by David Miller
After publishing the story this week about Gianpaolo Scheve the Loveland teen who launched a blanket drive for Cincinnati’s homeless, I was reminded of my friend Buddy Gray who founded one of the charity organizations that Gianpaolo is supporting. (Loveland teen launches blanket drive for Cincinnati’s homeless at age 12, raises $11,000 and distributes 1100 Blankets over 5 Years)
This LOVELAND MAGAZINE HD VIDEO below is one I took of my friend Bonnie Neumeier speaking to a crowd of nearly 200 people, gathered at the Drop Inn Center in downtown Cincinnati on the fifteenth anniversary of the assassination of Buddy Gray on November 15, 1996.
Stanley “Buddy” Gray, the founder of the Drop Inn Center on 12th Street in Cincinnati, was shot with a handgun in his office at the center by a mentally ill man that Buddy had taken off the streets and found an apartment for. The shooting death came after an intense hate campaign targeting Buddy, with signs being posted on telephone poles that said, “Stop Buddy Gray”. He was 46-years old when he was killed. The “official” excuse for shooting Buddy was that the man believed Buddy was pumping poisonous gas into the man’s apartment.
Neumeier said that she walked and worked side-by-side with Buddy for twenty-three years. She said, “There’s nothing like a friendship forged through struggle.”
She describes Buddy as a very intense man with great passion and soul who loved the people in Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood. “Over the Rhine was in his soul, and Buddy’s soul is in this land, in this place, on this corner, in this city, and across this United States and the world.”
Neumeier also said that “Buddy was a simple man who loved simple things. He saved his shoes so he could remember places where he had been.”
Buddy once told me, while we were sitting on the concrete floor where food was stored at the Center, that he also loved Loveland, Ohio where he came to visit at Grailville and to fish on the Little Miami River near Nisbet Park. Loveland’s natural areas and green spaces were where Buddy came for respite and be able to turn his back on the world without anxiety. This, one of many lessons I learned from Buddy, was just how incredibly important green spaces are to a healthy community and why I still do all I can to preserve as much of the natural world as I humanly can. Losing one of my best friends to senseless gun violence will also explain my opposition to the proliferation of handguns and assault rifles in Loveland.
Pointing to a long timeline stretching along the wall of the Drop Inn Center, Neumeier said that she and Buddy described the “Over the Rhine People’s Movement” as a freedom train, and they would say to each other, “Anybody – hop a’board.” She concludes her remarks by reading a letter that Buddy had written to her about hope.
I sobbed uncontrollably the afternoon I got home from work and learned that my friend had been assassinated. My knowledge of the shooting was that the shooter had lost sight of reality and was simply answering the call – the man was doing what he felt was a favor for the neighborhood – “Stop Buddy Gray”.
I knew Buddy as the man who saved countless lives, including his assassin’s. His Center, was from my experience working there off-and-on for several years, a hospital of last resort. It was where hopeless men and women migrated to when all the other agencies and the area’s finest families, hospitals, and police departments failed.
The hospital that went by the name, Drop Inn Center and operated for 37 years, is now is called the Shelterhouse.
In 2015 the Drop Inn Center officially became Shelterhouse; operating as two new homeless shelters: The Esther Marie Hatton Center for Women at 2499 Reading Road in the Mt. Auburn suburb of Cincinnati and the David and Rebecca Barron Center for Men at 411 Gest Street in the Queensgate neighborhood, just west of downtown Cincinnati.
Shelterhouse needs you now as much as ever, not just because it’s the Christmas season, but the coming of winter.
After watching this video, please visit their Web Site and learn more about the work they do. Then volunteer or send money, and place yourself into the Over the Rhine People’s Movement timeline and “Hop a’board” the Freedom Train.