Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent

P.O. Box 366, Lightfoot, VA 23090
Office: 757-561-3255
"Assisting people in re-gaining hope and a better way of life."

Monday, March 31, 2003

Since I haven't been able to put a comment tool on my web page yet, why don't some of you email me at helpthehomeless@cox.net to give me some feedback. I have noticed in the past few days (and even today,) I am gitting hits from Florida, Washington DC, Chicago, New Jersey, Williamsburg, Newport News, California, Germany, South Carolina, and many many other states across the Nation!
What Does A Homeless Person Look Like?

Many of us, when we hear the term 'Homeless' get an image in our mind: a drunk walking around in dirty clothes, dirty stringy hair, reeking of body odor or the smell of alcohol, searching through dumpsters for food, begging for money, carrying around a cardboard box or pushing a grocery cart or even just lying in a gutter or street passed out and never work. Sound familiar? Is this what you pictured? Yes, sometimes there are a FEW like this in cities across the nation. But, this is not the whole reality. The majority of them dress like you and me, go to libraries to read or use the computers (check out www.thehomelessguy.net if you don't believe me), search out odd-jobs to earn some money or even have full-time jobs, have college degrees, manners better than some of us, transportation, all their teeth, dreams/hopes/goals, and never touch alcohol. What is it they don't have? A house or place to live that is adequate and their own (even if it is renting, it is still theirs temporarily.)

Someone who lives on the street, or in an abandoned building, or in any place not meant for human habitation or someone who has no regular place to live is often called homeless. In the Stewart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act of 1987, the federal government defines as “homeless” someone who lacks a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence or an individual whose primary residence is one of the following: a temporary place for people about to be institutionalized; any place not meant for regular sleeping accommodation by humans; or a supervised temporary shelter. This definition of homeless also extends to those people who are at serious risk of losing their housing because they are being evicted from a private housing unit or because they are being discharged from institutions and have nowhere else to go. People who are doubled up with relatives or friends are also homeless.

Most of us think people are homeless because they are drunks or drug addicts. These are known as secondary causes. The main reason a person usually ends up homeless is because a lack of affordable housing, low pay wages or lack of education/skill trade. Some people do turn to alcohol or drugs out of desperation after the effect of the systemic causes. Then you also have the 'working poor'. These are people that are a paycheck away from being homeless. And guess what?! You don't actually have to be 'poor' to be considered a part of the 'working poor'! People who go out and build or buy large houses who have mortgages almost beyond their means and it takes both spouses to work to make their payments and have to cut back in other areas, that if one person or even both lost their job or had a pay-cut or even have to go week to week on a paycheck with no savings: you are at risk of being homeless. There are several definitions to homeless, several examples of being homeless, but very few solutions. Again, homelessness does not discriminate against the rich or the poor...so why do we discriminate against those who are homeless? Actually very few people who are known or termed as 'homeless' truly are on the streets.

For example, we know people on our street are concerned I will start bringing homeless people into our area at our house. I know they have concerns about the family that has temporarily been staying with us. But, did you know that the Mother has 2 college degrees, works in a hospital, makes $10.00 an hour? Did you know they have a vehicle? Did you know they have helped my husband out when he needed extra man power at his job (people who are wanting to go into contracting have to start and learn somewhere) and when they aren't helping him, they are helping me with work around the house and yard, that due to limited time, strength or even my health issues (yes, bet many of you didn't know I had them that at times weakens me or tires me out) I sometimes can't get to? Did you know that their Father died unexpectedly and they basically lost everything due to issues with Probate that started their plight? And did you know, they have gone to several agencies for help but because of her high pay wage and lack of credit could receive help? Did you know that I am not the only one who has people who are homeless or live in shelters working for us in our neighborhood? I bet you didn't. And there have been times I have had my concerns about the people you have hired to do work in our neighborhood. But, I would prefer for you who have concerns come to us in the future and not our Landlords. We are approachable and willing to listen to your concerns and help alleviate them.

BY THE WAY, THE MOST COMMON PROFESSION OF PEOPLE WHO ARE CONSIDERED HOMELESS OR END UP HOMELESS IS CONTRACTORS! Contractors here are not paid for their worth and the skills they use to build our neighborhoods and business areas. That is sad. But even worse, people here aren't paid their worth in all work fields. Just for the betterment of all people in Williamsburg, we need better pay, more affordable housing and more compassion for one-another. Why can't we work together for everyone?

Sunday, March 30, 2003


I had called Paul Jost on Fri. and left a message on his machine about the meeting last night. Now sadly enough I will admit, I didn't know much about him when I called. Sat. when my husband and I came home from our adoption class, we received a profile letter in the mail from Mr. Jost. Then the phone rang. It was him! FATE! God brought us together. Unfortunately, he had another commitment. This I understand, he is very busy. Did I let that stop me? No. It went in one ear and out the other and kept on speaking about the homeless here. "You have convinced me I need to come for part of the meeting before my other engagement." Now considering I grew up in a political family (yes, Mr. Jeff Martin, I also came from a well-to-do family, but you would never know it unless I told you), many candidates would "make an appearance" and flee or some not come at all. NOT PAUL JOST! He was on time as he said, with his kind wife, Laura by his side. He stayed the time he told me he could. HE LISTENED! Still, at this point I didn't know much about his issues and his life (I didn't have a chance to read the mail before the meeting.)

Many politicians speak and occasionally show action, but many lack the emotion behind their words or actions. Yes, they may seem like they feel compassion, but many times there is something missing. Remember the phrase "the eyes are the window to the Soul?" This is the most accurate expression I have known. But Mr. Jost's eyes are filled with compassion, emotion and concern. This man, yes, I will stand behind in his campaign! He is human, he is real, he is what he says he is and he shows it!

When you have a problem and need some help or a shoulder to lean on, who do you go to? A person you know will be against you, who could care less what happens to you or how you feel? No! You go to a friend or family member or a person you know that truly cares and has been there before. It is the same as when you are looking at candidates, you want a person who cares and will be there for you. Not one that will stand for the government and their needs but one who stands "of the people, by the people, for the people" so we won't perish. This is your man...Paul Jost!

When I came home after the meeting, I took the time to read his profile. Yes, he is a man of his words "I will return your calls, and you will always be welcomed in my office."

The Kindness In Your Eyes

I want to thank everyone who showed for the meeting and their support. It was nice for a beginning...a trial run. Although I did expect more people, to me, it was still a success. The one thing I noticed about those who came, is that they all had a common denominator: THE KINDNESS IN THEIR EYES! They knew there were other 'bigger' meetings around, yet they were at this one. They know it will be a struggle to get others to listen, but they kept their ears open. They know many in our area are blind to this sad plight of reality, but their eyes are wide open. They have HEART and SOUL! But, the next meeting will be bigger and better! I thank God for bringing these people together.

But, those who have an interest in this, whether it is your heart burdened by our situation, you are part of the 'working poor' that is a paycheck away from being homeless, you were homeless, or are homeless now...WE NEED YOU! WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! WE NEED TO BAND TOGETHER TO GET A SOLUTION. WE NEED TO MAKE THE GOVERNMENT AWARE AND TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS!

Friday, March 28, 2003

The past couple of days have been exciting! An awakening. A stirring of people's hearts and Souls. All the responses to The Last Word have been moving. And yes I have found so many WONDERFUL people here in Williamsburg. But, I guess it takes that common belief to bring people together. Even though I know I have a thousand things to do to prep for the meeting tomorrow night, I have so many ideas racing through me and so much I want to say. I will save most of it for then. Last night I had a gentleman call to donate pizzas whenever, where ever, and as many as I need for the guys. Thank you!!!! My conversation with Mr. Struggs was very heartfelt from him. I know I picked the right Council Man to speak with! (There's hope for Williamsburg, yet.) Today I pased out fliers for the meeting after I went down to see the guys. I guess with it being such a nice day, they were already out-and-about. Then I stopped by William and Mary's Campus to speak with the students and the Dept. of Volunteers. They have a group that isin the making on 'homelessness and hunger.' April 4th they will be doing a 'homeless' night where they sleep outside in the quad with their cardboard boxes. I am hoping to take them further in this regard. It is a great idea when people do this, but I want them and everyone to have the real experience. So, if I can get 'permission' from the guys, I would like to have a night like this, invitation opened to all that want to join. I want all who participate to walk a mile to the bridge, being hungry and un-showered to sleep one night under the bypass. To not have access to showers, bathrooms and vehicles. No cell phones or computers. Just to experience the realism of homelessness. This I will try to schedule. I look forward to seeing everyone at the meeting and appreciate all you want to give from your heart!
My Response To The E-Mail Below

I truly appreciate your e-mail and your opinion. Thank you for the
compliment "it is a great thing you are doing." But, it isn't so much that I
think the people here are so 'bad' or 'horrible', I think unfortunately my
husband and I have met the wrong people when we moved here. Now, we are
starting to meet some very nice people of all social status.

I am shocked and amazed when I encounter organizations that were made to
help in this situation, to only find the standards have been set so high
that most people (including the well-to do) would not be able to fit their
criteria. Or when I talk with Churches and they can't help until the Board
of Elders vote on it or need my 'Mission Statement.'

Obviously, you did not read my web page, because you would know the answers
to the questions you asked. We moved here in Oct. because my husband's
ex-wife became engaged to a gentleman here in Sept. and was taking their 3
children 8 hours away from where we lived. The kids called us and asked us
to do something because they didn't want to be that far. We didn't want to
put them through legal actions nor keep their Mom from re-marrying, so all
the adults sat down and we came up with the solution to all move here for
the sake of our children. That is why we don't leave.

I don't promote begging with any of the Homeless, although it is their 1st
Constitutional Right (Supreme Court agrees and they can't be arrested for
it.) Many of those I work with are wanting jobs and that is why we have
established a job networking program for them. Many do want off the streets
and get their life together. Yes, they do want to be productive. They just
don't know how since they have been out of society for so long.

By all the responses to my article this week, people have requested to have
a meeting. I would like to extend an invitation to you and anyone else that
would be interested (pro or con). It is tomorrow 3/29 at 6:00 p.m. at the
James City Community Church. I hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 27, 2003

E-Mail I Received Today

I just wanted to let you know its a great thing you are doing,
But if you think the people in this town are so bad why do you still
continue to live here. I agree that there allot of wealthy snotty people
here but were not all that way. So don't generalize us all as being that

P.S I don't know where you got the idea that we pushed them way back into
the woods? I am kind of glad we don't have homeless people all over the
streets begging. That's part of what makes this town better than others. If
your that concerned with helping these people help them find a job so they
can become a productive part of society like all the rest.

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Tentative... Friday, 3/28th...meeting with a few city council members and human resource director
Sat. 3/29th...meeting open to all who want to donate time/services and join together for The Homeless at James City Community Church (in the chapel downstairs.)
As of now, before I go to sleep, I would like to put my prayers in for my friend Cat. It has been a few weeks since we have talked. She was deployed awhile back for the War. At times it is hard to watch and other times I know God watches over her. It still doesn't make it easy, but it eases the reality. Cat, not that you may ever get the time with all you are doing, but hopefully you will see this and know my prayers are with you. I love you as my sister and best friend. God Bless and Godspeed. Make it home to your daughter, she needs you, just as we all do. Be safe!
Which Is Worse, The Guilt Or The Fear?

The first day I went down to meet my 'new-friends", I never foresaw today. It seems that time has passed, but in reality, it has only begun. I never thought this would become bigger than I am or that the Homeless would need more than I could provide. Wow, the reality sets in. But, I have to say I am thrilled about the reaction to The Last Word today and it makes me wonder how far will it grow in the next few days when the word spreads beyond the little I have done.
I felt so guilty for the fact that I was 2 hours late to take stuff down to them. Up until now, I had prided myself on the fact that I was on time. Today, yes, I got away from my daily goal. But, in defense, it was worth it. Several people emailed and called wanting to know how they can help. Others overheard me at restaurants talking on my cell about this and said "Hey are you the one who wrote in?" or "How can we donate?" As of now I am planning a meeting at James City Community Church to get everyone together so we, as one, can move the mountain that stands as our obstacle.( Mathew 17:20 "I assure you, even if you had faith as small as a mustard seed you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.") Thank you for your interest and offer of help.
Now, I must give apologies also. I am not use to others helping in such a great cause. I am actually not use to such a problem as it is here. Now some of you may say, "We have never seen them" or "We didn't even realize there were any" but I can assure you, with others who know, per ratio to the population of Williamsburg, YES THERE IS A SOCIETY WITHIN OURS THAT NEED HELP. Are they ready? Some yes, some no. Do they want help? Some yes, some no. Do they need us? Yes, all of them, yet they fear us. They fear all that we represent, that we are, innocent and pure, ulterior motives and charities, they fear. So now that I have explained that, I ask for forgiveness to those who have called, if I myself might have seemed selfish when I asked "Please don't go down" or "No please don't leave donations there" or "Ask you to prep sandwiches instead of serving". My reasons are pure, my reasons are just. Please keep in mind, it has taken me 4 weeks to get them to trust me, the little that they do. It isn't so much that I know how to work with them, but how to be with them as a friend. Even though it has been a short time, I have come to love, trust and care for them as my friends. They have been pushed back far enough as it is, and I do fear as they do, that they could be moved further. Over a short time period I hope to introduce them to all and I know this is a great possibility. I don't try to sound like I take this on myself. If anything, I stand with them, through it all, beside them as one in hopes one day we can all make a difference and show what we can offer to Williamsburg.
My apologies go out to them for again being late. It is late for me now and as I write, I find myself to tire. Tomorrow will be more entries regarding today's experiences. For now, please also look at www.thehomelessguy.net It is worth the reading.
Good nite, God bless, Stay Comfortable and Be Safe. Love to you all, Patti & Geoff
I have just noticed, I guess it is because of my article in "The Last Word" that my site is being logged from all over and I just received this e-mail from a lady in Williamsburg. But, just to let everyone know, I contacted the fire department and the police of our area and gave them our number with the request to call us if they pick any Homeless up, day or night. We would prefer to let us figure out something to do, instead of shipping them off to N.N. or any other town. All that does is put our situation on another area. Also, many of the people in Williamsburg feel like it isn't the towns problem nor do they have any responsibility to the Homeless. But, if we try to put them on a bus to somewhere else, the town has then admitted it is our problem and our responsibility. (Same theory if you rent a house, but don't sign the lease, yet you move in, you are responsible to pay the rent.) The moment you act upon a situation, you have said you want to be part of the solution, but WE NEED TO FIND ANOTHER SOLUTION!

E-Mail to helpthehomeless@cox.net:
I was surprised and delighted to hear about your concern for the
homeless. I don't know if you know this but the city had a homeless
shelter and the city council tore it down, citing that we don't have any
homeless and if we have a shelter then we will have them. The city has
an agreement with Newport News that if the police find any homeless
people they will be taken to N.N.

I am keeping you in my prayers and hope that I can help. I am a parent
of a middle school girl, but I am also unemployed so my funds are limited
at this point, however, I am a girl scout leader and feel that I should
help. Please let me know what my troop and myself can do. If you would
like to speak to our leader meeting, we have them the last Tuesday of
each month at 7 pm in the basement of the Williamsburg United Methodist
Church, on Jamestown Road.

We also have a very active Youth Group at the above mentioned methodist
church and they are always looking for groups to help. As a matter of
fact, they will be traveling to Washington DC to feed the homeless there.
So, let me know what we can do for you.

Please keep in touch and let me know if there is anything I can do to
God Bless and take care.
"A" Is For Ambitious, Aspiring, and Ascending
Yesterday, things changed with 'the guys'. I expected the regulars to be around, but instead, I was greeted by "A". He wanted to talk. He wanted to test me. He wanted to see if I was for real. "Are you that crazy girl who posted fliers around that you wanted to help the people down here? The others told me about you." Wow, I was still stuck on the word 'crazy' as he continued to talk. Why was I crazy? Why did they see me as this? Why kept running through my head when he suddenly snapped me out of my thoughts..."We don't see you as crazy, but others will in this town. We think you are sweet." He wanted to know why I wanted to do this, what did I hope to accomplish and did I understand this plight. After we got passed this set of tests, we traded stories of our past experiences, what it was like growing up in our families and questioned if my husband and I went to Church (EVERY Sunday.) After 2 hours of conversation, I asked if I passed his test and let him know that to me, it was obvious he was there as a 'new spokesperson' for the Homeless. To see if he could trust me as the others did. "Gee, you are sharp. You have street smarts." Yes, I passed.
Now "A" was nicely dressed, most would have never known he was once Homeless. He has been off the streets for just a short time, but has a trailer that he rents, food in his fridge and goes out daily to do odd jobs to try and start to make a living. He still frequents with the other Homeless out of friendship, loyalty and hopes one day they too will make it back into society. We share the same dream in this regard.
He asked me a few questions that stayed on my mind even after I left.
A: "Are you going to forget us one day?"
Me: "No! I know others have started, with it to stop, just as quick as it started, but I am loyal to my friends until the end. Say if my husband and I were walking around down town and we ran into you, I would greet you with a hug and talk, if you had the time. Or, even ask you to join us for the day."
A: "What about the other guys such as "R"?
Me: "He is special to me. I see so much hope in his Soul and when he is ready, he will want to get his life together. But, even still I would do the same for him as I said to you."
A: "What if your kids or friends were with you?"
Me: "I would introduce everyone."
A: "Do you have any kids?" (He asked this with a grin and a chuckle."
Me: "OK I know what this is about. I get this question all the time. You want to know if I am wanting to be Mother to the World. No My husband and I don't have any children together as of yet. He has 3 from a previous marriage and they are just as compassionate as we are."
A: "Do you have a nice house?"
Me: I had to think about this. Nice to who's standards? The people of Williamsburg or the people of Greenville, where we moved from. The Homelesses' standards or evryday society? My first response was no. "Our house is a very small concrete rental. We have decorated it nice and painted the inside and have a decent size yard, but barely enough space for us and most of our furniture is in storage." My husband and I have talked several times about the cost of living here, the low pay wages and the property/houses. Down South where we moved from, the street we live on would be considered 'upper poverty' (there are a few houses on our street that would be exempt from this.) Here, in Williamsburg, it is an old resort area that were turned into homes and updated. Don't get me wrong, we like our house, but to compare the pricing of rent against the 2 areas, you get more for your money in SC (but I would like to say our Landlords make up the difference here in kindness.)
Before I left, the last thing he wanted to know is if sometime I would bring some trash bags down so we can all clean up the area. When you give people (anyone and everyone) a grain of hope, plant that seed, sometimes you can get a bed of roses, instead of weeds.
Ps. 72:2-4; 12-14 He will judge Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice. The mountains will bring peace to the people, And the little hills, by righteousness. He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor. For He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, And will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; And precious shall be their blood in His sight.
The Sinners and The Saints
You asked me to sit and talk and share with me your secrets, yet you did not know me;
You asked me to read to you from your Bible, yet you did not laugh when I stumbled on the words;
You offered me your sandwich, yet you didn’t know if it would be your last meal;
You didn’t ask for my help, yet cried when I gave the little that I could;
You said you knew what it was like to not have a friend and gave me a hug.

How many times have you been in these situations? Now read the statements below. How many times have any of you experienced any of these situations? To feel like others were accepting of you, to only find the judgement behind the actions. Where do you want to be, above or below?

You asked us to fellowship with you, yet you questioned our appearance;
You invited me to Bible Study so I could learn, yet you mocked me for my ignorance;
You had us over to dinner with your family, but did you treat us like guests;
You asked for my help, yet treated me as a servant;
You said you wanted to be our friend, yet when I needed understanding, you turned away.

Ps. 72:2-4; 12-14 He will judge Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice. The mountains will bring peace to the people, And the little hills, by righteousness. He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor. For He will deliver the needy when he cries, The poor also, and him who has no helper. He will spare the poor and needy, And will save the souls of the needy. He will redeem their life from oppression and violence; And precious shall be their blood in His sight.

Friday, March 21, 2003

What Photo I.D.? I Told You, I'm Homeless
In the past 2 weeks, I have heard several stories from people about the lack of help they had been given (or should I say, not given) by United Way. Unfortunately, I have to admit, I didn't believe them, so I had to find out for myself. Now, basically each person's reason for being turned down was different, but the common denominator was the fact they were Homeless.
So I dial the number that is given out by information, media, brochures so forth. A lady told me I needed to call the 'other number' for assistance. OK, so if I was truly Homeless, this first attempt would have deterred me because that one phone call might have cost me my last .50 cents. I dialed the number at 9:15 this morning, (I figured they would be open by that point.) I got a recorded message that the office wasn't open at this time, but their hours are 9-5. This now would have cost me too much to have to call back, AGAIN (if I was Homeless.) Twenty minutes later I called back and finally received a person on the other end. I began asking her about housing assisting, food and clothes (yesterday I had called F.I.S.H. for clothes and was told I had to go through United Way.) I soon learned that United Way does not handle housing, but I could call Salvation Army or the Homeless Intervention Program in Williamsburg (whose waiting list is so long that they put the program on hold.) Salvation Army's waiting list is 3+ months. The lady asked me if she could do an 'intake' interview for the food and clothing. "How long will that take cuz I ain't got long?" I asked. "Not long." Over twenty minutes later, I found out they couldn't help me.
Here's how it went:
UW: Can you come by today for clothes and food?
CM (my friend who is homeless; those who know her would understand why): No, but I can come this afternoon.
UW: How are you going to get here? Do you have a car?
CM:NO, but maybe I can get somebody to bring me.
UW:Let me get your name, address, birthdate and social security number.
CM: Cathy Morrison, 4, 11, 1967 ummm social security....ummmm
UW:What about your address
CM: Mam I don't have one.
UW:Where are you living?
CM: I told you I am Homeless. I stay where I can find a way to.
UW:So where are you staying tonight? Where are you now.
CM: I met a lady who let me come and work for her today for some money. Maybe I will get a room tonight with it. But I can see if she will bring me this afternoon for food.
UW:I'm sorry but we don't like to distribute after 3:00.
CM: OK I can come tomorrow.
UW:No we aren't open tomorrow. We are only open M-F.
CM: So what about people who are hungry on the weekend? OK I can see if I work next week for her, if I can get her to bring me.
UW:So what are you going to do over the weekend and tonight about food?
CM: There is a couple of Churches that give out food. I can go to the one at the theater.
UW:OK so when you come next week, bring your photo ID.
CM: Photo ID, I don't have one of those. Mam I said I was Homeless. How can I get one of those?
UW:You don't have a DL? OK go to the DMV with your birth certificate...
CM: Mam, I don't have a DL, I don't have a car, I don't drive, I can't go to the DMV because of these reasons, but I don't have any money and I don't have my birth certificate with me.
UW:I'm sorry, I don't know what we can do.
CM: I hope God recognizes you when you go before Him, because I know you won't have a photo ID with you then.

None of this makes sense. Again, we go back to questions of: when did a Homeless person have good credit, walk around with their birth certificate, or have a permanent address? I know I am not an agency, but now I would have to say this is a ministry, because it seems more clear that the Homeless really don't have anyone. But, I would never turn away anyone who needs something to eat because they don't have an ID. Not to say this was the problem with all the people who told me lately that they couldn't get help from United Way, because most of it came back to the fact they didn't have an address. This is just another reason for a shelter.
James 2:14-18 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.

Thursday, March 20, 2003

Bush Launches Military Strikes On Iraq
I would just like to take this moment for all military throughout the world at this time of conflict and uncertanty. My best friend, Cat, was deployed a few weeks ago for the war. Although at this moment, I don't know where she is, I want her family to know my prayers are with her and all the families of military. Cat, Godspeed, be safe, keep God in your heart...I Love You
James 4:1 What is the source of the wars and the fights among you? Don't they come from the cravings that are at war within you?
Matthew 5:16 Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand - shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
It was around 6:30 last night when "E" and her family showed up at our house. We sat down and talked for awhile, waiting for Geoff to come home with dinner. We didn't so much go into her story, but about mine. Mostly how I have always had a roof over my head, but still felt 'homeless'. We talked about my childhood and the mental health problems of my Mother, my Daddy's struggles to deal with her conflicts that she caused, how my Mother moved and left my oldest sister behind to live on the streets and eventually our reunion with my sister. We talked about mine and Geoff's hopes and dreams as a couple (we are in the process of adopting a 14 yr. old girl) and our goals for a shelter in Williamsburg.
After dinner, we tried to figure out sleeping arrangements. We only have one extra bedroom and it isn't fully equipped with enough beds for 4 other people, but we were at least able to make a pallet on the floor, the bunk beds full and one on our couch. Today we need to go and get at least one air mattress for a temporary fix, since we will soon be adding a bedroom suit for our future daughter.
Geoff eagerly wanted to play games (this is a big activity in our family for fellowship.) Hoping somebody knew how to play chess (I'm just learning), he immediately set up the board. None of the boys knew how, but were willing to learn. The youngest of the boys, an hour into the game, admitted this was a good thinking game. It soon became my bedtime, so I don't know how long before there was a winner, but Geoff enjoyed the time, conversation and fellowship.
Considering we are out of the youngest's school district, Geoff offerred to take him to school so his Mother could get some well needed rest. Wondering if any of the boys wanted to go with him this afternoon to do some work with Geoff (mixing and pouring cement for a privacy fence he is building) they didn't hesitate to say "Cool!" Today after the feeding and my interview with Paul Aron and Andre, "E" and I will continue to work on finding a better paying position and a place to live so her son can finish out his school here in Williamsburg.
Most people believe God needs to be part of the discussion to minister; those who know God's Word, knows that by sharing yourself and opening up your home to others in need, you are also sharing God with them in fellowship and kindness.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003

With the possibility of War weighing on everyone's minds across the world, the media throughout announces several tips for us to be more prepared. As the clock ticks away at the coutdown, agencies, military, police, firefighters, social services and citizens await government announcements. In the past 2 days, schools have been put on alert for possible lockdowns, cities that have waterway entrances have increased security and the newspapers have debriefed Hampton Roads citizens on places to contact in case of emergency such as these articles:
Red Cross staff ready to react
Take a moment to read this article, if you haven't already. Did you notice it said the Red Cross in Newport News? What about the one here? Considering I have not seen it, but only saw it in the phone book, I have no idea of it's size or capacity. For those of you who don't live in Williamsburg, Newport News is about a 15-25 minute drive away. So, if by chance you have no transportation, other than your legs, it would take much longer. So what's my point? The Homeless don't have cars for the most part nor do they have bus fare. Since they don't have houses, they have no need for duct tape, but that also means without a shelter in our area, they have nowhere for safety either. Now, if this doesn't bother you, because you are thinking "Hey they did this to themselves!" or "Why is this my problem or why should I care?", let me put it to you another way. If the Homeless have nowhere to go for safety, if God forbid something did happen here, than neither do you! What would you do if somehow you didn't have that nice bed to sleep in or the microwave to heat up some food fast in between commercial breaks? What would you do if something happen to the area you live in and you had to walk to the nearest community aid shelter. Or your kids are out with a group of their friends and something happen like Sept. 11th in our area; where would your kids go and when you call the nearest shelter (just as many did in NYC) to look for your children there...opps I forgot, Williamsburg doesn't have one. So I guess I don't even know what you would do. These are also things that must be considered in regards to building a shelter. Not always is it the Homeless that benefit from them.
As of today, Wednesday, "E" still has not been able to find a solution to keep her and her 3 kids from becoming Homeless. Yesterday I spent the majority of my time calling different social service agencies, churches, owners of homes that are no longer used by anyone that just sit around collecting overgrown brush, housing projects and mobile homes for rent. NOTHING! It is a catch-22 for her. She has been told she makes too much money for any government help (she earns $10 and hour before taxes) yet people forget that has to cover 4 people. She went to the Homeless Housing Program office and found that her credit was too bad to get help with rent or deposit for a place. Now somebody please explain that one. This is a program for housing for the 'Homeless' (over on Old Towne Rd) and part of their criteria is 'good credit'? When has a Homeless person had good credit? If they had that, they could get a loan for a small house and not be Homeless? My husband and I are not Homeless, but I bet our credit wouldn't be good enough for their help either. Is this just another way to deter people from getting off the streets? Who is this they are able to help?
As of today, "E" et al will be Homeless and Hotel-Less. The only solution we have been able to come up with is to allow her to use our spare bedroom for a week or so without rent so she can save up some more money and pray somebody will open up a rental to her. In the meantime, we keep our phones busy with calls to rental classified ads and housing projects in hope that something does become available. This is just another way that shows Williamsburg needs a housing shelter. If anyone who reads this has a place or knows of a place, please email me at helpthehomeless@cox.net!

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Wanda contacted me early this morning in fear she 'might have done something wrong'. She informed me that she had given my phone number out to somebody who is close to becoming Homeless. Of course this isn't wrong, this is why I have a cell phone, this is why I am doing what I hope I am doing and that is what I am here for. Although I knew it would make me a little behind in my drive to the tracks, I awaited "E"'s call. The only bit of info Wanda could give me is that "E" lives in a hotel room with her son, who is still in school. She does have a job, but has not been able to save up money for an apartment or place to live of 'her own'. Because we are getting ready to go into 'tourist season' in Williamsburg, the people at the hotel have informed her the rates will soon be going up. Hey I know that feeling, because when Geoff and I would come up to find a house to rent, in one days time the rates went from $30 a night to almost $75! "E" is wanting to find a better paying job so she can put more aside, but because she doesn't have an address, how can she do a resume?
Before "E" called, I contacted Com. Repass at the local Salvation Army to find out about the apartments they have sometimes available for situations like this. He told me "E" would need to contact Dawn Coles at the S.A. office and hopefully something can be arranged. Shortly after I hung up, "E" called. At this point I had nothing to offer her in regards to a place (and this will be a problem until we can get a shelter) except for Dawn's phone number. But, then I recalled back down in SC when I worked with the Homeless that I allowed them to use my home address so those who wanted to work, could put it down on their work profile and weekly they collected their paychecks from my place. So then why couldn't she use our address for her resume? I made her that offer along with my cell number so I can play secretary for her while she is at work. She gladly took me up on it. I had to hurry and she understood, knowing we will talk again soon.
But this brings me back to my long term goals: build/rent a place for a shelter and get a job-networking for those who are wanting to better themselves and get to where they need to be for survival or improvement. Somebody questioned me today if all I wanted to do was feed the Homeless, why do I need help? Just do it. That isn't what this is all about. Daily yes, they need food & drink. But long term I hope we can all pull together for a shelter that provides a place to sleep, food, clothing, laundry area, counseling of some sort or step program if they want it, job network...almost like a 'boarding school' for the Homeless. Now, keep in mind this isn't for permanent residency, but until they can get back on track and when they are ready to, help them move into their own place and help to make the transition a stable one and try to keep touch with them for a year to help them with their progress (almost like the adoption process and a Homestudy.) Believe it or not, but some of them do want to better their lives, but need some help, guidance and fellowship along the way. We want to be there in case they need us.
By the way, I will find out what type of job "E" is looking for and if anyone has a job or knows of one, please contact me!

Monday, March 17, 2003

Today was the first day I actually got to go down “on location” with Patti. I waited patiently in the car while she delivered the food and rousted “R”. After awhile, she came and called me letting me know that I had permission to come down. (I wouldn’t walk into your house without permission either.)
It was good to finally meet “R” after all I had heard about him. He has a sweet look to his face and immensely strong hands. His hugs, however, were tender. I felt on meeting him that I had found a man I could trust. Also there was Andre. He is a former homeless man. I guess Patti wrote about how he got off the street and started a “soup kitchen” in Newport News.
We talked for awhile about this and that, but when a cop car drove past, “R” took off like a shot. (It seems a shame to me that “the authorities” have the reputation of being cruel and heartless. These people are human, too.) While “R” was gone, Andre and I traded stories of how we got where we are. I relayed the stories of how my father used to work with rescue missions, so I come by this work naturally. I also let him know that there were times before Patti and I married that I slept in my truck and washed up in gas station bathrooms. I know what it is to be in a different house every night of the week. Been there, done that. (The blessing for me is that there is hope. )
After awhile “R” regained his courage and came and joined us. Andre and he shared stories about various people that they both know/knew. We found out about various prominent people in the community who used to be bad off , too. These people about whom they spoke haven risen up out of the gutter and “done something“ with themselves. (Again, I say, these homeless people are humans, too. All they need is a hand up and the hope to believe they can make it.)
Hope is nowhere to be found down there. When we went to leave, Andre asked for us to pray together. “R” demurred, even though he was raised in a Christian family. He has no hope that God even cares anymore. Sad! But I’ve been that despondent, too.
Before I close, let me tell you about the situation there: We’ve all seen what a yard looks like when the Sheriff comes and evicts a family and throws their belongings in the yard. Now add six months worth of rain and dirt onto the belongings and you just begin to understand how rough shape the things are that they hold dear. People, where are our hearts!? How can we turn our heads and pretend they don’t exist or just give them a one-way ticket out of town? Good night!
Yesterday was a dreary, rainy day. As Geoff, the boys and I rushed to leave for church, I grabbed my umbrella. We had to take separate cars since we were going down to the tracks afterwards and I have most of the supplies in my car, but this gave me time to think. I thought back to when I grabbed the umbrella and the feeling that overcame me at the moment I had the handle in my hand. I thought about where people go when they have nowhere to go, when it is raining? And how I didn't need the umbrella if I am going down to the tracks humbled in my efforts. I don't like to make anyone feel I have something they don't, let alone show them; and this includes the Homeless.
Church service was on the purposes we have to building a better foundation and serving God and preparing for Eternity. How we need to use our time, body/talents, and money/treasures to pave our way to God's Kingdom. My mind kept drifting back to these as the fill-in minister kept moving forward in his notes for the service.
Time, was I really using my time wisely in my daily life? That is so hard to decide. As this has progressed daily, I am on the phone more, making contacts and talking with groups who want to end Homelessness. I still get my devotionals in, but the time isn't as long as it use to be, but I do try to make it coincide with the day's goals. Now that I am only going to one area for feedings, it takes less time to give to them and more time for me to get supplies or drive around and look for the rest who need or want some help. But, by the time I come home and work on this blogsite, I am ready for sleep by 8:00 PM. I think how wonderful it will be when I have some physical help with this! Then I am slapped in the face with 2 realities: since the trust issue is still a problem, to bring somebody else in right now could destroy everything that has been accomplished so far (this has been pointed out to me by several; 3 of them have been Homeless) and no matter how tired and sore I am, God will still provide me with the strength to carry on. Although it would be nice if He could add 2 more hours to the 24....maybe then I might feel rested. But, maybe God wants me to feel this way; maybe to help those, I need to know how they feel. How can you be rested when you sleep in the streets, on a broken down porch, in an abandoned car, on top of cement/metal rafters under an overpass or in the woods? A lot worse than I feel right now. Thank you God for showing me the pain.
My talents? I feel I need to take out a Lost/Found Ad on this one..."If anyone has found the talents that belong to Patti, could you please send them C.O.D...." I have so many ideas, drives (on the street they are the food drives, clothing drives, money drives...) goals, things I want to say etc, etc, etc. I feel like the 'jack of all trades' yet my 'Master' has one.
Money and treasures well this I know I give as much as I can. I wish I could give more, but even as the minister explained yesterday, your responsibility to God is to also make sure bills are paid, food for your family is provided and your money is spent wisely. But, I am in the process of setting up a savings account for the money donations that have been made so far. And, I am working on a donations button for this web page, so anyone who wants to donate toward the needs of the Homeless can do so. Maybe then one day, if nobody donates a building for us to use as a shelter, we can save up enough to buy a building.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

My Eyes Have Been Opened

A wise man in our area sent my first email response regarding the website last night. He said I need to “not be too hard on those who say they want to help but haven't yet done anything. They may genuinely want to help, even if they're cautious, and I worry that if they read your criticisms of them they may run away.” Yes, he is correct. But, let me explain that the people who have said they want to help in many ways are helping. I guess my frustrations fall more toward those who feel they can only help as a group and not on their own. Such as when I call upon churches and I am told they must approve it through their Board first. Especially when all I have asked is for them to make an announcement to the congregation. So, now through this wisdom, I must find other avenues to reach out to the population of Williamsburg: to let them know what I and soon to be, others are trying to achieve, how they can help, and our progress. Thanks Paul for opening my eyes!

All I can say is that sometimes when you feel strong about something, you can forget that not everyone else feels the same. So, to those I might have offended, I am sorry.
"A Lady Called Wanda"

Last night I was honoured with a phone call from a lady name Wanda . She was returning my call (or I must says calls) throughout the week, but we could never catch up with one another. Last Sat. she had written in to the Va Gazette in a section called “The Last Word” requesting for the help with the Homeless be continued and for one day, Williamsburg to have a shelter. I had tried desperately to reach via the phone number she left at the end of her article, in hopes we could join forces. Now at this point, I just thought I was calling somebody who had been touched in her heart by God, was open to the idea that the Homeless are people too and saw the need for the city of Williamsburg to build a shelter. But, later in our phone conversation, I found out that she had once been homeless (to her not as bad as some, but still by all definitions of the word.) It had become a very welcomed phone call and very informative.

She also has a friend who had been in the same position, but has pulled himself off the streets. His heart has been burdened with ways to help the others. He is to call me today after church and our serving of a hot meal under the train trestle. With requests of what they can do to help and us join together, I immediately knew God’s reason for the phone call and bringing them into my life. Since this past week the Homeless have waited for me to leave before they come out for food, and they still seem a little untrusting, I needed help. I had actually considered asking Kevin (aka The Homeless Guy) to come here by our expense and go with me down to the train tracks and help me to connect with the Homeless. But now, as I was talking to Wanda, I knew her friend Andre would be a mentor in this equation. Wanda and I discussed it and she understood my request.

Hopefully, if Andre can go and because he and Wanda know all these people by living and surviving with them, they will see that I am not a vice-cop, I am sincere in my efforts and concern for them. I will know more later this afternoon.

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Since I have mentioned in earlier logs the word ministry, I thought it would be good to define it, just to clarify and make sure we are all on the same wave-length.

The Webster Dictionary:
min·is·try Pronunciation: 'mi-n&-strE Function: noun: a person or thing through which something is accomplished

Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Ministry: It is reasonably clear in Scripture that (1) ministry means the service of God and his creatures; (2) the one essential ministry is that of Jesus Christ.

Now that we have defined the word ministry, I would like to clarify to people this: I am not part of an agency or non-profit group. I do not go out to meet with the Homeless each day as a representative or minister of any church. Nor, as of right now, am I planning on becoming a non-profit organization. Is what I do a ministry, yes and no. By Webster’s and Baker’s definition it is a ministry. By most religious standards it is a ministry. By government standards, no I don’t want it to be, until possibly further down the road and with more help and backing. The reason for this last statement is that I want my main focus to be on the Homeless and helping them. Not having to sit inside and do paperwork all day and when I call a group, church, or organization up for advice, donations or help that I can say “Oh yes, my Mission Statement, I will fax it right now to you.” If I must have a ‘Mission Statement”, it is this: I want to help the Homeless in our area with the everyday needs that we take for granted. I want to show them hope and kindness and respect that many of us forget they deserve and need. I want to show them they do matter to somebody. And that no matter how they were in their past or how they are now, that doesn’t have to be their future. If I can reach just one person in their circle then I consider my efforts a success.

So, now that you have read my ‘Mission Statement’ you understand I do this because I want to, because I love them as God meant for us to love each other and because I care.

Does it discourage me to be asked for my ‘Mission Statement’, Fed. ID #, or Non-Profit #? No, it saddens me and reminds me why the Homeless in many ways are still Homeless; why the rich get richer and the poor get put on the streets!
Why do I ask that? Because I had hoped in a town that refuses to see or admit they have a Homeless Community, I could start small and walk them through to bigger and better ways to help. Yes, the milk jugs are my basic request to those in our area. It allows me to carry several gallons of drink and water, in which I can leave overnight so they have something fresh and clean to drink. Now when I go around and talk to people about the Homeless, those who show the tiniest bit of interest, I tell them if all they could or would do is save their empty milk jugs it would be appreciated. I have even offered to go around and collect them (daily, weekly or whatever.) Even the churches, when I call upon them, because I know so many don't want to help, I ask if they could request their congregation to save their empty milk jugs. Here again, I can come to the church and pick them up, weekly, daily or whenever.

OK, so how hard is that? Since you are reading this, can you understand what I asked? Got a little test for ya: 1) what would I like you to save? 2) why do I want them? 3) how and when can I get them, if you do save them? Wow, you answered all of them correct! You are a genius comparatively.

Here is what I get when I ask people and CHURCHES (how scary)! We don't have a lot of room to store things like that and I don't know if we have the time to drop them off to you (or any other donations!) Or could you use the half-gallon size or must it be a full gallon? And why again do you need to leave drink overnight (Oh wow I guess this person doesn't get thirsty in the night and go to the kitchen for some water.) Here is my favorite of all, now keep in mind most people either throw these jugs out or they recycle! I'M SORRY, BUT BEFORE WE COULD MAKE ANY ANNOUNCEMENT TO OUR CONGREGATION, YOU NEED TO SUBMIT A PROPOSAL ABOUT YOUR MINISTRY AND OUR BOARD OF ELDERS WILL NEED TO VOTE ON IT. BY THE WAY, WHEN ARE YOU THINKING OF COMING TO OUR CHURCH OR BEING A MEMBER? Oh this makes me want to scream yell and question what is wrong with these people?

Gee, did I have to submit my mission statement to Jesus before I took food down to his lost sheep? Did Jesus and God have to have a meeting to see if they wanted any participation? Wake up people! Here is a bit of advice. IF YOU DON'T WANT TO HELP, ON YOUR OWN OR AS A CHURCH, THEN JUST SAY SO! DON'T GIVE STUPID ANSWERS THAT BASICALLY SAYS BY THE TIME I FINISH DOING THE PROPOSAL AND YOU VOTE ON IT MAYBE THE HOMELESS PEOPLE WILL BE GONE OR HEY HAVE HOUSES! By giving me the run around and wasting my time on the phone, you are keeping me from others who might want to help and it makes you a hypocrite! And actually you are the people that have help to support this problem of Homelessness. Do you think it is honestly all their fault? No society also helps to hold them down. And if this is how your church is, any one of you who have given me such a ridiculous answer, then I await the Rapture when I no longer have to be around people like you! Hiding behind the title Christian, and you did your good deed when you gave a bum some change. No, don't give money, all you do is support drug dealers and bars! Give EMPTY MILK JUGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean come on, truly most people just throw them away and you are saying your board has to vote on it? I am asking for your trash and a church board isn't sure if they can let me have it. Fine from now on, since nobody will save them, I am going to go around on recycle day and take them from your bin. Sorry, trash once it is out in front by the road, is public for anyone to take.

Oh and by the way, the next time a church asks me about joining yet you couldn't save your milk jugs, I will have to have a board meeting with Jesus and God, but I think the vote will be against you. You might want to check with Satan. He would be willing to join where selfishness and pride meet!

Friday, March 14, 2003

FYI: Williamsburg has fought several times against a shelter for the Homeless here that even our Salvation Army doesn't have a building. All they can do is operate out of a typical store front business area. The people here are scared "if you build it, they will come." So basically, there is no help for the Homeless. The Less Fortunate have several churches that provide their needs even to pay their utilities for them, but the Homeless are literally 'left in the cold.'

Daily: be on time for feedings and work on building trust with each other
Short Term: educate this area about Homelessness and try to get donations of clothing, blankets and supplies

Goodnight to everyone. I hope you are warm and safe. May God watch over you tonight.
As I catch up in my writing about my daily experiences, my logs will be shorter, I hope! But, today was a good day. Not in regards to anyone showing up at our meeting spot, but with the connections I made today and spreading the word about what I am trying to accomplish. I made up some 'business cards' just to be able to leave my phone number and email to those who want to donate or contact me for info. I stopped at a few obvious places that have already been a great help and dropped off a couple of cards to keep on hand, but as I was getting gas at Amoco (corner of Richmond Rd and Monticello) I noticed one of the workers. No she wasn't Homeless, but you could look at her and tell she had a heart. Her smile and warmth showed she was the type of person who would help a stranger. When I went in to pay, I gave her a card and her eyes lit up and said this is wonderful! We started talking and another worker asked for a card and asked if I would accept donations of clothing. They both have a lot of women's clothes they want to give in case I come across any women at the train tracks. Now so far in the past week, I have had several people say "oh yes, I want to help" but I still haven't heard from any of them. But these two women are the types I know will live up to their request to donate. I still asked them to save their milk jugs, even if that was all they could do and left to go to my next stop.

As I was driving to go see my rooster, something compelled me to stop at the fire department. I went in and asked for the Sgt. and when I gave him my card and started my 'speech' he chimed in "this is great! Lately we have been getting several people in here at night. They somehow get together the money for a ticket on the bus to Williamsburg, yet when they get here, they have nowhere to go. We don't know what to do with them." O.K. I thought, my neighbors would run me out of town (actually I had one female say she would kick my butt if this happened and then she looked at me like uh oh what did I just say and immediately 'took it back') if I started bringing Homeless to our house (although we do have a nice size barn in the back that would hold several beds). And since our area doesn't have a shelter (YET) what could we do? But, then I remembered, you never question God on how He is going to handle a situation, you just trust that He will handle it when it happens. "I don't care if it is day or night or what, you call my husband and I and we will come down and figure something out!" Wow did that really come out of my mouth? Now most men would be very upset to know their wife just volunteered them to get out of bed at any given time into their sleep and drive 15 minutes away to pick up some stranger and take them to some sort of safety. Luckily, not Geoff. As opened as his heart is to help others, he can make me seem selfish at times. Besides one day we will have teen-agers and you never know what surprise you are in for in that regard, so it is practice for us.

Afterwards, it was time to drop off food and have a cup of coffee with Chubby and the Gang. When I pulled up to Dunkin Donuts, I didn't see any of them inside, but I did see a lady and two men talking so I went in and as I approached them, I over heard them talking about tithes to the churches. I introduced myself and said since you are talking about tithes, let me give you a card. After 15 minutes of conversation, the lady told me she was just visiting here, but she wanted to get me her card so we can start networking and help each other. She went to her car and when she came back in she handed out pens to each of us, gave me her card and slipped something else into my hand. We left together to go to our cars and I looked to see what it was extra she handed me. Shocked, but grateful, it was a $20 to be put toward food, supplies or gas. However I felt I needed it to benefit the people 'under the train tracks.'

Now these haven't been the first nice kind hearted people I have met since I started, but there was something different about them that renewed my faith of the people in Williamsburg. Who knows, maybe I just might like it here, maybe the people will accept me and the goals I want to achieve for my new friends and maybe we can start a shelter program here for the Homeless.
Considering homelessness is a heart-breaking but serious problem that grows daily in our country, I would like to break away for a few and add a little light humor to my experiences so far. Last week, I met up with a nice man while I was behind Food Lion (this was one of the sites I use to go to, but hadn't had much luck with anyone coming out of the woods.) This sweet middle-aged man gets out of a somewhat broken down car and starts rummaging through the dumpsters. Now I have always tried to treat others with respect and like to think they should keep their pride and dignity in tact, no matter what the situation is at hand. So, I didn't want to question him as if he was Homeless or even ask about the food he was pulling out of the trash and loading into his car. Coming up with no ideas of how to approach this man, I asked God for the wisdom of what to say. Just as I was about to introduce myself, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something move! At this point I didn't have to wonder what to say to start up a conversation, because I jump so fast, I practically knocked the guy over as I screamed "what was that?!" He hadn't notice anything and I slowly inched my way over to get a closer look and turned to him and asked "why is there a rooster in the dumpster pen?" He came over and neither of us thought it was real because it was standing so still and as we started to turn around, the rooster started after me! (OK so now I feel bad for all the poultry I have eaten in my life.) Needless to say, we now knew it was alive and after it had run off into the woods and we had a brief chuckle, we started talking. Thanks God, but next time, can I please stay away from embarrassing actions (such as me running around like a chicken with it's head cut off?)

His name is Eugene and he goes around to the dumpsters behind grocery stores and gets the boxes of food they throw away daily. He told me that when it is the expiration date, they have to throw them out or give them away so he goes around and collects them. And really there isn't anything wrong with the boxes he was pulling out. Most of it was breakfast bars and snack cakes, all individually wrapped. Then he takes it out and distributes it to less fortunate along with other food from the 'food pantries'. And just to prove you can't judge a book by it's cover, I found out later from people in the area that know him, he is very well off monetarily (although his heart is richer than the money he walks around with.) We traded phone numbers in hopes that we can pull forces together to fight for a better good.

Now, back to the rooster. There aren't any farms nearby, so obviously he was dropped off by somebody who didn't want him any longer. And even though I haven't had much luck in that area, I still go over there a couple times a week, just to feed that one faithful and appreciative patron that always comes for bread hand-outs. He no longer chases me and can't offer any conversation, but I still love to sit on my car and watch him run around chasing after the pieces of bread I throw out for him. I have always told people that Homelessness does not discriminate and I guess it just goes to show that it isn't just people in our society that are stricken with this 'disease'.

So remember when you think it couldn't happen to you, Homelessness doesn't discriminate against sex, age, race, religion and now species!
Wow, I just updated my page and found that I had done something correct in regards to HTML code! I guess I'm not so blond after all. Since I have the time, I have a few thank you's I would like to say.

Dr. Oglesby & Staff: Thank you for your generous donation of toothpaste and toothbrushes. Not only does your office have such a warm open environment, but also caring hearts. You have also shown that you don't have to be rich to want nice teeth and even the ess fortunate can have pride in their smile.

Paul Aron: You were the guiding light that lit my path to those I can call my new friends. You answered the question for me that nobody wanted to answer "where are the Homeless in Williamsburg?"

Angels of Mercy: You truly are Angels with all you do to help those medically, when the Government won't.

James City Community Church: Thumper, thanks for allowing me to raid the pantry last week.

York River Baptist Church: You accepted my cry for help and didn't question when I would become a member. Your Deacon hurried to my side when I rushed in during a service to aid me, even though he didn't know me. And when he heard I was panicked because I didn't have plastic forks for the Homeless to eat their first hot meal, you didn't laugh or turn away. Not only did you give me the proper eating utensils, you and your wife rushed about to find the keys to the food pantry and filled 3 bags of food for me to distribute. You are the Christians I am proud to call Brothers and Sisters.

The Homeless Guy (aka Kevin): Wow, there is so much I can say about you, but instead, I keep passing out your website! You are an inspiration to others, not just the Homeless. You provide hope to anyone who is willing to accept it. Amazing enough, you didn't think I was crazy for trying to track down a 'Homeless Guy" at his hotel. Hopefully together we can make a difference in this world and educate those to 'open their eyes, hearts & Souls' to this non-discriminating problem we call Homelessness. I pray for you in your journey throughout life. Thank you for answering my questions and just listening to me. I look forward to the day we can meet in person. And yes, I pray for your children and that one-day you can be part of their lives again. I give to you much respect and admiration. KUDOS!

Chubby and the Gang at the donut shop: Thanks for the coffee, great conversation, prayers and advice.

Dad & Mom (aka Mr. & Mrs. McKenzie): Thank you for welcoming me into your family, for accepting me as I am, past and present. Also for the advice I often call for. You have been the family I have never had in my life. But most of all thank you for bringing Geoff into this world!

Geoff, my dear loving husband: Thank you for coming into my life, breathing air into me and filling my Spirit with hope that had long been missing. You are the spark that keeps my heart aglow, the shoulder I can lean on to cry, the smile that lights up my face and the one who walks on the other side of me with God to help me up when I fall. I always knew God had a purpose for me, but never did I think I would have the Honour to share it with somebody like you! I love you as God meant for you to be loved til my dying days.

O.K., so obviously I am just learning about 'blogging' and still haven't figured out how to work with the HTML. I had all my logs for each day caught up to date and when I hit 'publish' everything was gone and my whole system crashed. So now I guess it is back to the beginning. But, before I go backwards, I would rather focuse on the past couple of days and maybe later 'catch up.' To make things a little clearer, I have about 6 men, on and off, that I feed or meet with daily since starting a week ago. For the most part, I only go to one site now. The other 2, I can never seem to meet up with anyone, but I think under the overpass is a more suitable area.

Sunday of this past week was hard. "R" (I promised the guys I would never identify them until they were ready) and a couple others were having a 'paranoid' afternoon. I took the hot meal I had prepared down to them and typically I am warmly greeted. That day, they seemed on-guard. "R" told me in one breath I was an angel sent from God to help them, but I must be a vice-cop undercover. I tried every way possible to let them know I wasn't, but nothing seemed to convince them. Then they were concerned about the 'cameras I had placed up under the overpass' and I knew at that moment I had to go along with their hallucinations. So, as they pointed out all the cameras, I went around and broke them all down. This seemed to comfort them. Later, before I left, "R" said he had started to be 'shunned' for his association with me. The others come for the food and supplies, but to them, "R" has seemed to make a connection as a friend with me and for that moment, I was just as much an outsider in this group as I am in Williamsburg's society. Brian Wilson said it the best "I guess I just wasn't made for these times."

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, when I took the food down (and blankets since they were calling for snow), nobody would come out, although I could see them lingering in the shadows. They were obviously waiting for me to leave so they could eat, but were too scared to be around me that day. The same for today. Yesterday I wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it down. I felt horrible and guilty, but it made me realize that one day I will need some help to be there when I can't. But, until they feel safe with me, I won't feel safe with anyone else going. I approached the donut shop about an account so if I can't make it, at least they can go in there and get something to eat and drink and charge it against money I put down. She is going to talk with her husband and let me know.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

When my husband and I moved from SC to Williamsburg in October of this past year, we didn't know what to expect. The only things we knew for sure: we made our move to be near his 3 children; I had the opportunity to 'get back to my roots' (I was born in Richmond, but my Father was transferred shortly after); our first year anniversary was just around the corner; and the cost of living in Williamsburg was so outrageous, you almost had to file Bankruptcy before you could unload your U-Haul! Just to catch you up to speed on our lives, and us I'll give a quick 'cliff notes' version of why we moved here, why I am 'blogging' and who we are.

Our move was unexpected for us, but my husband's ex-wife announced to us at the end of August that she had been dating a guy in Williamsburg and they were getting married...that next week! She was packing up her house and their 3 kids and moving. This would be our last weekend with them or at least until their next trip down 'to visit'. Wow, what a blow, not just for Geoff (my husband) but also for me. I had grown close to them during the summer and now they would be gone. A couple of days later, Geoff's oldest son, Geoffrey (GT to keep it less confusing) called us and said "Please do something! We (GT and the youngest, Ben) don't want to move and be that far from you or our friends!" We called a couple of Attorneys, but found it to be too expensive and besides I was a child of divorce and I knew the hardships of being a grenade in the war of divorce. Geoff and his ex tried to work it out, but nothing was agreeable. So finally I said "Then we all move." This seemed like an agreeable plan to all of us and so we all started packing. We helped them move that week and came to Williamsburg to find us a house. One month later we moved. (Probably at this point you are wondering if we are crazy, but that is fine because it is about the same attitude we have received from several people in this area.)

Why I am blogging about 'Homeless in Williamsburg'? Shortly after we moved and became settled in our home, I decided I wanted to start working with the Homeless again. In SC I worked several years on my own for the betterment of the Homeless. Personally, next to children, there is no better group of people to work with. I knew I would have the support of my husband in my decision, because he was homeless when we met. Geoff and I asked a few people we had met "where are the Homeless Shelters located in Williamsburg" or "where are the Homeless?" We were amazed to everyone's answers! "Williamsburg doesn't have any Homeless" or "Oh, no; you don't want to get around 'them'. They will hurt you. Most of them have been patients at Eastern Hospital and don't take their meds!" Other than being in a state of shock, I was broken-hearted. Not because I couldn't find anyone to rescue (which is not why I enjoy working with the Homeless) but because of people's attitudes and blindness to a situation that grows daily. And what really made my heart sank was the fact that many of these people are Christian (OK so I say this term very loosely), upstanding members of their Churches and always willing to drop some change in Salvation Army's bucket during the holidays. Geoff and I decided to drive around and look, but not knowing the area very well, (if you have ever visited Williamsburg, you understand how easy it is to get lost in a town that has no more than 10 main roads) we ended back at home as failures.

Months past, we tried to 'fit in' but even still I know that in itself will be like driving on Interstate 64 (does it go East and West or North and South and who mapped the directions off the internet?) Two weekends ago, Geoff had the boys out for the afternoon and I decided to sit and read the newspaper. I figured since I was suppose to start working the following week, I would try to get in as much relaxation time as I could. But wait, there on the front page of the Virginia Gazette was the headline “Homeless Defy Easy Solutions”. I didn’t know whom to call first, Geoff or the writer of the paper. Of course I called Geoff and exclaimed “I know where they are! I hope you don’t mind me not taking that job. I have a lot to do and need to try and call the paper.” I immediately called the paper....ugh, voice-mail. So I tried several hours later and again the voice-mail. Monday rolled around and I reached the front desk service, but nobody knew of Paul Aron. Finally, they put me through to the Editor...ugh, voice-mail again. Gee, when does anyone work? Finally I decided to try the white pages on the Internet. I truly didn’t have much hope in this since I figured most writers wouldn’t publicize their phone or address, but to my amazement, there it was. My heart was pounding as I dialed, wondering what would I say....ugh, voice-mail. I realized the only way I would hear back from anyone would be to leave a message. Mid-day Paul called me. I told him my story and feelings and after an hour of discussion, I said “could you please take me down, cuz I don’t know where these areas are?” We agreed to meet on Tuesday (3/04/03) to post flyers throughout the areas the Homeless were living.