Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So, *who* is it that is homeless?

© Picture Copyright Mick Melvin and licensed for
reuse under this
Creative Commons Licence
Well, boy howdy!  Let me tell ya!

In the temporary shelter that social media helped me find ... and I take the opportunity to say it's one of the best shelters around.  I know this because those in the homeless situation share stories verbally ::nod, nod::  ...

There are approximately 40 people.

One demographical break down is Familes/Individuals:
  • 6 families, (3 head of households are women, 2 head of households are married couples, 1 head of household is a man)  That's 5 women and 3 men and 6 girls and 5 boys.  Total of 19 people.
  • Individuals (who may or may not have families "on the outside") That's 8 women and 13 men.  Total of 21 people
Another demographical bite is Working/Non-Working (now do be aware this is probably a low estimate, because I haven't been rude enough to ask everyone if they work or not, this is from observation and overheard snatches of conversation):
  • Children - not expected to be working:  11
  • Those adults that are already working:  6 to 8
  • Those able to actively look for work and are doing so:  7 or so
  • Those infirm or otherwise on GR: 5
  • Those I'm not certain of:  4 or 5
Not your favorite demographics?  Here try this one:  Cars/No cars
  • 8 to 12 have a vehicle
  • 28-ish are on foot
What cultures do we represent?  Again, I'm not so rude as to enquire, this is from observation only and could be way off.  About an even mixture of:
  • White
  • Black
  • Latino
Ages represented? We run the entire gamut:
  • 1 breast-feeding infant
  • 3 very young toddlers
  • 4 mid-toddlers
  • 2 grade school (young)
  • 5 mid-school to jr. high/high school
  • a host of folks between 21 and 40
  • a handful of folks between 40 and 60
  • an elderly person whose age I cannot determine.
No one is allowed into this particular shelter if they cannot pass a urine drug/alcohol test, which is administered before you're allowed in.

The people in this shelter are offered 2 meals a day:  1) breakfast (usually cheerios or cornflakes and coffee or milk, unless there is something brought in by a guest chef) from 6:am to 6:45am; 2) dinner -- provided only by guest chefs (donors who come in and give their time, money, and food) from 6:pm to 8:pm nightly.

These guest chefs are venerable and deserving of praise and commendation.

Imagine 28 to 31 different organizations/groups a month coming in to provide real food and drink for 40 people -- a different group or organization each night.

Imagine the person and persons who coordinate this huge and imperative operation from the shelter.

Imagine this being the main meal of the day for most of the shelterees.

We have people who love watching sports, and folks who don't like sports at all.  We have religious and non-religious.  We have people who caretake animals and people who don't.  We have people who read, people who use computers, people looking for ways to produce income, people who have passions.  We have two  people who have done computer help desk call-center work, I know, because I've traded war stories with the other person.

Why, we even have people who can still dress well and whom you might have difficulty recognizing as homeless if you saw them on the street.

What do you have in common with each one of us?

  1. You breathe.
  2. You exist.
  3. You have passions.
  4. You eat, drink and sleep.
  5. You are human.
What else do you have in common with us?

Most of you are 2 paychecks (or less) away from being homeless.

I want to change that.  I have some ideas.  I'll see you in my next post.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tale ... Take One

Director, Producer, here’s the scene to put on the screen:

An individual, in yesterday’s clothes, teeth unbrushed, and disheveled is now heading toward a bus stop; possibly looking mildly (but not emergency center ) ill.

Watcher, Observer:

What are your first thoughts and reactions to this verbal picture? Be totally honest, because you’re the only one who will know your answers.

Director, Producer:

Pan to the plastic bag the individual has hooked over a brace on the left arm. Slowly track down to the backpack on wheels being drawn along the sidewalk

Tracking back up, bring into focus the material six-pack cooler slung over the individual’s shoulder and resting at about hip height.

It’s Sunday. The scene takes place at 6:55am on an industrial/commercial business corner of the city. It’s not cold, however, the individual seems to have a taken a chill.

Watcher, Observer:

Have your thoughts and reactions changed, remained the same, or zoned out?

Director, Producer:

Fade out on the bags and dissolve to the upper arms and hand of the individual. Very small blistering and skin discoloration are visible on the underneath of the upper arms and on the right hand.

Bring the nose into the picture to catch the chapped, red, and apparent runny-ness of the proboscis. Zoom into the area of the eyes, be sure to pick up the watering, and slight crusting.

Flash the image so it is now from the individual’s eyes to what they are seeing.
Watcher, Observer:

What is the facial expression on your face this individual is now seeing? What are your thoughts and reactions as you observe this individual?

Whatever your thoughts and reactions to the verbal image presented are, you don’t have to share. However, keep them in mind for me for a bit longer.


The individual being described to you is homeless, staying in a temporary shelter during the nights. The items in the backpack include as many things as possible to deal with allergic/sensitivity symptoms that are vacillating from mild to moderately severe.

The symptoms are not severe enough for the individual to go to the emergency room (a huge expense to the tax-payers), yet are distinct enough that the individual needs to lay down, rest, and have access to fresh water and a restroom.

The collapsible cloth-made six-pack cooler is what the individual uses for a lunch bag.

The shelter has to have its clients out of the building, as there is no one at the facility on the weekends during the daytime. So the individual cannot stay there during Sunday in the daylight hours.
Watcher, Observer:

Have your thoughts and reactions changed in any way? Just keep track, your answers are for you, not me, and not the rest of the world.

Backstory [continued]:

Lest you draw the wrong impression, the shelter is a fine one. Filled with caring and humane people. The fact that it has hours when it is closed and no official is in the facility is simply a mix of time, fiscal reality, and human manpower. Every place and every human (including service workers) needs to have respite time.

The individual is marking time looking for a place to be.  To have a restroom nearby (and be safe) until 1:pm when most public libraries open on Sundays, so that the person can then be in a building.  While in that building to have 1 hour computer time and then wend their way back for when the shelter opens.

During the 6 hours that need to be whiled away, the individual, goes to two stores to purchase items that are now needed to combat the allergic/sensitivity physiological symptoms.

Watcher, Observer:
Note any differences in your thoughts and reactions now.

Backstory {final}:

The individual is me.

During my stops today:
  • I have given directions to 3 sets of tourists (at 3 different bus stops) because 2 walked up and asked; one couple looked like they needed them so I offered, offer accepted.
  • I have complimented a bus driver verbally because he is an artist at his job. He took the time to show concern and respect for his patrons as they boarded and exited – the elderly (female and male); the young; those of color; those not of color; those able and those disabled. I also took the time to get his bus id# and his sleeve badge id# and will be sending a huge “atta-boy” to the MTA folks when it’s my turn on the internet computer in a few moments.
  • I have had 6 people, from the physically bedraggled to the possibly mentally bedraggled ilk, speak to me during the day, wanting to be heard. I’ve listened and chosen to respond to them. They smiled or thanked me during our conversation, even if it was not particularly coherent.
  • I have traveled through 5 cities.
  • I’m still as sick as I was this morning, yet I have directly made an impact in the lives of at least 12 people whom I’ll never see, and most probably would not even recognize again.

Watcher, Observer:

Have your thoughts and reactions changed any now?
Now, come back to this written blog.

Be not stressed one way or another by your answers.

However, I’ll ask you to keep this in mind as you go throughout your days …

Due to your perceptual filters how you interpret what you observe affects your reactions. Reacting is letting the circumstance act on you.

If you choose to be aware, you can also choose to respond. Responding is you acting on the circumstance.

Make a difference, for yourself. Act on the circumstance.  By doing so, you’ll make a difference for others.

Trust me. It’s so.

Photo by: Andy
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Exercise and rehabilitation -- Paying it forward.

No clue where this photo came from
and I cannot find it on the web
now, if you know, share, so I can
give credit.
Peace Rocks!

I have been told that I run into more than my share of odd/strange people. Par for the course, as I am odd and strange among other things.

One elderly man, with filthy clothes, a difficult gait, and a penchant toward chaotic speech (by that I mean, each sentence he uttered didn’t necessarily follow the other) sat directly next to me on the bus bench a week or three ago.

He talked of a number of things, to someone that wasn’t there, and then he turned his attention to me. Noticing the brace I wear on my left hand/wrist/forearm, he greeted me as if he’d known me forever and was delighted to have come across me again in his life. (No, we have never met that I am aware of.)

Then, squinching up his face, as if making a herculean effort, he began a conversation about my arm. Striking his chest to try and remember what he wanted to tell me, he uttered conversation from which I was able to pick up a few phrases – “go to the website. … I can’t remember … it’s long … what is it … look for University of Ohio … a / and a very long phrase … exercise and rehabilitation …”

Then the bus came that I needed.

With a huge smile, (something I don’t do very often because it shows off the front tooth that I no longer have due to the periodontal distress of extremely aggravated gingivitis. No, public health doesn’t replace teeth, so I’m told by the mental health worker who interviewed me at DPSS) I thanked him and went on my way.

I’ve had occasion to look up the site, and it’s not only valuable for me, I believe it’s valuable for others as well.

So, to you, from one elderly man, with filthy clothes, a difficult gait, and a penchant toward chaotic speech, I met at the bus stop – Pay It Forward:

Ohio University - Exercise and rehabilitation recommendations

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Pete Egoscue dedicated a book The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion: "to all those people who knew what was wrong with them, but were told they did not; to all those people who knew what to do about it, but were told they could not; and to all those people who tried to tell someone, but were told they should not."

We've been told through-out our lifetimes we must have permission.


Permission to go outside, stand, sit, play, work, express, believe, speak, think, create, do, be, exist, ____________ <-- (insert your verb here).

When we were littler, permission came from an outside source.  And in most cases it had a purpose -- to help us survive physiologically until we could develop our own perceptual filter and exercise choice.

As we grew, we learned to ask why.

If those around us had unclouded filters, they answered those whys coherently leading you to your next step of growth -- learning to give ourselves permission.

(Also known as self-responsibility.)

If those around us had clouded filters, or they didn't know the "whys" themselves, they answered incoherently in ways leading you to keep depending on outside sources for permission ... society, groups, institutions, dieties, _________ <-- (insert the noun of your choice).

(Also known as abdication of self-responsibility.)

This is not a concept for sissies.  It takes courage to examine.  And, it takes courage to act on.

"Few people in this world know what their real strength is.  Many see only the part of their power that floats like the visible segment of an iceberg and forget the vastly greater part sunk beneath the surface of the water."  (Thank you Koichi Tohei for verbalizing that in a way I couldn't yet come up with!)

It's okay for you to understand and nurture yourself.  It's okay for you to listen to your body.  It's okay for you to listen to your mind.  It's okay for you to listen to your spirit.

It's okay for you to be responsible for your self and/or Self.

Start asking why.

To everything.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Mission

I am on a mission.. Nope, I'm not Dan Akroyd--Blues Bros--nor am I religious ... nevertheless, hear it with all the fervor and passion as it was said in the flick!

The quest I am on is one of awareness and expression.

Most of us have been taught to stifle our expression. That's one reason, why advocates are in such high demand.

It's not just one "cause" that needs advocacy in our time -- and our time is "Now".

The patterns that are evidenced in one cause (such as homelessness [edit note:  well the homemessness was valid as well, thanks 'typo' on the phone .. but it's changed to the word I actually meant now], or animal rescue, or in health and welfare) are visible in other causes as well.

It's a bold statement, and if it catches your intrigue, or ires you, I recommend you read my next post.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Opportunity is what you deem it to be

Doing things differently, experimenting, exploring and the desire to feel safe and secure--those are core needs of mine. Until this moment in time, I was unable to perceive I could bring them to fruition. It can be done, and in my next posts, I'll be sharing ways touse. Why my next posts? (snort) Because I haven't mastered the methodologies of posting from a tinky cell phone keyboard!