“Like water, be gentle and strong. Be gentle enough to follow the natural paths of the earth,
and strong enough to rise up and reshape the world.” ~ Brenda Peterson

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back to writing on the ole' blog

I haven't blogged in a while...somewhere along this journey of helping CLT's Homeless, it became harder and harder to put words to what was happening out on the streets. It's one of those rare instances where, while trying to help those that are helpless, in someways, not being able to help them as much as I would like, made me feel somewhat helpless. I'm extremely proud of all of my volunteers and my organization. We've continued to push through the stereotypes that surround those in need...and we haven't given up on them. We definitely have made a difference in the lives of many homeless individuals, and I have to remind myself that just like life, this journey is a progression and that I should not be disappointed with any of our efforts. There is still plenty of work to do. We will get there...and so will the homeless. In the upcoming months, we have a fundraiser planned for October, and details will soon emerge of our major push on the city and citizens of Charlotte to pay attention to the voiceless...this event will happen on December 9th, 2012 at Panther's Stadium. Here is a video that we recently released about our time on the streets with our homeless peeps: Whispers from the Streets of Uptown CLT

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Images from the street...

When volunteering on the streets of uptown Charlotte, we usually never know which homeless individuals we will come across. Many of which have grown to trust us, to rely on us. Here are some recent images from the street:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A moment of reflection...

This is a picture that I took while I was

Uptown yesterday with my favorite homeless peeps. I needed to be there with them, in this place and time, to remember...remember why I first started helping them and why they mean so much to me. Every time I set out on foot on a Sunday, I secretly hope that I won't see them...that somehow, someway, they've managed to escape this horrible plight. The thought of not seeing them every week comes with its own pain, but it is a lesser pain. The point in all of this, and in life in general, is to be there for as long as you're needed. #always I took some raw and real video footage while out there, one of these days I hope to do something amazing with it.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Updates

Recently, one of our homeless clients became a vendor for Speak Up Magazine. Warren, is one of our homeless clients who has been there with us since the beginning and we are very proud that he has taken steps towards climbing out of homelessness.

We are also volunteering uptown today at 2:30pm, and we have lots of exciting things happening with The True Change Band. More details soon.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Do you remember me?

"Do you remember me," is a question that my homeless clients ask me on a regular basis. I always reply back with, "of course I remember you," and there is a lot of truth in that statement. I don't know if I have ever forgotten a homeless person that we have come in contact with. And, most of the time, they don't forget who we are either. While walking the streets of uptown and passing out supplies is an entirely different volunteer opportunity than our weekly meal service, the homeless recognize us. In some ways, they know that we are there to help them...and we can all see the relief on their faces.

A few weeks ago, we were stopped at a crosswalk and a homeless woman looked down the street and told all of the 20 volunteers to cross the street. She said something along the lines of God having our back. It was one of those statements that I didn't question, and we all crossed the street. Afterwards, I had to think about how profound her statement was. Even though she lacked material possessions, she still felt protected by God. Housed individuals take a lot for granted; we have so much to be thankful for but the sad reality is that most of us are not thankful, at all.

We've never experienced extreme hardship, sadness, or suffering. We go through life with a complete lack of knowledge about what a homeless person's life must be like. We look at them and we blame them for their unfortunate plight, and we believe that there is a reason why they have fallen into homelessness. After all, homelessness doesn't just happen, right? Or does it? Sometimes, homelessness does happen, without warning. Everyone seems to have this misconception that they could never be homeless, but anyone who losses their job and gets behind on their bills can become homeless. No one is immune. So the next time you see a homeless person on the street, consider recognizing them for what they are: a person in need. If you see them this way, the need to pose blame dissipates. Help them, and remember them. Think about it...

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Real Change?

Every once in a while, I get so fed up with the "solutions" in this city to "end homelessness," that I write about it. To read more about the latest initiative to "help the homeless," and my reaction to this initiative, please click here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One year ago...

Happy Anniversary Shout it Charlotte! It's hard to believe that one year ago, I became determined to make a difference and to raise awareness about some of the stereotypes that plague our city. I had no idea then that writing one article in the Charlotte Observer would lead me to writing as a career. I now write for six publications, in nine different sections, in addition to running the nonprofit.

The most rewarding part of it all has been the countless hours we have spent out on the street with the homeless. It's one of the realest experiences that I have ever been a part of.

And while I do feel blessed that I have been able to raise awareness about some of the obstacles that surround the homeless, there is still plenty of work to do. It's a good reminder to never become idle and to always keep persevering, especially leading up to the Democratic National Convention. I still worry that certain measures may be implemented during the DNC that will target my homeless clients.

Here are some recent homeless related articles:

The working poor, minimum wage, and the correlation between the two


CLT's Shelter Crisis, statistics, and the cure for homelessness

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Street Outreach


Serve Charlotte's Homeless will take to the streets of Uptown Charlotte later today, to pass out vital supplies and food to CLT's unsheltered population. The experience is often raw and real, but we always walk away knowing that we have made a difference in their lives. The street homeless individual is so appreciative for our assistance, mostly because there is no expectation...they are used to being ignored out on the street. When we acknowledge them and open up those lines of communications, it does wonders for their self esteem and it also helps restore their self worth.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Good News/Bad News

In life, one must always take the good with the bad. You cannot have the good without the bad, and you can't have the bad without at least experiencing some good. It's a fact of life.

This past Thursday, we welcomed DJ Ciprian to the 9th month anniversary of Serve Charlotte's Homeless meal service. Firstly, 9 months...wow. That accomplishment alone is worth celebrating. Reflecting on where the nonprofit was at the beginning is somewhat comical...We started with 5 volunteers, 20 homeless people, and a large desire to bring about real change.

And, real change followed. Nine months later and we now have 6 partnering agencies, a pool of hundreds of volunteers, and between 50 to 80 homeless people who depend on us for food, vital supplies, and socialization.

The hardest part of attending the meal service for me, personally, is the amount of pain in the room. I see their faces and I feel their pain, and at times it is so overwhelming that I wonder how much longer I can let it eat away at me. But, on the other hand, feeling that pain is good for me because it makes me work that much harder to help my homeless clients.

As soon as I arrived last night, I saw one of my homeless clients that I would have labeled as one of my success stories. Through a lot of communication my volunteers helped him turn his life around. He was doing so well, he had climbed out of homelessness...and all of that changed last night. Him and his girlfriend are homeless, again. It's one of those instances that I look at from outside the situation and wonder, "where do I go from here?"

The Good News


As I mentioned before, we welcomed DJ Ciprian to the meal service to DJ for the homeless. It was such a relief to see my homeless clients smiling and somewhat carefree. DJ Ciprian lifted their spirits and healed their souls. There were 65 homeless individuals in attendance last night, and just knowing that DJ Ciprian brightened their day through music, makes this day and every day at the meal service that much more worthwhile.

Friday, January 27, 2012

1/30 Change is coming :(

Last night was nearly our ninth month up at the homeless meal service. It was somewhat difficult for me to be there. The new camping ordinance goes into effect on January 30th, and I honestly don't know what will happen to my homeless clients. In some ways, I feel like a giant failure. I have spent years advocating for them, helping them, looking out for them...and I wasn't able to convince city council that this ordinance would harm their population. We will be uptown this Sunday for as many hours as we need to be, helping them and warning them.

The ordinance makes sleeping in public spaces illegal. Obviously, it was created in response to Occupy Charlotte protests/camping but no one realizes yet that it gives the CMPD entirely too much power to harass my homeless clients. This measure also goes against their eight amendment right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. Shelters are over capacity...my clients have no where to go.

If they are prohibited from resting in public spaces, then they will be pushed out of the city and away from the resources that they need. I am almost tempted to do a social experiment and dress up as a homeless person and sit on a bench with a blanket and see if I am forced to leave. Hmmm...I may be onto something here...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tell city council to vote NO!!

Tomorrow, City Council will vote on the camping ordinance. I was on Charlotte Talks 90.7FM, a few days ago, and my friends at city council don't seem to realize the unintended consequences that this ordinance will have on my homeless clients. In fact, Warren Cooksey basically told me on air that I was wrong about the definition of camping.

Camping, as defined by the city clerk: "camping means the use of city property for living accommodation purposes such as sleeping, or making preparations to sleep." My homeless clients often use sidewalks and city benches to sit and rest on, as they have no where else to go. City ordinances frequently serve as prominent tools towards criminalizing homelessness. Please help my narrow-minded friends at city council understand their city clerks definition of camping. If passed, this ordinance will push my homeless clients away from the city sidewalks and benches that they frequently sit/sleep on. It will also push them away from the resources that they so desperately need.

Contact Patsy Kinsey, pkinsey@charlottenc.gov
Contact James Mitchell Jr., JamesDistrict2@aol.com
Contact LaWana Mayfield, lmayfield@charlottenc.gov
contact Michael D. Barnes, barnesdistrict4@aol.com
Contact John Autry, jautry@charlottenc.gov
Contact Andy Dulin, adulin@charlottenc.gov
Contact Warren Cooksey, warren@warrencooksey.com

Monday, January 9, 2012

I know that I have been slacking off on blogging. I have been so busy writing articles lately, that I have neglected the blog. Here is one more article, about how unwarranted stereotypes harm the homeless. http://www.examiner.com/homelessness-in-charlotte/unwarranted-stereotypes-harm-clt-s-homeless

I hope to blog a real post soon.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Identification

Recently, I wrote an article over at the Examiner about the obstacles surrounding the homeless and lack of identification, etc. You can read it by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's been a while...

I haven't blogged in a while. I've been out in the homeless community a lot lately, and undoubtedly, some of their pain weighs me down at times. In spite of this, I still subject myself to feeling their pain on a weekly basis. After all, if they are forced to experience that pain, then I will continue to witness their hardships and feel their heartaches.

Three years ago, I was slightly ignorant about the issue of homelessness, but since then I have gained an incredible amount of insight into the paths that have led them towards becoming homeless, in addition to almost everything in-between. My research and experience point towards one conclusion; homelessness is an extremely complex issue. It cannot be solved by devising one simple solution. Furthermore, we cannot take these individuals off of the street and expect that they can conform to society on their own. In truth they need supportive services long after they are housed.

And as I have mentioned before in a previous article in the Charlotte Viewpoint, housing the homeless is not only a must, but it is far cheaper in the long run. Sometimes, my observations lead me to believe that some of our city leaders don't want to rectify the homeless crisis. In truth, CLT receives a fair amount of federal funding in regards to the homeless population. And, if we actually allocated that money properly, I wholeheartedly believe that we could end homelessness. But instead, the federal money that is allocated towards homelessness only keeps my homeless clients displaced. In essence, we are paying for a form of living which is largely substandard.

Raw and Real
Out on North Tryon, the clan and I came across a new homeless client named James. James was particularly down on his luck during our interaction. Immediately, I felt all of this pain. He explained it by saying that he gets up and then he gets pushed back down. Basically he is describing how even though he is trying his best, society views him as a worthless homeless individual, and therefore, he does not feel like a contributing part of society. It was a tear-filled interaction all around; my volunteers were crying, James was crying, but I wasn't.

While I am not overly emotional to begin with, this interaction should have affected me more than it did. I worry often that I am becoming desensitized out there. Still, I'd like to think that besides the vital supplies we aided him with, we also provided him with a good dose of hope. Before we left him, I gave him a hug and tried desperately to transfer all of my positive energy over to him. I'd like to think that it had a positive effect on him; I honestly drove home feeling horrible. Undoubtedly, I was carrying his pain around.

This past Sunday we had an interaction with a homeless woman that had been out on the street since Friday. One of my volunteers literally gave the homeless woman the jacket off of her own back. That was truly amazing to witness and be a part of. And while Charlotte Center City Partners would like for us to believe that "On the street, real change doesn't come from your pocket," my argument is that it simply isn't that cut and dry. Yes, panhandling is an issue that has to be rectified, but sometimes people need help and cannot wait for an agency to assist them. Our interaction with this particular homeless individual is a perfect example of how the CCCP's theory is flawed.

This homeless individual needed ten dollars to replace her Driver’s License. Without the license, she was not able to check into any of the local shelters. Over the course of the three days she had been out on the street, she visited 38 different churches. None of which would give her ten dollars, they would only pray for her. Forgive me Jesus for what I am about to say...but I do not believe that Jesus alone, will save my homeless clients. Jesus works through people, and if we are discouraged from handing out money when some of them desperately need these funds, then we have failed them completely.

For the record, I rarely give out money on the street. However, I had twenty dollars in my pocket during our interaction with this homeless individual, and it wasn't an option for me to not hand over the cash. I almost never carry cash, and therefore, I knew that there was a reason why I had cash on me on Sunday. The cash was meant for her all along. So thank you Jesus for continuing to work through me. That remains the only way that we will effectively get these homeless individuals off of the street...through Jesus, through you, and through me.

Monday, December 12, 2011

We are blessed...

Here are a couple of pictures from a food and clothing drive that the New Charlotte Church is organizing. As you can see, we are going to have plenty of supplies for our homeless friends.


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Obstacles

It isn't exactly effortless to successfully provide food and supplies for 80 homeless individuals every week. In truth, that aspect of our nonprofit takes a great deal of energy to organize. Nonetheless, my volunteers and I happily spend countless hours assisting our homeless community because they are worth it.

And while they are worth helping, recently it appears as though certain measures are being taken to discourage people from helping them. For example, there is a proposed ordinance that City Council will vote on in January, that if passed, will prohibit a homeless individual from being able to sit on a sidewalk or bench, or to sleep in a tent or under an overpass.

In addition, Charlotte Center City Partners had a meeting earlier this week about passing a law that would prohibit the homeless from panhandling in Charlotte. Interestingly enough, there is already an ordinance in place that prevents the homeless from panhandling near businesses and ATM's. Quite frankly, I'm not as overly concerned about this proposal as I am about the camping ordinance; however, based on the Press Release, I have a feeling that CCCPs may also try to prohibit the feeding of homeless individuals.

The Charlotte Center City Partners website states that they facilitate and promote the economic, cultural and residential development of the urban core for a viable, livable and memorable Center City. According to CCCPs, homeless individuals don't belong in the Charlotte landscape. That mentality is another example of intellectual arrogance at its finest. Simply stating that they "don't belong here" isn't going to rectify the situation.

Undoubtedly, the camping ordinance and the anti-panhandling law are both stop-gap measures to remove the homeless from the streets. Both proposals are instances where our city continues to ignore the underlying and debilitating problems of the homeless population. It is completely asinine to propose ordinances and laws that don't offer solutions to ending homelessness.

Furthermore, these proposals are just obstacles that nonprofits like ours have to continue to battle. All in order to simply help a fellow human being...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Warmth...

Warmth: The quality, state, or sensation of being warm; moderate and comfortable heat.

It was cold and rainy yesterday, and my homeless clients were anything but warm. More than likely, they were shivering and suffering. It physically pains me to be sitting in a warm structure...incapable of doing anything about their current discomfort. I feel terribly guilty. Undoubtedly, I feel as though I should be doing more for them...again.

While we have succeeded in warming their hearts and touching their lives, nonprofits and ministries can only do so much when these individuals lack shelter. In truth, with so many in need, there's simply not enough room at area shelters to accommodate these individuals. They literally have no where to go. Can you even fathom not having a warm place to call home?

Society seems to be perplexed as to why a moderate amount of homeless individuals seem mentally unstable...is it really any wonder? Housing fulfills psychological needs, and ultimately, a lack of shelter exacerbates psychological issues. Plain and simple. I for one, would be quite interested in seeing how a wealthy individual would handle being in a similar predicament. My guess is that they would not be able to handle the stress of said situation, and would more than likely have a nervous breakdown. Think about it...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Back to Normal?



____________________________________________________________________


I cannot say with absolute certainty, but it appears as though tensions within the homeless community have dissipated, at least from my perspective it has.

Last Thursday, during Operation Save (Charlotte's Homeless,) our homeless clients were back to occupying both sides of the street on North Tryon. The weather was fairly warm, and therefore, we found and provided food and supplies for at least fifty unsheltered individuals.

It was comforting to see that they were walking around, freely...without being regulated. Still, I wonder if this is just a temporary lapse in supervision. When we walk the streets of uptown and assist them, I look at their faces and I realize that we've gained a lot of ground within their community. They've come to depend on us, but undoubtedly, with all that we've accomplished -- the proposed camping ordinance threatens to wash it all away.

A few months ago, I wrote an article for the Viewpoint about the DNC coming to town and the possible fate of the unsheltered during the event. Undoubtedly, the homeless are politically powerless, and any movement comprised of solely homeless individuals lacks political durability. The article hasn't made it through the printing cycle yet, but I have been eerily surprised at how, even this far out from the DNC -- my predictions have already started becoming a reality.

So back to the proposed camping ordinance; the Charlotte Observer recently wrote an article about what the ordinance entails. I spent countless hours analyzing every aspect of said camping ordinance, and I found a rather disheartening part. Now, for the record, The Observer didn't explicitly state that the ordinance would affect the homeless, but they implied it in this statement: "In terms of camping, the ordinance attempts to close a small loophole. No one can sleep in city or county parks nor can anyone occupy a city sidewalk or street." Also they did touch on individuals who could be arrested for offensive odors, such as urine or alcohol. Both commonly present in the homeless population. Of course, they can't actually make homelessness illegal, just their way of life illegal.

What does this mean for the unsheltered homeless population? It means that, in addition to having no where to go, they now have no where to stop and sit or rest. If they stop and sit on a sidewalk, city bench, etc., then they can be arrested and fined five hundred dollars. Five hundred dollars, none of which they can afford to pay. This means that when they fail to pay the fine, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. And once they are arrested, who pays for that five hundred dollar fine? We do, our tax dollars will pay for this fine, in addition to jailing said homeless individual. It's a vicious cycle that they WILL NOT be able to escape from.

So there it is...I look at how we've been able to assist them, and I understand that it is all in severe danger of being taken away. In truth, the ordinance is now just another obstacle, another instance of where we have to fight for what is right. But, they are worth fighting for, and I plan to devise some sort of strategy that will tackle this ordinance. Sure, I could just stick with feeding the homeless, but as I have said before -- I'm not a play it safe kind of gal. Besides, I'm fortunate to be surrounded by an awesome group of compassionate volunteers who understand that we have to stand up for them. Not standing up for them simply isn't an option.

So today, I ask you all to be thankful for what you have. To appreciate your family and friends, and maybe, just maybe for a few minutes...stop and think about someone who is lacking those things. Someone who has no where to go today, and is alone, hungry, and cold. If you can sympathize with this depiction, then you agree that they are worth fighting for. And, you can help...more details to come. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 21, 2011

In the 20's

Last week, the temperature dropped unexpectedly into the 20's. I don't know why it was so unexpected on my part, since it is November. Nonetheless, our homeless clients were not prepared to sleep outside in such frigid temperatures. We were hopelessly short on volunteers on Thursday evening, and therefore, we didn't pass out food and blankets after our meal service. I deeply regret not doing so, and as a result, I couldn't sleep Thursday evening. The realization that our homeless clients were freezing ate away at me all night, and when Friday morning came around -- I knew I had to get blankets over to them.

We went out Friday evening and headed out to their territory. It was slightly intimidating only because we had never approached them under the overpass before. Undoubtedly, once they realized that we were there to help and not harm them, they were receptive to our visit.

It was truly awesome to look past the chasms on both sides, and just interact with them, human to human. We are headed back uptown on 11/22 @630pm. Come on out and join us.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Where to go from here?

Really an off day for me, followed by not one of the best meal services. At week 29, we should be moving forward, but over the last few weeks I feel like we have moved ten steps back. Undoubtedly, I have not mastered balancing everything well, and all too often, my writing career impinges on the nonprofit. Sometimes, I feel like the more that I write about the homeless's hardships and obstacles, the more involved I become in recognizing and feeling their pain. It has become a personal mission of mine to draw awareness to the obstacles that surround them, and I can't break free from it. I also feel as though I an incapable of writing about anything else. Problem is, no one wants to pay me a living wage to write about the homeless population.

In society, the predominant tendency has been to ignore the homeless, to blame them for their problems. After all, blaming them means that society doesn't have to empathize with their situation. Something is seriously wrong with this viewpoint. It is a deleterious approach that affects every aspect of their life. They have trouble getting a job, finding adequate shelter, getting someone to acknowledge them -- gosh, it's nothing short of heartbreaking. Why? Why does society block out or push aside anything that they label as "too painful to feel?"

Sometimes I wonder, are we being affective in their population? Can they rely on us to always be there for them? And then I remember, that I need them more then they need me...I can't imagine my world without them. They have given me strength, probably more than any of them will every know. So when I push through the criticism, I remind myself that fighting for what is right isn't about me...it's about them and I have to continue to do what is right. After all, people will always attack what they don't understand. And that's okay. I forgive them, but I don't accept their criticism. It's theirs to carry around. If I let them affect my decisions, then it hurts the homeless. It's all or nothing for me.

I'm okay with people who don't understand why I have to do this and think that I am crazy, or that "there must be something wrong in my life that I need to fix their lives." All I can say is that I didn't ask to do this. It wasn't one of the top five career choices for me. It just happened, and while I may have witnessed a lot of people come and go in my life b/c of the time spent on the nonprofit -- I don't regret any of it. And, if I had to do it all over again, I would...without questioning it. In the end, I didn't choose to do this, it chose me...and so I don't have a choice, I have to push through.

Tonight, we learned that one of our homeless clients was murdered last night. Because we have hundreds of clients, I can't specifically recall by her name alone, which homeless individual she was. I just have a terrible feeling that it was the one we have been working with on the street. She had been really hard to help, and looking back now, I don't think I did enough for her.

We skipped passing out supplies on N Tryon tonight, and I deeply regret this now...I really should have gone. It literally breaks my heart to think that they are probably freezing on the streets tonight. I am forever grateful that the New Charlotte Church is supplying us with hundreds of blankets, it was just the blessing that we needed this winter.

On my way home tonight, there were countless homeless individuals wrapped in tarps and blankets under the overpass. I almost felt overwhelmed, not in the full sense of the word, but just in combination with the week and meal service...I just realized that I have to do more. I also have to remind myself that my volunteers are truly amazing individuals and that I am blessed that they have a desire to serve -- but I know that the time that they serve is generally a fleeting moment, and I can't always be so dependent on them. It just means that I have to dig a little deeper and realign myself with the quote that started it all..."Be the change you wish to see in the world."

"Always do good to others. Be selfless. Mentally remove everything and be free. This is divine life."

Monday, November 14, 2011

For the record...

I'm not sure if I have ever previously published an article that evoked as much controversy as my Occupy CLT piece has. Wow. Here is something that may be lost in the criticism. I don't necessarily disagree with everything that their movement stands for. I actually wholeheartedly admire their perseverance and their desire to bring about change. In addition, I think that most everyone in our country will agree that it is the best of times for big corporations, and the worst of times for Americans.

My issue lies more in the way that the group is structured, along with their lack of presenting a solution to the things that they oppose. In the end, vigor is useless in the absence of a viable solution.

Originally, when I saw my homeless friends being hounded last week, I too assumed that the crackdown was due to the DNC coming to town. But, then I thought about the current issues, and inevitably, OC came to mind. It became quite evident at that time, that the proposed city ordinance was a direct response to the Occupy Charlotte Movement, not the DNC.

Unfortunately, when people raise awareness about issues, the city has the right to react. This reaction, if passed, will greatly hinder the homeless population's way of life. Under the ordinance, they could be arrested for having an offensive odor, such as urine -- which is a frequent smell among the population. Is it Occupy Charlotte's "fault?" Well, in actuality, they didn't realize that their actions may lead to less freedom for others...but, their actions can be compared to someone driving too fast. Unfortunately, they didn't look or plan far enough ahead, and as a result, their miscalculated actions led to a collision.

In the end, if OC members are forced to leave with less freedom than they originally had, then then they failed at what they initially set out to do.

Week 29

In just a few short days, we will host the 29th week of Operation Serve Charlotte's Homeless. It's a pretty amazing feeling to provide for someone who cannot provide for themselves. In these brief encounters with the homeless, my volunteers and I walk away forever humbled. It's also amazing to have around 60 volunteers on board with this mission. Giving is contagious.

Good things to come...
We have a Christmas Benefits Concert in the works that will also include homeless individuals on the guest list.
We will also take to the streets of North Tryon two additional times in November. Date and time will be emailed to our volunteers.
"You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you." John Bunyon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Things are changing...

For starters, we celebrated a homeless clients birthday at our meal service last night. We also had Touch one Productions visit and perform a poetry show. The homeless were really drawn to the performance, as was I and the other volunteers. James, the birthday gentleman, had a smile on his face from ear to ear. It was so awesome to see him light up that way.

And while the lightheartedness of the meal service was uplifting, the rawness of taking to the streets was lurking in the background. As we walked up 9th St towards North Tryon, something seemed off. While it is true that in colder weather the homeless are harder to find, the visual perception was that their presence was nonexistent in the Queen City. However, I am not that easily fooled. I may be naive about a lot of things, but I simply do not believe that any one agency has gone to great lengths to resolve the homeless crisis.

Instead, I fear and know in my heart that great measures are being taken to conceal the homeless population, especially with the DNC right around the corner. And, as we rounded the corner on North Tryon St., we noticed something rather odd -- none of the homeless were present on the left hand side of the street. It was as if they were being "pushed" to the right hand side.

As we reached the First United Methodist Church, one of our regular homeless clients told me that it was the last night they were allowed to bundle up and sleep on the stairs. I instantly became angered. I asked him who said that and he said, "the police." I told him that I would do the best that I could to let them stay there, and the worst part of that encounter was that our homeless client was so submissive. They are used to feeling like they are marginalized from society, and thus, they feel politically powerless to stand up for themselves. They may be politically powerless, but I am not and I know that the tactics used by CMPD are wrong.

Housing, in itself, is a basic human right. Here is an article that I wrote a while back about it: Housing: A Basic Human Right. If anything, they should be harassing lawmakers and our entire justice system, not vice versa. I will get to the bottom of this, I will. "What's right isn't always popular, and what's popular isn't always right." Albert Einstein