Wednesday, July 6, 2022 Jul 6, 2022
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Trinity-How The Homeless Live

By Richard West |

Many of Dallas’s “new poor” have seen their lives unravel with sickening swiftness. A sudden major illness or accident, a costly divorce, the loss of a job, and seemingly overnight, their savings are gone. For a woman with children and no marketplace skills, the plunge from comfort to the streets can happen in a matter of weeks.

This is the too-familiar predicament of Helen, the main character of “Trinity,” a new fifty-minute docudrama that dramatizes the plight of Dallas’s “new poor” and shows that help can come from community agencies, in this case, the Holy Trinity Ministry To The Poor. The inspiration for “Trinity” came from Pam Schaefer, director of the ministry, who has seen a threefold increase in the number of client transactions involving clinical help, counseling, rental and various financial assistance, and clothing requests in four years. The number of families receiving food has risen more than 345 percent.

In the small two-story former garage-apartment behind Holy Trinity Catholic Church on Oak Lawn Avenue, Schaefer’s staff and volunteers dispense about 2,500 meals a month and deal with more than forty-five daily requests for help, all on a yearly budget of $220,000. “Trinity.” which was filmed in eleven days in Dallas last winter, will be used to raise funds and for educational purposes.

Two years ago, Pam Schaefer got the idea for the movie after she noticed film making and writing skills listed on several volunteers’ résumés. The project became serious when Schaefer met writer-director Dennis Strini while both dished out turkey at Thanksgiving two years ago. Strini agreed to write and direct and also persuaded actress Karen Radcliffe {now back on “Dallas’) to star as Helen. Marilyn Leaman, fundraiser and owner of a film production company, coordinated the production work and assembled the 150-member cast and crew, all volunteers from the city’s acting and film production community. “This movie would have cost about $250,000 without everyone giving their time for the cause,” says Leaman.

Helen’s misfortunes bring her to a Love Field restroom to spend the night after her one suitcase has been stolen. Her personal traumas are aggravated by street life and its characters, and she sinks into despair. Then she meets another street person who brings her to Holy Trinity.

Some actual street people are seen in “Trinity” but no actual shelters or soup kitchens like the downtown Stewpot. “We portray shelters as pretty dismal and we didn’t want to cast aspersions on places like Austin Street that are doing all that is humanly possible to make these people’s lives better,” Schaefer says. “We also didn’t use bus stations or other places where you find the chronically poor, but instead, Turtle Creek and Oak Lawn, areas more familiar to our character.”