Wichita Charity Scheduled for Discussion at City Council Meeting

Wichita, KS men under a bridge across from the welfare office as the sun sets

(L2R) Terry O'Dell, John Farmer, trying to keep warm under a bridge just off of Market on William.

By C. Patience Summers http://writewingwichita.com/

David Hill is trying to keep his charity, 1Spark, able to feed the homeless once a month and has scheduled the matter for discussion at the next Wichita City Council Meeting on Tuesday, December 13th.

He’s never had an issue in his two years of service to the needy of Wichita until November 19th, when a complaint was made via a 9-11 call to Wichita P.D.

Now, he faces the daunting task of arranging for porta-potties, security and a permit from the city. The homeless who benefit from the meals, hugs and more that 1Spark shares are concerned that the charity will be stopped.

“The state has already waived their costs,” Hill said on Tuesday. “I just haven’t heard back from the city except this from the Police Department,” he shares a document listing all of the necessities for any planned event here in the City of Wichita. “It’s like five hundred, then seven hundred and I don’t know how much for security and portable toilets,” Hill shook his head.

Following a meeting with Parks and Recreation on Thursday, Hill said, “I can see why they require a permit, but I don’t think they should charge for it,” citing he knew of several other organizations that went there who did not clean up after themselves as well as 1Spark usually does.

Even if the permit fees are waived, there’s still a question of $500 having to be paid to insurance every time 1Spark goes out to feed the homeless.

Under a bridge that is close to the welfare office, John Farmer and two other homeless men gather together to keep warm as the sun goes down and the temperature drops in Wichita. His finger is bleeding from a rock he slipped on in the gravel underneath the bridge, but he’s more concerned with the pain from the way the homeless are sometimes treated here in Wichita.

An unidentified young man dressed in a security guard’s uniform crosses the street and advances toward the small group of men shouting, “Hey! I’m calling the cops, get out of here! Go on!”

Farmer has been homeless on and off for about five years here in Wichita. He speaks of David Hill’s efforts to feed the homeless, “I’m glad there’s somebody out there tryin’ to help us. It’s hard.”

Terry O’Dell, another man pulls his sleeve up and shows a red rubber bracelet with the words “One Spark Can Start A Fire” written on it. “Hugs and candy bars, man. They were all handing them out with these and it’s like someone’s thinking about us.”

“I need my birth certificate from the state to get a Vision card,” O’Dell explains the process he and some other homeless people need to go through to get their lives back in order and get assistance. “We need to eat.”

All of the men under the bridge claim David Hill as a friend, “I’d call anyone who comes out here and feeds us, hugs us and cares like that our friend,” Farmer explains.

Mayor Carl Brewer explained that he and others in City Hall were working on possible solutions, one of which might include Hill’s not needing a permit for this particular type of activity.

Mayor Brewer explained he was addressing “the need for citizens who need to eat.” He also said the issue might be in the cleanup after 1Spark feeds the homeless.

1Spark issued the following statement: “One Spark has never and will never leave trash at any location where we have fed the homeless. Every time we feed, David Hill and his volunteers pick up the trash and throw it away. After we feed we make sure and pick up all the trash in the surrounding areas and we take the trash with us. Unfortunately we are not the only group that feeds in those particular areas on Saturday’s, and we cannot control whether they pick up their trash or not. Our mission is to feed the homeless and we respect the outdoor areas that we use.”

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