Tag Archives: Homeless

I Feel Guilty That I Have a Choice

Earlier today a small group of us went out and served the homeless. It was hot!
In case you don’t know we are in Texas. The temperature right now is reaching at least the mid to high 90’s every day.
I honestly don’t know what the high was today…I just know it was hot.

We went to a number of our normal stops and gave away a lot of drinks, snacks, toilet paper, books and a few socks. After a few hours…we had given away most of the food. Only a few snacks left. The last place to stop was in the heart of the homeless area and I just didn’t feel we had enough. I hate to start handing out stuff then run out. So we called it a day.

Our group got back in our air conditioned cars and chatted on our cell phones and decided where we would go eat lunch.
We sat in an air conditioned restaurant and ate food that was served to us and drank unlimited amounts of cold beverage.

My guilt boiled up when we packed up and drove away from the people who did not have a choice. I was hot, sweaty and uncomfortable. I wanted to take a cool shower and put on clean clothes. The people sitting along the street, trying to stay in the shade, they didn’t have a choice.

I know for many of them it was a string of bad choices that helped them end up on the street. I know I could also end up on the street. But for this moment this is where they are and where I am…and today I felt guilty for having the opportunity to walk away.

A Success Story…

A success story…Social Workers don’t always get to hear what happens next.

Recently I was walking into an apartment office to discuss one of my clients with the manager. A woman stepped out of the office and immediately said I looked familiar to her. We talked for a minute and figured out she lived in the homeless shelter at the same time I was doing my internship.

She told me she remembered that I helped her figure out her credit score and what she needed to do to improve things.

She was excited to announce that she left the shelter 6 years ago and has lived continuously in an apartment ever since.

I think many of us assume there is no hope for people on the street. We believe they have chosen a life of drugs, alcohol, or laziness. Because we don’t always see the positive outcomes…we assume they don’t happen. When our group serves the homeless we hear lots of hopeful stories of getting a job, having an apartment or getting back in touch with family. We rarely get to see those things actually happen.

I have no doubt it took a lot of commitment and hard work for this lady to stabilize her life and maintain a life with shelter, consistency and security. I am so very happy I had the opportunity to hear her story of success.

The Bear’s New Home

We recently completed our outreach to the homeless. We met a couple sitting outside an abandoned fast food restaurant. It appeared the couple had all of their worldly possessions within reach.
I noticed a white stuffed bear laying on the table, where they had been sitting, I mentioned how cute I thought it was. The woman thanked me then suggested I take it because it was just one more thing for her to carry. I told her I couldn’t do that. I was there to give, not take. She kept insisting. Finally I struck a deal with her. I suggested that I would take it but only under the condition that I would give it to someone that would benefit from it. She agreed!

A short time later, while passing out food along Lancaster (local “homeless area”), we met a beautiful little girl that approached us with her mom and three siblings. I asked the mom if I could give the little girl a teddy bear…she agreed!img_6308

Today I drove past the place I met the original bear owner. I wanted to let her know the white bear found a home. Unfortunately, I didn’t see her…but I will keep an eye out for her. I want her to know that her kindness and generosity made a little girl smile.

Two Little Boys

Yesterday I watched a 4 year old boy feed another child. My heart melted.
We took our friends Amanda and Luevena to distribute some food bags that were donated for the homeless. They thought serving people living on the streets might be a good lesson for their nephew.
At one of our last stops, a lady pulled up in a car. It was not a fancy car, it was a car being held together with wire and duct tape. Apparently she realized we were handing out food. She jumped out of the car (almost before it came to a complete stop) and asked if she could get food for her kids.
Four or five children piled out of the backseat. I directed each of them to the back of our car where little James and our girls (Robyn and Sonya) were passing out bags of food.
I stepped up to observe. I wanted to make sure each child received a bag. In the midst of the group stood little James handing a food bag to a boy his size. The two boys stood face to face…time seemed to stop for just a moment. I wanted to capture the scene with a photo but I didn’t want to cause discomfort for the little boy or his mom.

I wondered what the little boys were thinking. Or if they even realized there was disparity in their lives.
One boy was reaching out for help, for food, for survival.
The other little boy was being nudged by the adults around him to recognize how blessed he truly is.
Both boys gained something in that meeting.
Both boys walked away not even knowing their hearts had been touched
We don’t always get to know why things happen and we may never know why these two young boys were in that place, at that time.
But what we do know is that they both benefited, they both received a gift and they both shared a moment of giving.

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Large Subjects

Everything is bigger in Texas!

That is what they say and I must admit…frequently it is true.

One of the things that amazed me when I first moved to the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex was the size of the freeways. They are wide and they are tall…especially the                   “mix-masters”

Recently, while serving the homeless, I had the opportunity to walk under one of Fort Worth’s mix masters. I couldn’t resist getting a few shots.

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You might notice in the above photo my fellow volunteers walking under the freeway. They look quite small compared to the pillars. Yet they are under the lowest level of freeway.

As always, thank you Cee for an opportunity to use photos that would be unlikely to find another home.

If anyone is interested in viewing more black and white photos, Cee’s page is the place to be!

Rick and Darlene…

Yesterday before we started our bike ride Rachael pointed out a car across the lot. Its doors were open and we could see at least one person in the driver’s seat. She told me the same car was in the same place a few days ago.
When we returned from the ride the car was still there.

As I pulled away I decided to stop at the car and offer the few dollars I had available.
I introduced myself and handed the couple dollars to the man in the driver’s seat. He introduced himself as Rick and the lady in the passenger seat told me her name was Darlene. As I stepped toward the car I noticed a small chihuahua in the backseat. Her name was Babee.

We talked for a few minutes. I told them my friend noticed they had been parked in the same place for several days. They acknowledged they were having a rough time and currently were living in their car.

I explained that myself and a group of friends would be out serving the homeless on Sunday and asked if we could stop by and visit, deliver food and drinks. I also mentioned that we carry dog food with us and would make sure Babee was cared for.

This afternoon as we pulled up in three different vehicles it was obvious Darlene was overwhelmed. She immediately gave me a big hug and told me how happy they were that I came back. She looked around, with tears in her eyes, as 9 of us surrounded them. She thanked each one of us. Rick, not as emotional, but respectful and soft spoken introduced himself and talked about Babee. Both Darlene and Rick were extremely proud of their Babee and told us stories of her many abilities.

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Robyn gave Darlene a Women’s Study Bible

We shared food with the couple, Kim, Janie and Melissa checked out Babee’s health and Melissa trimmed Babee’s nails. We gave them water, a Bible and a pillow for each of them. Darlene cried tears of joy throughout our visit and both of them thanked us multiple times.

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Robyn enjoyed holding Babee

The couple had an impact on each of us. We left them to serve others, but I think we will remember them for a long time to come.

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Rick and Darlene agreed to pose for a picture with the group

My Friend Commadore

Those of you that have followed my Facebook page, 365 Days and Counting, for a number of years will remember Commadore.
I met Commadore during the summer of 2014. Him and his dog had travelled to Fort Worth from Florida, by bicycle, to take care of some personal business. When I first met Commadore and Missy (his dog) they were sleeping on the street. Over the next couple weeks we visited and got to know each other. Commadore never asked me for anything, he seemed content to have a friend.
Once Commadore’s personal business was complete he packed up the bike with Missy’s wagon attached, and headed back to Florida. Missy

We stayed in contact during his journey to Florida and fortunately we have stayed in touch off and on over the past two years. I say off and on because there have been times Commadore fell off the grid and I had no idea if he was ok. Eventually he would surface and call me to catch me up on what had been happening in his life.

His life has never been easy. It seemed each time we talked he was either excited about an opportunity or had hit yet another brick wall and was picking himself up and trying to move forward again.
Today Commadore called me. We talked for a few minutes before he told me he was in the hospital. Apparently he is quarantined with Tuberculosis and they also found a few spots on his lungs and are talking about doing biopsies. He has hit another brick wall. Needless to say he is scared.
As always Commadore put the needs of Missy before his own. When I asked him where his dog was staying he said she is with a friend and that he made sure she would be taken care of before agreeing to go into the hospital.Commadore

I am worried about Commadore and wish there was something I could do for him. The only thing I know to do is ask for your positive thoughts, prayers and good energy all directed at Commadore for strength and healing.

I told Commadore that he has a lot to do with the work I now do with the homeless and I am grateful for his friendship. I appreciate his willingness to allow me into his life.

A Child’s Future

I first met “Sue” when she was 3 years old when her mom became one of my clients. They lived in an apartment building that was slotted to be demolished. Two different women babysat the little girl when her mom went to work. One had Alzheimers and the other one was a drug dealer.
We immediately moved them into a homeless shelter for families in hopes of getting them into a housing program.

Approximately six months later “Sue” and her mom moved into an apartment. A nice apartment with nice neighbors and a safe environment for a little girl to grow up.
We began surrounding “Sue” and her mom with a variety of supports in hopes of helping the child have as normal of a life as possible.

By the age of 6 years old we realized this child was quite smart and was already surpassing her mom intellectually. The child was becoming the parent, the parent was struggling, trying to figure out how to parent.

As the child worked her way through elementary school she was being recognized by teachers for her intelligence. Her grades were A’s and every once in awhile a B.
We continued to surround them with supports in hopes of helping “Sue” find her way through childhood, through teenage life, through school and hopefully onto a future.

Today I was honored to watch this young woman walk across the stage to receive multiple honors, including A – B honor roll. She is a pre-teen, heading into middle school. She has a long way to go but she has overcome such odds that I can’t imagine she won’t make it.

When I first met this young lady I said, “The fact that she survived the first 3 years of her life tells me she is meant for great things.” I believe this is true and i believe with the right supports she will make it.

I am thankful for those that have made an effort to support this family. The social workers, teachers, volunteers, and the people that see a young lady with great potential.

Lost Soul

I could see him sitting against the building, about a block away. He was flicking both hands repeatedly. It was difficult to tell where one body part started and one ended because of the dirt that caked his clothes, face and hair.

We were passing out food bags to individuals living on the streets. Usually when we park our cars and begin passing out food, word spreads quickly and people come from all directions. This young man didn’t budge. He just sat, against the building, flicking his hands.

I’ve seen repetitive behavior like this before, sometimes from people that have been institutionalized, sometimes from people with intellectual disabilities (especially autism) and sometimes from people with mental health disorders.

I grabbed a bag of food, 2 small bottles of water and asked my friend Corey to walk with me. As we moved closer I mentioned to Corey the unpredictable behavior we could encounter. But I felt a need to try.
I began speaking to him before we got too close. I wanted to make sure he knew we meant no harm and I wanted to gauge his possible reaction to us.

I asked him if he needed something to eat.

He looked at me with kindness in his face, “Yes ma’am.”

I wanted to talk to him, but I was uncertain of his mental status.“Here is a bag of food and some water.”
“Thank you.” He accepted the food politely.

As I walked away from him I tried to wrap my head around the emotions I felt. He looked young, yet worn and old. He looked kind, yet on the edge of uncertainty. He looked like someone’s son, yet a lost soul walking among strangers.

 

Street Poet…

We met Ronald Miller during our recent food distribution to the homeless.Robert

He first appeared as any other guy on the street, until we started talking. He told us he enjoys writing and asked if he could share one of his poems. He told us he appreciated that we took time to serve him and this was the only way he could re-pay us.

We agreed to hear his poem. We asked if it would be ok to record him and he said yes and I am so glad he did.

I’ve listened to it over and over. I am moved by his honesty and inner reflection and touched by the joy emanated from his smile.

The Beast That Wanted to Die

I was born a beast, from yet a mother who was also a beast.

Not knowing at first that the ability to transform was within me.

For every creature that roamed in my domain I destroyed. Taking the very breath from a body until it was lifeless.

Yet while I watched the lifeless body before me, this pain within my chest began to transform me.
Sending me into a deep sleep, yet as I awoke i realized that I was never that beast at all.

But a beast had taken over, my every thought, my every dream, my every hope.
But now I can see there was this beast in me, that wanted to die.

A great reminder to look beyond the outer shell and seek the beauty within.

Unfortunately I have not chosen to upgrade my blog here at WordPress so I am unable to upload the video of Robert reciting his poem. If you would like to see the video please visit my Facebook Page “365 Days and Counting”

I am grateful for the lessons I am able to learn from complete strangers…when I am willing to open my eyes, heart and thoughts.