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, March 14, 2006


Well, today is Jenna's birthday. Last year Jenna and her family were still living in the motel during her birthday. Knowing she likes seafood, I treated her to Red Lobster (which is my favorite restaurant so it was a great reason to endulge in lobster!) Actually, that was very convenient the fact that Red Lobster was across the street from the Captain John Smith Inn (where we all were living through the winter and summer.) Shortly afterwards, Jenna's family were able to move into a mobile home and now they currently are buying their mobile home through owner financing! This year, we are having a birthday party for her at our house Friday night. What started out as just her and her husband, has now grown to about 11 of us. They couldn't get a babysitter for the night so Zack and Catherine are coming along (which is cool since they are great little ones.) Then I had the idea to invite our neighbors who are also Jenna and Brian's age and they have a lot in common. Well, they have a daughter Zack's age so she is joining. Boston Mike from the Lightfoot property is coming as well. He now lives in a mobile home just a few miles from us. But, then since Carol and Greg's mother is in from Texas, I felt bad to not include her. I know if I don't keep my mouth shut, I will be adding more (which is too late since I left a message on Hadyn's voicemail for her and Dennis to join us.)

But, I am soooo excited. I always love birthday parties, especially if it is for somebody who is homeless or recovering homeless. But, when we were at Lightfoot, I would find a special day to do a huge seafood dinner (such as when I did it for Father's Day.) SO THIS IS IT! It's seafood celebration. Oh how I love seafood. I am doing fish sticks for the young 'uns with salad, fries and baked beans. For us adults, we are having steamed lobster, home-made she crab soup (which I must say I make an incredible soup), home-made crab cakes, deviled crab, shrimp scampi, baked potatoes, grilled asparagus and spring salad. Wow, what a feast, I am hungry already.

I am just lucky that her birthday fell into this week because it will take my whole redelivery paycheck to pay for everything since my trust money isn't in yet. Well, gotta jump and get some sleep for my newspaper routes (having 2 routes is hard).

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Camper Workday

Today is another camper workday. Prayerfully we will be able to install the ceiling tiles and possibly the carpet. All of this depends on the cost of material. A friend of ours has some leftover carpet and padding, which should be able to do both campers and since it is for the ministry, they only want $50.00 for it. The sub-flooring we received for free. At work they were going to throw away some wooden tables that are made out of plywood and 2x4's so we asked for them. The ceiling tiles will be the major expense of the day. It will probably cost about $75.00 to finish the campers out. The roofs have been repaired and a contractor from a local company has a couple of buckets of Cool-Seal that he wants to donate to us.

It seems so sad, that we are struggling to raise $1800.00 more dollars in order to finish out the existing campers and get them on the campground to house 8 people. St. Martin's youth raised $500.00 for the campers (those guys are so awesome), NJ Catholic Charities donated $200.00 and a couple of people in the community donated small amounts, but if it wasn't for a nice lady (who does not want to be known)who gave a generous donation, we wouldn't be this far.

This struggle made me think back to the movie "Our House" and how Doris' character was able to pull her checkbook or Credit Card out at any given moment and drop $20+ thousands at a time. She ordered, by the truckloads, electronics and appliances and the groceries were never ending. Not to say this is unrealistic because there are people who can afford to do that, but would they do it for the homeless? Ministries and programs that want to assist the homeless typically struggle for funds. I know it has been a struggle for us here in Williamsburg. Sad to say that we live in an area that is wealthy, yet because it is a tourist area, the focus remains on the guests and not the community. But I guess the homeless aren't seen as part of the community.

Even in the movie "Our House" the homeless had their own community, which was eventually incorporated into Ruth Galloway's (Doris Roberts)life. And when I talked with Sheri at the Hallmark Movie Channel, she had commented on the fact they had many homeless shelters and programs out west, it just wasn't enough. Judy Reyes, who plays Nurse Carla Espinosa on "Scrubs" did a great job in the movie, in my opinion. I wonder if she went out to 'study life on the streets'? At first I wondered how they, (Roberts and Reyes) felt about this subject until I re-read the promo for the movie that Hallmark sent, which states, "Hallmark Channel, Doris Roberts and Judy Reyes have made a commitment to utilize the press and promotion of "Our House" to help create awareness and understanding of the needs of America's homeless." So I am at a crossroad...do you look at this as an opportunity to bluntly ask them for help by donating a few dollars or is that considered rude and bad etiquette? Is this an opportunity that God placed in front of me to say "Here are some people who may understand and have money to help." God does say "seek and ye shall find." So, here it goes...Mrs. Roberts and Ms. Reyes, if you read this (or catch wind of it through Hallmark) and you have a few dollars to spare, please keep us in mind.

Believe it or not, that last sentence was very hard to type because I am not very good at asking for monetary help. Basically, if I was living on the streets and had to panhandle, I would starve!

Friday, March 10, 2006

Having just watched "Our House" twice in a row and having teared up several times each viewing, I, as a man, whole-heartedly endorse this movie. It presents the struggles of the homeless and their "caretakers" in a concise manner that I think is believable for the average viewer, but doesn't leave me, formerly homeless and now ivolved in a ministry to the homeless, wishing they had said more. If no "shoot-'em-up-bang-bang" makes this a "chick-flick", okay call it that. But really this is a human interest story, and I hope it will serve to inspire others to rally to the cause of helping people "make the climb". Not everyone has the financial resources, but all of us have the love the homeless so desperately crave. Spread it around!
Our House

Last night, thanks to Kevin aka "The Homeless Guy", I received a phone call from Steven at the Hallmark Channel about a movie they would be airing later this month on homelessness. They overnighted the movie to me and I have to admit, it was interesting. In the middle of the movie, I had to call them to let them know, this was so familiar to our life. In many ways I agree with Kevin about movies that try to capture the issues of homelessness, but, I disagree that this is a 'chick flick.' I liked this movie and requested more copies since we don't get the Hallmark Channel here in the Penninsula.

Other than the age of the character, the geographical aspect and the financial position, I could really relate to Doris Roberts character who took many homeless people into her plush home. I can't relate to the inexperience her character was going through. I truly enjoyed the trueness of the aspects of homelessness they depicted in the movie. All in all I think they did a good job capturing the reality of any person trying to solely help the homeless and the situations that can occur.

The one thing I wish they would have looked into, during the lawsuit, is adoption. Many people don't think about this in order to get around the law. Most states have a 3 unrelated person law in regards to housing. I thought and was going to start initiating an easy solution: adopt the homeless. Under the law, unless it states blood related, an adopted person is still considered 'related' to you. An adult is much easier to adopt and the procedure is very painless. I actually considered this when they tried to get me for having 24 homeless living with us.

But, I would have to say, if you are a member of Hunger/Homeless Taskforce, study the issue, or live in an area that gets Hallmark Channel, watch on the 25th. It is a job well done!

The following is Kevin's review:

Well, I did get to see this show after all. The Hallmark Channel people sent me a press kit, with a DVD of this made-for-Tv movie. "Our House" will air on the Hallmark Channel March 25th. (see previous post for links).

The most important thing for me with this kind of presentation of homelessness is that they get it right. All too often the homeless are either demonized or glorified. As long as the homeless are accurately portrayed, then I'm happy.

It is because of this, as my first concern, that I can ignore much of this Tv show, as it is full of formulaic Hollywood PC claptrap. Sure, it's a chick flick, but I could even overlook that, if it was a good chick flick - but it's not. As with all of this kind of fair, women are the heros, men are the villains, and someone is dying of some incurable disease. Even the women who appear to be villains at first eventually reveal themselves as not villains, or have a change of heart by the end of the story and become heroic. Then, the women as heros save all the marginalized citizens, overcoming the efforts of evil white men.

Ok, so much for the bad news - now on to what's good about this show. Except for some weak acting performances and a watered down script, the homeless are fairly well represented. Though not every aspect of homeless people is shown, what is shown is accurate. Most homeless people are goofy and difficult to deal with. Sometimes they become homeless because of their goofiness, but sometimes homelessness makes them that way. This is addressed in the show. Also what is shown is that the homeless are often reluctant to accept help when it comes their way. And, sometimes this refusal to accept help is taken to mean that the homeless want to be homeless. This is not true, and somewhat explained in the show as well. Often what happens is that a regular citizen decides to help the homeless, yet doesn't have the foggiest idea what they are getting into, and then bails out at the first sign of difficulty. Of course they only bail after showering the homeless with promises that are never fulfilled. And this leads to all sorts of problems of rejection for the homeless.

What I have always advocated, as the best means of helping the homeless, is for people to get personally involved. And this, of course, means staying committed to the cause, regardless of the hardships. In the story "Our House" the hero woman becomes personally involved in the lives of the homeless. Though her motivation is less than altruistic, she finds reward in that the relationships she develops with the homeless are as beneficial to her as they are to the homeless. She finds herself lonely and living without purpose in her life. Taking care of some homeless people, by opening her home to them, assuages her lonliness and gives her a purpose for living - (even though she is dying of an incurable disease).

What the movie gets right:
If you let homeless people into your house, some of them will steal from you, some of them will do drugs in your house, some of them will be wanted fugitives (although their offenses will usually be petty crimes, like failing to appear in court on a shoplifting charge).

If you let homeless people into your house, they will test your patience - they will behave in ways not usually accepted in "normal" society. Many homeless people, who have slept outside for some period, will opt for sleeping on the floor, even though a nice comfortable bed is available to them. Some will feel just as at home urinating up against the outside of your house as within a bathroom toilet. And all of them will go through an uncomfortable period of learning to trust you.

If you let homeless people into your house, so to help rehabilitate them, you will need professional assistance from people who have already dealt with the homeless.

Most of all, if you let homeless people into your house, you will most likely have to change your priorities, whereby the welfare of people, especially homeless people, becomes your number one priority. Getting involved in the lives of homeless people, and attempting to change their lives for the better, is not an easy thing. But it is a very rewarding thing. And you can be very successful at it, if you are willing to do what it takes, and not give up.

So many people scratch their heads in confusion - wondering what could end homelessness. But the cure to homelessness is no mystery. Every one of us has known how to end homelessness. The real mystery is why most every person is reluctant to do anything about it.

"How can to stand having homeless people living in your home?" he asked.
"Well, if they're living in my home, then they're no longer homeless, are they." she replied.