A very special Thanksgiving

WICHITA, Kansas – It was a cold, rainy Thanksgiving, but inside his apartment Thomas Taylor was more thankful than most for the roof over his head. This time last year he was living on the streets.

“It was very scary out there,” Taylor said.  “I was always sleeping in the bathroom at Riverside Park.  I was mugged real badly, I was beat up with a bat and put in a wheel chair.  Now I’m on a cane, it’s really bad out there.  It’s no game.”

After being homeless for 17 months he got the help he needed from Officer Nate Schwiethale and the Homeless Outreach Team.

“You know putting them in jail and have they come back out when they have substance abuse or mental illness isn’t going to change their life around,” said Officer Schwiethale.  “They’re going to go back to the streets and continue to do the same thing.  But if you can work on what are the root causes of why they’re homeless and attack that and address that, and then you can start seeing more positive results.”

On Thursday as Officer Nate helped Taylor prepare Thanksgiving dinner the positive results were clear.

“He’s meeting with his case manager, he’s happy, he’s off the streets,” Schwiethale.

Taylor said it is all thanks to the support of Wichita Police.

“They’re awesome people, I love them to death,” he said.

He’s ecstatic to have a home to decorate and to host friends for the holidays and now, well on the road to recovery, there was only one obstacle left to take on.

“Now we just gotta wait on the turkey!” he laughed.

The Homeless Outreach Team has reduced homelessness in Wichita by 11% in the last year.  Since it began in 2013 they’ve helped get 400 people off the streets.

Click here to learn more about the Homeless Outreach Team.  If you’re interested in helping get homeless Wichitans help by reconnecting with family you can contact Officer Schwiethale to help. Email him at nschwiethale@wichita.gov

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