Beginning again... I'm adding favorite columns, articles, essays and stories. My book of essays was published in 2016. I will attempt to bring the series up to date. Current date is January 2023 and there is much to add. MY WRITING LIFE. SIMPLY SCROLL DOWN...

Thursday, April 6, 2023

You Can't Go Home Again... September, 2015 Community Reporter Column

September 2015 Community Reporter Column

“You Can’t Go Home Again?” You Can if You are Emily in OUR TOWN…

I grew up a poor Baptist preacher’s kid living my teen years on a hill by a creek in the backwoods of Central New York on a dirt road three miles from the nearest neighbor and a ten-mile bus ride to Marathon Central High School. Our house, a fixer-upper with a screen porch and a bank of Myrtle out front, held my family of seven. In the winter we huddled close to the space heater in the living room where the TV offered me the thrilling close up view of the Beatles on Ed Sullivan and my first glimpse of Barbra Streisand with her amazing voice and her unlikely looks. We lived in three bedrooms divided by two by four framing with blankets tacked for privacy. At night I tucked my baby sister into bed in her crib in Mom and Dad’s room, put my hard-earned Barbra Streisand LP on the portable record player and sang my sister and myself into a peaceful state I remember to this day.  During the few years we lived on the country hill we expanded our luxuries from an outhouse to an indoor bathroom with a shower, moved from collecting water in milk jugs from the creek to a pump in the yard to indoor plumbing and a window with a view over the kitchen sink.

I remember my Mom posted an index card on the kitchen wall. It was a Bible verse from Isaiah. “…they who wait … shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” I pondered those words and contemplated the majestic nature of eagles as I overheard my mother crying behind the blanketed walls of her bedroom.

The year I was sixteen was a year of great discovery and epiphany for me.  My mom gave me James Baldwin’s GO TELL IT ON THE MOUNTAIN and Evelyn Smith’s STRANGE FRUIT. My English teacher gave me Truman Capote’s OTHER VOICES, OTHER ROOMS. That same English teacher picked me to play Emily Gibbs/Webb in Thornton Wilder’s OUR TOWN. The tiny local newspaper described my performance as bringing down the house and leaving not a dry eye in the place. I can still feel myself in that alternate universe I lived in the months I rehearsed Emily and the two nights I was her returning to life in the cemetery at Grover’s Corners.

I left New York after that and graduated high school in a steel mill town in Ohio the following year. I married a boy I’d met in the New York Hills and we drove our 1963 VW Bug to Saint Paul, Minnesota where I’ve lived and done all my growing up.

I went home this month to the beautiful Finger Lakes Area and the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. I took in the roadside array of wildflowers, remembering I had picked the daisies and buttercups for my wedding flowers. I watched an Eagle soar overhead and close by on a road through those breathtaking hills. I burst into songs and giggles with my sister and brother who still call New York home.

I remembered the lines I spoke as Emily in 1966 and realized, not for the first time, how precious it is to pay attention to life as we live it. I think I can go home again. I think I did. But, as always, the beauty of home as we live day to day in our frantic blindness and reaching for more can escape us.  Over and over again on this latest journey home I found myself repeating Emily’s words:  

“Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?” Thornton Wilder, OUR TOWN

Deborah Padgett is a painter, writer and community activist. Her books Solving Lonely, The Sea in Winter and A Story Like Truth are available at SubText, Claddagh, Artista Bottega, Chapter2 Books, the Saint Paul Public Library and on Amazon.  

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Be the Change or "I'm Speaking!"

 Be the Change… Love What is…


“Peace begins within. …The glory of the human spirit lies in our ability to choose, to let go of despair, to turn our energies to creative uses. Peace begins with resolution of our inner wars.” Promise of a New Day, Karen Casey & Martha Vanceburg, passage from December 13.


How I have struggled between speaking out and remaining still! My world today seems a veritable Tower of Babel with everyone talking and no one listening, caring, contemplating or taking heart. I want to scream “words matter, reason matters, facts and data matter”! I cannot make sense of the images of cruelty or the excuses for allowing and perpetuating suffering that could be alleviated. I feel battered by the voices that defy reason; the blatant lies accepted as truth merely because they’ve been repeated over and over again. Many times, I have experienced gaslighting and crazy-making, illogical diatribes through which it seems my voice can never be heard.


My first attempt at a column, was titled “I’m Speaking!”  I was inspired by Vice President Elect Kamala Harris and her calm, dynamic, knowledgeable, persevering and compassionate words applauded by and taken up as a mantra by women everywhere. I wrote and I thought. I thought and I wrote some more. I spoke of the history and tirelessness of women showing up and speaking up and the forces that serve to silence them/us. I fought with my personal sense of being seen as a challenge to community, friends and family… being seen as one who brings trouble we don’t need down on our heads when I call attention to the ongoing ills of our world and attempt to identify where I am complicit and ask that they do the same.


The more I contemplated speaking my convictions and/or my complicity in remaining silent, the more the chaos and cacophony of careless and thoughtless speech crowded my mind.


In recent times my troubled mind, my fears for my loved ones and the future, my grief at the massive loss of life, my fear of becoming sick myself or of losing my true life’s love have left me awake in the night. Last night I found rest in a Yoga Nidra practice led by Jennifer Piercy. Her close and soothing voice urged… “Set your deep resolve for this practice.  Ask yourself: in your life right now, what is your deepest, most heartfelt desire? … Now, see and feel your life with the fulfillment of this desire. What would your life look, sound, smell and taste like if this deepest desire were a reality? State your desire like a mantra. Then give thanks and let it go… “ Over the years I ‘ve engaged in this and other meditative practices I have settled on a mantra of “love what is” along with, what sometimes seems the conflicting notion “be the change.”


I slept soundly and awakened to my morning ritual of listing those things I feel good about today, in the moment of the writing.  I reached for my daily passage in The Promise of a New Day. I found resolution for my conflict between speaking out and silent acceptance. I returned to the heartfelt desire I embraced in my sleeplessness. My desire, my choice, my pursuit, is to be the change I wish to see in the world. Speak out but listen too. And simultaneous with my being and acting and speaking for change -- with all my heart, I will love what is for that is where freedom is found. 

Conversation in the Digital Age

 Conversation in the Digital Age




My little brother “ruined his eyes” sitting too close to the TV set from 1958 to 1965. My little sister ate too much apple pie while sitting sedentary in front of the TV after school every day from the time she started Kindergarten until fifth grade. My older sister had to be coerced from the pages of a book. She slumped, sullen and disgusted to join the family dinner table. She cleaned her plate, excused herself and was once again swallowed by her book. In the 1980’s on family road trips with my own children their eyes were closed, ear phones connected to a Walkman and, I swear, neither of them ever saw Big Sur, Santa Monica, the San Francisco Pier or Bodega Bay. I would swoon loudly along the curving coastal road. Occasionally (rarely) an eye would open and the child would raise her head ever so slightly, perhaps mouth the word “cool” and return to her technology-inspired inner world. In recent years I’ve had the good fortune to have many, many grandchildren. Our firstborn grand girl (now 26 years old) loved to read, loved everything pop culture, spent hours with her face in fashion magazines, watched at least a movie a day, read Harry Potter and the entire Twilight series before, during and after family dinners. Needless to say, this absorption kept their heads down, their faces from view and we judged them unavailable to converse and expand their horizons. We worried. We fretted. We despaired they would manner-less, friendless and jobless. 


Then came the Internet, email, text messaging, smart phones and social media! OMG! We were and are in NO MOOD to LOL. No matter the wonders of the world or once in a lifetime entertainment or visitor from afar. Nothing absorbs the attention of a child, young adult or grown child (not to mention our aging friends) like whatever and whoever presents itself on the nearest digital platform.


We’ve developed entirely new protocols and rituals to incorporate the necessary digital technology into every moment of waking life. God forbid eighteen-month-old Junior bang his spoon and eschew the coloring crayons at the family’s night out! What kind of parents subject others at a restaurant to a child not mesmerized by the screen of an iPhone or iPad?


All the best parenting experts, psychologists and social scientists are delving into questions of what and who are we becoming as technology increasingly seems to fill in for face to face human interaction. An entire and lucrative industry has grown up to analyze, admonish and advise us regarding the “hell in a hand-basket” prospects for humanity. I don’t mean to dismiss or make light of the negative aspects of too much screen time, too little training in human discourse, conversation and empathic listening. Really, I don’t. The lethargy, glazed eyes, vacuous, prurient and even violent content of all we expose ourselves to on our screens concerns me too. 


When I decided to write this column, I asked a 49 year old man, a sixty something woman, a 40 something woman and two 70 something brothers their opinion on the pros and cons of the current state of technology and even artificial intelligence. Where did they think the world was heading? One responded, “Hey! What are you going to do? It’s here to stay. There’s nothing you can do about it now?” One of them said, “You can’t have a meaningful conversation anymore. Someone or something on the screen is always more important than the person sitting right next to you or across from you at the table.” One said, “The good thing about smart phones and the internet is that if my kids couldn’t communicate with me through an app, I don’t think they would be in touch at all. I prefer something to nothing.”


I recently read Sherry Turkle’s RECLAIMING CONVERSATION: The Power of Talk in the Digital Age. Penguin Press, 2015


Turkle, an MIT researcher and psychologist seeks to clarify how email, text messaging and social media have impacted our relationships and our ability to experience empathy. What happens when we cannot look into the eyes of the person with whom we’re talking? What happens when emoji’s and punctuation standards and tone of voice are difficult to decipher? How important is facial expression and body language to being truly seen, heard and understood? How important is non-digital communication to conducting a successful business?


Turkle’s book was published in 2015. Her research was conducted over several years prior to that. In the intervening years technology has expanded and its effects on communication and our connection to each other has undergone some scrutiny. Turkle’s is certainly not the only book on this subject and I find this tremendously encouraging. The view that we can’t stop the speeding train that is the human downfall brought on by technology and Artificial Intelligence simply doesn’t make any sense to me. The very fact that we talk about it nearly ALL THE TIME is a sign that human beings care deeply about the ill effects as well as the benefits. It occurs to me, as I think about what has become of my siblings as a result of their out of control childhood and teenage behaviors and what has become of our children and growing and grown grandchildren, is that we human beings quite naturally question the questionable. Historically and consistently we work against the deleterious and we put in place, more often than not, a suitable balance.  We teach our children limits, boundaries and manners. Sure, they appear to ignore us. But one day they grow to monitor themselves toward a more rather than less rewarding life and, sooner than we can imagine, we are spectators to lives well-lived by our children and grandchildren. 







 January 2018 Community Reporter



This time of the year I love the glow of the holiday lights, the moon shining on fresh fallen snow, the lights of the Cathedral and the State Capital just in the distance above the treetops. In this season of gift giving and welcoming loved ones home I find myself reflecting on the state of our world. While there is much scarcity in this world, there remains plenty of deprivation and misery. There is a dramatic increase, for example, in the cost of education, an increase in the availability of low-wage, part-time, no benefit jobs, an increase in the rate of suicide and in the number of individuals, children and families who are homeless. This week an article describing the increased prosperity and stability of the population of China buoyed my spirit. Believing, as I do, that we are one world and one people, I rejoice when I learn of better living conditions and greater hope for any segment of this world's population. As we move into this New Year I am reminded to live in the hope for enough to go around. You've more than likely heard me say this before, but I think it bears repeating. In 1990 I read Barbara Kingsolver's ANIMAL DREAMS and found there a hope and words to live by that return to me when I am confronted by the woes of the world, the fears that plague, the grief that strikes and saps joy. "It's not some perfect ideal we're working toward that keeps us going...What keeps you going isn't some fine destination but just the road you're on, and the fact that you know how to drive. You keep your eyes open, you see this damned-to-hell world you got born into, and you ask yourself, "What life can I live that will let me breathe in and out and love somebody or something and not run off screaming into the woods?" Kingsolver says, " The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope…" What she hopes for "is so simple she almost can't say it. " She hopes for …"Elementary kindness. Enough to eat. Enough to go around." She hopes for "…The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed." I embraced this same hope many years ago and have done my best to live inside it and offer it to those in need of a defining path forward. I believe when we live inside our defining hopes we act in the interest of seeing those hopes realized. There is an action toward generosity, compassion and elementary kindness that comes of living in this hope and it brings us to the place of being the change we wish to see in the world. In this season of giving and as a grandmother of young people newly facing independence and adult life I want to be the bearer of a message both hopeful and true. In this season of scarcity and plenty, danger and safety, warm sanctuary and loving arms for some and only the vague hope of these comforts for many, my hope and wish for you is enough to go around.


Deborah McWatters Padgett is a writer and visual artist.  For more information see



I confess to having recently lost all sight of the privilege it is to be alive in this imperfect wonderful/horrible world of ours. I confess to being sucked into the great, swirling vortex of everything that is going wrong in the world, every day, everywhere, minute to minute. My mind was saying things like “What is wrong with everyone?”  “What is the point in even trying?” “How can people be so stupid, cruel, bigoted, selfish, and short sighted?”  I began to entertain the possibility there are three types of people in the world. Idiots, jackasses (to use a kinder word than the one in my mind) and, in direct contrast and opposition, those people who are just like me – not an idiot – not a jackass. I became overwhelmed with grief, misery and helplessness at the impossibility of accepting that the world and all of its population were in the worst shape ever known in the history of humankind. What about war? What about terrorism? What about poverty? What about violence? What about Black Lives? What about inequality, prejudice, bigotry? What about climate change? What about nuclear holocaust, what about suicide, addiction, mental illness and natural disasters? I was ready to tear out my hair and head running full boar for the hills never again to face this horror show we call modern life. I am a mom to four grown children, have twenty-three grandchildren and two “greats” (half of whom are coming of age, many of them are African American). They seek answers, hope and purpose.


During the several years before our current president I practiced living in a place of studied acceptance and calm. I was nurtured by Pema Chodrun’s LIVING BEAUTIFULLY IN TIMES OF UNCERTAINTY AND CHANGE, Thich Nhat Hahn’s encouragement to live in the present moment, Jon Kabat-Zinn’s secular and healing approach to FULL CATASTROPHE LIVING. And I DID feel some peace. I DID feel some calm. I HAD some perspective on the issue regarding will it be/will it not be okay. In losing this calm view I told myself it was unhealthy to continue in the naïve vein of ignoring the reality of world, national and local decline and the threat it is to humanity’s survival. I watched and listened to the news from what I considered to be reputable and responsible outlets. I paid attention to the dialogue, prophecies, reports and opinions of politicians, journalists, pundits, respected educators, spiritual leaders and friends, community members and neighbors. I watched and listened as one after another the voices of outrage attempted to out shout each other, called names, dismissed, denounced, lied and justified. I couldn’t stay in that place of loud noise and haranguing chaos. In the midst of my anguish I picked up Langston Hughe’s novel, NOT WITHOUT LAUGHTER, published first in harder times than ours,1930, again in 1969, then in 1994 with a forward by Maya Angelou. I reread James Baldwin’s ANOTHER COUNTRY. Weren’t these times in our country and world at least as bad as our current times? I had to believe that someone, somewhere, in the here and now could offer a middle view, a broader view, a view based on reason and verifiable information. Just as I was entertaining my run to the high hills, Jeffrey Brown (PBS News Hour) interviewed Harvard’s Steven Pinker about his new book ENLIGHTENMENT NOW. Brown introduced Pinker as an optimist and they both chuckled a bit at the idea such a thing was possible. But, in fewer than three sentences Pinker drew my full attention to the possibility of taking a reasoned, scientific, humanistic broad and deep look at what is rightwith today’s world. He demonstrated the world is a better place today than it was in the past, that human beings are problem solvers and though problems solved bring to light new problems, genuine, verifiable, appreciable progress is being made and it would behoove us to find ourselves, as a planet, as a global human society, paying attention to what is right rather than wrong with our world. He puts reason and fact to the progress made in each of the areas of concern I raged about some paragraphs back.


 “… the world as a whole? Last year, the world had 12 ongoing wars, 60 autocracies,10 percent of the world population in extreme poverty and more than 10,000 nuclear weapons. But 30 years ago, there were 23 wars, 85 autocracies, 37 percent of the world population in extreme poverty and more than 60,000 nuclear weapons. True, last year was a terrible year for terrorism in Western Europe, with 238 deaths, but 1988 was worse with 440 deaths. Indeed, we've become safer in just about every way. Over the last century, we've become 96 percent less likely to be killed in a car crash, 88 percent less likely to be mowed down on the sidewalk, 99 percent less likely to die in a plane crash, 95 percent less likely to be killed on the job, 89 percent less likely to be killed by an act of God, such as a drought, flood, wildfire, storm, volcano, landslide, earthquake or meteor strike, presumably not because God has become less angry with us but because of improvements in the resilience of our infrastructure. And what about the quintessential act of God, the projectile hurled by Zeus himself? Yes, we are 97 percent less likely to be killed by a bolt of lightning.”


More encouragement toward optimism is offered by James and Deborah Fallows’, How America is Putting Itself Back Together, Atlantic Monthly, March 2016. Excerpted and paraphrased:

“As a whole, the country may seem to be going to hell. That [harangue, complaint, lament…] is a great constant through American history. The sentiment is predictably and particularly strong in a presidential-election year like this one, when the “out” party always has a reason to argue that things are bad and getting worse. And plenty of objective indicators of trouble, from stagnant median wages to drug epidemics in rural America to gun deaths inflicted by law-enforcement officers and civilians, support the dystopian case.

But here is what I now know about America that I didn’t know when we started these travels, and that I think almost no one would infer from the normal diet of news coverage and political discourse. The discouraging parts of the San Bernardino story (for example) are exceptional—…but the encouraging parts have resonance almost anywhere else you look. Some share… pessimism about trends for the country as a whole. But they ... feel encouraged about the collaborative efforts on education reform under way right now in their own town. What is true for this very hard-luck city prevails more generally: Many people are discouraged by what they hear and read about America, but the closer they are to the action at home, the better they like what they see.”

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not urging in the direction of silent acceptance of all that needs our activism and our innovation and our greatest critical thinking and problem-solving skill. These are givens. This is our human purpose and I believe it has always been so. Progress is made in a world and universe forever falling apart (as in the 2nd law of thermodynamics… Look it up! It’s important to understand…) by human beings staying the course. And, yes, times are tough. But, hell… We SHALL overcome… YES, WE CAN and when the going gets tough? You know this one! The tough get going!

Deborah Padgett is a writer and artist in St. Paul’s W 7th Community. For more information on her published work see

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

If Wishes Were House, Part II

June 2015

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”
H. D. Thoreau
“Conscious, careful selection of those activities, situations, or people to whom we’ll devote attention is all that separates centered, serene people from harried men and women… The temptation is great to attend to first one thing and then another, passively and superficially. However, our lives are enriched only when we commit ourselves to a deeper level of involvement, and to the few, rather than the many.”
 THE PROMISE OF A NEW DAY by Karen Casey & Martha Vanceburg.

In 1990, a particularly low point in my life, when scarcity characterized so much I saw around me, I stumbled upon this passage in Barbara Kingsolver’s ANIMAL DREAMS. “The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for, and the most you can do is to live inside that hope.What I want is so simple I can hardly say it:  elementary kindness. Enough to eat. Enough to go around. The possibility that kids might one day grow up to be neither the destroyers nor the destroyed.”  The passage hit me nearly like a brick in the heart. “Yes. That’s it.” I thought. “Enough to go around.” A lack of scarcity… This would be the hope in which I resolved to live.  My commitment was fixed in the direction of… if not plenty, then, at the very least, “enough to go around.”  At the time I had no idea where this commitment would lead me, but, daily, as I watched from my porch or window and as I strolled my neighborhood, I saw the scarcity that blighted the lives of the many homeless individuals in my community.  For years I wondered how it was that people found themselves in such dire circumstances in our country and community that possessed such a wealth of resources. I had some peripheral awareness of shelters, sober houses, Section 8 Vouchers and housing projects and began to wonder how an individual or family in need would access these resources. In Fall of 2010 I Google-d the term homeless, St. Paul and through a rather circuitous route landed upon a Ramsey County/City of Saint Paul structure called The Homeless Advisory Board.  I did a bit of research into the structure and agenda of this board, sought out an application, filled it out and was appointed by the Mayor as a community representative for this collaborative group that worked under the moniker HEADING HOME RAMSEY.  In 2013 the Board restructured as the Ramsey County CONTINUUM OF CARE. What had once been, largely an information sharing group became a true collaboration between provider organizations, service agencies, philanthropic agencies and other funding sources, along with local government and ties to State, Regional and National initiatives to end homelessness.
In last month’s column I described the concept of the Continuum of Care and its gateway, Coordinated Entry.  Data is shared, compiled, evaluated through the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) housed at Wilder.  Through this collaboration we are able to conduct an exhaustive assessment of the resources necessary to prevent homelessness, the particular and varying needs of people experiencing homelessness and the availability or scarcity of those services and resources. We can capture the entire scope of the need in quantifiable terms and attach to this the very particular services, facilities, staffing needs and costs. It’s not unlike the process a sports franchise undertakes when they identify the desire or need for a new stadium or arena.  Basic business planning questions like these are asked: “What do we want this to look like?” “Who do we want to serve?” “What particular needs/services do we want to provide?” “Who is likely to benefit?” “What are the costs /savings associated with the project?” “What will be our return on investment?” “How will this project benefit the larger community?”  In communities throughout the country where the Continuum of Care and Coordinated Entry structure has been employed there is emerging and strong evidence that housing the homeless and bringing stability to their lives is a winning strategy for a vibrant, prosperous and healthy community. When we begin to look at how we all benefit by lifting people out of poverty and need instead of viewing people in need as a drain on our resources we show ourselves to be living deeply within that hope of enough for all and plenty to go around.

A further hope of mine is that you will become familiar with the solutions to provide housing for all and recognize the role you play in deciding what you hope for and the contribution you can make by living within that hope. If you are experiencing a housing crisis please call 211.  The Coordinated Entry phone number for families is 651-215-2262. For more information on HEADING HOME RAMSEY and the partnering organizations in the Continuum of Care please visit our website at

Thursday, May 14, 2015

May 2015: IF WISHES WERE HOUSES… Where might I find the front door?

IF WISHES WERE HOUSES… Where might I find the front door?

Imagine, if you will, a home with rooms designed to accommodate any variety of human needs facing the homeless.  This “house” (we’ll call it…) is outfitted for sleeping, cooking, eating, bathing, playing games, studying, building, designing, thinking, reading, watching, listening, dressing, sharing stories, working, connections to jobs, health care, mental health resources and education. It’s goal is housing first, a roof to cover every head. Imagine various providers of all the essential resources that connect people in need with the resources and wherewithal to meet those needs coming together under the single goal of eliminating homelessness. Let’s call this house a Continuum of Care.  Such a “house” exists. It is real. We do not have to wish for it, dream it or imagine it. In Ramsey County more than 100 agencies and organizations collaborate to provide comprehensive services toward preventing and ending homelessness.

While all the pieces are in place to identify and meet the needs of those experiencing a housing crisis, there exists, especially in Ramsey County and St. Paul, a crisis of funding that significantly demeans our ability to realize the wish for access to houses/homes for all. It might be appropriate to visualize the absence of a front door, an entry into this mighty house we’ve just built.  A recent round of funding has left us scrambling for a way to provide the essential Coordinated Entry that is the doorway to housing and shelter for those in need. It is essential that community members, potential funders, business owners/operators, leaders and government officials and employees become fully aware of the Continuum of Care and our role in making it a success.

Many of the agencies, service providers, landlords, faith-based, humanitarian, foundations, outreach workers and funders who collaborate have been serving the needs of the homeless in a piece meal and/or broad fashion for some time. We all know the fine work of Dorothy Day, The Listening House, Saint Stanislaus, The Salvation Army and the Union Gospel Mission. The office of the Mayor, the city planners, Ramsey County Human Services, the police department, Joseph’s Coat, various health and mental health providers come to mind as participants in service to the homeless. Heading Home Ramsey’s Continuum of Care is where all of these providers come together to make up that larger house I’ve asked you to imagine. A key aspect of this collaboration is the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) housed at Wilder.  Each collaborating provider/organization collects and submits data regarding needs assessed and needs met or remaining to be met. We are able to identify how many people are experiencing a housing crisis, the exact type of crisis they are experiencing, what circumstances exist to meet their specific needs, how quickly their needs are met and when and where the crisis ended.

The Front Door or entry point to this collaboration is called COORDINATED ENTRY. I like to picture the Continuum of Care as a full-service hospital designed to meet any and all needs of the community it serves and Coordinated Entry as something of a triage system where the first call for help – a HOTLINE, for example – results in the caller being directed to the appropriate entry and beyond until his particular question has been answered and his needs have been met.

A “first call” COORDINATED ENTRY phone number for access to housing and shelter has been established:

The Heading Home Ramsey website offers a doorway to answers about how Ramsey County, under the auspices of Heading Home Ramsey and in concert with other Minnesota counties and Heading Home Minnesota and Continuums of Care throughout the country are working diligently toward the goal of ending homelessness. In the coming weeks and months this website will be updated to provide an entry point for questions you may have. Already, the site has much useful information and links to broaden and deepen your understanding of the work that’s underway and the role you can play in bringing homelessness to an end. You will find this website useful if you are a person seeking help, a landlord, a property development/management professional, resource/service provider, volunteer, funder or participant on the Continuum of Care Board of Directors or one of its work groups and committees. The COC Board meets the 3rd Friday of each month from 9 – 11 a.m. at Lutheran Social Services on Como Avenue in St. Paul. Meetings are open to the public. We are actively recruiting your participation.

Deborah Padgett is an elected member of the Ramsey County COC Board and serves as secretary on the executive committee. She is a West End resident, visual artist, novelist and a regular columnist to the COMMUNITY REPORTER.  For more visit: