BY JEN BRENNAN
This is Jamie. He was a resident of San Souci Avenue, and because of the disease of alcoholism, he no longer could keep a roof over his head.
He was a skilled carpenter and loved making things with his hands. He always called me his guardian angel, and would visit me often. Many of you probably recognize him, because he frequented Downtown DeLand.
I helped him get into The Bridge. He got sober, had a job, and he said he had never felt better. Unfortunately, his addiction and freedom of the street were too strong for him. After leaving The Bridge, his downward spiral was more severe and swift than ever before.
After months of collapsing in the streets and other business owners experiencing the brunt of his addiction, he finally accepted a ride to the hospital.
He was taken to Orchid Cove rehabilitation in Daytona Beach and was told he would have to spend the remainder of his life there, because of how badly his body had deteriorated.
He wrote me, and in the letter he sounded hopeful but accepting of his current state. On Friday, Nov. 11, he collapsed in Daytona and wasn’t able to be revived.
I love you, Jamie, and I hope your sweet soul has now found peace. Jamie was beautifully immortalized in this photograph by Rooster Photography. I showed Jamie this picture a while ago, and he loved it.
— Brennan is the owner of Centro Tea Co., a Downtown DeLand business that supplies tea and baked goods to spots around town like Trilogy Coffee Roasting Co. Brennan’s base of operations is inside Sidecar Home Market and Bar at 100 S. Woodland Blvd. in DeLand.
Remembering a brother who was ‘absolutely brilliant’
BY NOAH HERTZ
Jamie Latourette was born on June 21, 1969, in Staten Island, New York. At a young age, Latourette moved with his family to Pine Island, Florida, and later to Ormond Beach, where he grew up.
As an adult, Latourette lived in Atlanta, where he worked for Moon Brothers
Architects, assisting with historic conservation. In his free time, he made art, some of which was on display in his Atlanta stomping grounds.
In Florida, Latourette worked as a caretaker for a DeLand family in a historic home.
Latourette’s sister, Cherie McTiernan, fondly remembered how intelligent and creative her late brother was.
“He was a brilliant person, just absolutely brilliant,” she said. “He had an extraordinary life, with a lot of friends and a lot of people who cared about him. A lot of people were trying to figure out what they could do for him, because he had a lot of people who loved him and cared about him, myself included.”
McTiernan misses her brother, but she recognizes that addiction had taken him from her long before his death.
“It’s really astonishing what addiction does to people, because it takes them away from you while they’re still alive,” she said. “People need to stop thinking of addiction like a crime and start helping people.”
Homelessness can happen to anyone
BY NOAH HERTZ
According to data from the Volusia-Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless,
as of this January, there are estimated to be 800 people experiencing homelessness in Volusia County, including more than 150 people in DeLand alone.
From coalition Director Jeff White: “Homelessness does not discriminate. There
are as many reasons that people become homeless as there are homeless persons, that can account for a person or family falling into homelessness.
“Anyone at any time can find themselves subject to circumstances beyond their control to include medical issues, mental health issues, substance abuse issues, domestic violence, accidents leading to unforeseen devastating injuries leading to hospitalizations, etc., all of which can lead to homelessness.
“Persons who find themselves homeless are usually blindsided by the event, not knowing how to circumvent the circumstances leading up to being homeless and/or thinking ‘It can never happen to me.’
“Once a person falls into homelessness, it is that much more difficult to get rehoused as there is no manual or guide instructing ‘How to get out of homelessness 101.’
“This is why we must work as a community to assist those who have become homeless get rehoused and try to divert those facing homelessness from actually becoming homeless.
“We must try to set our biases about the homeless aside and view the homeless as we would any other person, giving them the dignity and respect that we all deserve as human beings.”