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.)
1 Comment | tags: experiences on the streets, helping, homeless, homelessness, Philanthropy, Poverty, survival | posted in Activisim, Homeless Issues
Ideas to help are all around. We just need the courage to implement them.
Georgia native Brian Preston lost his remodeling business, his house and the family cars when the recession hit back in 2008, but he never lost hope. The resilient builder came up with a new plan – to make furniture from reclaimed wood like dismantled barns and shipping palettes. He needed employees to start his venture and he found his first in an unusual place – living in the woods behind a shopping center. The homeless man had a story similar to Brian’s – he had been in the housing business and lost everything when the recession hit.
“I swore I would never come back,” Curtis said as he went again to the woods where he lived in a tent for ten months. He remembered the day he left the site for good: “It took me four trips to get all my stuff outta here.”
Curtis can now afford to rent…
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Leave a comment | tags: homelessness, Organisations, Philanthropy, Poverty, recycling, survival | posted in Homeless Issues, Welcome to the Small Time
Good ideas that can be used in more places to help more people. — T.J.
Words by Lisa Miller, a volunteer at the StreetLink rough sleeper referral line, in London.
Throughout me career, I’ve had the opportunity to live in Los Angeles and New York City, in the US, and in London, here in the UK.
And as jaded as I have become from years in the rat race, I’ve never got used to seeing rough sleepers on the streets as I rushed around town. Their relentless struggle to survive – on full public display – and my lack of power to offer any real help hits me like a kick in the gut. Indeed, the complexities of their needs are beyond my capabilities and comprehension.
All I do know is that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home.
Winter 2012 in London was especially brutal so I was thrilled to find out about StreetLink via a weblink that went viral on…
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Hey, great idea. Before serving the hot meal… help someone write a resume. (It is better to teach someone to fish then to just keep handing them fishes.) — T.J.
Updates and Success Stories from Millionair Club Charity
The Millionair Club Charity put KeyBank to work the morning of May 22, 2013 when 12 volunteers reported for duty as part of Key’s 23rd Annual Neighbors Make the Difference Day.
The KeyBank team met our program participants and provided job searching assistance – delivering resume tips, interview coaching and practice navigating online employment opportunities.
We help rebuild lives by providing job opportunities—daily work assignments, temporary jobs and permanent employment—to Seattle-area men and women seeking employment. We also provide essential wrap-around services, including connections to housing, hot meals, showers, laundry services, eye care and preventive medical care to support our workers’ success and help address unemployment and homelessness in our region.
“Thousands of men and women in our area are still affected by the recession and are looking for work,” said Jim Miller, executive director of the Millionair Club Charity. “It was great to have these business-savvy volunteers on hand…
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He was taking a chance with that 100, but I give him credit. 🙂 T.J.
posts from the path..
So I sit down next to this homeless dude.
I ask him about his night and his life. He shares the human struggle.
As I get up to leave I have a hundred dollar bill in my pocket which in comparison to this guy means nothing to me.
I hand it to him- he holds it a second and hands it back.
“Man, thanks, really, but you gave me something way more valuable than that green paper”!
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An article for the local paper.
When I read articles in the Honolulu Star Advertiser about how people are angry about how homeless people are making “paradise” look shabby, I start to get a sense of dread. Was it not too long ago that similar letters sent to our local politicians and to the newspapers prompted the City Council to throw away the tents of homeless people? I remember seeing numerous homeless people soaking wet, distraught and bereft, after an unsheltered night in the pouring rain. By the way, how much do you think the cost is to the tax payer, when they get sick and need to be admitted to the hospital?
Everyone has their rights in this country, including the right to free speech, but if the solution to the “problem” of homelessness is to treat them as if they have no rights, then you are in the wrong country.
Before you spend any time writing a letter bemoaning the loss of paradise, please do us all a favor. Spend one sleepless night walking around those 24 hour spots where the homeless seem to congregate. Do you want their life? Endlessly chased from one spot to the next, being told not to close your eyes or sleep. Having to sit up all the time or risk being ousted from area. Getting dirty looks from strangers and evoking titters of laughter from teenagers.
You can end homelessness, for at least a few. Volunteer at a shelter and make sure that the residents are being treated fairly. Drop off unneeded clothing in a spot where homeless people frequent. Talk to your friends and family about homeless people in a manner that respects that, they too, are human. Strike up a conversation with a homeless person that seems like they need a friend (decline requests for money or favors, if they make you uncomfortable, but just listen to what they have to say). When people are treated well, sometimes they find the strength to turn their own lives around.
If you think that all homeless people are just an eye-sore and a burden on the system, you need to stop thinking of Hawaii as the Aloha State; because it isn’t, thanks to you.
3 Comments | tags: experiences on the streets, helping, homeless, Homeless shelter, homelessness, Philanthropy, Poverty, survival, United States | posted in Activisim, Homeless Issues
We are all human… great way to have someone wrap their mind around the homeless “problem”.
Bring In Light's Space
“We set out on a course in life, to live it fully by chasing our dreams, supporting our families and we all cherish our friends along the way.
Though often times along our way, tough things happen to some of us, whether it is a wrong turn, a not so good choice, an accident, a traumatic event or a career ending of no-fault of your own.
We all have had “Events” come into our lives that knock the wind out of our sails, we have all hit at least one brick wall at the end of a path and we have all said “Good-Bye” to someone we love and cherish.
Today let us realize our own shortcomings, our own hard luck times and look out in the streets. May you be able to “See” beyond the individual holding a sign, sleeping on a sidewalk, hustling for a dollar or walking…
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Despite what people believe, not everyone who is homeless has come from poverty. I know of people who were singers who have traveled the world entertaining before they fell on hard times, a contractor who once owned almost three dozen properties before the economy soured, and an investor with a failed $400,000 portfolio. A friend of mine even knew an actor that was on a television series in L.A. that returned to a homeless shelter every night after filming (he was in bankruptcy).
Here is the story of the son of two well-known actors and his experiences with homelessness.
Note: The story about the church in Erie, PA sounds great. I wonder how many of the churches in my town (and yours) would do something like that?
1 Comment | tags: ebook, experiences on the streets, homeless, Homeless shelter, homelessness, Organisations, Philanthropy, Poverty, survival, United States, WordPress | posted in Homeless Issues