As part of our Bearing Witness 2.0 project, the Huffington Post is rounding up compelling local stories about the victims of the recession.
Calvin Harrison ran a leg of the 4x400 meter relay race at the 2000 Olympics in Sidney, and helped the United States win the gold medal. Now he is homeless, living with his family in a shelter in San Diego, reports NBC San Diego's Catherine Garcia.
Harrison's fall started when he tested positive for the stimulant Modafinil in 2004, and was subsequently suspended from athletic competition. Then, last year his former teammate, Antonio Pettigrew, admitted he was taking performance-enhancing drugs during the 2000 games, which stripped the entire team of their gold medals.
Harrison was working as a personal trainer, but lost his job later that year. "Of course, you know, in this economic recession, you lose your job, you can't pay rent," he told Garcia. "You can't pay rent, you get an eviction notice."
At the lowest point, Harrison wandered the streets at night alone, because only his wife, Charlotte, and four kids, including Highley, who is now 5 months old, were allowed to stay at the San Diego Rescue Mission. Now they're staying at the YWCA Cortez Hill shelter as a family and, despite it all, trying to stay positive.
"I'm just hoping for an awesome job and to be able to get a house," Charlotte said. "I know it's big hopes, but we're just dreaming of a house and a place for our kids to grow up in."
About 2,300 patients needing medical help were treated by volunteer doctors, nurses, dentists and other health professionals during a two-day free clinic in Kansas City on Wednesday and Thursday, according to a report by Alan Bavley for the Kansas City Star. Organizers from the National Association of Free Clinics recruited about 1,600 volunteers, including hundreds of employees from local hospitals, clinics and dentistry offices, to give a range of free care. The event, called Communities Are Responding Everyday (C.A.R.E.), was so popular that volunteers arranged additional appointments for patients waiting in line even as the clinic was closing Thursday.
"Something so big, you'd think it was a mess," Tamika Rosenborough, a student who attended the clinic, told the WDAF-TV's Megan Cloherty. "But there are so many people here helping and so many people directing me each way I need to go."
On Wednesday, the Kansas City Star talked with Kelly Barnhart, an uninsured part-time bartender who has osteoporosis and has suffered two strokes. She cannot afford her medication, and came to the clinic for a check-up. "I want to get checked, because I haven't for so long," she told the paper. "I'm worried about a stroke coming back. I don't want another one."
Jim Carney reports for the Akron Beacon Journal that police officers in Richfield, Ohio, will give nearly 275 children a ride in their cruisers -- to go Christmas shopping. On Saturday, the Richfield Police Department will run its seventh annual Shop With A Cop event, where officers give children $110 gift cards and a ride to the local Walmart to buy Christmas gifts for themselves, family and friends.
The children were identified by 31 nearby police departments as "in need of special attention," writes Carney. "'An officer might say, 'I went to this house and the dad lost his job and the kid doesn't have anything,'" said Patrolman Michael Simmons.
In past years, stories have been heart-breaking:
Simmons said [one] child once asked police to borrow $7. The child, Simmons said, had $3 of his own plus the $110 gift card.
But he needed $120 to buy his mother, who had leukemia, a body massager to help her deal with her pain.
The police gave him the money he needed to buy the gift.
Food banks in Ozaukee County, Wis., are feeding record numbers of needy families, reports the Ozaukee Press's Carol Pomeday. Joy Dreier, Executive Directory of the Food Pantry in the county seat of Port Washington, told Pomeday that she has never seen such a high demand in her 16 years at the organization. And it's only getting worse, she said; since summer, the number of people coming to the pantry has been up by 35% every month. In Grafton, just a few miles down the road, Colleen Casper, Executive Director of the Family Sharing food bank and resale store, told the paper that there were twice as many people seeking aid as last year.
Just last year, Forbes named Ozaukee County the second-best place to raise a family in the country, in large part because of the low cost of living and reasonable home prices.
In Wai'anae, Hawaii, Isaac Ganigan has been laid off twice from the same construction company, when work dried up, reports Will Hoover for the Honolulu Advertiser. Isaac, a 26-year-old carpenter, is working there again, now for the third time, but he knows how unstable his employment is. "Oh yeah, I could lose my job again," he told Hoover. "Because right now things are slow -- very slow."
His wife, Desiree, recently lost her bank job because of medical problems, and the two are having a hard time paying the bills and supporting their two children on one paycheck. "This has been a very difficult year," Isaac said to the Advertiser.
HuffPost readers: Seen a compelling local story? Have a neighbor going to bizarre lengths to get through the recession? Tell us about it! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.