Medford, Ore.– A giant trash heap on Court Street near Dutch Bros was strewn across the sidewalk early this morning, leading some to throw blame on a Medford homeless man who created the pile.
Jennifer Champlain, a family member of the man named Todd, heard about what happened when people began to comment on her family’s Facebook page “24 hour Todd Watch” – a page meant to keep track of Todd with help from the community.
Champlain rushed to the scene and luckily found Todd, cowering behind a dumpster, apparently shaken from an interaction that had occurred earlier. However, this hasn’t been the first time an incident with the risk to Todd’s safety has scared the family.
While growing up, Champlain watched as her uncle struggled continually with mental health through stories and first-hand accounts like this one. According to her family, Todd was a youthful soul until signs of paranoid schizophrenia began to show.
“My grandmother said that he was in his late teens, he started to develop some interesting personal characteristics. She thought it was behavioral, but it was deeper than that.”
With maintaining the Facebook page and going out to help her uncle whenever he may need it, Champlain has met a lot of people from the community who have come to know Todd. Their stories illuminating more than what may appear on the outside.
“People from high school, girls he used to date, reach out to me and talk about what a sweet man he’s always been. People message me all the time, ‘Hey I saw Todd at the minute market. Hey I saw Todd walking up the street.'”
But after the recent Facebook post about the trashed sidewalk led to negative comments about her uncle – Champlain was furious.
“They just have nothing but disgusting horrible things to say, ‘Put a bullet in him.’ What kind of human… yeah he made a mess on a sidewalk. You’re talking about bodily harm?”
Champlain says this trash heap was built by Todd but the trash isn’t his. He’s just collecting whatever is left out on the streets.
“He’s picking it up. The voices in his head tell him, ‘I’ve got to keep it clean. This is my home.’ He wants to protect this place. He sits and he watches and he takes care of people. They just don’t realize he’s doing it.”
According to Champlain, Todd sometimes has run-ins with the more criminal homeless and transients that roam the city. Todd has been attacked and beaten before, once resulting in the loss of his teeth; Champlain believes that’s why she found him behind the dumpster, scared and a little less than comprehensible.
The family has tried many times to get Todd off the streets. While they usually manage to get him home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, he still chooses to live outside. Champlain says that he’s an adult and he has to make adult choices, it would make things harder for them to force him to do what they want. There are possibilities for helping him now with improvements to drugs dealing with schizophrenia but the trick is getting him to trust in the family.
“You gotta earn the trust to get him to come to you and it’s taken a lot for the family to maintain that trust with him because of the nature of his illness. We’ve got a family that loves him very much.”
Champlain says that as they continue to slowly build that trust, for those that wish to help, if they see Todd – have a chat with him. He loves black coffee and he “just wants to be treated like a human being.”
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