Is it disrespectful to the family and friends of Laura Moore to discuss the experience which occurred over the past two weeks at the Downtown YWCA? It might be if we kept moving forward without addressing the issues surrounding her death and the complaints that have lingered over the women’s shelter for the past several years.
The death of Laura Moore prompted several current and past residents to contact Muncie Voice with complaints about the way the YWCA handled the entire situation surrounding her unfortunate death.
According to the women we talked with, they had asked the Residential Director, Christine Weans, to examine Ms. Moore’s room on Monday, August 6th, because they had not seen or heard from her for an entire weekend. Apparently, Ms. Weans was told by Ms. Moore that she was heading out of town on Friday to visit family members in another state. The residential director insisted that she was out of town and not in her room. Nothing was done to address the women’s fears.
Two days later on Wednesday, August 8th, the women couldn’t take it any longer. Two of the residents decided to break into the room with the help of a ladder over the top of door. One of the residents climbed the ladder and opened the window vent atop the old wooden door and pushed it open. According to police records, Laura’s body was discovered around 6:00pm when EMS was called.
Based on a discussion with the Delaware County Coroner, the exact cause of death has not been determined until toxicology reports are returned in several weeks.
One of Laura’s friends, who was visibly upset while sharing her story, kept uttering the same thoughts, “How could this happen? This is what they think of us…it doesn’t matter that we are left for dead over a five day period. They don’t care about us. Would they really let me lie on the floor for five days before checking on me? That could have been any one of us!”
According to the YWCA’s website, their mission is, “To empower women, eliminate racism, and promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.”
How does this lack of action empower women, or promote dignity for all? While I’m sure those in leadership positions within the YWCA are grieving the loss of one of their long term residents, the complaints of tenants and former residents should be pursued.
Why didn’t anybody check Laura’s room?
It might not have prevented her death, but it would have demonstrated concern and dignity for a human life. If the mission of the YWCA is to provide interim shelter for women and their children, and to provide programming and counseling for transition back into the community, they must treat the women with respect and dignity. Rebuilding their self-worth is crucial.
What we discovered by listening to the stories of these frightened residents is a far cry from justice, empowerment, and dignity. Nothing can be done about the unexpected death of Laura Moore, so our prayers and positive thoughts continue going out to family and friends.
Though sad, her death might serve a higher purpose by lifting up remaining friends to take the courage to stand up for what they know is right and return some respect and power over their current life situation.
We’ve asked several questions of Jeremy Rick, Executive Director of the Muncie YWCA, the Indiana Department of Public Health, and Indiana State Board of Pharmacy. We’ll share the responses here on Muncie Voice.