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."

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Saturday afternoon several people met at The Family Inn to say goodbye and happy retirement to Tina Fleming. She had been the manager at the motel for almost 10 years. With her firm, yet sweet and compassionate personality, she has been a blessing at the motel for many patrons, including those who are homeless. Often she would "give them a break" by waiting for their next paycheck to pay, help them with a ride to the local food ministry and on a few occasions lend them money when in need.

Tina had been a blessing to us in many ways. When we couldn't find lodging for somebody, she would give us a discount rate on a weekly room. She was the only motel, that at Christmas time assisted us in a food drive, by placing a box in the lobby for goods to be donated. She, out of her own pocket, would donate money to us from time to time. And so much more.

It is sad to see her retire, but she has to for medical reasons. But now she can free herself from the working stress and focus her time on her 2 children, her cat, a golden retriever and soon Chrissy (on of our pups.)Her services and kind heart will be greatly missed in Williamsburg.
Dida, the proud Mother of her 7 week old pups

BaBoo, the Daddy (but we don't know if he is proud, but he is tired of the pups chasing him)

Angel (2.5 lbs at 7 weeks old)

Angel and Celest (Celest is 3 lbs)

Chrissy (3 lbs...she will be leaving us in another couple of weeks)

Christina (3 lbs...she will be leaving us as well)

Friday, June 25, 2004

In a recent news article, we learned that 260-plus thousand dollars had been willed to the Hampton Roads’ animal shelter. Wow! What a boon for them! We currently own six dogs and love them dearly. We abhor animal neglect and abuse just as much as the ASPCA, no doubt, but $260,000!? Not that we personally envy the shelter’s being willed the money, but we are “jealous” for the homeless to receive such help. We, Williamsburg’s Homeless and Indigent, during last year’s United Way sponsored “Day of Caring”, helped to paint the local animal shelter. We felt it was an appropriate project: the homeless helping the homeless. We hoped against all hope that somehow this would stir the heart-strings (and purse strings) of the local community to help us help the homeless. But to no avail.
Perhaps this question is politically incorrect, but, why is there is money available for homeless animals and not for homeless people? Our local animal shelter on Waller Mill promises that no dogs or cats will be “put down,” but that caring homes will be found for all of them. Yet, do we not “put down” the homeless people every time we turn down an opportunity to help them? Do we not “put them down” every time we neglect to allow for a homeless shelter in the zoning regulations or to allow low-cost housing to be built? Have we found caring homes for the homeless people? Or, only for the homeless animals? When did America become “the land of the animals” instead of the land of “the free and the brave”? Many of the people with whom we have to deal are military veterans: people who have defended our rights to be the free and the brave. Why are feral cats given more care and consideration than our “street-bound” veterans? Why are vicious dogs given more health care than the very people who were trained by our country to be vicious killers? At least our military men only kill and maim when given the order to do so.
We all recognize that animals are the product of their environment. Yet we would rather point a blaming finger at the homeless vet’s than admit that we, society, made them that way. We pity hungry children and send our monies over-seas, yet we can’t admit that the homeless outside the local grocery store are also to be pitied, not scorned. Who doesn’t try to pet the stray dogs or cats and give them some table scraps or bowls of milk? Yet, when was the last time we tried to care for the needy? When was the last time we bought an extra sandwich at the deli and carried it out to the gentleman on the bench? We know that stray dogs and cats could bite us or carry transferable diseases, yet we go out of our way for them. When was the last time we went out of our way for a homeless person? When was the last time a homeless person bit us? Why are we so scared of them? Why are they so scared of us? Is it because they have been hurt so often they can’t trust anyone anymore?
It’s time to wake up, America: Humans are humans, and animals are animals. We can pass all the laws we want supposing that from Washington we can somehow eliminate homelessness. But the truth is, until we offer them some personal attention, some love, and some hope, they will stay right where they are: on the streets.
Our news is replete with stories about people being prosecuted and jailed for animal abuse. If you don’t believe it, check out all the “animal police” shows on the “Animal Planet.” Some people even get 12-15 years for killing a litter of puppies. Yet, if we kill a homeless person, we can get off with 5-7 years. Are animals that much more important than humans? Is this not imbalanced? No wonder the homeless feel so hopeless. If we would start treating the homeless as human beings, maybe they would respond less like the animals we think they are and more like the people they wish they could be. Each one of them had at one time hopes and dreams. Each one of them had their hopes dashed; whether by their own choice or someone else’s. Who’s to say until you ask? But deep inside, the homeless are no different than you and I are. Each of them longs for love. Each of them longs for acceptance. Each of them has the potential to rise above his present circumstances given the right opportunity and consistent encouragement.
The question is, what are you, Williamsburg, doing to help them? We are one of the wealthiest communities in America, and we‘re proud of it. Yet, the homeless are denied mere acknowledgement of their existence, let alone real help. But, try to follow my logic:
1) The average smoker goes through one carton per week: that’s $1000/year.
2) The average drinker goes through $30 per week of beer or wine: that’s $1500/ year.
3) The average family spends $400 per month on entertainment: that’s $4800/year.
Then there’s all the soda we drink, the trips to the amusement park, the extravagant clothes we buy, the new car every two years, etc. Would it be that much of a stretch to cut back a little and donate the money to a worthy cause? Would it break the bank for us to give $100/month/each out of the interest on our millions? We think nothing of spending $35-50,000 on an SUV but hesitate to give $30-50 to the homeless. “Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also,“ Jesus said. I ask you, Williamsburg, where’s your treasure? Where’s your heart? What will you do to make a difference?
A Blog Entry From Kevin (aka The Homeless Guy)

Kudos Kevin! I fully agree with you. Preach it Christian brother.

Just a short note about "enabling." Enabling is the term used to describe actions taken on behalf of the homeless that perpetuates their homelessness, instead of bringing it to an end.

I have a couple things I want to say about that. First of all, enabling does not exist in reality - the idea of enabling is an inaccurate philosophical paradigm used by people seeking an excuse to not express compassion for the homeless.

There is a belief among people within our society that all people are goal seekers, (because they are goal seekers, everyone must be). And they believe that the goal of every homeless person is to stay homeless. And they believe that if they take away the ability to achieve the goal of homelessness, or make it extremely difficult, they can redirect homeless people to goals other than homelessness.

Well, most homeless people are not goal seekers, actually they are the antithesis goal seekers, especially the kind who succeed in America.

When things are provided for the homeless, these things only produce a level of homelessness that is not as injurious as without them. But, regardless of the services provided the homeless, the homeless will still be homeless.

Motivation to leave homelessness does not come by way of services provided, such as food and clothing, etc. Though, when a homeless person makes an attempt to leave homelessness, these things are crucial for his/her success. The only thing that motivates a homeless person to leave homelessness is a renewed believe that he/she is truly welcomed by society, and that a real place of significance and dignity awaits them once they leave homelessness. And, I must tell you, these things only come by way of real community - people honestly and sincerely involving themselves in the life of the homeless person, not just for the journey out of homelessness, but also for the life of the homeless person long after they've left homelessness.

If you are not willing to be a homeless person's friend, then who will? If you are not willing to be his/her friend, why would that homeless person care what you think is best? Where does a homeless person belong? With you? If not, then where?

Thursday, June 24, 2004

In Williamsburg there are several people, myself included, who spend their lives helping the poor and needy. We do this from our hearts and because of our love for God. Sadly, we are also either criticized, condemned, or rejected by the local community. This is a community that has "a church on every corner": churches that proclaim "God's love for the world". Why then would the community react this way to those of us who put that love into action? In my opinion, the members of these churches don't understand what God has done for them. Nor do they understand that we love and care for people who are in need specifically because of what God has done for us. Our actions shouldn't be challenged or hindered, because God loved us first and told us to pass His love along. For that reason, we love Him and share His love with others by helping them in their times of need. Those who try to keep us from helping people in need are challenging, hindering, and even neglecting God, not us. This may seem presumptuous, but, get out your Bibles and look up Matthew 25:34-46 and you will find the basis for this statement. There Jesus says, and I paraphrase, "If you helped others, you helped me. If you didn't help others, then you neglected me. If you helped others, welcome to heaven. If you didn't help others, go to hell." Literally! What further motivation could you possibly need to assist our ministries and not hinder them?
Recently, Thumper and Heather Newman, our fellow laborers in Christ, were told that they needed to find a new location for their food distribution ministry "A Gift From Ben." Some local churches are contemplating providing a space for their ministry. But, I ask you, first of all, "Why is their home church turning them out?" And second, as Christians, "What's to consider? Why turn away one of God's ministries that's in need?" I Cor. 13:3,13 say, "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing...And now these three remain, faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." Three times a week, "A Gift From Ben" distributes copious amounts of food to people in need, including us, at times. So I ask you, "As a community of Christians, will you pray for God to open our collective hearts to help those in need? Will you pray for God to help us as a community to love one another as God loved us and gave Himself for us?" And if so, "Will you pray that God will lead our community to provide a place where people in need can find food (and love), assistance with housing (and love), guidance (and love), encouragement (and love)? Will you pray for God to teach you to love others?" God is calling. Will you answer? Or will you let the call roll over to "voice mail" and call back later with some excuse for why you didn't answer?

Saturday, June 12, 2004

Tent city can stay in Bothell - Judge rules that homeless encampment won't have to leave church property
by Jeff Switzer
Journal Reporter

A heavily scrutinized encampment for 80 homeless men and women won't have to leave church land in Bothell, a King County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday.

``It's a victory for Tent City 4, no doubt about it,'' said Ted Hunter, attorney for Seattle-based organizers of the nomadic encampment.

In a lawsuit by the city of Bothell against organizers of Tent City 4 and host St. Brendan Catholic Church, officials sought an immediate eviction of the camp and other strict concessions.

Superior Court Judge Steven Scott said the camp can stay, but still needs to get a permit from the Bothell City Council.

It's unclear what would happen if the City Council said ``no.''

The city had failed to prove the city's zoning laws and duty to protect health, safety and welfare of residents outweighed the church's right to exercise its religion by providing shelter to the homeless, he said.

The initial ruling was praised by the city, though Bothell's request for an injunction would have sent Tent City 4 packing.

``Judge Scott ruled that Tent City will not have to shut down, but also ruled the city of Bothell does have the right to require a permit and have St. Brendan comply with the zoning code,'' said city spokeswoman Joyce Goedeke. ``It seems positive for both sides.''

Tent City moved into Bothell on May 17, bringing about 30 residents to church land on Northeast 195th Street, next door to Heritage Christian School, across from St. Brendan Parish School and a block from Maywood Hill Elementary. The camp can stay for 90 days and grow to 100 people.

City officials argued the camp required a permit. St. Brendan Church officials have argued that federal rules bar local governments from imposing burdensome permit regulations on churches.

Church officials have now requested the city grant a special permit to allow the homeless camp. The issue will be decided by the Bothell City Council.

After neighbors raised concerns, city officials further asked Tent City organizers to pay police overtime or security, force homeless people to give police proof of identification to prove they aren't wanted felons or sex offenders, and provide a $1 million bond against damages and liability.

Such provisions were hotly contested for setting a bad precedent and hampering all future tent cities, especially for smaller churches, said Rod Harmon, attorney for St. Brendan Church.

Scott said he would rule on those provisions Tuesday.

Recent arrests connected to the homeless encampment make it a nuisance, said Bothell City Attorney Mike Weight. ``In just three weeks time, there have been five arrests involving Tent City residents,'' he said.

Among the police actions, some residents had outstanding police warrants, a sex offender was found and asked to leave, and one woman was found with a drug pipe in her tent Sunday.

``I don't know what you've cited in the last few weeks is different from what occurs in any urban community,'' Judge Scott said.

Weight said such incidents in other cases would prompt police to declare a house a drug house.

None of the incidents led to harm or injuries, said Hunter, attorney for Tent City.

Still, Bothell Police have patrolled the area and parked outside the camp around the clock, racking up more than $21,000 in overtime, a bill the city wants St. Brendan Catholic Church or organizers to pay.

Tent City security and protocols, though sometimes delayed, has resulted in barring unwanted residents from camp, Tent City organizers SHARE/WHEEL say.

Forcing homeless people to show police their identification without justification violates their Constitutional rights, Hunter said.

That move would single out and stereotype a class of people just because they don't have a home, Harmon said.

``Processes already exist for police to do their job,'' Harmon said.

Some compromise to ease city concerns should be found, Scott said, and attorneys for all sides agreed that Tent City organizers would call police when rejecting or ejecting a resident, and allow police in the camp's common areas.

Agreed-to conditions include limiting the camp to 100 people, and one camp in Bothell at a time. Children can be overnight in the camp only in an emergency. Health and fire officials can inspect the camp.

The court hearing will resume Tuesday at 9 a.m.

Thursday, June 10, 2004


So what do you do with a homeless person, who after several chances, becomes a ranter on your blog AND sends you threatening email, takes no responsibility for his actions, spreads lies throughout town and bombards the newspaper with unfounded stories? PRAY, PRAY PRAY!

Last July, I was called by a church about a gentleman who was looking for a place to rent. Well, Geoff and I had a friend who was looking for a roomie so we agreed to meet with both of them to see if it would be a positive match. We picked the gentleman (and I use this term loosely)up so we could all meet at our house. For somebody who was homeless, he was very judgmental. For instance, he kept talking about how my furniture and stuff was 'junk'(most of my furniture and collectibles are antiques that I inherited from when my mom passed away.)This was based on the fact that prior to being homeless, he use to live in the high upscale subdivision of Kingsmill in Williamsburg, Va. Then we notice he kept going outside and sneaking some Vodka. When we approached him, he became argumentative. So we packed him up in the car and took him back to the woods he came from.

Then in January of this year I received a call from another church about a gentleman who needed a place to stay for a couple of nights. I should have said "If it is so-and-so, he can't come here," but I didn't. As soon as I arrived at the church, I saw him. I told the pastor's assistant "No" but we sat down and talked. He promised he wouldn't drink or cause any problems if we gave him another chance. So, we did. For a couple of days, he was ok. Then he started sneaking alcohol in or coming in drunk. And to make it worse, he was constantly making racial slurs. He even had the gall to say one of my friends (who is a board member) was a loser because she was 'fat' and married to an African-American. Now this was not said to me or her, but to another friend/client, who was also African-American. The gentleman he said it to questioned "Do you not realize I am African-American?" "No I don't look at you like that, I see you as handi-capped since you are in a wheelchair." Needless to say, we asked this gentleman to leave shortly afterwards. A week later he called me to see if I would pay for a motel room for him. "Sorry, I don't have the money for that." I tried to start a "Get his fines paid and back to Florida" fund, but many thought it would be enabling him, so we gave up.

Well, instead of him telling the truth about his drunkenness, he started spreading lies about us. But, soon afterwards, he started staying with the gentleman who does the local Foodbank here (which is also in the church that called me in January.) Not too long after that, I heard from one of the homeless on the streets that RH had once again been kicked out. After that, I hadn't heard much about or from RH. Until last week. Last week, to my surprise, I received this email from him "rob helwig" harbinger200304@hotmail.com Subject: YOU ARE OUT OF BUSINESS Dear You all: You will be hearing fom official types: Sincerely, ROB and then another today "rob helwig" harbinger200304@hotmail.com Subject: You Are Dun dEAR pATTI; pLEASE BE SURE TO REMEMBER HOW MUCH YOU HELPED. The last has CC: to the Washington Post and Virginia Gazette. I checked with other agencies and churches and found that they are also receiving emails similar to ours.

Oh yeah, that was something I had forgotten. He had moved from here to Florida sometime after his divorce. Eventually he was found in Florida and because he had a warrant for his something in Williamsburg, he was extradicted to Williamsburg. On a couple of occassions, people in the community had contacted the local police because he was walking around and making them nervous about his behavior and they were told "He was here until his fines were paid for his offense." Now after the majority of the agencies and churches have banned him, I think it would definately be in the community's best interest to get him back to Florida. What do you think?
Well, I know it has been a looong time since I have posted anything, but if you have ever had puppies, you should know how time consuming they can be (not to mention fun watching them grow up!)Just to catch you up on a few past events:

May 3rd we started a 10 week class on Strongholds (any area of our lives we cannot control that is destructive and keeps us away from God)
June 3rd FINALLY paid our $1250 power bill (that was a challenge!)
June 5th we had a charity yard sale and cookout

Upcoming events:

June 11th Taking a W&M student, who is doing a study on homelessness in Williamsburg and Charlottsville, out and about to the weekly motels, the streets and woods where the homeless live so he can do a survey (never have I disclosed some of the information he will be receiving.)
July 4th A Day of Freedom Homeless Cookout
July 11th My 37th birthday
July 12th Start a 7 week class studying personal self-worth, love, acceptance and forgiveness of Christ. During this study, we will be using The Search for Significance by Robert S. McGee.