On January 9, 2017 the unthinkable happened when Our Daily Bread became the site of a deadly shooting as the result of domestic violence. For 32 years, Our Daily Bread had been a place of peace and safety for the people who needed us. On January 9, that serenity was shattered.
An event so horrific requires a response, if only to calm the shaken nerves of the over one hundred guests, staff and volunteers who witnessed the shooting. The challenge was to implement a security system that helped return a sense of safety, while at the same time preserving the dignity and hospitality that Our Daily Bread is known for. With emergency funding from the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and hands-on assistance from our extraordinary neighbors Model Group, we were able to institute a security system that allowed us to reopen just one week after the shooting (security funding has continued thanks to the generosity of the Scripps Howard Foundation and the Junior Womans Club of Wyoming).
The first part of our security system is storage bins. Each guest and volunteer who enters our building is asked to check their belongings in a plastic tote – similar to a coat check or rental locker. This measure has generated a lot of positive feedback from our guests, especially our homeless guests. Experiencing homelessness, you must carry all of your belongings with you at all times. Our new bag check system allows people to, quite literally, lay down their burdens for a few hours. David is our Bag Check Coordinator and is responsible for accepting belongings and safely returning them when guests end their visit.
The second part of our security system is a contract security guard, Chris, who wands each guest and volunteer with a metal detector when they enter the building. Chris reports that he has confiscated well over 100 knives and stopped 4 guns from entering our building. As many people require knives or box cutters as part of their employment, the first time a guest brings a knife into the building, it is stored in a special box and returned at the end of the visit with notification that this person will not be allowed back in with a knife in the future. Guns are not allowed under any circumstance.
Finally, the newest member of our team is Michael, our Dining Room Monitor. Michael acts as a concierge, helping guests answer questions and access services, while at the same time ensuring that everyone is aware of our rules and service hours.
When asked his biggest challenge, Chris said, “People with attitudes. Some people have illnesses, and when they don’t take their meds, they can develop attitudes.” However, he added that his favorite part of Our Daily Bread is also people. “There are a whole lot of good folks who come in these doors. They do help a lot here, and the people do appreciate this place and don’t take it for granted.” David adds that it feels a lot safer than it did when he started in January and that the “energy is better.”