An Albany organization protects the homeless during Code Blue

December 16, 2016 12:45 AM

ALBANY - Kim Kelley got her drivers license for this job a year ago.

"We log whatever happened in our interactions, anything significant," Kelly explains while flipping through her book of clients.  

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"A lot of them call us for assistance.  They'll be like, hey I'm out here and we go and meet them there," she explains. 

But Kim is more than just a chauffeur.

"The majority of the people I find outside aren't aware of Code Blue so that's a big part of my job is just driving around and being like, hey, it's Code Blue tonight you wanna get inside?" 

And just like that, Kim, driving the Homeless Action Committee van will pick up 5-6 people, mostly from midtown and downtown Albany.   

"It just feels like it's what I should be doing. It makes sense to me."

She'll drive them to a shelter while her colleague, Tiana Maron keeps a lookout for anyone else in need. 

"Sometimes, a little support can go a long way," Kim says.

But for the people with mental health or substance abuse issues that don't want their help, Kim explains, "we give them extra things like tarps and extra socks, blankets and we make sure they have food, everyday sometimes, coffee." 

On the ride along we don't actually pick anyone up. 

Kim says it's to protect the relationships she's forged. 

"I've met people that I want to consider my friends, they are like family."

Kelly sees herself doing this job for a long time- she jokes that for her that's saying a lot.

"It's definitely more fulfilling than watching Netflix." 

But the toughest part may also be the most heartbreaking.

"Seeing them die," she quietly says.

It's the realization that for as much as Kim and organizations like HAC do, not everyone makes it off the street in time.

To arrange a pick-up donation of food, clothing or supplies to HAC, call (518) 426-0554 or click here.


Karen Tararache

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