Tag Archives: helping

Helping the Homeless Requires Seeing Them

As a psych major, I am always intrigued about how the subconscious affects human behavior. This is an interesting article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-big-questions/201203/person-or-object-the-case-homelessness

Boston Homeless Man Returns Found Cash

Glen James is our October Homeless Hero:


The good, the bad, and the perfect. Part 2

Believe it or not, part 1 was about the “perfect” people. Those who sense that homelessness will ever enter into their lives because they have everything set up just right. And as I mentioned, I have known quite a few homeless people who were brought up with that silver spoon and have become homeless. I have also known some really successful people who had confided that their child/grandchild is holding their life together by slender thread and the day the parent and benefactor passes on will be the start of a very uncertain future for that child/grandchild.

I am mentioning this only to illustrate that every person can be touched by homelessness. It doesn’t just happen to losers. No matter how perfect you think your life is, it is basically a lie if you believe that you are perfect. I don’t think we can be perfect in this world. But we can make it better by helping others.

I also have some ideas about the differences between the “good” and the “bad” people of this world. I was working in an office at a university a few years ago, and every so often one of the professors would come out and talk to me. He was deeply into self-flagellation and would bemoan his faults and mention his prozac use. Patiently I would listen and try not to add anything to his self-condemnation, but one day he was insistent. His fundamental question was “Don’t you agree that I am a bad person?” I looked up at him and told him that “There is enough bad in the good and good in the bad to make everyone pretty much equal.” I still believe that. Sure some people commit horrible crimes and I do believe that some people are just plain bad to the bone. But, that is a minority.

Most people, as bad as they seem, will risk their life to save a friend, go out of their way to help someone from ending up on the downward path that they have found themselves on, or help someone who asks for their help. Other people spend time polishing their image, but underneath it all is a shallow person that would take the last dime from a widow or orphan.

You never can tell on the surface, that is why I consider all people more or less equal and am an activist for changing the mind-set that people have about the homeless. But unfortunately, the people who believe that they are perfect and that everything they have is through their own efforts, are the hardest people to convince that homelessness can happen to anyone.

But I will tell you that is can happen to anyone. I have seen people from all walks of life in homeless shelters and on the streets. A special education teacher who lived in a tent. PhD’s expounding about physics at the dinner table in the shelter. A former singer that traveled the world and is now wearing bright colors panhandling on the street. Women so innocent, you wonder: Why are you here in a shelter? Men so fragile, that you wonder how they can still live each day with such pain.

As with racism and any other kind of prejudice, you err in judging the whole of a group by just a narrow segment with glaring faults. If people continue abusing people because of their homelessness; then, some very good people will be lost. And the people who are the abusers (the perfect people who have all their ducks in a row) will be as guilty of the pain of those people as the Nazis were in WWII. (BTW, the Nazi thought they were perfect, too.)

The Hidden Reasons for Homelessness

Food line at the Yonge Street Mission, 381 Yon...

Food line at the Yonge Street Mission, 381 Yonge Street, Toronto, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are many reasons for homelessness. The media focuses on three most of the time (mental illness, drugs, and laziness), but I have seen hidden reasons for homelessness.

More than one person I knew have told me about their childhood and mentioned sexual abuse by a family member. They didn’t state that as the cause of their situation, but it doesn’t take much intelligence to put 2 and 2 together. They don’t trust authority now because their trust was broken early on. This can lead to problems with bosses, family conflict, and difficulty in relationships. Not everyone who was abused turns to the streets, but an amazing number of people with dysfunction in their lives have similar histories of abuse.

Another cause of some people’s homelessness is, surprisingly, being pushed out of an inheritance by siblings or other family members. I have also experienced such an event (I won’t go into details). Depending on how much the individual wanted the property, the depression and dispare can be quite devastating. I felt a sense of unfairness, but luckly, was not interested in the property and didn’t get as emotionally invested in it as some family members did. In any case, the resentment that results can break bonds within a family and the person has not only lost their inheiratance, but also there family connections.

Disability is one more cause that is a hidden reason for homelessness. I have to say this is a contributing factor with me also. If someone is disabled but does not meet requirements for federal help, then things can get pretty grim. Even those who get a SSDI check have little structure in their lives and some end up on the streets. The added factor of having a legal means to getting pain killers makes the situation worse.

I hope this post has opened some eyes about the causes of homelessness. Of course, you would never know of these hidden reasons if you never took the time to talk with someone who is homeless.

Resume Drafting For the Urban Survival Specialist — Part Two

Okay. I assume you read Part One and have a resume written out. Books at the library can help you with formatting the thing so it looks professional. Just don’t try to” lift” work references from the book. Your prospective employer will find out. This is the computer age, for God sakes. Now take that wonderful resume print-out and read it from an employers prospective. You have jobs here and there, in a couple different lines of work. Gosh! Your health care worker/office clerk/computer geek resume is a mish-mash of experience. Yet, Mr./Ms. Employer wants dedication. Commitment. What to do?

You have to put your jack-of-all-trades cap on and retool your resume to focus on each individual industry that you are interested in. In you health care worker resume, put the spot light on what matters most for your prospective employer. Fill the page with volunteer work and show off your skill level.

Do the same with your office clerk and computer geek resumes. Now, take the extra step and make 2 more hybrid resumes: health care experience with office clerk experience and office clerk worker with a computer geek bent. Hybrid resumes are great when you are transitioning from one career to another.

You will have plenty of extra space on the focused resumes to put in all the tiny details that would set you apart from the pack. Think long and hard about these details. Gather all those “pat on the back” moments and breathe some life back into them.  Add in what you know past employers have valued in you and don’t be modest about accomplishments, especially if you can throw in a numerical value (sales up 25%, increased inventory production by $3,000 a month, losses decreased 30%, etc).

In the references section, drop in “References available upon request” and, if you don’t have them yet, get some. They come from everyday places… church members, people who are helping you in your employment search, educators from classes that you have taken. Just be sure they have a clear speaking voice, can say something good about you and your character, will be clean and sober during business hours, etc.

Once you have your resumes ready, it is time to think about cover letters (will it never end!??! you ask.) Just use the same cut and paste formula like the resume, focusing on each employment skill. Oh, and this is where it gets easy. Those books in the library with cover letter formats (the real syrupy sounding kiss-up letters), you can actually copy whole paragraphs and count them as your own. Just make sure that what you copy applies to you. Plus, you can talk about something that is already in your resume (just re-word the baby, don’t want them to think you cut and pasted from the resume). Take your cues from the job postings ad and write a cover letter emphasising that you have the experience and skills that they need. Ta-da. Now you have a wonderful introduction package to present, either on-line or through snail mail, to your prospective employer.

What’s next? Getting ready for the dreaded interview! If you are prepared ahead of time and you really like (and are interested in) the jobs you have applied for, then the interview will not be so bad… I promise. See interview tips in Part Three.

“Two America’s Truer Now Than Ever”: Perishing On A Lonely Island Of Poverty In The Midst Of A Vast Ocean Of Material Prosperity


You may think you know about Martin Luther King, Jr., but there is much about the man and his message we have conveniently forgotten. He was a prophet, like Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah of old, calling kings and plutocrats to account — speaking truth to power.

King was only 39 when he was murdered in Memphis 45 years ago, on April 4th, 1968. The 1963 March on Washington and the 1965 March from Selma to Montgomery were behind him. So was the successful passage of the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. In the last year of his life, as he moved toward Memphis and his death, he announced what he called the Poor People’s Campaign, a “multi-racial army” that would come to Washington, build an encampment and demand from Congress an “Economic Bill of Rights” for all Americans — black, white, or brown. He had long known…

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Homelessness Images

Medical science states that homelessness takes 20 years off a persons life. These pictures give you some idea that the statement is true. — T.J.

Online Documentary 2013

I thought I would put together a slideshow of images of homelessness. Pictures are like film, they truly capture the reality of the situation, more than any serious documentary game or stunning graphics can.

*Images are not my own, found and sourced from Google*

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Another View About Homelessness

Fellow Talk

By kt crossman

Homeless in winterWith the wind chill, it’s about 15 degrees outside this morning.  This week is shaping up to be the coldest DC has seen in a long time; while all that means for me is an unpleasant wait for the bus, for others it’s a very real threat.  The man who sits on the corner of 16th and K every morning, wishing the speed-walking commuters a nice day, wasn’t there when I walked by and I am hoping it’s because he’s still at a shelter, or at least some place warm.

Like most people attending law school, I come from a place of relative privilege.  I might not be part of the 1% (and the size of my student loans might terrify me), but I don’t have the first idea what it’s like to be homeless or without a safety net.  So sometimes I feel like the…

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One Way To Fight Homelessness: Cooperate!

I’ve heard it more than a few times, shelter employees and directors stating that their shelter is the only one that should be serving their community. If you look beneath the self-serving promotion, you realise that the shelters in each city and state are all competing for federal money. The lack of which means loosing jobs. Their jobs. Meanwhile, homeless people are trapped in the middle. Such practises as barring shelter residents from moving from one shelter to another, voluntarily, are common. They don’t like “shelter shoppers” they say. They might have to upgrade their services (and attitude) if people were given freedom of choice.

When I hear a shelter staffer or director trash talking another shelter, I ask them: “What if the other shelter is closer to a job?” “How about if a homeless person has a dispute with another resident and wants to move?” Shouldn’t homeless people have the right to freedom. Many of them were in the armed forces and fought for those rights. Why not give it to them, and stop competing for business at the expense of those you are being paid to serve.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Good Read