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."

Tuesday, May 27, 2003

A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, going a bit too fast in his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door! He slammed on the brakes and backed the Jag back to the spot where the brick had been thrown. The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and pushed him up against a parked car shouting, "What was that all about and who are you? Just what the world are you doing? That's a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost a lot of money. Why did you do it?"

The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister...please, I'm sorry but I didn't know what else to do," He pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop..." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car. "It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair and I can't lift him up." Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt and he's too heavy for me."

Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the rapidly swelling lump in his throat. He hurriedly lifted the handicapped boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes and cuts. A quick look told him everything was going to be okay. "Thank you and may God bless you," the grateful child told the stranger. Too shook up for words, the man simply watched the boy push his wheelchair-bound brother down the sidewalk toward their home. It was a long, slow walk back to the Jaguar. The damage was very noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door.

He kept the dent there to remind him of this message "Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention!" God whispers in our souls and speaks to our hearts. Sometimes when we don't have time to listen, He has to throw a brick at us.
Blogger Website and Patti Are Recouping

Since waking up sick Fri., I have slowly become worse and have progressed into pneumonia. I am trying to update the webpage, since there have been many changes lately, but can only do it a little at a time due to illness. But, just as I get the strength, I found out Blogger.com is also updating and moving their server, so I am not able to make the changes I have found the energy to do. So, I apologize, but I guess it was God's way to slow me down a bit!

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Friday, Geoff and I headed out early to walk the building that will potentially be the future homeless shelter in Williamsburg. I have visited the building several times prior, but this was Geoff's first time to see it. It is a very impressive site, but will take a lot to bring it up to code. After our visit and meeting with the Directors, we headed out for SC. Friends of ours bought us tickets for the Phantom of the Opera for Sat. last year before we moved. Unfortunately, I woke up sick and as the weekend progressed, so did my 'cold'. I slept through most of the opera and dinner. When we came home to Mom and Dad's last night, I went straight to bed and slept until this morn. Since I wasn't up to it, Geoff went to church with Mom and Dad, as I lay sick in bed, typing this. We are suppose to go visit Downtown Outreach Ministries this afternoon to see how upgraded they are in their work. Especially since they picked up, where I left off 4 years ago on downtown main street with the homeless. Also, for people's benefit in Williamsburg, we are going to take some pictures of our houses here in Greenville, such as our HUD housing development, our destitute poor, middle class and upper elite. This will give an idea of my past blogs about the cost of living and quality of homes that I have compared between Williamsburg and Greenville. Tomorrow on our way home, we are stopping in Charlotte at the daughter's house of one of our Board of Directors. She has about 20 bags of clothes she has gathered from people at work and friends for donations to the future shelter.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

One of the things my husband and I spoke about last night after I blogged was the issue of itimidation and where your heart is and for whom it reaches out to. I asked him "Do you find me to be intimidating or gruff with people?" He just laughed and smiled before he carefully answered my question. (Keep in mind, he has been around me when I have spoken informally about homelessness and when I have been requested to come out and speak.) "No, you aren't intimidating. You have a very soft heart for those who need our help. But I have found when you are around others that have seemed to be blinded to the reality of the situation or haven't experienced the plight of homelessness, you are firm with the words you use." Today, after several conversations with people in the community and Churches I realized, Geoff was right. Most of my conversations today, prior to finishing the call, the person would respond "I have enjoyed this talk and the efforts you are fighting for." I do explain to people, if I have made you feel uncomfortable, then my task is complete. If I have touched your heart, I have done what God wanted done. If I have made you think, then your eyes may be opened a little more. BUT, I use the word "I" loosely; for it is not I who has done this! IT IS GOD! I am just a tool for Him. The Glory is unto Him. I always ask for His wisdome before speaking, so no matter how YOU feel after meeting me or speaking with me, it is how God wanted you to feel for whatever actions you have or have not done!

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

"Ann Moore and Lois Hornsby"

Yesterday I had the pleasure to talk with Lois via phone. I have seen her name often in the paper or had many ask if I have spoken with her in regards to our efforts, but it seems like everytime I sit down to call her, my cell phone rings with somebody needing help. Again her name was brought up to me yesterday morning at breakfast with Ann (oh and by the way, Ann met my husband at breakfast, so she knows he exists.) Ann has become the equivelent as my friend Vera in SC. I remember when Ann first called me in March. I was so excited because she was already a 'mentor' to me. Even though we have only had a couple of face to face meetings, we talk often on the phone. Whenever I feel like I am losing strength or just need a kind ear to vent, I know I can call her for a 'pick me up' mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Rarely can we get off the phone within 1/2 hour, but they are conversations I always look forward to. And when she was gone for a couple of weeks, I felt lost without her kind voice. Again, we met briefly this morning to talk about plans for a shelter. I told her about calling Lois and how glad I finally found the time.

Lois seems to be a very strong, yet kind hearted woman. We discussed some of the hardships and struglles Geoff and I have experienced since our move and working with the homeless. I talked about the goals and vision for the shelter and the proposed area we have laid out. She also knows of the struggles to establish a shelter in Williamsburg. She, at one point, also had the same shared dream. She seems to have a lot of insight in the needs of the people and others that need our help. Obviously, which I knew before I called her, she stays very active and busy within the community. But, Ann and I continue to pray that Lois will eventually join us in our efforts to reach out our hands to the homeless.

"The McKenzie's"

I have talked about my husband many times throughout this journal, but other than when we go to Church, few people see us out together. Why? Because he works! As a painter, his hours vary daily. Thus, he usually isn't available when I go out to take food or help people out with transportation and so forth. Many around Williamsburg have met us individually, but only a few have met us as husband and wife.

In the past we have considered putting the picture on the webpage, but we never felt the need until today. A friend of ours late this afternoon needed to talk with me. At first I thought she might be in trouble and since I was heading to the same area she was in, I took some extra time to spend with her. Shocking enough, she informed me about another person within an agency was 'talking about me.' Now, I have learned not to mention names unless given permission, so in this case I won't. But, basically I was described to another person as being 'intimidating' and how I couldn't have been born in 'the South' (I assume they meant SC) and I must be from the North. Which she was right I wasn't born in SC, I was born here in Richmond, VA. I was raised in WV and lived the past 11 years in SC. No I have never lived in what I think she would mean by 'the North' and if she was saying that Northern people are intimidating, then what about the other citizens that make up a large population of Williamsburg from Jersey and New York. Because they are Northern does that mean they are intimidating? Also, she pointed out how I go under the bridge 2 times a day, BY HERSELF! Rarely am I by myself. I have the watchful eyes of the homeless that we have become friends with as protection and truly I haven't found it to be all that scary. I know others who also take things down, but we use common sense. Even my mentor, who I have become very close to, Ann Moore, has taken things to the bridge. But what really shocked me was the fact she stated "she talks about her husband, but has never produced him." Geoff and I got a nice laugh out of that one! No I didn't produce him, his Mother and Father did; but if you mean you haven't met him, one day you probably will. But, I don't know many women who take their husbands to work with them? But, at least for now, you can at least 'visualize' what we look like.
An update for the webpage will be posted by tomorrow afternnon. Sorry, but the system is still down. Please come back!

Saturday, May 17, 2003

Last night was the Board of Elders meeting at Church Builders in Spartanburg, SC. Sparatanburg is just a hop, skip and jump from our hometown, Greenville, SC. One of the new business they were to vote on is us and our ministry that we are building. It has become important for us to get our 501(c)3 status so we can continue to help those on the streets and in weekly motels. This new status will allow us to grow and build up the strength to band together and make a difference in others' lives. But, most importantly, it will allow us to continue in our mission and vision for a shelter.

I keep trying to bide time for those who are trapped between a weekly room and the streets. Those who will soon have no place to stay due to motels closing and streets in the process of being expanded. Those who want to work, but are constantly turned down. There are many people in this town that need help, who reach out for help, yet are still being turned away. I understand the hardship of agencies having to say no, because I have had to say it before. Then when I get off the phone, I cry from the pain that I know they are going through. Geoff looks at me and holds me and says "You had to say no?" He also understands the pain. Rare is this situation for me to turn somebody down and it is only when they want us to pay for a room. Honestly, if we had the extra money, we would; but the cost of living even affects us here.

Back to Church Builders. They are a ministry in SC that helps build relationships with God, other ministries and people. I spoke with Pastor Jim when Geoff and I went home last week for a couple of days. CB has their parent charter status of 501(c)3 and helps other ministries as a child organizations under their parent status. I know, it seems confusing, but basically, if we are accepted by CB, we will have our NPO number within a week or two as a ministry under them. I never thought it could move so fast. I never thought it would grow this much or even be possible! But that was the problem, I was thinking. I had prayed for God to lead us in the direction He saw for us; I had prayed for somebody to help us to be able to help others; I had prayed for the vision of a shelter. God answered all those prayers. Typically it takes months to get your NPO completed. God sent me to CB for help and with opened arms, they reached out to us.

Many times people will ask the same religious question, "How do we know there is truly a God?" Anytime I am questioned this, my answer is "You are alive, you breath, you think, you feel, you exist." or "Go outside and look around, who did that, who created what is in your eye."


Thursday, May 15, 2003

Welcome to the staffmember at JAHS
**Motivation Is His Middle Name**

Hi, this is Suz. Patti's cable modem had a surge so I am blogging for her, from a tape she dropped off.

Last week while Geoff and I were out of town, J called my cell phone for help. After I explained that we didn't have a shelter here yet and we are no longer to have anyone come to our house for more than 3 consecutive days (even friends to visit), he told me his situation. His fiance is at one shelter and he was at another in Newport News. He was able to get a job, actually not one but two, in Williamsburg, but couldn't start yet, because he has nowhere to stay. "Wow, that is commendable of you to be homeless and get 2 jobs!" He has a Mother in the area where he was sheltering, but refuses to stay there. I told him I would try to locate something. He doesn't have any debts so when he does get his first paycheck in 2 weeks, it can go to cover his living expenses. I started calling everywhere, but wasn't having any luck.

Monday he was suppose to start work, yet I still hadn't found anywhere. OK I guess God will lead me, but I still felt bad to pick him up to work, knowing he wouldn't have anywhere to go afterwards. I headed to NN, not knowing who to really expect, other than the fact I talked to several people who work at the shelter he was in and they all assurd me he was fine. "How will I recognize him?" I asked one of the staff. "He looks like a teddy bear." I pulled up and sure enough, he looks like a teddy bear. Not just the size of him, but he has this innocent warm face and a sweet heart that shines through his smile. While I was driving back with J, I asked more about his Mother. I noticed he calls her by her first name, which made me think it was a step parent. Tears started streaming down his face as he began to talk.

He was the by product of a rape. His 'Mother' always resented the reminder he had become to her. He has asked her before "Why didn't you have me killed by abortion if you didn't want me?" Well, she had been talked out of it, just the same on giving him up for adoption. "Weekly she tells me how much she hates to look at me. How I will never be anything because of the way I came into this life. And she has never allowed me to call her Mom because she hates me." It was so sad and hard to hear how somebody could take the beauty and gift of a child and make it evil. But, I also assume she blames her drug problems on her rape as an escape, as well.

The manager who hired J wasn't in so he was told to start the next night. Oh God, please let somebody help him. It is too late to go to any churches and I can't leave him on the street. I called Joe. "Could ya help me out?" Joe told me how to get to his place and said it would be fine for him to stay alnight. After I dropped J off, I was about to leave and then I remembered he probably hadn't eaten all day. I called up the local pizza place, who donates pizza for the homeless whenever I need it, and they ok'd to deliver 2 pizza's to Joe's. The next day J told me it was one of the best night sleep he has in a long time. He is starting his training now for his new job and at the end of the month he starts a day job at another place. J tried yesterday to get assistance with a hotel room from an agency, but they were strapped. Hopefully tomorrow, when he goes to a church that is going to help him out until his paycheck, he can settle into a hotel room. In the meantime, I have been calling around to find an inexpensive apt. he and his fiance can rent, since another agency said they would cover his security deposit, if he covers his first months rent. But for now, he has made a few more friends in Williamsburg and found some security that he has found love to rid the hate, joy within his accomplishment and efforts for a normal life and a new path with God.

Monday, May 12, 2003

Just to clarify to everyone, again, not always is it me doing the posting to the webpage. Just as people in business have secretaries, we have volunteers, who do work from their own place, that help with the ministry. It would be impossible for me to have enough time to do what I need to do, maintain the webpage, spend time with our pup pups, time with some of the guys, my everday work, cook dinner, do our laundry, our devotionals and time to relax.

I know many of you say this is a 'noble cause' but I don't think it is. I have never even made that claim. To me, this isn't noble, because it is what God wants and tells us to do; to take care of the poor and the needy because they will not cease from this land. This isn't even a cause; it is an effect that people have been affected by. I know many say 'not in your backyard." But since our meeting at the end of April, how many people have you seen here? Other than a couple of times that we have had friends over for dinner and our parents came to visit us (and stayed in a hotel), we haven't had anyone come and cut our grass and the girl who use to clean our house got a job cleaning at a motel. And, actually last week, we were out of town for 3 days. Which is also why I was shocked when the Zoning Officer called the house (which rolled over to my cell phone) and said she was contacted by a neighbor to come and go over zoning laws for our A-1 zoned area and to check our barn for people. I explained we weren't even in town but she could gladly go over to check. Once we talked about the confussion of the story in the paper and that even before the meeting, we weren't housing anyone, she didn't have a problem. But, I still wanted her to come anyhow. I wanted her to be able to see for herself. Unfortunately, we weren't going to be home until that evening, so we scheduled it for Friday morn.

We went over the zoning laws the next day and she even said (although she is putting it in writing,) that by the ZONING Laws (nobody elses',) even with the family who stayed for 11 days, it wasn't against the area. "Knowing we were going to have the kids the following weekend, I told the family there wasn't enough room for everyone and we needed our time alone with them," I told the zoning officer. After she walked around the house, we went to the barn for her to inspect. If any of you could see the barn, you would know, there isn't any room for anyone to sleep out there, because we have so much extra furniture, we keep both aspects of the barn full, along with a lot our landlords have in there and our whole attic (keep in mind, we moved from a 2465 sq. ft. house to a 1200 sq. ft. house and almost all of our furniture is antique and very large.) We laughed some and talked about why we moved here and wow, we found out, we have something in common! She has family in the town we moved from, Greenville, SC. What a small world.

But, whoever did call to say we were housing people in the barn, did the area an injustice. Because the one thing she did comment on is all the dogs running free in the neighborhood. I did tell her it doesn't bother us, because other than a couple of incidents, we haven't had much of a problem and this is an area where everyone just accepts that. Besides, if we would have had a problem with it, we wouldn't have moved here in the first place and secondly, neither of us would ever think of calling a pound on the dogs. Anytime we have had a problem, we talk directly to the owner; such as when a dog got onto our porch and shredded our trash or another dog (who is actually very sweet, but is in a male competition with our male shih tzu) who has broken through our screen porch 3 times and we just replace the screens (and even last week before we left, he attacked my dog that I was walking on a leash and today he attacked me and my dogs through our porch, so we have another screen to replace.) But, as I said, she saw no violation WE were doing, but did note the violations of all the free running dogs and with no owners in site (Zoned area A-1 it is ok for a dog to run free unless there are more than 5 residental properties in use.)

So here again, it would have been better for you to contact us and say "we want to inspect your barn", because we would have let you see for yourself, than to call a zoning officer down here and her to see the broken laws by others and not us. I had even said at the meeting, I wanted to work with yall, it just seems it isn't the same in return. But, I also wanted to let you know, that if animal control does come down, it wasn't me who called and reported it, because I would have come to you if I had a problem with your dog, not through them 'in jail' and cost you a fine. Unfortunately, sometimes what you put out into this world, is what you get back from your actions.
**The Countdown Begins**

We are just 14 days away from having our ministry registered as a 501(c)3 ! Notice the change of name on the title of this webpage: Williamsburg's Homeless & Indigent, otherwise known as WHI

Once our status is completed, we have BIG news for Williamsburg!

Sunday, May 11, 2003

I, and many others, have said before that homelessness does NOT discriminate. At any given time, no matter who you are or how much you make, it CAN happen to you. If you don't believe me, then read this email I received last night. He wrote it in hopes to open people's eyes that YOU COULD BE NEXT!

I have read some of the letters on your web page and I find it very sad that people use the term "afraid" of THEM to hide behind.They treat homelessness as disease that you are born with or catch like the common cold.
I found your web page by total accident. I my self am looking into a homeless shelter. This is a very difficult time for me. I think I would have some of the residents of Williamsburg know that anyone can be homeless at any time if the circumstances are just right. I never thought that it would be happening to me.Homelessness is not prejudice. It could happen to you or any one in your family.
Just so your readers might have a change of heart I will tell you a little about myself. I used to work in Midtown Manhattan for 9 years. I have witnessed homeless every were I had gone. You can only give but so much however I had always done the best I could. I grew up in a single parent household with very little money. Out of all those years I have never seen or heard of any homeless person attacking or harassing anyone. If anything I had found that they were proud people very reluctant to accept help. I had moved here in 1995 and had a very good job in real-estate. The funny thing is I am considered to be at the top of my field. I had worked for the same employer for years here. I had gotten sick for about 6 weeks and fell behind in my bills. I live alone and now have no family other than a cat I saved form being put asleep only because he was to ugly for any one to adopt. Feeling lost here I named him Wilson off of the movie " Cast Away". I obviously tried to avoid what is the inevitable at this point. I was forced to change jobs. I had put in for about 10 different loans both in person and on the internet "nothing" I tried negotiating debt consolidation "nothing"
I had requested help from unemployment, James City Co. The United Way "nothing'" I even tried area churches "nothing" I had told all of these folks that I do not want a hand out. I am willing to pay the money back within 90 days at 21% interest. I even offered collateral as reassurance of my intentions "nothing" How does one go from $75,000.00 per year for 7 years running and now is having his utilities shut off and is being evicted, his car reposed, and paid well over $20,000.00 in taxes every year. I could be one of your neighbors. I have looked back for the past four months trying to assess how this could of happened on the many nights that I can not sleep, yet have to be up in the morning to keep going a pray that things will get better. Regardless of the stress of being made to feel like a loser with your bill collectors of companies and accounts that you have had for years. It amazes me how money will change peoples attitude towards human beings. I often wonder if people really are afraid of the homeless or they just don't want them around because it could be a reminder that it could happen to any of us. I have looked everywhere that I can think and have come up zero. The mental punishment that you must endure can break even the strongest people. Every time I have pined my hopes to a solution it has always back fired in my face and I find my self back in the same place that I had started with less time.I can not tell you how many hours I have spent looking on the internet for solutions for temporary housing to catch my breath for a few months. There is absolutely nothing out there to help people. If there was I would have found it by now. Patti just remember one thing it takes 100% to make a difference and 1% to sit back and do nothing but judge other peoples efforts. Joe

Friday, May 09, 2003

Matthew 8:20 And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head....


Thursday, May 08, 2003

**More Emails**

Dear Patti,

The door of opportunity swings on the hinges of opposition. (The quote is
attributed to Dr. Bob Jones Sr.)

Don't let the opposition get you down. I read a good part of your web site.
Stay sweet.

Brad McKenzie (Geoff's, my husband, brother who is a missionary/church planter in Germany)

Tuesday, May 06, 2003

*Emails Received Lately*


I read all your blogs about the homeless situation in Williamsburg and felt
you were partially wrong about our town.

First, people are afraid of the homeless for more reasons than I think they
understand. I am afraid of them after helping a couple and getting robbed.
Also, when I first moved back to town and saw my three year old daughter
have the money yanked out of her hand by a homeless man while she stood in
line to pay for her ball it frightened me. She of all the people in line was
the one selected to be victimized. She was the youngest and the smallest. Of
course, in many crimes this is the situation.....the bigger animal feeding
on the weakest animal.

Second, Williamsburg has come a long way. And believe me, it is hard to
imagine myself saying this as I have no particular fondness for this town at
times. Years ago, it had a hard time admitting its poor, let alone its
homeless. I can remember neighborhoods with inadequate plumbing, roads,
heat, crappy water, etc. I can remember barrels burning in the yards so the
people in the homes could come outside to warm up. I can drive through some
of those neighborhoods today and see marvelous rehab work where poverty was
so much more evident years ago. Instead of focusing on how far we have to
go, focus on how far we have come.

Third, Williamsburg suffers from a disease called "the old boy Network". It
is slowly recovering as the old blood is dieing off and being replaced by
new out of the area blood. However, this is going to be a slow process and
with this network in place new ideas are slow to develop.

Fourth, to tell you the truth, I wouldn't want a homeless shelter in my
neighborhood either. It doesn't mean I am heartless or less of a christian.
Even the good samaritan didn't take the man home and into his house with his
family. I probably even know some of Williamsburg's homeless since I have
grown up here. I know some of them at their worst, their best, their most
violent, etc. and frankly some of them scare me. This is a small town so
word still travels as to who is doing what. I hope you can find a building
over at Eastern State. There are a couple of older ones that are not being
used that would offer the space you guys would need, because with the mental
health background of this town you open and they will come.

Fifth, please don't expect any more from the police. Of course these people
are going to run when they see the police cars and I am sure they (the
police) are not always at their best. However, remember this town has come a
long way. Our police force is much better today than the macho, skirt
chasing thug that used to permeate its force years ago.

I grew up here in a decent neighborhood, however, we were considered the
white trash on the block. I have seen this town at its best and at its worse
over the years. I don't have much love loss when it comes to this place,
however, I have to admit the town has made miraculous progress over the
years. I have seen a part of it that probably makes some of the old local
politicians cringe. While you grew up or were born in Richmond, it is
important to realize that Williamsburg is totally unique. It is not like
either Richmond or Newport News. It is a community with a bubble surrounding
it. In many ways it is more welcoming but less hospitable.

Oh, and another indication that indicates you are not from this area.
Eastern State Hospital is the last place on Earth I would have put my
mother. I grew up and read about the abuses and neglect over the years. Of
course, like everything else, it has improved. Their staff might or might
not be more caring or competent, however, I wouldn't take that chance. My
mother and grandmother died in a private care facility, however, being
familiar with this type of thing we had family members in and out all the
time. We made sure the care was good and the money was being maximized.

Patti, if you want to learn about our town, go to the library and start
reading the gazette years back. This will give a you an idea of the changes
the town has been through and while you may be hitting a brick wall at
times, you might understand it better.

My Reply:
Thank you for your honesty. Yes, there is a lot I am learning about the
area. My hopes is to have the shelter at ESH, because it makes the most
sense. (which I am sure you agree.) In regards to my Mother, she only died
in the past 3 years and by what I understand, ESH was better in the past few
years than many ago. Luckily, UVA saved my Mother, but my 'evil estranged
uncle' carted her to a private nursing home in Roanoke, that lead to her
death (it took us 3-4 months to get a DC because no DR would sign it, since
nobody had a clue what happen, except my uncle.) I do understand
Williamsburg has come a long way, this I see often and have read stories
f5rom days ago. I am so sorry about your past experiences with the homeless,
here or anywhere else. Humans are human and there is good and bad
everywhere. My heart does go out to you in regards to that. I have also had
my bad experiences, but I don't give up. You don't have to be poor, homeless
or black to have comitted a crime against somebody, and this I know because
I have also experienced the opposite of each. I don't and won't say the
people we work with are perfect, but they have been trying and also come a
long way. Some do have mental problems, some alcohol problems and some are
just everyday people with bad circumstances against them. We still try to
reach out to all. I always know that I could be 'the weak animal', but many
of them have grown to trust and respect me. This has been a grace. Those on
the street with children, would have protected your daughter against the one
who stole from her, that I can guarantee you of, because I know how they are
with my husband's children. I have never said nor would I want a shelter in
a neighborhood; it wouldn't make sense. There is a lot I don't put on the
webpage because of my neighborhood, but much I can share with others,
pro or con. This is why I keep my phone number on the page, if they want to
learn more. Yes, in the beginning I was harsh, and over time I have become
better with my words. But again, I do appreciate your opinion and would love
to talk, if you ever want to talk.

In His Name,

Dear Ms. McKenzie,

I am a William & Mary student who attended the April 4th benefit. I am a friend of Ally. Your speech prompted me to do something to help. You mentioned a need for milk jugs so that people will have a source of water overnight. I set up a collection box for milk and soda jugs in the kitchen of my dormitory, and have collected 25 to this date. Do you still have a need for these items? I have a car, so I can deliver them to a location that will be convenient for you. Sarah

"Look Homeward Angel"

When Mom and Dad were in town over the weekend, Mom gave me a card of a ministry that reaches out to others in need in our hometown, Greenville, SC. "They would like to talk to you sometime." Last night, just after I told Geoff my phone calls were finished for the night, I picked up Gina and Rosetta's card and dialed. I truly thought I was finished for the night, but then I was compelled to reach out to them. God meant for us to speak. The call was uplifting, inspiring and wonderful to hear how much they have grown back home. But, better yet, she told me about their struggles in completing their non-profit paperwork and I told them about ours. "We can help. I know the person who can get it done at no cost. I will call him and see what can be done." Yes, God meant for me to call Gina! We continued to talk about our ministries and reching out to those who need us and after she got over the shock of no shelter here, she said "Oh it must be because of the tourism."

When I hung up the phone, I was homesick. I thought about those few emails from people saying "If you miss it so much and have not enjoyed it here, why don't you go back?" (Trust me, these weren't said in kindness or love.) I actually thought about it. But just as Thomas Wolfe wrote "Look Homeward Angel", he also let it be known "You Can't Go Home Again." I know our calling has been to this area. I know this is where God wants us to be. I know there are many who are happy for our move to Williamsburg. And I now know the reason...to help the poor and needy.

Here is some background info on the Downtown Outreach Ministry. For more info, visit their website at Downtown Outreach Ministry
The Downtown Outreach Ministry started in April 1996. After winning their own personal battle with drug addiction, founders Gina Hockaday and Rosetta Britt, saw a need to give back to the communities infested with drugs and poverty. The seed of helping others was planted, and the two have grown a ministry, rooted in the days of when they needed themselves.

It all started in an extra room in Gina's home on Vardry Street. There, she collected used clothing, household goods, appliances, and furniture, knowing there were people in her community needing those very items; this was the beginning of the outreach ministry. What followed included helping the Block Ministry services, working with Magnolia Nursing Homes residents, providing food and shelter for local homeless individuals, assisting with the rehabilitation process of inmates, helping in the Jesse Jackson Townhomes and in the Nicholtown Area, and distributing clothing throughout Greenville and surrounding areas.

In 1998, the Downtown Outreach Ministry had outgrown that one room on Vardry Street and relocated to the Downtown Baptist Church in Greenville. That move provided more opportunities for the Ministry. They began working with the Greenville Summit, Grady Hipp Nursing Center, Greenville Retirement, and Landwood Ridge facilities. These facilities have primarily elderly residents who welcome the close relationships built by members of the Outreach Ministry. Residents enjoy Bible studies, dinner, refreshments, music and Holiday activities provided by the Outreach.

Today, Downtown Outreach Ministry has:

A staff of 14 volunteers
Facilities at both Downtown Baptist Church and
Queen Street Baptist Church

Monday, May 05, 2003

**Future Board of Directors (thus far)**

Geoffrey McKenzie geoffreyt@cox.net
Susan Cooke mommied@cox.net
Wanda Brown wandabbbinc@yahoo.com
Linda Wall Lindawall12@hotmail.com

This is just a few...we are still waiting for confirmation from 6 more people this week.

Saturday, May 03, 2003

The Last Word

“At the recent Eastern State Hospital meeting, a woman asked for a building for a homeless shelter. Even if she gets the building, where will the money come from to staff it? If you look at any of the programs offered by homeless shelters, you would find at least two people on staff at all times, a case worker, a commercial kitchen to prepare meals, laundry service and utilities. The financial reports by the shelters show this can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. By her own admission, the woman has no experience running a shelter, just ‘compassion.' I think it is worse to fail the people you strive to serve through incompetence than to send them to shelters that have the resources, training and financial backing to truly help them.”

I also saw this article today in the Va Gazette. Because time was short at the ESH meeting this past week, I didn't have the opportunity to go into details about our plan for a shelter and besides, not many have asked if we have a plan. YES, we do. In response to this article, I will give some details we have worked out. I do have funding for the shelter. And there are several non-profit groups across the US that will help with funding on behalf of the homeless. That is why I have some of their links on the website. I never said I was going to run it. I did say it was my goal to get one established in Williamsburg and to get our non-profit ministry established. I do have several people that have offerred and are prepared to volunteer their time to help running it, work or offer services to and even some who have said they would stay on the property as 'house mothers and fathers.' I have a Social Worker who is willing to donate their time for whatever services she can provide. I have contacted the national AA and NA organizations for future meetings at the shelter for those who want to attend. We do already have ministers who are willing to donate time for chapel during the week and/or on Sunday for those who want to worship. We have already started 'stockpiling' clothes (men, women and children) for those who need it and have 40 rubbermaid bins filled and several bags filled. Job networking we are already in the process of doing. I am currently scheduling time with the different agencies in our area to see how their 'intake' process is done and yes, I do call upon agencies/churches for help. You say I have no experience, but how do you, because I didn't say that. I have worked with homeless for over 6 years. During my college years, if it wasn't for the fact my adopted father died and I was unable to finish my last year of school, I would have had a degree in Sociology and Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. By the time Probate was completed and monies freed up for me to continue my education, my life had already changed it's course. A cook, yes we have one of those also, who his heart desires to do a soup kitchen. I do know what all is involved with a shelter to be able to staff it. I do have volunteers to also staff it. Duh, I know you have to have utilities. Maybe to you I don't have the experience in a shelter, but I do have the experience in working with the homeless.

Our group's vision for a shelter?

*Rooms for men, women and 'suites' for families (too many times the family is ripped apart, I would like to keep them together.)
*A fellowship hall for Chapel, AA, NA and Bible Study for those who want it
*A game room (you need to keep the mind alert as well. Also can be used for Arts/Crafts like ESH does.)
*An exercise room (if you work on the mind and Spirit, you need to also include the body.)
*Laundry area
*Job networking
*Housing office (to help with getting affordable housing when the person/people are able to move onto their own.)
*Skill training area
*Donation room for clothing, especially if somebody comes in with almost nothing.
*Everyday living training (such as paying bills, making your paycheck work for you, resumes for jobs, budgeting...)

This is just to say a few about what our goal is. Also, when people move on their own, keep up with them. This is a great tool I learned through DSS Social Services. When a child is adopted, the SW keeps in contact for roughly a year. That way in regards to somebody moving on their own knows if they still need help, we are still there for them.
Riverfront neighbors resist homeless shelter

I want to clarify in regards to the article, my intentions in this ministry was to never house people, even in the beginning... But, yes we did.

*We did have a special case where I allowed a mother and her 3 boys to stay for 11 days while they tried to find a more permanent place for her family that they could afford, instead of a hotel room. Even after that week they had gone back to the hotel, because I did say the most would be 12-14 days, the mother still was unable to find affordable housing and I let her know that we wouldn't be able to let them stay again. I had even explained in the beginning to her that this was not something we do, but it was under special circumstances.

*Yes, then later on down the road, we meet a man who was able to get a room for one night through the local Salvation Army. My husband hired him for his business and that day I was trying to find him a less expensive place on a weekly basis, where he could stay. The hotels that have weekly rates, that are affordable for people in this situation instead of tourism, didn't have anything at the time he could afford. One hotel let me know the next day they would have a room for $140.00 a week. During that day, after talking with the motels, I checked him out through some of the different shelters he had stayed at (as a matter of fact, one of them is a shelter in my hometown down south and in WV. After work when my husband was finished somewhat for the day, he brought the guy back here to finish some of the work he started the prior day, since there was still daylight. He stayed for dinner for us to talk and find out more about him and my husband and him ended up into a detailed conversation regarding the Bible. This gentleman grew up in a religious family, yet he was just now finding his faith. We were going to take him back to the hotel he was at the night prior, but he was unable to pay for it, since SA had paid for the first night. The other room would be ready the next morn, so yes he stayed that night. Their conversation about Faith and God had run into late hours and even we didn't want to be out in the car hunting down a hotel room. My husband and I both enjoy being able to help spread God's Word (I am a member as a 'witness' on the Tribulation Force group; a world wide group formed from the Left Behind books by the books' aurthor and my husband comes from an Evangilistic family of ministers.) We feel it is our responsibility to God to help those who want to learn, especially a 'new believer.'

I did clarify on my webpage, that in the past when I have done this work, even elsewhere, before moving here, "because I am not always referring to SA here. Down in SC I had 3 people from SA who lived in the shelter last year that also worked for us. They had been screened by them (I guess that was a requirement to stay at the shelter, I'm not sure) and when we hired the people, the person in charge of the shelter, gave me background info in regards to the people." Also, I am not referring to the police locally here. Other places I have lived, I could call the police there and check on a person before I hired them and it was due to a 'connection' I had within the department. So far here, I haven't had to call the police and check on a person, because prior to them even coming to our house, specifically one person in mind who we have become good friends with, I had already spoken with his family in detail. But, by suggestion of the Taskforce for the Homeless, which I am a member of, it would be good for me to go around to the different agencies and volunteer some time at each and to get an understanding of their intake process. I have already scheduled my time with our local SA office and Eastern State Hospital. I am scheduling time with many of the churches, United Way, and Angels of Mercy.

I do understand our neighbors' concerns and that was why I agreed to meet with them last week. I didn't HAVE to and was saddened that I was unable to fully answer people's questions without being cut off or called a liar. Some neighbors I have had a chance to speak one on one with and answer the questions. This I do think helped. So even though at the meeting nothing was resolved, afterwards, some issues have been worked out with a couple of people and I have had further conversations with them and listen to other ways of clarifying even parts of my webpage. It was even pointed out I needed to be more clear on the webpage, because many in our area who read it, take it literally. Typically in the past I would just type out my thoughts and then go back and edit it later or I have had others type of the blog and I would edit it (my niece pointed this out because she said "I am not use to your bad grammer or spelling errors, so I thought maybe somebody else was typing. That makes sense now.") But, even though I will continue to blog, I will watch my details and/or make sure what I say IS what I mean.

Don't get me wrong either. I do like the people here, those who we have met on this street. Even back before we rented we went to a cookout to meet some of the neighbors. If we didn't like them in the beginning, we probably wouldn't have moved on this street, even though rental houses are hard to find. We REALLY like our landlords. It is rare to meet nice people that you rent from. I have said before, down south our landlord wasn't nice (at all.) If we didn't like the people here, we wouldn't have taken the homemade candy around at Christmas to the people we had met (no I haven't met everyone) or doggie treats packages to the dogs at Halloween or homemade cinnamon knots and homemade bread around. Nobody says you have to be friends with your neighbors, but it is a nice thought; but at the very least, civil to one another.
The Results Of The Voting Poll

Well the votes are in and even though there weren't as many as I expected there would be, 102 people and/or votes were computed. 42 votes for , "Yes, we are sick of it" and 60 votes for "No, we want to read more." So, I guess the page stays. But for those of you who voted to get rid of it, the only advice I can give to you is, stop reading it. If you are sick of it, don't go to it. This I can't even understand? If there is a show on TV that you don't want to see, most people change the channel or don't watch it. The annoyance and bad taste of porn spamming that happens commonly on peoples' computers, they delete it and do not go to the page. A telemarketing phone call, typically when you are sitting down for dinner, many say no and hang up. So if there is a website you don't want to see or read, why do you go to it?

Friday, May 02, 2003

*Just a quick note*

I have been meeting so many wonderful, kind hearted people in the past few days! And yes, even some who would be considered beaurocractic (ok spelling is off, but I am in a hurry. I will edit later.) So many who want to pull together for the betterment of the people...by the people and for the people (I am such an Abe Lincoln fan!) But, I do want to thank those who I have recently met with or talked to and let you know how much our conversations have filled me with faith in humanity. I always had the faith of God, but people, that has always been a different story.

But, I want to give a special thanks, mention and hugs to Mrs. Black at Angels of Mercy. Many of you who don't know me don't know I have struggled with endo-cervical dysplasia and low level cancer and glandular for over a year. Basically to the point where I have had to take meds for a low level treatment or have 6 biopsies in a year 1/2. But, in order to do God's work, I have to keep my health strong (and sometimes, yes that is why we hire others to come to our house and do work, that many women could do, but I tire easily.) Last month I found a few lumps in my arm by my lymph node. OK that is scary. Especially one of them that has some 'oddness' to it. Last night Mrs. Black returned my call for me to come in for some testing today and get back on schedule with future treatments. You see I also know what it is like to be sick and not have insurance. But, I know with so many kind people anmd God, everything works out as planned. God always knows what is meant for His witnesses, even at times when we don't.
Today's Schedule

It was a big help to be able to call in the monies for the room, because I have a very busy schedule. Most of it is persoanl errands, but none the less. My husband's parents are coming into town for the weekend to visit us! I can't wait to see them since it has been 4 months since I went back to SC. But, that also means a lot of work around the house and getting things ready for their visit.

Also, I am going to my first meeting, I missed last week, of "All Together" study groups. I am very much looking forward to meeting Dr. Baker and Mr. Purnell. I have had the pleasure of speaking with them via phone, but never face-to-face. The program sounds like a great sucess in bringing all races together as a unit of people.


While at the meeting, I had informed people of an apt. that is available in a nice little neighborhood for much less than many of the weekly hotels around here. Although I have 2 people in mind it would be suitable for, I could not put them in with other tenants who rent apts. at the same place. The person I had in mind, doesn't get along with an existing tenant, and that would be a bad move; like mixing oil and water or more like pouring gas on a fire. But, one of the members knew of somebody who needed a place, because prior to she and her family had been living in their car. OK this is the better choice. Later that afternoon, "M" called me about seeing the apt. I had been trying most of the afternoon to get ahold of the gentleman who rents it out, but he wasn't available until after 5:00. Unfortunately, I found out it won't be ready for at least another week or two. Today, "M"'s payment would be due by 11:00 or they are back on the streets again. Her daughter just had surgery and that was the main reason they moved into a weekly hotel. Her husband works and so does she, but with the jump in rates for tourist season, it would take the majority of their paychecks combined for the rent and not leave much for food or meds.

Not wanting them back on the streets with their daughter just out from surgery, I asked them how much could they put toward the room? Basically they have half of the money, which is a lot more than many tend to have that we work with. These people seem to be hard working and a grand desire to be on their feet. I called Susan, my right hand person, to see if she could make calls for donations while my husband and I did the same. Luckily enough we got the extra money together, so now I am off to meet the husband at the hotel to get it paid for this week. Gotta run!

Ah, the convienance of check cards. I was able to just call it in and the church will reimburse me later today for the donation. So much easier!
Taskforce For The Homeless

Again, yesterday, the Core Members for the Taskforce for the Homeless met in J.O.'s office. This is only my second meeting as a new member on the Core Board, but both times it has been productive. Others may not see it that way, but since I am new to the group, I have felt much has been accomplished. I don't want to go into details since we have a few things in the making, but soon enough others will know. But, it is definately benefitial to those who need help on the streets.

Afterwards, J.O. and I were able to discuss the matter about a neighbor and a couple of comments made. But, as always as things have been in the past with J.O. since we have met, it was resolved. The one thing I have realized is how important it is to keep the Agencies that are represented on the Taskforce seperate from the Agencies itself. If that makes sense? Such as, J.O. represents United Way here, yet even at the meetings, I am talking with her as J.O. and not technically United Way. So, not only are we representing who we work for, but our own hearts and concern for the homeless.

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Voting Poll Ends Fri. May 2 at 5:00 PM EST...Vote Now...Make Your Opinion Known!
(scroll down to lower right corner to vote!)