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People's Park: Michael Diehl's memorial

On Sunday, October 6, 2019, the People's Park Committee held a memorial for a dear beloved friend, Michael Diehl. Michael's job title was community organizer at BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency), but instead, he would consider it as "peer outreach."

Michael was a gentle soul. He was someone who cared enough to treat the people who live on the streets as neighbors and friends, and not as outcasts.

You will be dearly missed, Michael. Rest in Power, friend.

🌼 Michael's life will be celebrated with community and friends at a dance. Michael loved to dance in front of the Peoples Park stage. 🌼

The service will be held on November 3, 2019, at The Berkeley School: 1310 University Avenue @ 4PM.

A Berkeley icon and a kind soul that touched many lives. ✊💕


His heart is always with the people on the street

I often see Michael Diehl in Peoples Park and downtown Berkeley, talking with the street people, the young and the old, and it is clear that they respect and trust him. He works for BOSS (Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency) as a community organizer. People who have worked with him and know him well speak of him with great admiration.

His job title is a community organizer, but he says, “It seems to be more peer outreach.” The word “peer” is important, and he explains its meaning. “I mean somebody who has their own mental health issues, (has had) some recovery and is able to help somebody. I’ve been on the streets, suicidal, depressed, done just about every drug there is. I don’t do all this now. Sometimes I sleep out just to remember.”

We had a couple of long conversations sitting on a bench in Peoples Park while Food Not Bombs was serving a meal to people in the park. Diehl’s job involves connecting homeless and at-risk people with community services that will help them get housed and stabilize their lives.

But the work is extremely frustrating, he says, because there are not enough services to help all those in need, and nowhere near enough housing for all the people desperate to get off the streets. Consequently, there is a high burnout rate among workers in homeless services.

“I don’t want to be another paper shuffler sending people to go here and there,” Diehl said. “They get plenty of that already. If I’m to connect people to mental health services or housing, there needs to be some significant investment in that. That’s why I’m not going to give up the social justice thing.”

More on Street Spirit.

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