program for individuals leaving incarceration. We have a closet where we keep donated items (toiletries, clothing, etc.). Lately, a lot of the donated items have gone missing. None of the residents will admit to taking them. What do we do? Kate Kate, So, here’s the thing about […]

Scripts for people sprawled out sleeping on the floor

Dear Ryan, We are a library in an urban area. A lot of our patrons experiencing homelessness like to sprawl out on the floor and sleep. Do you have any scripts for our staff to address this issue? Thanks! Mary Dear Mary, Thank you for your question! You don’t need scripts. Conflict de-escalation is almost […]

Suddenly I understood why Bridgette was freaking out.

Note: This email is about trauma.  It covers incidents that may be hard to read. It also includes a swear word. It was the first month of the pandemic. Our shelter had already lost three residents to Covid and had seven more confirmed cases. The State of Illinois gave us a hotel to use for […]