There You Go Again

As Ronald Reagan used to say: “There you go again.”  AHTN, the alleged advocates for the homeless and those in need, are at it again with their hype, their snake oil sales, their fractured fairy tales, just as the video they did about the homeless using actors, while real homeless people stood near, whom they ignored. https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=there+you+go+again+reagan&view=detail&mid=72F52E397926365BF06B72F52E397926365BF06B&FORM=VIRE

St. Mary Medical cut AHTN’s funding, which was a good chunk of the funding. But AHTN has been doing lots of fund raisers. St. Mary Medical, I’m sure, cut the funding for a good reason.

Anyway, this wild science fiction-like story in the Courier Times depicts homeless people struggling to get enough food at a community meal. The truth is, the hosts at the shared meals give the guests plenty to eat, and some even give them stuff to take home. Some hosts at the meals give the homeless and needy guests clothes, plenty of it.

Between food stamps, which most homeless and needy people have, the shared meals, and the clothing given out, there should be no great hunger in lower Bucks County. The problem with some is that they sell their food stamps to get booze and cigarettes, etc.

What’s most laughable is the fawning towards AHTN.  “Another man told me after the shared meal he didn’t know where he and his wife would be without the help of AHTN. His wife added, ‘I’m not sure we would be.’”  By the way, it’s the churches who provide the meals, not AHTN.  AHTN provides transportation to the meals. Sometimes.

The biggest problem in Bucks County for the homeless is housing. A friend and I tried to start a non-profit to create housing for the homeless. When I approached AHTN to join forces, the AHTN president said that creating more housing would be impossible because there would have to be 24/7 security. In places such as Oregon, a homeless community of tiny homes has 24/7 security. It’s not impossible.  Any kind of place at least has a manager on duty. What’s impossible is the thinking, the spin of AHTN! If you believe AHTN’s line, I’ll tell you there’s a Tooth Fairy, the Easter bunny, and Santa Claus!

Here’s the bull, I mean the 411:

Advocates for the Homeless & Those in Need, of Lower Bucks, helps the less fortunate in our community. Now, due to severe budget cuts, they need your help.

The unshaven man in his 50s hurries through his meal as if he were running late for a bus waiting to deliver him to a better life. A weathered, frail man seated beside him has just finished his meal. He turns to his left and, in a whisper, asks if he’s going to eat his dinner roll.

“You still hungry?” the man responds quietly, respectfully, so no one else can hear.

The first man nods, almost embarrassingly.

The second man breaks his roll in two and hands half to his neighbor. The second man smiles, pats his friend on the shoulder and uses the bread to sop up what gravy remains on his plate.

What I witnessed at that shared meal for 74 homeless and needy folks in the basement of the Emmaus Road Lutheran Church in Middletown on a cold, rainy evening three years ago struck me like a gut punch. The lesson, one I knew but that was reinforced, has stayed with me: Sometimes, your neighbor just needs a little help.

One neighbor that needs our help now is Advocates for the Homeless & Those in Need, an interfaith nonprofit in Fairless Hills providing temporary, yearlong access to emergency shelter, food and other life-sustaining services, with dignity and compassion.

But AHTN is in a financial bind. Nearly half its annual operating budget has been discontinued. Without replacement funding, its ability to continue the aforementioned vital programs, including its Code Blue program, is in serious doubt. The funding gap was $100,000, and only half has been raised.

How to help

Donate to Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need online at http://www.ahtn.org/about-us/how-to-donate/ or send a check to Advocates for Homeless and Those in Need, P.O. Box 184, Fairless Hills, PA 19030

Cold winter nights are coming, and hunger isn’t seasonal. Need rarely, if ever, takes a day off, much like AHTN staffers themselves. This is my pitch to ask you to help. So, pitch in whatever you can. Please.

I got to witness first hand the good work of AHTN a few years ago when I wrote a series of stories about the organization during our company’s “Buck Up, Bucks County!” campaign. Over a two-year period, the fundraiser, through donations big and small, realized more than $500,000 to renovate the aging Bucks County Emergency Homeless Shelter and purchase AHTN a new 12-seat bus with a hydraulic lift for wheelchairs to provide round-trip transportation for folks to attend shared meals and Code Blue nights at area churches, as well as to be transported to rejuvenation stations once a month for showers, haircuts, etc. Call it the little bus that could.

Everything we take for granted, AHTN clients take with a blessing: food, shelter, clothing, improved hygiene. On that cold, rainy night, when those two men broke bread and my heart, I spoke with several of the guests at the shared meal. Some of them were homeless and living in their vehicles. One husband and wife told me the car in which they were living was recently repossessed, leaving them no choice but to live in a tent in the woods in Lower Bucks.

“How do you survive in the cold at night in a tent?” I asked.

“We hold onto each other,” the husband said, reaching for his wife’s hand.

Another man told me after the shared meal he didn’t know where he and his wife would be without the help of AHTN. His wife added, “I’m not sure we would be.”

Sometimes, it takes more than holding hands. Sometimes, helping neighbors weather the storm takes reaching your hand into your own pocket.

To help deliver them a better life.

Heal The Land

I don’t know what she was on, but most likely a young woman was on something when she locked herself in the lady’s room at a fast food restaurant in Bristol, PA last night. A paying, female customer who needed to use the lady’s room found the lady’s room locked over a period of more than fifteen minutes. She intermittently went to the rest room door, knocked several times and asked “is anyone in there?” Over and over, but no reply.

Finally, an employee unlocked the door to find a young woman passed out on the floor. But shortly, the woman got up, and like the bride of Frankenstein, started walking away. As she walked out of the rest room, the woman who was waiting to use it remarked “other people need to use” the lady’s room. I didn’t hear the response, but the bathroom hog’s tone sounded smug, flippant.

It looked like she was trying to get into her car. Employees walked out, and the woman sauntered off. The police were called, and soon an officer showed up as did an ambulance with its lights flashing and sirens blaring. I think they found her.

I read the book Narcotics Anonymous a few years ago. By a former druggie’s own testimony, he admitted that a drug abuser is selfish – that the whole world revolves around him and the only thing that matters is getting that high. How he affects others is of no concern.

This was the case last night. It didn’t matter to that woman that she locked herself in the lady’s room, as if it were a flop house when there are other people who may need to use it.

The problem with the war on drugs is that authorities are placing all the blame on drug pushers. I’ve seen the signs in lower Bucks County “Push Out The Pusher”, with the message to call a number to report suspected drug dealers. I’ve read that authorities said, in so many words, that they are going to mollycoddle drug users.

Now counseling for druggies, dopes, is good, just as it was for drunks in the early 20th century. We finally realized that to resolve the problem of chronic drunkenness, we’re not going to do it by taking away everyone’s liquor.

Today, US Attorney Jeff Sessions is going about fighting the “opioid crisis” the same way we did with the alcohol problem during prohibition. To quote an old folk song “When will they learn. When will they ever learn?”

To overcome the drug problem, you have to go about changing individuals from the inside the right way. Calling drug abuse a disease is an epidemic in itself. Here in a brochure from the Bensalem police entitled “Bensalem Police Assisting in Recovery” (BPAIR) it states “Our primary goal is to connect people with substance abuse disorders with treatment programs and facilities. “Substance abuse disorders?”  That makes it sound as if these druggies have some kind of genetic problem they were born with. Are they lactose intolerant? Truth is, drug abuse is a matter of the will, and, as stated in the 12 Steps program, a character flaw. It’s a choice, a sinful one!

The problem with calling drug abuse a disease, as I’ve heard it called by many in authority – politicians, that nudge from the Addiction Network – is that it absolves the doper of responsibility for his behavior. It’s to say it’s not his fault.

“Alcoholism” and “addictions” are simply sin. Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.” — I Corinthians 15:34. “The primary problem is moral and spiritual, not medical, and cannot be addressed without that perspective,” wrote Franklin E. Payne, Jr., M.D., Associate Professor of Family Medicine at the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, Georgia.

“Addiction is a disease – not a personal failure”, said congressman Donald Norcross, D-New Jersey, in reference to the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force he’s part of. http://levittownnow.com/2017/05/31/congressman-fitzpatrick-named-vice-chair-bipartisan-heroin-task-force/

Critics of the disease theory, as reported on Wikipedia, say the disease theory, which is applied to drug and alcohol abuse “exists only to benefit the professionals’ and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services, and the disease model has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use.”

The alternative to the Elliott Ness Round the suppliers up initiative and that it’s not their fault it’s a disease agenda is a program that reflects the views of A First Century Christian Fellowship, which later became known as The Oxford Group, which made regular reference to God. Bill Wilson, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, by the way, greatly minimized the use of God in the program.  Today, Celebrate Recovery closely matches the philosophy of The Oxford Group.

The Oxford Group’s Philosophy:

⦁ All people are sinners

⦁ All sinners can be changed

⦁ Confession is a prerequisite to change

⦁ The change can access God directly

⦁ Miracles are again possible

⦁ The change must change others

Only when we return to God and following his ways will we be able to deal with the drug and other problems.

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Stop! In The Name Of Love!

At the next meeting at the Celebrate Recovery program I’ve been going to we will talk about denial. For those of you in Doylestown, De Nile is not a river in Egypt.

Recently, I mentioned to a smoker that my dearly departed friend and companion Sandi would still be around and would have gotten around better most the time I knew her if it weren’t for a lifetime of smoking those nasty cancer sticks. “You can’t prove that”, was the response from the smoker, who had started to cry a short while back when the smokes ran out and I would not pick any up for this friend who has trouble getting around.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Cigarette smoking is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.

⦁ Cigarette smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths each year in the United States. This is nearly one in five deaths.

⦁ Smoking causes more deaths each year than the following causes combined:

⦁ Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)

⦁ Illegal drug use

⦁ Alcohol use

⦁ Motor vehicle injuries

⦁ Firearm-related incidents

⦁ More than 10 times as many U.S. citizens have died prematurely from cigarette smoking than have died in all the wars fought by the United States.

⦁ Smoking causes about 90% (or 9 out of 10) of all lung cancer deaths. More women die from lung cancer each year than from breast cancer.

⦁ Smoking causes about 80% (or 8 out of 10) of all deaths from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

⦁ Cigarette smoking increases risk for death from all causes in men and women.

⦁ The risk of dying from cigarette smoking has increased over the last 50 years in the U.S.

I recently met someone at a community meal I’m very fond of who smokes, by her own admission, to cope with problems. She said she quit for a while, but then something came up that she had trouble dealing with it. She told me she realized she had to learn to cope with problems another way. I told her that Sandi quit for about a year towards the end, mainly because she couldn’t get around and that I would not get smokes for her. You did that because you cared about her,” my newfound friend touchingly said. Yes, and because I care for her and others I try to convince people not to smoke. Not abruptly, by saying “you vill stop” (with a German accent) and mainly on these blogs, which some people are afraid of. If you are the emperor, I’ll blog that you need a new set of clothes.

People have a free will and, as per one of the rules in the Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps program, you don’t try to fix people. That’s God’s job.

I channel Diana Ross and The Supremes and sing “Stop! In the name of love. Before you break my heart.” My heart is broken over Sandi being one of Johnny Smoke’s victims. Johnny Smoke is an evangelist for a rogue mission church: Sister Nicotine and The Holy Smokes.

https://youtu.be/NWm6PUGpfVU

Helping people to cope with their problems without alcohol, drugs, including cigarettes or through other bad ways is why Celebrate Recovery, a national program with local chapters, was created. I’ve been having trouble with anxiety, depression, anger/frustration, resentment, so I go to a meeting once a week in Northeast Philadelphia. I am not in denial, and I know De Nile is not a river in Egypt. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cv6tuzHUuuk&feature=youtu.be

A program such as Celebrate Recovery is an alternative to the official nuthouses where by default the homeless are sent, with their legal dope and psychobabble. http://newlifephilly.net/celebrate-recovery

As former first lady Nancy Reagan said “Just say no” (to drugs). When someone wants help getting cancer sticks, just saying no is the best thing you can do for them. It’s the Christian thing to do!

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”  Ephesians 5:11

What Shall We Do With The Chronic Homeless?

What shall we do with a drunken sailor? [three times] 

Early in the morning. 

Put him in the long-boat and make him bail her. 

Early in the morning. 

What shall we do with a drunken soldier? 

Early in the morning. 

Put him in the guardroom till he gets sober. 

Early in the morning.” 

As the old sea shanty goes, knowing what to do with the drunken sailor or soldier is easy. What’s not an easy question is “What shall we do with the chronic homeless?” Especially at Code Blues, they get up  early in the morning. 

A satirical answer: 

What shall we do with the chronic homeless? [three times] 

Early in the morning 

Churn them in the Soylent Green plant to make Bucks County greener 

Early in the morning 

Fortunately, Bucks County hasn’t passed the Soylent Green initiative. If it were to pass, it wouldn’t be easy being homeless when the county’s Soylent Green! 

One thing Bucks County has tried is to send the homeless to the nuthouse. But this hasn’t worked out very well. Like the war on drugs, it just wastes tax payer money and perpetuates the problem. 

In the Friday edition of the Bucks County Courier times, an article mentions a couple people in lower Bucks County, PA who have been chronically homeless, one for 12 years, another for eight, both baby boomers. I know one of them. One problem I’ve diagnosed is that the 12-year homeless person has PMS (poor me syndrome) and has trouble working and playing nice with others.  

Attitude is a large factor in getting out of homelessness. I’ve known people who have, largely because they had a good attitude. I mention this in the book about homelessness I’m working on so I won’t steal any more of my thunder. 

Attitude towards the homeless is also a factor in fostering chronic homelessness. In Bucks County there seems to be a caste system, where once you are homeless, you are always homeless. Because of a few bad apples, some people judge all the homeless to be bad. Wrong! 

There is some hope. With the change in Presidential office, as least one program associated with Bucks Builds Bums/Build-A Bum has been defunded. And with this change came a change in HUD leadership. The new director is taking, unlike Bucks County, a housing first approach. This should help. 

http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2017/12/18/ben-carson-we-know-how-end-homelessness-and-housing-shortages/960784001/ 

Showing Others Jesus

Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in Gods sight…” 1 Peter 3: 1-4

The way to attract people to Jesus, as my pastor recently said, is by the way Christians show God’s love, and not just through theological arguments – apologetics – as important as apologetics are.

We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” 2 Corinthians 5:20

After the fall of the Roman Empire, pagan barbarians were on the loose. After plagues hit the area, people who could help the sick ran away ran away, as did Sir Arthur and his men in Monty Python and The Holy Grail from the killer rabbit. https://youtu.be/7FPELc1wEvk

Not thinking of themselves but of the sick, the Christians stayed and tended to the plague stricken populace. This helped win people over to Christ.

In Roman culture, women were treated poorly, like cattle and prostitutes. The culture had a utilitarian view of women. I think that Nero not only fiddled while Rome burned; he had a gangsta rap band that sounded like Santa Clause: (Ho, Ho, Ho…) when rapping about women.

Women were the first converts when the Roman empire fell. Christianity fostered honor and respect for them. They married pagans who happened to be in the area. The men were won over by the behavior of these women, by their example, and were converted to Christianity.  http://thefederalist.com/2016/09/20/what-todays-christians-can-learn-from-antiquity-about-living-in-a-pagan-world/

Fast forward to the 21st century: My dear friend and companion Sandi showed her unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit when she was in the nursing home, where the Lord took her home after fighting stage IV cancer for three years. Although Sandi loathed the idea of going to a nursing home, once there, instead of being bitter, having even more freedom taken away from her, her gentle, quiet spirit showed. Sandi pleasantly returned greetings from those taking care of her, smiled at them, and even thanked them! She said about one aide who smiled at her, “at least he’s friendly.”

When asked about her salvation, Sandi would answer “Jesus is in my heart.”

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” 1 Peter 3:7

Although Sandi and I were not married, we had the kind of commitment needed for a Godly marriage. When people assumed we were married, I was slow to correct them, sometimes weeks later. Sometimes longer. After wrestling with dealing with the difficulties dealing with Sandi, I decided to be fully committed to her. God empowered me to visit Sandi every day, all day, in the nursing home, where I hand fed her, talked with her, read Bible verses and Christian stories Chaplain Dale printed out for us and “Our Daily Bread”. I had been doing such reading all along. Sandi was in this nursing home before for physical rehabilitation. Her former roommate remembered me reading to Sandi in their room. “You asked us questions,” Cheryl reminisced.

One night, as I walked out of Sandi’s room at 10 p.m., another resident in a wheelchair approached me in the hallway. “I salute you”, he said, for the way I was taking care of Sandi, and shook my hand. “I’ve been watching you,” he said. I didn’t know he was watching me. This wasn’t the case when I was feeding Sandi in the hallway when I took her out in the Jerry Chair when a staff member passed by and said. “God bless, God bless – what caring!”.

Disclaimer: I still have issues I have to work with God to help me on. I scolded two of Sandi’s obnoxious roommates, one on each of the floors she lived on. Although the roommates were obnoxious, I should have showed more self control, a fruit of the spirit. In a letter to the nursing home, I apologized for overreacting in these cases. I told Chaplain Dale of my failure. He said that he can understand some problems between people when they are in such close quarters. But still, I could have done better. God’s still working on me.

After completing my marathon at the nursing home, I’ve started going to shared meals for the homeless and needy more regularly. Now I’m back in the saddle again, socializing more with the homeless. Broken friendships have been reconciled. This is where God wants me. I continue to work on writing a book on homelessness. At the last shared meal at Restoration Church in Levittown, PA, I told one of the hosts that I wanted to leave the nursing home with Sandi. He reminded me that God’s got things for me to do.

Our nation today is much like the Roman empire before it fell. Like the Romans, our country is in a state of moral decay, having turned from God. Take the opioid epidemic (please), homosexuality, abortion, pornography, prostitution… Like the Christians during Roman times, we have to hang in there and keep the faith, being His ambassadors, and be a light to a dark world.

On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2