Check the Cited Reference Material page for a book written by Rebecca Sue Wilson Isenhower, who wrote about her experiences at the Mercy House [a local homeless shelter here in Harrisonburg] through an ethnographic perspective. She says, “I analyzed homeless mothers’ responses to questions asked during interviews at a homeless shelter, Mercy House. I interviewed fifteen homeless mothers from various ethnic backgrounds ranging in age from twenty to forty-two years old (Isenhower, 2003).” From these accounts she derived themes through the narratives, themes of the risks of homelessness while also revealing strengths that helped these people to survive.

While obvious risks included poverty, mental illness, isolation, abuse, and attachment/loss, she isolated several strengths too, including education, career goals, coping strategies, and children. Her study is interesting from a maternal perspective, exemplifying both the seen and unseen similarities that remind us that we are all human and in this thing together, closing the gap of perception between those that don’t consider themselves homeless and those who do. The perception difference is not any mental disparity or emotional lack of determination, as it is clear that, “Most of the women held strong middle-class values, including the importance of education for both themselves and their children and the importance of finding meaningful work (Isenhower, 2003),” it’s simply a feeling, a feeling of the security, stability and invulnerability that a person feels when they don’t have to answer daily the question of where to sleep that night. This is why the values expressed from a maternal standpoint are especially enlightening, as the statements often exemplify persistence, resilience and motivation to work and to live like other people, and for the person(s) they often love the most; their children. These points typify key strengths in their work ethic and show that despite unfortunate and poor conditions they have looked to the future for both themselves, but especially their children.

All people have difficulty finding the meaning in life; my argument is that it is through our similarities that we should find a common bond as people that have ambitions, dreams and the ever-present insecurity of our collective environments. With all the other forms of fluctuation in our lives, why is it so ridiculous to assume a belief in one constant in our collective lives that is we treat each other as we each wish to be treated. The Golden Rule is of reciprocity – see a need, fill a need; just as you would wish someone would do for you in your time of need.

“The provision of a stable environment, such as the program provided by Mercy House, helps these mothers develop their own definitions of ‘home’ within the safety net of the homeless shelter (Isenhower, 2003).” Such an environment is the recipe for a gradual increase in success in helping people our of the hole of poverty, however it is from the will of all mothers that we see true altruism and a way to defend our collective future, a way to mold our ways to the equal and fair future philanthropists truly hope to see.

Isenhower, R. (2003). Mercy House mothers : homeless women in their own words / Rebecca Sue Wilson Isenhower. 2003.

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You Don’t Need a Group, you Need One Cool Dude

Posted: December 4, 2013 by grecoam in Uncategorized

Making changes for the homeless community requires multitudes of people coming together to advocate what they believe. However, a single individual can take action towards helping other which in turn can encourage others to take a stand. Homelessness isn’t directed towards specific regions of the world, it takes place across the globe. On December 17, 2012 an anonymous man secretly videotaped himself throwing a surprise birthday celebration for homeless woman in the middle of the streets somewhere in Latin America. The video was uploaded to Youtube and quickly circulated the web gaining  a lot of attention. The video above is the anonymous mans first person view of the event that took place and for the people who don’t understand Spanish here is a brief description of the event. The anonymous man walked up to the homeless woman named Andrea with Dunkin Doughnuts in hand and told her, “Feliz Cumpleaños” (Happy Birthday in Spanish) in which she jumped for joy and immediately hugged the stranger. After surrounding the woman with birthday decorations which included party hats, balloons, confetti poppers, and  a Dunkin Doughnut cupcake he turned to the pedestrians and asked, “Who here is going to help me sing Happy Birthday to the lady?” and quickly a crowd surrounded her. Throughout the singing of the song you can see Andrea overwhelmed with joy. After some kind word from the kind stranger the lady exclaims that she has nothing to wish for because everything she could wish for has already come true. Andrea’s last word are that she wishes that, “everyone can be happy.”

Personally this video was very moving. On most occasions I will give my any spare change to the homeless people that I come by but never did I imagine throwing a birthday celebration for one. During the whole video you can see that Andrea is overwhelmed and with her birthday wish you know that she genuinely cares what these strangers have done for her making her feel as if she has a family. Each person that partakes in helping these less fortunate people brings us closer to creating a universal feeling of family belonging. You don’t need other peoples consent to do good you just need to find your own motivation to do so which allows the reasons for aiding to become apparent for others to follow.

Baby Steps

Posted: December 4, 2013 by grecoam in Uncategorized

Opening up homeless shelters every night is not enough to help the homeless people in the streets. Many of the homeless people are denied entry due to the fact that the shelter is “too full” or they “arrived late”. Some of the homeless people are getting a place for the night while many are not. In the journal of Religion and Health David P. Moxley, Olivia Washington, and Joe McElhaney recounted the development of an inner city congregation’s decision to concentrate on helping people who are affected by homelessness. The journal entry was titled, “I don’t have a home:” Helping Homeless People Through Faith, Spirituality, and Compassionate Service. The story starts with Pastor Rebecca taking a risk  and allowed a homeless man named Oscar to stay in the church overnight on a make shift bed. Fearing that she had done the wrong thing she stayed overnight as well sleeping very minimally. Once Oscar woke up on his makeshift bed Pastor Rebecca offered him food in which he replied, “I can’t eat yet miss, I gotta pray. Just because I don’t have a home doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. Food can wait but I need to pray first and then I need to find a way to repay you.” We only know homeless people through the stereotypes that are portrayed by the media. This man broke the stereotype showing that he didn’t want to just receive things without giving back. Pastor Rebecca’s small deed to help a man for one night had changed all her prior judgments about homeless people just due to a simple act of kindness. After helping clean up around the church Oscar was on his way back to the shelter and with the help of Pastor Rebecca was the first person in line. Prior to entering the shelter he told Pastor Rebecca that he would be more than happy to help around the church if he was needed and without hesitation she replied yes. Oscar became a regular at the church and was frequently seen volunteering. After some time he would bring a small group of his friends whom were looking for support, food, and productive activity (Moxley, 2012, pg. 431-435). Pastor Rebecca’s decision to help Oscar helped cement the new mission for the church, to outreach and service to those who experienced daily grueling demands of homelessness. Even a pastor, who has dedicated their life to giving back, may have to take the first step by taking personal initiative to give help a receive help from somebody in need of both a home and a place to give back and be acknowledged in a community.

  • Moxley, David P., Olivia G.M Washington, and Joe McElhaney. “”I Don’t Have a Home:” Helping Homeless People Through Faith, Spirituality, and Compassionate Service.”Journal of Religion and Health 51.2 (2012): 431-99. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.

Stop Hunger Now

Posted: December 4, 2013 by satherej in Uncategorized

The Down Not Out Story

Posted: December 4, 2013 by satherej in Uncategorized

The Down Not Out Story frames homelessness in a new communicative context that allows people to think of themselves in relation to those they consider homeless. ‘Home’ful people have advantages, but that does not preclude homeless people from success. In fact, if you consider that those who rent are but a step away (that is, a month’s rent away) from being homeless as well – you can start to understand the broader definition of “vulnerably housed people,” that the Down Not Out Story is advocating for in aggregation with those truly homeless.

Root Cause Productions

Root Cause Productions is currently working on a film project for Down Not Out– a community news agency ran by homeless and vulnerably housed people. The Down Not Out news agency produces news articles related to the issue of homelessness and acts as a news aggregator to homeless related stories. DNO also seeks to pave the way forward in abolishing stereotypes put upon the homeless by a society who believe that no longer having a roof of your own renders you incapable of intelligence productiveness and dignity.

The Down Not Out Story will document the history of the project from its inception in January 2012 until the present. During this time the group has maintained a website, produced its own DNO Newspaper and staged Food Bank Action events in three separate cities on the same day.

A rough edit of the film was well received during the Action Homeless…

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Foot Doctors Offer Exams, Shoes To The Homeless

Posted: December 4, 2013 by satherej in Uncategorized

CBS Chicago

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(CBS) — Dozens of homeless people will benefit tonight from free foot exams on the city’s West Side.

Dr. Simon Lee has been organizing the Our Hearts to Your Soles event in Chicago since 2007.  He and a couple of other doctors from Midwest Orthopedics at Rush and a group of medical students from Rush University Medical Center will provide foot exams Wednesday evening for more than 100 homeless people at the Franciscan House of Mary and Joseph shelter in the 2700 block of West Harrison Street.

The men, women and some children who’ll be examined will also get a free pair of new shoes and a few pairs of socks, Lee says.

It’s important the homeless have good footwear since most of them are on the street all day because shelters are only open at…

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