Archive for December, 2013

What we have learned? – It Takes Two to Tango

Posted: December 5, 2013 by grecoam in Uncategorized

By choosing to advocate homelessness we have prepared ourselves to actively engage with those who are in the homeless community, and those that advocate for homeless. We have learned that the average person views homelessness through the stereotypes presented by the media which are often  lazy, dirty, and to some extent outright crazy.

Since we were children we have been taught to give to the less fortunate. Unfortunately for these people, most of the societies around the world don’t acknowledge these people in the ways which we were taught to. We have learned from testimonial that often those who regain their position in society often feel as if they are “becoming human” again, and learning to rejoin other people in regular lifestyle practices. Too often people ignore others, because they are homeless or under the poverty line, but these are -people too- and they need to be recognized as such.

Even though we feel that the majority of individuals know it is important to give back after advocating the issue we have observed that it doesn’t usually happen until holiday season. Christmas and Thanksgiving seem to be the most attractive times of the year to donate and help others. Turkey drive and shelter openings start early and last all day. Why can’t it be Christmas or Thanksgiving year round?

The majority of people Erik and I know don’t tend to volunteer on a regular basis. The most frequent examples of our friends volunteering are to fulfill community service needs which in turn “reverses” the true meaning of volunteering. Volunteering to fulfill your own agenda instead of fulfilling a need is the most often understood form of ‘charity,’ but often falls far short of helping those actually in need. On the other hand we know that individuals and organizations around the world are holding events to advocate the challenges that the homeless face every day. Having others supporting you always helps when advocating a cause, however without your own knowledge and being able to take steps to actively engage changes will never come.

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Second Wind Cottages

Posted: December 5, 2013 by grecoam in Uncategorized

 

Out of all of the different ways in which people have helped the homeless one man’s approach caught my attention. Carmen Guidi from upstate New York decided to buy land to build small cottages in which he plans to donate. His small community will be called Second Wind Cottages. Due to Carmen’s giving and caring nature eighteen homeless people will have a place to call home. I feel that this is a very good idea because the building of a tiny community like this can encourage others to do the same and donate themselves. From reading the article I gathered that Carmen took action after one of his close “homeless” friends committed suicide. After his friends death Carmen went on a tour of a typical “tent city” built by other homeless individuals. I have to agree with the author Mark Horvaths final statement. He argues that, “with the  lack of affordable housing increasing and homelessness increasing,  the tiny house communities are a brilliant idea.” For Carmen to take action one of his close friends had to pass away. As a community if we all take steps early and actively engage with the issue of homelessness then more deaths can be prevented. Below is a video of Mark’s interview with Carmen and the development made on Second Wind Cottages!

If you would like to know more about Second Wind Cottages then click the link ——-> http://secondwindcottages.org

Intregity Through and Through: Homeless or not

Posted: December 5, 2013 by satherej in Uncategorized

This article from the Huffington Post gives 5 examples of people like Glen James [pictured above], who despite being down on their luck went above and beyond to become exemplars of human integrity. I thought their stories were worth sharing:

#1) Glen James: In Septemeber Glen found a bag filled with a passport and $2,400 in cash, along with nearly $40,000 in traveler’s check – but, he didn’t hesitate to turn it in without any expectation of reward. He did so in his time of need, and since then [and notably, because of his act of generosity] he has encountered an tremendous amount of support. The police honored James with a special citation and a complete stanger launched a fundrasing campaign that has raised more than $150,000 for James.

How many of us have found money on the ground and just pocketed it? Probably a majority, but it is people like James – true, and firm in his ethics and integrity that show the true kindred human spirit that all of us should attempt to embody.

#2) The article says that, “This woman showed us that kindness is immeasurable.” The unnamed homeless woman from Winnipeg, Canada opened up a bag of food ast month that Ashley Meilleur, a generous passerby, gave her, she was shocked to find a phone worth over $700. What did she do? I bet you can guess. She instantly called Meilleur’s mom to coordinate returning the cell phone and insisted that she not get anything in return. This was enough for Meilluer, who said that the experience, “restored my faith in the human race,”to establish her own outreach agenda to help others and pass on the kindness.

This kindness is unparalleled, yet it embodies the motive of all good people- to do the right thing and care for our fellow humans.

#3) Billy Ray Harris “exemplified that karma can be a wonderful thing.” The story goes like this:

“There was a brief moment after a woman accidentally dropped her diamond ring into his panhandling cup that Harrisconsidered selling the sentimental piece of jewelry. But he held onto it until the rightful owner, Sarah Darling, returned –- a decision that gave him a new lease on life. Darling and her husband were so grateful for the Missouri man’s kindness that they set up an online campaign, which raised more than $190,000.”

Now, Harris has a home and plans to launch a painting business and was able to have a heartfelt reunion with his long lost relatives- a sweet karmatic that will live with Harris as long as he will. “When I think of the past, I think –- thank God it’s over,” Harris said. “I feel human now.”
#4) Joel Hartman:”…taught us that gratitude comes from unexpected places.” Joel actually came upon a tourists’ wallet in a strange place – the dumpster. What was he doing? Dumpster diving- Ironically enough, for his effort in attempting to find food he came upon something much more valuable, and decided to go above and beyond, enter the hotel and seek out it’s rightful owner.

Hartman actually gave the hotel a fake name when returning the wallet, but the hotel was so determined to reward this act of generosity, that they launched a full on search and eventually found Hartman and gave him a free stay and $500.

It just goes to show, even when you think you have nothing left, you still have the capacity to give back. And it is this very moral that Joel Hartman has taught us all through this extraordinary act of kindness. I think was can all take a lesson, listen to the wisdom and simply try to recreate this goodness in our own lives.

#5) James Brady, while homeless in New Jersey, found $850 and immediately turned it in. “But when no one claimed the money, the police department gave the cash back to the good guy who had already found housing by that time, and didn’t know he had to report his good fortune.” Because of this honest mistake, Brady was put at risk of losing his health benefits – and detriment that Brady’s suppporters would not tolerate. His local supporters defended him and would not let any more unneccesary struggles befall James.

I think that the biggest lessons we can learn from these role models is simple: treat people as you wish to be treated [as people]. The brackets may seem redundant to some people, but as Billy Ray Harris said, “I feel human again.” This feeling lets us get a sense of what being homeless can be like- de-humanizing. We can all try to make this world a better place if we simply treat each other with the respect we would each hope to receive, and remember to pay it forward – hold open doors, help someone pick up scattered papers, or a spilled plate of food – see an opportunity for good, do good and then you’ll have magically created goodness in life where there was none before.

Please, share the message

Homelessness: From Crisis to Routine

Posted: December 5, 2013 by satherej in Uncategorized

There is a book entitled, Confronting homelessness : poverty, politics, and the failure of social policy, traces the rise and fall of a social problem. A big social problem: homelessness. By recognizing and naming the crisis as the first step, the authors describe how the plague of homelessness has gone from a catastrophe to a routine occurrence. Through tracing a brief  history of homelessness they isolate the root of transition from social problem to bureaucratic problem.

Provided is the abstract to the work, written by the authors:

“Whose fault is homelessness? Thirty years ago the problem exploded as a national crisis, drawing the attention of activists, the media, and policymakers at all levels, yet the homeless population endures to this day, and arguably has grown. In this book the author offers a major reconsideration of homelessness in the U.S., casting a critical eye on how we as a society respond to crises of inequality and stratification. Incorporating local studies into a national narrative, he probes how homelessness shifted from being the subject of a politically charged controversy over poverty and social class to posing a functional question of social service delivery. At the heart of his analysis is insight into why we accept highly symbolic policies that dampen public outrage, but fail to address the fundamental structural problems that would allow real change.”

Think about giving the book a read- it isn’t localized or targeted at alleviating homelessness in one place, but in the understanding of the plight that is homelessness everywhere. And through better understanding why we can ‘accept’ homelessness as a condition of society, we can better condition our own minds out of accepting it as a permanent reality. Questions to ask ourselves are; why do we readily accept “highly symbolic policies” that subdue our otherwise intense reaction to the crisis of widespread homelessness? And; is our failure to “address fundamental structural problems” due to our lack of communication and discussion about the issue? Can advocacy really be the impetus that “would allow real change?”

It seems that advocacy, outreach and open discussion of the issue remains the undeserved, and under-appreciated/recognized, component of ultimately alleviating homelessness. There is no better way than to start a discussion and follow its path to see where it goes from there…

  • Wagner, D., & Gilman, J. (2012). Confronting homelessness : poverty, politics, and the failure of social policy / David Wagner with Jennifer Barton Gilman. Boulder, Colo. : Lynne Rienner Publishers, c2012.

Homeless-Signhttp://indianapublicmedia.org/news/flu-hits-homeless-people-harder-general-population-43233/

In a article from the American Journal of Public Health, entitled “Efficient Targeting of Homelessness Prevention Services for Families,” Shinn, Geer et al. conclude that, “despite some limitations, an empirical risk model can increase the efficiency of homelessness prevention services.” This means that if intelligent models can help us understand how to better select those who have the determination to self-help themselves out of poverty then we can radically change the ways shelters work and submission into shelters go now.

It would be good to develop something similar to this model to attempt at our local shelters, such as the Mercy House – SELECTION of those regarded as “highest risk,” also broadens our conceptions of “homelessness” to include degrees of homelessness. That is, there are people without home, potential income, that would be considered in the “highest risk” category, while others could be considered “less home’ful’” in that they might have a home, but it could be temporary and then shortly become homeless, without income, and again in pit of misfortune.

Through better understanding who we all are as people, we can better understand and intuit other people’s position on life and listen for those who cry out with unwavering dedication to humanity for help. If you were thrust into that same situation you would suddenly want the passerby to do the good and right thing – give back, help out, reciprocate his good fortune and pay it forward.

  • Shinn, M., Greer, A. L., Bainbridge, J., Kwon, J., & Zuiderveen, S. (2013). Efficient Targeting of Homelessness Prevention Services for Families. American Journal Of Public Health, 103(S2), S324-S330. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2013. 301468

Reminds me of the pay it forward idea

Posted: December 5, 2013 by satherej in Uncategorized

Just to share some positivity! It’s a good way to look at the world with all it’s people, and it’s a good way to look at life as a whole.

Every1 Deserves Health

Shows that you can inspire others to do good by your own actions.

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Homelessness: A Documentary and Reference Guide

“Hoboes, tramps, and bums,” this documentary is a really good tool for awareness. Defining homelessness and counting homeless people is only part of the mission, but it is also the whole mission. Who are the homeless? The documentary attempts an overview of the homeless population, including homeless children and their families, homeless veterans, and homeless people in rural areas, as well as homeless people of color and homeless Latinos. Incorporating a broad spectrum of people, documentary filmmaker Neil Larry Shumsky claims creates a difference in perspective, which he molds into an argument to “contend with homelessness.”

If you have not already, give the documentary a watch and see for yourself how you can help.

Still feeling lost on what you can do? Look no further, the NCH (National Coalition for the Homeless) gives this simple acronym to help us remember:

You can help end homelessness by simply CAREing.

C – Contribute (food drives, money, etc.,)
A – Advocate
R – Reach Out (volunteering)
E – Educate

Shumsky, Neil L. Homelessness : A Documentary And Reference Guide / Neil Larry Shumsky. n.p.: Santa Barbara, Calif. : Greenwood, c2012., 2012.