Pictured: Jeffery and Rocky hugging each other prior to her being transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center to receive care for her ailing liver. Jeffery said to all of us, “Take care of her, I love her and she is all I have.”
The story unfolds: We pulled into the parking lot of what looked to be a deserted four story hotel tonight (Wednesday 4/8/15). We entered through what was once a restaurant at the hotel and made our way down a hallway and eventually to a check-in desk. There was no electricity in the structure so what light there was shined through cracks in the building, outlets that used to be filled with heating and air ducts, or broken windows. From the check-in desk we turned left where we saw a long dark hallway with doors to multiple guest rooms on the right and left.
As we neared one of the rooms we heard what sounded like muffled voices behind a closed door. Jason Bennett knocked on the door and quickly pushed it open - - to our surprise we saw one woman lying on a mattress that was sitting on the floor, two men sitting on a bed to her right and a third man sitting on a chair in the corner of the room. All four were drinking from bottles of beer and bottles of whiskey, switching between the two from one sip to the other. We told the four that we were here to help, not harm.
The woman on the mattress, who had carrot orange hair, said, “I’m Rocky, but my real name is Raquel. My dad named me Raquel because he loved Raquel Welch.” As she leaned forward to sit up I noticed her stomach was badly bulging and she looked to be pregnant. I asked, “How old are you?” She smiled as she grumbled, “45. I have stage four liver disease and my stomach is full of fluid.” She appeared to be in pain.
Rocky was as thin as a rail, other than her bulging stomach. She said, “I was telling Tony that opportunity doesn’t knock on your door everyday [Tony was the man sitting in the corner of the room].” At about the time she said that opportunity doesn’t knock on your door, Jason was literally knocking on the door. She told all of us that we were sent from heaven.
Before I go on, let me say that we knew about this hotel because of the event that was held in Murfreesboro, TN over Easter Weekend. As our homeless friends in Murfreesboro were checking out of the Ramada Inn on Monday, a man named Nick entered the lobby. Nick told me about a hotel property he owns that is vacant, but homeless are currently living in the structure that could soon be torn down. Nick said, “Could you help those who are living in the hotel? I don't know what to do.” I reassured him that I would visit the hotel before the week is over.
Now, back to the story:
Ingrid McIntyre with Open Table Nashville and several social workers / volunteers were called by Jason to meet us at the hotel. The workers sat down with each of the four and filled out paperwork for possibly housing. Raquel (or Rocky), was taken to Vanderbilt Medical Center to undergo immediate medical care.
Rocky's husband Jeffery came to me in tears, “My mommy and daddy died and I was given this will.” The 57-year old had tears in his eyes when he told me about losing his dad a few years back and his mother just last year. He said, “I don’t know what this will means?” Jeffery had a major stroke the same year that his mother passed away. He talked about 2014 being the hardest year he has ever had.
I quickly scanned the will that suggested his mother owned a house at the time of her death and that the house was to be sold at auction. The proceeds of the house should be given to Jeffery and any surviving brothers or sisters. I contacted my friend Derek K. Burks who is a lawyer in Nashville. Derek is now helping Jeffery claim any funds that he is due. Ingrad, who helps homeless all over Middle Tennessee, will be back at the defunct hotel on Friday to help Tony, who is suffering from numerous health problems. She is also helping John, who is only 33, receive further assistance.
While these problems are tragic, my eyes were opened tonight in a way that I did not think was possible. It was an amazing evening of passion, rescue and more. And to think, if the Easter event for the homeless were not held in Murfreesboro this past weekend – these four adults in Nashville may have never received the care they so badly needed.
On a side note, Jeffery worked at the hotel for years as the maintenance man. The hotel closed down about three to five years ago. Now, it sits and continues to fall apart.
Pictured: Jeffery and Rocky hugging each other prior to her being transported to Vanderbilt Medical Center. Jeffery said to all of us, “Take care of her, I love her and she is all I have.”