friday fictioneers: homeless

copyright -Janet Webb

HOMELESS…TOGETHER 

Marnie loved waking up to beds squeaking, feet shuffling quietly, voices whispering. She found comfort in the morning ritual. 

As she wiped the sleep from her eyes, Marnie surveyed her family, a motley group of folks whose upended lives brought them together.

Under the same roof, individuals coalesced.

Working in harmony, beds were made, breakfast prepared, children dressed and readied for school.

Hopes high, the adults scattered in search of work to help sustain their loved ones and their community.

For little Marnie, homeless meant sharing. A small sacrifice, she felt, for the love bestowed by…her extended family.

 

powerball!!!

The Lotto Powerball logo

The Lotto Powerball logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re like me, and I do pride myself upon being normal…although at times I’ve been known to behave somewhat “aby-normal”…then you were off in your own fantasy land dreaming about the $500 million dollar jackpot that was up for grabs recently. 

Not usually the gambling type, hubby and I get involved only when the $$$ signs are too many to ignore. So we were in it to win it with a wager of $10 bucks.

As the jackpot continued to climb, experts bemoaned the fact that the odds of winning were growing slimmer and slimmer. Something like one in 700 million, I think. So, of course, daydreaming was all I could do.

After all…it was free…no matter how grand the imaginings.

Paying off bills, a trust fund for our daughter and enlarging our retirement, nest egg…those were at the top of the family “to do” list. Surely not an uncommon trio of wishes. The remainder, however, were unique to my own corner of the world…at least in their specifics.

Tent City

Tent City (Photo credit: kuow949)

The “tent city” that shelters the homeless in our east side community must relocate every so many months, so as not to overstay their welcome among the residents in the area. There’s a fine line between accommodating the poor and guaranteeing the rights and privileges of nearby property owners. Those who organize the hospitality are good Samaritans, who are trying to remain good neighbors.  After all, they’d like to ensure that their “tent city” be invited back, albeit temporarily.

Fantasy number one with my power ball winnings?

Build a permanent structure to house, feed, and aid the homeless. Organize clinics wherein volunteer doctors and nurses could tend to the physical needs of the residents, and job clinics where volunteer, business reps could assist in preparing residents to become serious, wage earners again.

Fantasy number two?

Hurricane destruction, Union Beach, NJ

Hurricane destruction, Union Beach, NJ (Photo credit: spleeness)

Provide financial assistance to a community devastated by Hurricane Sandy. Perhaps one resembling my own, small town. Whether it be in providing a steady feed of  material goods to a  shelter where folks are housed temporarily, or establishing a home schooling situation where the children could continue their education, or buying good, used cars for folks to get around.

And my third wish…as in the oft-told granting of three wishes by a fairy god-mother?

Just that we all be thankful…for the small moments that make our lives good…without power ball wins.

 Awaking each day with minds and limbs intact…and working.

Having those we love and who love us…healthy and in our lives each day.

Living in a democracy…unlike any other in the world.

Finding peace on earth…even as we endure the ravages wrought by Mother Nature…and the havoc wrought by mankind…upon itself.

English: Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looki...

English: Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad looking at an album of photographs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bearing witness to special people among us who take up the mantle of leadership…such as Lincoln and Obama…at great cost to their own…health, welfare, and peace of mind.

It is my contention that all people are good.

No one among us sets out to be bad on the day we are born. Familial and environmental circumstances affect our progress in becoming upstanding, world citizens.

I remind myself…often…that goodness is our origin and that we, in our own way, are trying to get along, even as we carve out our own niches in a society that is ever-expanding.

We are all power ball winners, even as we celebrate the good fortune of the Dearborn family who took home half the jackpot.

They look like us in their normal, outward appearance, and in the values they seem to hold dear, such as adopting a little, Chinese girl as their daughter and sister.

In fact…upon closer inspection…

…they are…us!

………hugmamma.

…everyone needs…a friend…

My life has been enriched by friends I’ve met through hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul.

We share our stories, stories told by others…our lives…and those of others. All are compelling.

Marcia Clark posted the following youtube  to her blog, Marcia Clark-La Chica Writes at http://mecwrites25.wordpress.com.

…i‘ll let the video speak for itself…

………hugmamma.   

365 photo challenge: pardon

Will God pardon us for allowing homelessness?……………………………………………………..

formerly homeless poets

Came across poems written by a couple of formerly homeless. I thought you’d enjoy their perspectives on life. Though their circumstances may differ from ours, their innermost thoughts and feelings can sometimes mirror our own. See what you think…

Music Dogs Love: While You Are Gone Released 2...

Image via Wikipedia

Why We Need More Pets than Shelters
by Cathie Buckner

Pets offer love without hoops to jump through.
They are accepting no matter how or to whom we pray.
They never tell us to go away.
They often give us joy and something to live for.
And never make us leave our stuff in the courtyard
where buzzards lurk to pluck it all up.

Music Cats Love: While You Are Gone Released 2...

Image via Wikipedia

They offer safety in all the unsafe places
and make us aware of devils in the dark blue.
They never turn their face or walk the other way.
They share the things we have and are satisfied.
They are always well-calming even when we feel out of control.
Never a tough tongue or bootstrap rap.
They love the way we smell even when there is no water to be found.
They keep us warm on long, lonely nights.
And they keep the rats at bay.

The Struggle
by Jesse Hayes

Time after time I find I’m drowning in a sea of despair
doubtfully I open up my eyes searching for a road that leads somewhere
when it seems that all hope is gone memory brings back to me what your love has done
so I’ll glory in all my tribulation knowing that it will make me strong
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses
I’ll struggle until the race is won
I’ll struggle until the race is won
I’ll struggle until the race is won

Jesus with children, early 1900s Bible illustr...

Image via Wikipedia

Faith is being sure of what we hope for
certain of what we cannot see
when the trumpet sounds and Jesus comes to take us
I pray my faith will still abide in thee.

street newspaper: japan’s “big issue”

Street newspapers are a phenomenal, global network. I was touched to read that even in the midst of Japan‘s devastation, a street newspaper struggles to survive, its vendors dependent upon its existence, for their own meagre livelihoods. What strikes me as macabre in the aftermath of Mother Nature‘s triple threat, the earthquake, the tsunami, and the nuclear disaster, is that Sendai is now home to thousands more homeless. The following article ran in the Real Change. It gives a first hand account of the people’s attempts to recover from the horrific blow dealt them. 

JAPAN’S STREET NEWSPAPER STRUGGLES AMID DISASTER

THE BIG ISSUE JAPAN / ビッグイシュー日本版

Image by jetalone via Flickr

Vendors and staff at The Big Issue Japan are struggling in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that has devastated the nation.

Miku Sano of The Big Issue Japan said in an email to partner newspapers that in Sendai, which bore the brunt of the tsunami, vendors survived but are unable to sell the magazine. “Things are not easy and will not be the same, but we are not defeated,” Sano wrote.

“The vendors and people in Northern cities are fighting for their lives and for the loved ones. We are trying the best we can to support them.”

Distribution of the magazine is impossible in northern cities, “hence, the vendors in Sapporo have nothing to sell,” Sano said. There are plans to re-start football practice in Tokyo, as “many of our vendors said that they want to play football to feel better.”

(If you want to contribute to the efforts of The Big Issue Japan, there is an English language site for donations: http://www.jcie.org/earthquake)

Night View of Sendai City, Japan

Image via Wikipedia

Diary of a disaster
The Big Issue Japan works with the Sendai Night Patrol Group to help the homeless in Sendai City. Staff members have been providing free meals for anyone sleeping rough as the city attempts to recover from the disaster. Aoiki san, head of the patrol team and magazine distribution in Sendai, allowed us to publish extracts from his diary about the relief effort:

March 14: In Sendai, the supply of water and electricity was restored in some parts, but it will take more than a month to restore gas supply. In the Wakabayashi area, the worst affected area within Sendai city, I saw a very long queue of people trying to get half-rotten oranges and only one banana. A thousand dead bodies are left unattended in a gymnasium, and there is no information about those unaccounted for. We are planning to provide free meals of curry rice for everyone from 11 a.m. The death toll is too big to comprehend, and many people seem to know nothing about what to do.

Sendai Airport in Natori and Iwanuma, Miyagi p...

Image via Wikipedia

March 15: Roads, airlines and trains are not allowed to run except for emergency vehicles, and there is the dire prospect of a shortage of goods. More than 1,000 people queued for a motorway bus. I joined a queue for Daiei Supermarket before its opening at 10 a.m., but 30 minutes after the opening, major goods had already gone. There is a shortage of gas cylinders, noodles, tinned food, batteries and rice.

March 16: Public administration is completely paralyzed. Sendai City Council opened a help desk today, four days after the earthquake. Hospitals in the city are only able to provide a partial service due to electricity shortages. Without a battery-powered radio, people are getting no information at all. Many citizens don’t know about the accidents at Fukushima nuclear plant. Local radio stations help people to find out about missing persons. Strong aftershocks at 3 a.m. and 4 a.m.

March 17: Today the local radio announced about the food at Wakabayashi City Hall, so we had to make 1,000 meals. We gave out curry, miso soup and rice for about 800 people and it was gone in a second. Some hadn’t eaten for three days and queued for the food in the rain.

I am worried becuse there’s no information about what’s going on at the nuclear power plant. I am worried about the radioactive contamination for the north Kanto region because of the north winds. There are thousands of people sleeping in the elementary schools, city halls and public halls. I will do my best to provide free meals tomorrow, although we may run out of stock if we do so.

(Translated by Mayuko Hida and Yushin Toda – University of Glasgow)       

the hungry, feeding

 

Small tomatoes in Korea

Image via Wikipedia

On Friday afternoon I spent several hours preparing ingredients for a huge pot of stew. I sliced up some onions, then washed and cut up carrots, celery, potatoes, and tomatoes. Along with all the veggies I threw 4 pounds of meat into the pot with tomato sauce, salt, pepper, paprika, and boiling hot water. While the stew cooked, I gave it the taste test now and then, making sure the flavors were blending just right. Now that I’m in my 60s, I feel like my taste buds are finally honed to perfection, or near perfection. It’s taken long enough! 

So why the huge pot of stew? A week ago Sunday, I learned through our church bulletin that there’s been an ongoing effort to feed the hungry in our community. Volunteers include members of various churches, as well as students from different schools. Now that we were aware of the program, my husband and I felt we needed to join others in offering meals to those in need.

lamb stew with leeks, lentils, yellow (heirloo...

Image via Wikipedia

So on Saturday evening we, and about 6 or 7 other volunteers, served hearty bowls of stew and chili to people who wandered into the community hall to sit, eat, and visit. Many were regulars. It was obvious in how friendly they were with a couple of the volunteers.  There was an easy camaraderie among everyone. Diners lined up eagerly, looking forward to a hot meal, with sides like garlic bread, roasted asparagus, a Mediterranean salad of sliced cucumbers, feta cheese, sliced onions and kalamata olives, cottage cheese with a wonderful bowl of mixed fruit, and another of canned peaches. Beverages included plastic gallons of white and chocolate milk, along with containers of juice. And for dessert, ice cream and cake satisfied everyone’s  sweet tooth.

I helped ladle the stew I’d made into bowls, while a couple of other volunteers, 2 middle-schoolers and their mom, served up stew and chili brought by the woman who organized the event, and the asparagus brought by another volunteer. The diners helped themselves to the side dishes. It was humbling to be able to serve one meal to others, knowing that I’m able to dine 3 times a day. And when they expressed their heartfelt gratitude, I felt it was the least I could do for them. Such a small gesture, but to those with so little, it meant all the world.  

With enough volunteers on hand, 3 or 4 of the regulars sat and chatted with the diners. Being our first time, those of us serving up the food observed, and learned “the ropes.” As time passes, I’m sure we’ll become familiar enough to venture out from behind the serving table. My husband spent the time washing pots, pans, dishes, cups, and everythingelse put in front of him, including the huge, crock pots emptied of their contents. Because of his contribution, the volunteers were able to pack up and leave once the evening was over.

It was apparent that a free meal not only afforded these unfortunate souls a warm, full belly; it also gave them an hour or so of companionship in a secure, comfortable environment. Many congregated into small groups, chatting among themselves in hushed, or spirited tones. There were elderly men and women, as well as those in their 20s, and a few somewhere in-between. A couple of individuals were obviously in their “own world,” but harmed no one, preferring to dine alone, quietly.

For a very brief time, it was good to give of ourselves to those who make their way in society, unknown and perhaps unwelcome in many cases. Feeding them, giving them respite from the elements seems the least those of us who “have,” can do for those who “have not.” 

have my cutting board…primed and ready to go…hugmamma.

“real change,” the homeless

While in Seattle yesterday I was lucky to find one of my favorite reads, a street newspaper. Since learning about this network of national, even global, homeless newspapers, I make it a point to seek out its vendors wherever I travel. Helping these people help themselves gives me great satisfaction. Giving money to individuals seems a more organic thing for me to do than putting a check in an envelope, addressed to an organization. I do some of that, but I so prefer pressing my money into the hand of someone whose smile blesses me in return.

In this week’s copy of Seattle’s “Real Change,” was the following article which warmed my heart, as I’m sure it will warm yours.

Vendor of the Week
Paulette Bade

Paulette Bade has an infectiously positive attitude. When I arrive to meet her, just past 8 a.m. on a chilly Monday morning, she’s already been selling the paper for over an hour. We can see our breath and the sidewalk where she’s selling is mostly quiet, but Paulette is all smiles. When she sees me, she exclaims that it’s so cold this morning she probably wouldn’t have shown up if she were me. I find it hard to believe; Paulette always shows up, 7 a.m., six days a week, without fail. She is happy to be selling a paper she believes in, talking with customers she knows and cares about, and saving money for her future.

Paulette has been selling Real Change outside the Whole Foods store at 64th and Roosevelt since the start of the new year, moving recently from her previous location at the QFC down the road. Luckily, staying in the same neighborhood, she’s been able to maintain a lot of her same customers–people who still stop by to visit with their favorite vendor and buy a paper once a week.

Image via Wikipedia

When she started selling the paper–in 1999, incredibly–it was only to make some extra cash. Her ambition soon swelled, though, and she now sells more than 300 papers each month. Starting out, Paulette had been homeless for close to eight months, staying in a local DESC shelter. She eventually moved into Nickelsville, the only place that would let her keep her two cats and where she met her current boyfriend. The four of them have since moved into an apartment near the store.

“Now I want to put money in the bank. I want to do better for myself,” she tells me. Paulette has been saving up her earnings from selling the paper in hopes of moving into a better home, somewhere where they can have more space and the two kitties can roam around.

As we talk, customers leaving the store or walking by greet Paulette like an old friend. They know her well, and she knows them. She points out customers to me, telling me who writes poetry and who buys the paper for the crossword puzzles. She loves this part of the job, even with the uncertainty that sometimes comes along with it.

“You never know from one day to the next how many you’re going to sell or how much you’re going to make,” she says. But even on slow days she powers through, reading the new issue each week, trying both to know her product and her community.

When I ask what her customers outside of Whole Foods mean to her, she is flushed with joy.

“I’m thankful to all my customers. I appreciate them just stopping by and saying ‘Hi.’ Their smiles make my day, everyday.”

written by Adrienne Brown

paulette’s teaching me about simplicity…and love… for all…hugmamma.

former homeless songwriter, chris scott’s story

Homeless Lessons Learned was produced by Andrew Diffee, a talented young college student majoring in videography. While looking for subject matter for a required video production assignment, Andrew and I crossed paths outside The Contributor office downtown. Intrigued by the details of my living situation, and my positive attitude and outlook in the midst of it all, he decided to tell my story. We arranged a shooting date on a Sunday afternoon, and armed with a film crew and a pizza, production began.

I have lived and survived the last 18 months in the woods on the back side of Fort Negley (coincidently named after General James Scott Negley). That makes me a veteran with an honorable discharge who has lived on a former military installation all while trying to establish himself in a new city. But on December 3rd, 2010, after a long, hard “tour of duty,” I finally moved into an apartment. (Selling The Contributor had a lot to do with that.)

Life is different when you have a roof over your head and a safe place to go. For me, that has become an achievement and a reality. But for so many of my dear brothers, sisters and friends, it is not within their reach at this point in time. I know what they are going through every night, night after night, with no place to go, no place to be. Wherever they try to lay their heads, they end up being either ticketed or incarcerated for trespassing.

During the entire 18 months I camped on that hill, I was never ticketed or jailed for trespassing. I did, however, have everything I own dragged down the hill and thrown in the back of a garbage truck–twice! (It’s much easier the second time.) I made it through Nashville‘s coldest winter in 30 years in a tent I built myself. I survived the flood of 2010 and didn’t lose one thing to the rising waters. I did whatever I had to do to make it happen, help my fellow-man, and survive. How I did it and what I learned over that period of time is the focus of Homeless Lessons Learned.

Armed with a plan to alleviate the plight of my brothers and sisters on the street, those who attend the screening will learn about ways they can get involved. I believe that 2011 is going to be a year of growth and change for a lot of folks. Things are going to get better. I have seen so much happen in 2010 and I know that we’re just getting warmed up. Things can’t stay the way they are. Justice must prevail for everyone. We are Americans! And more importantly, we’re family. Together we’re stronger–as individuals as a community, and as a nation.

a man with a story to tell…of compassion… for all…hugmamma.

Note: A public screening of Homeless Lessons Learned, a 45-minute documentary, was held on 1/12/11 at Nashville’s Downtown Presbyterian Church (DPC).

“something in common,” an actor and a homeless songwriter

Just saw the Academy Award‘s tribute to singer/actress Lena Horne, with actress Halle Berry doing the honors. Ending the segment was a black and white flashback of Ms. Horne singing “Stormy Weather.” When the picture faded, the screen was left with words attributed to her.

It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s how you carry it. 

While they undoubtedly speak to the centuries-old African-American struggle, they seem equally befitting of the plight of the homeless in our society. Ms. Horne was the first black actor to sign a long-term contract with MGM studios. Perhaps someone like Chris Scott, a formerly homeless songwriter will be the breakthrough star on behalf of all those living on the streets, or in less than adequate or desirable housing.

Happy Homeless Camper
by Chris Scott (formerly homeless songwriter)
chrisfieselman@aol.com

On October 28th, 2010, I had all my possessions confiscated and disposed of by the powers that be–for the second time. This song was written on October 29th, the day after.

Like a leaf on the wind blowing down the street
Backpack carrying everything I need
Like a Bedouin gypsy or refugee
Always seem to catch them staring at me
Well I do OK to make it through the day
But it’s a fight to survive the night
Find a little place that’s out of the way
And try to stay out of sight

Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head
A tent’s protection from the elements
And a sleeping bag for a bed
I don’t need a lot…Just a little spot…
And I promise not to make a mess
Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head

Now trying to get by and live a simple life’s
Not as easy as it seems
There’s a price to pay when you live this way
Trying to chase your dreams
Find a good spot in the woods that’s not
A problem or disturbing the peace
And sooner or later someone’s gonna make you
Pack up all of your stuff and leave
Usually it’ll be the police

Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head
A tent’s protection from the elements
And a sleeping bag for a bed
I don’t need a lot…Just a little spot…
And I promise not to make a mess
Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head

Why can’t they leave well enough alone
We’re trying to make it on our own
In the struggle to survive
We’re fighting for our lives
With no place to stay and no place to call home

Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head
A tent’s protection from the elements
And a sleeping bag for a bed
I don’t need a lot…Just a little spot…
And I promise not to make a mess
Can a happy homeless camper find
A place to lay his head

know anyone in need of a lyricist?…hugmamma.

“i know i can be happy,” the homeless

My daughter recently danced a contemporary solo in a piece by choreographer Sarah Slipper, entitled “Postcards from the Boys.” The entire number was a fabulous aggregation of vignettes, a solo, a pas de deux, a pas de trois, and corps work. The work was accompanied by an orchestral ensemble for some of the movements, and a trio of country singers on guitar and percussion for the solo my daughter danced as well as some of the other choreography. Performed as the show’s finale, Slipper’s brilliant creation garnered a standing ovation on each of the 3 days it was performed.

Having worked with Slipper in Portland, Oregon, for a couple of summers, in the Northwest Professional Dance Project, my daughter was already known to the choreographer before she staged her piece on the dancers in my daughter’s company. I’m sure both were delighted to be working together again. As inspiration for her interpretation of Slipper’s solo, “Homeless,” my daughter reflected upon the words of a poem in a street newspaper.

I Know I Can Be Happy
by Deisaray Lovelace (former Homeless Poet)
deisaraylovelace@yahoo.com

I used to feel so empty
Nothing seemed to matter
I used to feel like I was lost
I used to believe I was nothing at all
Now I walk the streets all day
Now I look as joy fades away
Now I long for brighter days
My cup is broken
My soul still searching
Oh why is my eyes still cryin’

No one seemed to care
No one seemed to understand my fears
I’m not a bad girl
I’m just lost behind the hurt
I fight to earn respect
When all I want is a friend
I was told I’m nothing
That I was impossible
I want to prove them wrong
But can’t because they label me
All I am is homeless
But to them I’m just a nobody

Trying to make it
I have no place
No family of my own
Everyday I walk through town
I see all who laugh
Yet inside I’m broken up
Loving like I’m last
I need someone who understands
I need someone who sees all I have inside
All I need is someone to notice
Someone to know why I cry

No one knows the pain I feel
No one sees the scars
All they notice is fragments
If they’d only see the heart
I need a chance to live
A chance to be found
But every time I look
Hopes turn to tears on the ground

So take my pride
Take my every worth
If only you’d take the time
Try to learn my pain
You could try to take that away too

I can’t stand
When my knees are weak
When I can barely breathe
My nights consist of darkness
My days are the same
I need that glimpse of brightness
So that I can say…

I’m good
I’m brave
To still be standing today
Through the tears
and through the pain
I know I can be happy again
I know I can be happy
Again

the human spirit can overcome…as long as we have hope…hugmamma.

“street newspapers,” prince william

In the January issue of The Contributor, the following article was front page news.

Prince William:
Street newspapers inspire me”

He slept rough on the streets of London to experience first-hand what it is like to be homeless. Following in the footsteps of his mother Diana, Princess of Wales, he became a Patron of Centrepoint/ the leading charity for young homeless people in the UK. And now–for the first time since his engagement announcement last month–he speaks up to support street papers worldwide.

By His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales for the Street News Service

The exclusive article below is written by His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales for the Street News Service (SNS). SNS is the news agency of the International Network of Street Papers which supports 115 street papers in 40 countries. The titles help homeless people around the world to earn a living.

“The economic downturn has had a devastating effect on the numbers of homeless rough sleepers in our communities. In London alone, rough sleeping has risen by almost a quarter in just two years, and that figure does not even include those who have been forced out of their homes into temporary accommodation or overcrowded housing.

There are many reasons why someone can find themselves homeless: family breakdown, unemployment, drug or alcohol abuse, or falling on desperately hard times, often through no fault of their own. But the effect of homelessness is the same for everyone: a crushing sense of hopelessness and despair. The emotional consequences for the individual can be utterly devastating–sometimes more so than the stark fact of being homeless.

Charities, churches, governments and other bodies can all help with the basics–a roof under which to shelter from the elements, heating and security–but without hope, an individual cannot rebuild a life. And for there to be people with no hope living right alongside us is surely a blight on our societies.

That is why the work of the restorers of hope–street newspapers like The Contributor, my own charity Centrepoint and other organisations and individuals who care–so inspire me. They give homeless people the tools with which to rebuild their confidence and, ultimately, their lives.

I have met many homeless young people who are now filled with a passion and desire to achieve in life, simply because they were given a little support at the right time to get back on their feet. These are people of extraordinary courage. There can be a perception that they have given up and lack courage. Let me tell you, they have not and they do not. I count myself enormously privileged to be associated with such individuals. I salute all the organizations that are there for them.”

a tribute to Diana’s humanitarian efforts…a legacy for her sons…hugmamma. 

 

“homeless celebrity,” ted williams

 

Along with most other Americans, I rooted for Ted Williams as his resurrection from the homeless heap was broadcast across all TV channels not too long ago. But where is he now? Is he still in rehab for alcoholism? Is he still getting phenomenal job offers? Does anybody care anymore? Now that I think about it, didn’t Dr. Phil assume responsibility for getting Williams “back on track?” But no longer media’s darling, he seems to have been quietly relegated to castaway status again.

An article in Tennessee’s homeless paper, The Contributor, “Lessons Learned from Ted Williams the homeless man with the golden voice” by Gemma Holmes, once again shines the spotlight on the man who was given the chance to salvage his life in a big way. Holmes explains, convincingly, that the homeless experience cannot be rinsed clean by fame and money.

The rags to riches story of a homeless veteran with a golden voice took him off the street corner begging for change to the sets of the Today Show, The Tonight Show, The Early Show, Inside Edition, Entertainment Tonight, and Dr. Phil. He had a tearful on-air reunion with his mother and a public meeting with his children. Lucrative voiceover contracts with Kraft, MSNBC and others were given to him within days of his story going viral. The video of him being interviewed by a local reporter has been seen by 15 million viewers and counting. His rise to stardom in less than two weeks was remarkable. The glare of the spotlight showed us his talents, but it also showed us his demons that made the media who took him to the high heavens in one swoop, quickly throw him back to earth with a crashing hand.

Comparing Williams to other homeless whose “comeback stories are filled with ups and downs,” Holmes says about them

They may not have a golden voice, but many have skills and abilities that have been buried under the hardships that come with being homeless. Homelessness affects a person physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Many are looking for a second or even a third chance to correct the mistakes of the past.

The remainder of the article speaks to the selfless involvement of a local Nashvillian, Pat Waggoner, who is giving a “hand up” to the homeless in his community. Unlike Ted Williams who obviously had no support system in place to help him maneuver his way back from the brink, Waggoner provides the backbone needed for the homeless to stand tall once again, taking their rightful place among the rest of society. He understands “that getting a Ted Williams off the streets does not stop the struggles instantly. Unlike our culture of instant gratification, Pat is patient and believes that with faith, perseverance and hard work, lives can change for the better.” In offering the usual assistance to the homeless, such as meals, clothing and housing, Waggoner enlists the aid of others in the community, from “networking and civic groups, and church members who abide in his passion for helping others.” But he goes “above and beyond” as well.

He even finds jobs to help them become independent and self-sufficient. Pat is a strong advocate for rehabilitation to make sure that individuals stay drug and alcohol free after they leave the streets…he makes sure that for long-term well-being, he mentors men and families about financial literacy along with making sure they have someone to call when stressful situations occur that can push one over the edge. He encourages group therapy and spiritual counseling and believes strongly that counseling is one of the keys for personal growth. No, Pat Waggoner is not superman, but he is dedicated to deflating our homelessness numbers one person at a time.

The author goes on to say that Waggoner recruits others to help in his crusade by telling one homeless story at a time, enlisting his listeners compassion in believing in “the goodness of men and women who just need a break.” Undoubtedly not every story has a happy ending, but this doesn’t deter Waggoner from continuing to reach out to others.

“All too often when a very public rags to glad story falls short of our expectations, it has a chilling effect on us, and cynicism can creep into our giving and serving others.” This says the article’s author is why Pat Waggoner’s actions “can teach us to give to those in need, to step out on faith and build relationships with individuals who may still stumble and fall on the road to recovery. Leaving a life on the streets can happen with just one faithful encounter, but the emotional scars often remain as they transition into their new dwellings.” The writer goes on to suggest

If you come across a Ted Williams today, help him find a Pat Waggoner. Slowly but surely, you just might change a life.

there’s nothing i can add to such a profound statement…except “amen”…hugmamma.

  

“that damn window”

Another piece of writing, but this time by a homeless poet. Its words could be those uttered by any one of us, to anyone from whom we’ve wanted approval…and love.

That Damn Window
by Jason Schafer

I’m just curious, how is that damn window doing for you? Did it finish cutting down
them trees yet? Did it finish them sprinklers? Or what about them gutters–has it done
anything with them? How about the yard work? Yeah, probably too busy filling that
hole in the sun room. Too bad that damn window can’t fill the one in your heart. I still
wonder if that damn window randomly gives you a kiss while you sit in your chair knit-
ting your blanket. Does that damn window ever say “I love you?” Has it cooked you
breakfast yet? Or simply said good morning after a night’s sleep? I’m sure that damn
window appreciates you giving it a place to be. It just seems like you would rather have
that damn window than an only son like me that loves you. Maybe I’m not transparent enough–like that damn window. I wish next time you sit next to that damn window,
and stare out its cloudy view, you might just see me smiling, and read my lips that say,

I still love you.

 

…enough said…hugmamma.

poems, “the homeless”

Got a copy of the “homeless” newspaper from a city where a friend lives. It ran several poems written by formerly homeless citizens. I wanted to share three with you.

Cell of the Mind
by James T. Meeks

Staring silently into space
Trying to remember
The time and place.

Thinking of a hidden feeling
Hidden away
Only to awake staring at the ceiling.

I’ve been locked away
From the one I love
Maybe there will be a day.
(I’ll find a way!)

To express the way I feel
But the card man
Won’t get for real.

He keeps dealing the King of Hearts
I wish he’d deal the deal
Before it starts.
(And breaks both our hearts!)

Homeless
by Lydia Macklin

What does it mean to me?
Of course it means no roof
over my head, a place to
someday call home.
It means no address or phone numbers
to put on job applications.
It means carrying your belongings
in a sack on your back.
It means unfamiliar bed and people
every night.
It sometimes means awful food that
you have to eat so you won’t
be hungry.
It means forever watching your
back ’cause you don’t know
who your real friends are.
It means sleeping with one
eye open ’cause you don’t know
what people might do.
It means people look through
you ’cause they don’t want
to see you as a human ’cause
that would mean you’re
just like them.

Looking Back
by John El

Well looking back
To see where love went wrong
Trying to understand and still stand strong
Just how you made a fool outta me
Looking back to forgotten memories
Well it seems like I was always outta sight outta mind
I guess that’s why they say that love is blind
For a nickel’s worth of love is not worth a dime
And looking back
Some women are like the wind
Here they come and gone again
For lovers and strangers
That’s all they are
Chasing rainbows and wandering stars
‘Cause looking back
These things I already know
So if the conversation leaves you in doubt
Pack up your things and go
And now I’ve grown old and my hair is turning gray
When I hear the same old lines I just laugh and walk away
And looking back
I catch myself whisper her name
And it’s a mystery to me that drives me insane
So don’t remember what I said but what I had to say
Looking back
Only brings heartaches and heartbreaks of yesterday
So
Don’t
Look
Back
No
Don’t
Look
Back

Tender sentiments belonging to those who have lived on the edges of society. These words do not belong to me or to you, so if you repeat them, give credit to those who wrote them. For it’s obvious they rose up from the depths of their souls.

hugs for the homeless…they are you and meturned upside down…hugmamma.