Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Laptops Give Hope to the Homeless

From I found the following article.
I remember when Michael Stoops who is mentioned in this article was working for the homeless issues in Portland Oregon. Due to some mistakes he made, he left town and now is involved at the national level with the
National Coalition for the Homeless
...same battle bigger playing field.
Here is the article:

"Laptops Give Hope to the Homeless"

By Jacob Ogles Jun, 22, 2006

FILLMORE, California -- Happy Ivy doesn't have a bathroom or a kitchen in the bus he calls home. He does, however, have a video-editing station.
Living in a squalid, Woodstock-style bus parked in a Fillmore, California, orange grove, the 53-year-old homeless man charges a power generator from a utility shed and uses Wi-Fi from a nearby access point. From this humble camp, he's managed to run a 'round-the-clock internet television studio, organize grassroots political efforts, record a full-length album and write his autobiography, all while subsisting on oranges and avocados.
He claims he created one of the first handheld computer scanners and played a major part in the data transmission industry in the early 1990s. "I've always been trying to stay up on internet technology," Ivy said.
Ivy isn't the only homeless person who makes it a priority to keep gadgets handy even when a cooked meal is hard to come by.
Many of those now living without a permanent roof over their heads have cell phones in their pockets or laptop computers at their hips. While people living in shelters and alleys have found it difficult to cross social divides, the digital divide seems to disappear on the streets. Nearly all homeless people have e-mail addresses, according to Michael Stoops, director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. "More have e-mail than have post office boxes," Stoops said. "The internet has been a big boon to the homeless."
Helping the homeless get e-mail addresses has been a priority for years at shelters across the country. And in an age when most every public library in the nation offers internet access, the net has proven a perfect communication tool for those without a firm real-world address.
"Because of technology, people are able to keep in contact with their families," Stoops said. And perhaps most importantly, they are able to get some footing in society regardless of how removed from it they may feel.
Terri Hellerich's connection to the information superhighway is all that made life livable on the streets. "It kept me sane and provided my income," she said. Hellerich found herself homeless after a landlord in West Sacramento kicked her out and kept her belongings to make up for a debt. She didn't have a change of clothes, but she did have an old cell phone that she could use to stay online and check her inbox.
Hellerich slept on benches but she frequented a women's shelter with a cluster of internet-connected computers used mostly by the children who arrived at the safe house with their mothers. She started blogging and conducting a business. As an independent internet marketer, she was able to maintain bank accounts, nurse existing client connections and forge new business relationships. The business brought in only about $100 a month, but that was enough to help get her life back on track.
Hellerich now rents a room in Northern California, and she's bought an old computer and broadened her online presence with MySpace and Flickr pages. But she lives in fear that at any point, circumstances could throw her back into the urban wilderness.
And while many homeless people are quick to talk about the empowering elements of the internet, experts emphasize that technology won't erase the aspects of one's personal life that put them on the streets in the first place. "People believe that information is power, and it is sometimes, but it is still a complicated system," Stoops said. It is rare for technology alone to pull someone out of the cycle of habitual homelessness.
But if the internet can't provide the homeless with an out, it can at least provide them with an outlet. Stoops knows numerous cases where modern technology has afforded valuable opportunities to the homeless.
Las Vegas vagrant Kevin Barbieux runs a blog that's brought him a dose of digital stardom. He's been writing The Homeless Guy since 2002. "It's the only real success I've had in my life," he said.
His site isn't the only one on the web with entries about life on the street. WanderingScribe features the ramblings of a homeless woman in England. In Peoria, Willie York has a site devoted to giving advice on street life. And other online efforts have had mainstream attention in the past few years, from New York to California.
Barbieux's site garners 12,000 to 15,000 hits a month. He attributes that to the storytelling ethic of his posts, which detail not only his own travails, but those of colleagues in shelters and city parks. He also comments on the public's perceptions of the homeless, and the factors that force so many of his compatriots into a holding pattern of poverty. "The work I do on my blog is geared toward telling, not just my story, but the story of every homeless person," he said. "If it's just about me then its effect will be limited. I really want to change the world."
If it changes his own life a bit more that would be nice, too. But for now, Barbieux, sans residence, does his blogging in one-hour stints at a public library terminal. He had a Wi-Fi-equipped laptop donated to him through his site, but the machine was damaged and Barbieux has no resources to replace it.
Las Vegas is a great city for Wi-Fi, Barbieux said: You can connect from outside most any hotel or casino, and the homeless keep each other informed about the best hot spots. Technology has helped him collect donations through a PayPal button on his web page instead of having to panhandle.
When he first got online in 1997, he saw a world where one could interact with people without awkward looks and hold conversations without difficult social interactions.
"I have social anxiety issues, and being able to communicate with folks without having an attack was great, and I discovered that I actually had a personality that people liked when I chatted with them," he said. When friends at an internet discussion group suggested he start a blog in 2002, Yahoo tagged it one of the top 10 "new and notable" sites on the web. Suddenly he felt he had the world's attention. "I could be doing other things with my time," he said, "but I can't think of anything else that could be so vital."
Like Barbieux, Ivy hopes to change the world through the power of the web. Living with his wife in his $400 About Us Bus for the past three years, Ivy has driven much of California trying to raise awareness of the homeless, or as he prefers to call them, the home-free.
A head injury made it impossible for Ivy to hold a steady job, he said. But he has embarked on several tech efforts. He claims he helped establish the company which would become Omnifax, though he never saw a dime from the effort and lost touch with his business partners. Omnifax is now a division of Xerox, which did not return a call for a comment.
From his bus, he broadcast the 24-hour internet television show About Us Now in the early days of streaming video. Showcasing music concerts on the beach and offering a glimpse of his Bedouin lifestyle, Ivy believes his was the first successful internet television network. Though he doesn't maintain the show anymore, he still works on internet video -- for most of this year, he's following the United Souls of Awareness, a group of homeless artists embarking on a walk across the country.
Ivy insists he's homeless by choice: He was never comfortable living in apartments. "Walking out the door and seeing everybody had the same door, it would make me get violent, to tell you the truth," he said. But he hopes his efforts online will raise awareness of the plight of the involuntarily homeless community, whose numbers skyrocketed with the Reagan administration policies of the 1980s.
Having a presence online can be a problem. Hellerich deleted most blog posts from her homeless days when a prospective employer Googled her and found the page (it cost her the job). People have contacted Ivy, asking why he can't hold a job but can play the guitar every day. He responds that many days he can't play the guitar, but his vagabond lifestyle is his choice.
While homeless people lurk in the shadows of the physical world, Stoops sees many of them stepping into the virtual sunshine.
"I think people often try to hide the fact they are homeless because they are ashamed of it," Stoops said. "But more and more, others are sort of coming out of the closet. You see writers and poets. There is really a niche of homeless writers now, and I am amazed at that. This is the hook to get people to listen."
Read the original post for this article below:

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Our Peaceful Place

Determination & Love

"We are in the basement of the Calvary Christian Center Ministries building.
It’s the brick Church that sits right on the corner of Alberta and Mallory.
Mallory is two blocks west of Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Our entrance is the white door just west of the Church’s main doors.
We are located downstairs"

Sounds comfy just reading the location
Or maybe the name of the establishment was what soothed me?
When I went there to volunteer my services a few weeks ago it felt just as comfortable.

In its new home in the church basement that has massive amounts of space
That’s because it once was an old YMCA
Now three days out of the week
Tue Wed Thurs
9am to 2pm
Our Peaceful Place has its doors and heart open
To the homeless or anybody in need of a place to just get in off the street or 'away for a while'
A place to rest, feel safe, loved and maybe just relax a little without a worry to move it along
It was there I met Barb who is running the show
An inspiring motivated lady with Love and Determination

Determination......ahhhhhhh what a powerful word
I felt it when I read about her in Street Roots (A portland ore homeless/news newpaper) months before officially meeting her
When I met her I could feel that there is a determination to help this world and the reins are fully in Barbs hands!
Reminds me as I write this of the steady sea captain hand on the wheel or how you felt confident as the wagon train reins were in the strong older well traveled cowboy’s hands.
In those hands were determination….. and success and power, to win and survive
ahhhhhh that was the feeling I had when I left after talking with Barb

How serious is your Homelessness Issues around you I ask?
Somebody I know wakes up everyday and makes it her number one priority.
ya know .....I think it comes natural for her
Barb didn't tell me ......but I know her secret........ Its one word.....
here is a letter from
Our Peaceful Place
spring 2006 newsletter:
From the Director, Barb Lescher
It was February 14, 2005 when we first learned we had to move from the place of ministry we loved on NW 6th Avenue. I had no idea we would search for a full year before finding a new home for Our Peaceful Place.

During our year of homelessness we battled discouragement and disappointment as our hopes were dashed time after time even when we were certain, “this is it,” but were told, “Sorry, not here.” Yet, with God’s grace we were able to stick with it, encouraged by the example of perseverance modeled by our homeless friends over the years. We were admonished by Scripture to “lean not on our own understanding,” and to believe God’s promise of faithfulness.
We are in our new home at 126 NE Alberta and are busy settling in. We are nestled in the basement of a Church building that is one hundred years old. The huge space that we are able to use was once a YWCA. We expect to provide safety and comfort to our visitors.
We are looking forward to building a reputation of warmth and welcome in this new neighborhood.
We hope for the opportunity to minister to old friends and look forward to being a blessing to those we have yet to meet.

We invite you, our friends, partners, and supporters to continue to minister with us by equipping us with the day to day materials we need to do the work. Please pray for us and for those to whom we minister.

We also invite you to come visit us. Come see where we are, meet our staff and see what your support is allowing us to do. Come see if this is the place where you would like to spend time serving the poor.

May God bless you and your efforts on behalf of Our Peaceful Place.

Barb Lescher
Our Peaceful Place
(503) 295-7744

Sunday, June 18, 2006

I Don't Want No Pity

A Poem by J. Michigaus
I don't want your damn pity!
Life is hard enough in this cold, dark city
Sure, I may be homeless and you may not like the way I look
But that doesn't make me a crack head or a crook
What I really want is for you to accept that I'm a fellow human being
Who deserves some respect
I'm here for reasons you may never understand
But please don't think me subhuman as
I walk this barren land
You who sit in your nice, warm house and drive around in fancy cars
Should know about the cold, hard truth that made us what we are
Some of us are Women who were beaten and and couldn't take it anymore
Or men having a hard time' cause they fought in a war
Some who have fallen right between the cracks
Who could use a little help but the services, they lack
Take a good look in the mirror
And the next time that you do think about what it would be like
If you were me
And I were to become you!

Ending Homelessness in Seattle June 2006

I just read this as it came in on June 18 in the very early morning hour:

More than 900 homeless people have moved into permanent housing in Seattle Washington, King County since a 10-year plan to end homelessness was announced last year. The King County Committee to End Homelessness said government and private agencies have built or funded 1,300 new housing units in the plan's first year.

The committee has called for the creation of 9,500 units within the decade.
"The progress report shows that in just 10 months we've made tremendous progress," said Bill Block, project director for the committee. "That is a wonderful start." The committee, a coalition of government agencies, nonprofits, business and religious organizations, wants to end homelessness by providing stable, permanent homes rather than managing the population primarily with food banks and temporary shelter. The committee is co-chaired by King County Executive Ron Sims and Car Toys Chief Executive Officer Dan Brettler and includes as members Mayor Greg Nickels, city council members from throughout the region and representatives from businesses and churches.

A survey of about 900 people commissioned by United Way of King County cited homelessness as the third most critical issue facing King County, behind transportation and education.

The random phone survey, released Thursday, found that 84 percent of respondents think ending homelessness is possible. Those surveyed by Lopez & Cheung Research also said government was not doing enough to address homelessness. Leaders of the Committee to End Homelessness Insist their goal can be accomplished in 10 years. City Councilman Tom Rasmussen, a governing-board member, acknowledged that "people doubt us. People say we're unrealistic." He called the survey results "a clear mandate to people not only in Seattle but King County to end homelessness. People think we can do it."

According to the most recent one-night count, about 8,000 people live on the streets, in emergency housing or transitional housing in King County. Of about 1,300 new units in Thursday's progress report, 563 were built in the past year, 391 were funded for future construction and 387 units were converted into housing for formerly homeless individuals and families in Bellevue, Federal Way, Duvall and downtown Seattle. Block did not have estimates on how much all the units cost. People who want to move into permanent housing, which includes support services, are required to apply through various service providers, such as the Downtown Emergency Service Center.

The committee is working on creating a single stop where people can learn whether they qualify. The committee also has pushed for a new database called Safe Harbors to monitor the number of homeless people. The software has met with some resistance from homeless individuals who were concerned about privacy issues because Seattle, King County and United Way conditioned funding on participation in the database.

This Girl Is Just 15

Homelessness: A Poem

By: Kerri Hastings
Quietly she lay upon a cold and dampened floor,
And in this little house of hers, there is no ceiling, window or door,
A shiver runs down her spine as a cold wind soars through the night air,
She watches people passing by, with not a worry or a care.
Daylight brings a new day,
This girl can now be clearly seen,
Begging from passers by,
This girl is just fifteen,
What has brought her from her home?
To sleep in the night air,
Does she have a home?
And what there do they care?
No one seems to notice,
No one seems to see,
That this poor girl needs help,
But help where will that be?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

There are those that don't care much at all

When I read this post I seriously wondered about his comments and attitude. But when he referred how the Left was responsible for the closing of Mental Hospitals? And when he also insinuated that the Left thought it was just fine that way too. I disagree on both his assertion. He wants those without a home to be arrested? He thinks those without homes are not really in need! This is typical of many ignorant people I see everywhere today. Notice his lack of Love and Compassion.

My View by Wil Sharp

Well let get started by this nice reminder I read last year.
It was written by: Wil Sharp who is the director of
D&M Homeless Youth Outreach
Which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing
mentorship to the abused and impoverished youths and young adults
Who call Portland’s streets their home.
My dear friends, Read this post and let the facts sink in.
Read with your heart and mind open.
Read with the idea that you can help make a change for the better.
I am!
Abuse at home sends kids to the streets
Issue date: Fri, Nov 4, 2005 The Tribune (Portland Oregon)

Refering back to an article in the Oct. 21 Portland Tribune titled
Street life breeds street morals” which focused on street youths who aren’t youths at all. However, focusing on one person’s criminal career doesn’t help the reader understand the thousands of young people who’ve been forced to leave their homes and have nowhere to go but the street. Several thousand street kids live here in Portland.
Most counts put the population at somewhere between 2,500 and 3,000 individuals. That doesn’t include people in their 30s and 40s, just youths and young adults. That is the one of the highest per-capita populations in the nation. In fact, on any given week I see hundreds of individuals who are little older than children walking past me looking for food. It’s enough to break my heart a thousand times over. Every time I look in the mirror, I’m reminded that we live in a youth-centric culture. It’s only cool to be a grown-up until age 21, then we all become like Ponce de León. That applies to street people, too: A person in the story would rather be called a street kid than a bum (and who wouldn’t?), but that doesn’t mean he or she is a street kid. The question that should have been asked is:
How did these people get there? Most of the actual street youths and young adults, the thousands organizations talk about, are from abusive homes.
According to Robert Coates’ book “The Street Is Not a Home: Solving America’s Homeless Dilemma,” up to 90 percent of street youths come from homes where sexual and/or physical abuse was present. This is supported by other studies, reports and surveys too numerous to list. The fact is that most of these kids come out on the streets where something bad might happen to them rather than stay home where something bad is happening to them all the time. It has nothing to do with adolescent rebellion. The kids who come out on the street because their parents shut off their cell phones go home pretty darn fast.
So why did so many people in the Tribune’s story say they were out on the streets because they want to be? Could it have something to do with the fact that the U.S. Department of Justice reports that 80 percent of abuse survivors refuse to admit it ever happened? There is so much shame involved in abuse, especially sexual abuse, it isn’t surprising to me that so many of the street youths I see want to pretend they are there because they think it’s cool. However, with almost every street youth I have gotten to know well, there is a story of heartbreak and abuse. Sometimes the abuse is so much worse in its viciousness and creativity than anything most people can conceive of that it’s easier for us as a society to join the youths in denying its existence. It seems ridiculous, from a societal point of view, to divide street youths from gutter punks (whom I find to be usually very polite and gracious). Both are young people, have the same background and live in relatively the same fashion. They tend to self-medicate in different ways and listen to different music, and those are the biggest differences. What does matter is their presence makes people in the downtown area feel unsafe — a feeling that the story seemed to capitalize on by taking one woman’s career of theft and making readers believe that the thousands of street kids in Portland are just like her.
The fact that crime is down in the downtown area doesn’t seem to get much attention in the continued quest to demonize the victims of abuse and neglect, which is the true crime. It’s easier to pander to the sense of insecurity that has been birthed in this country by the media, rather than go after the real criminals.
The fact is that in this country, one of every three girls is the victim of sexual abuse, usually committed by a family member or someone close to them. Yet their abusers walk around downtown, and no one complains.
Those are the people who make me feel unsafe. Those are the real bad guys. Stop child abuse, and the street-kid problem will go away.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Bridge Builder Poem

The Bridge Builder

An old man, going a lone highway,

Came, at the evening, cold and gray,To a chasm, vast, and deep, and wide,

Through which was flowing a sullen tide.The old man crossed in the twilight dim;The sullen stream had no fears for him;

But he turned, when safe on the other side,And built a bridge to span the tide.

"Old man," said a fellow pilgrim, near,"You are wasting strength with building here;Your journey will end with the ending day;You never again must pass this way;You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide-Why build you a bridge at the eventide?

"The builder lifted his old gray head:"Good friend, in the path I have come," he said,"There followeth after me today,A youth, whose feet must pass this way.

This chasm, that has been naught to me,To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;

Good friend, I am building the bridge for him."

Poem by: Will Allen Dromgoole