Homelessness Does Not Define Your Character

A formerly homeless friend of mine’s pet peeve is that when someone causes a problem the media highlights that the culprit is homeless. Recently, on Levittownnow.com, a man was accused of damaging the Bristol Township PA police station when he was in a holding cell. 

In the second sentence of the article, the accused is readily identified as a homeless man. Homeless people should not be identified with crime, like the game Marco Polo. Instead of responding “Polo” when someone says “Marco”, one would respond “crime” to “Homeless person”!  

Yes, the alleged perpetrator is homeless, but being homeless does not define your character. Someone not homeless could have very well done the same thing. 

http://levittownnow.com/2020/01/02/man-accused-of-putting-pants-in-holding-cell-toilet/ 

By contrast, in another article on Levittownnow.com doesn’t identify a man, in knee jerk fashion, who was arrested for illegally sleeping in a van at an auto dealership in Langhorne, PA after having been repeatedly warned by police not to do this as homeless. It is appropriate that at the end of article there is a reference for those who are homeless. That the man was homeless was inferred in the article; it was certainly not the salient point!  

http://levittownnow.com/2019/12/30/man-charged-after-being-found-sleeping-in-van-at-dealership/ 

Homelessness a problem in Bucks County and throughout the rest of the country, and it must not be glossed over, ignored! 

In yet another recent article is a report about a man who dies in the woods in Croydon, PA. The man was obviously homeless and the article reports on another homeless person who died in the woods.  

http://levittownnow.com/2019/12/30/homeless-man-dies-in-woods-off-route-13/ 

Homeless advocates, myself included, have beseeched authorities and various parties to do something to give those without walls an opportunity to find a way out of homelessness. I say “opportunity” because some people who happen to be homeless don’t want to take the steps to improve their lot and act responsibly. My proposal a few years back to a Bucks County Commissioner to provide a homeless community fell on deaf ears. Others who wanted to privately help the homeless with housing were likewise stonewalled by the Bucks County establishment. 

These homeless issues are among what I address, based on years of personal experience with the homeless in Bucks County, in my book: https://www.amazon.com/There-Are-Homeless-Buck-County/dp/172865209X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=there%20are%20homeless%20in%20bucks%20county&qid=1555953133&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull&fbclid=IwAR2x3SKmaynu1NpSSlpiXlxRhJ_Rd0csXzhmoCc5UHDifcHVRLbAbpmVZok 

Selfless Not Selfies

Seeing Sandi suddenly take a turn for the worse put life into perspective.  There were times when I was angry, frustrated and feeling slighted by not having personal desires met. It makes me look at things differently when I see her struggling to get up, eat and drink. Finding the truth does this. For the longest time, I thought her chronic tiredness was mainly a result of her bad attitude.

That may have been part of it, but I learned, after she finished the more body draining chemo and after a year of less damaging Opdivo and after she just kept getting increasingly tired and uncooperative, it was the brain cancer.  She was diagnosed with lung cancer which also metastasized to the liver.

Brain was the first cancer treated when I took Sandi to ER after she felt like a hatchet was going through her head and spilled coffee at Code Blue, didn’t go in to eat with me in the morning, started taking her coat off after we got out of the car in freezing weather, threw up in the Levittown, PA public library and became very disoriented.

After the brain tumor was treated, and Sandi survived, except for minor problems, such as short-term memory loss, heavy chemo removed the rest of the cancer. It came back in the liver, but a year’s Opdivo treatment zapped the liver cancer, as if Packman was eating it.

Whew! I thought we were home free. But then a dramatic downfall. The cancer doctor explained that the brain cancer had been creeping back in, and now this seemingly sudden change. Awhile back she was walking on her own, going to community meals and to church with me. She got too tired to go any more and ended up having to use a walker. We did manage to visit relatives, one who had a lovable pit bull whom Sandi just loved. A few weeks ago, it took an hour or so to get her out of the car after seeing the doctor.  If it wasn’t for a good Samaritan, I don’t know what I would have done!

She was just one of many people who wander around Bucks County, PA who have no home to go to.

Seeing her now sleeping in a bed in a nursing home, nearly helpless, reminds me that people have intrinsic value, made in the image of God. We only have value because God created us from the clay of the earth and breathed life into us. Any gifts, skills God gives us is not for our own self-aggrandizement, but to be like Him and serve others.

For me, it’s a struggle to accept something like this happening to someone close to me. The Serenity Prayer comes to mind:

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.”

Even when people create their own problems, we should still care about them. This doesn’t, of course, mean we enable destructive behavior. Not only would the enabling hurt society, but it also doesn’t help the person who engages in destructive behavior.

Do not snitch is a mentality found among the homeless community in Bucks County. The mentality is driven by the idea that you want to keep the peace and that people who report a criminal act are causing trouble. How about the victim? Hummmmm?

Recently, a drunken homeless woman suckered another homeless woman because she was allegedly running her mouth about someone being busted for drinking. If, as may be the case, the woman was not just talking about someone who is hurting others in the group, as was the case when a homeless guy who kept coming to meals drunk and causing problems, she had no business with the neh neh-neh neh neh verbalization of what happened. I can understand someone who is affected being angry about it, but the neh neh-neh neh neh remarks were not directly connected to the assailant. Maybe not directly, but the attacker may have taken this as a personal affront on people who get drunk.

This is similar to the written attack about a comment I made on someone’s Facebook page about a celebrity coming out of the closet and announcing he’s “gay”. I wrote “I wish these queers would stay in the closet.”  My detractors whined that I was affecting many people. Evidently, they thought that “being gay is OK.” Instead of defending my right to my opinion on her FB page, my FB and casual friend in real life told the politically correct Nazis “Jeff knows better.” I unfriended her on FB and in the real world. I have no plans to beat her up.

No matter what the reason, attacking people because you don’t like what they say lowers a person to the status of a wild animal! It also sends a poor message to the establishment. I heard that the authorities are not exactly going out of their way to bring the assailant to justice. I’ve compared the way the homeless are treated to the way blacks were treated during the Jim Crow South.

I remember seeing a movie about rock and roll legend Richard Penniman, aka Little Richard. His father was murdered by another black man. One of the characters said that “the police don’t care when one ni**** kills another ni****. ” This very well may be the case with this recent assault on a homeless woman by another homeless woman.

The Bucks County establishment thinks that homeless people are a bunch of drunks, thugs, druggies, thieves…, or as the old popular song goes “gypsies, tramps and thieves.”  Attacking each other, according to the elites, is simply what homeless people do. Wrong! Your status in life does not define you! You don’t have to believe, as Curly of The Three Stooges says, “I’m a victim of soy cum stances!”

https://www.bing.com/search?q=gypsies+tramps+and+thieves+song&FORM=EDGNCT

“As iron sharpens iron,
    so one person sharpens another” -Proverbs 27:17

Where Are Your Real Friends?

“When you’re down and troubled and need a helping hand”, as Carole King sang, is when you need a friend. When a friend in the homeless and needy community needed help clearing his possessions out of the house that he sold when he was in the hospital, just four people, all 60-ish, came out to take it out of the house and put it in a safe place. It was a tiring task and these true friends were there for him.

https://www.bing.com/search?q=you%27ve+got+a+friend+carole+king&form=EDNTHT&mkt=en-us&httpsmsn=1&refig=bb3bda72dfc941d9a35dd1d9d2ada77b&sp=7&qs=AS&pq=you%27ve+got+a+frien&sk=LS4AS2&sc=8-18&cvid=bb3bda72dfc941d9a35dd1d9d2ada77b&cc=US&setlang=en-US

Over the years, the gracious home owner let homeless people crash at his house for a night or two, free of charge. He also hosted a cook out, even providing the food for the folks who showed up. He also had a deadbeat stay over who, not only welched on the rent, but stole from him. One homeless guy who paid, bailed out before they had to be out of the house, not lifting a finger to help clear the house, but just stopping by at the 11th hour, literally at 11 p.m. one night after others were busing their butts to clear out the house, only to pick up his stuff.

There were other “friends” who took advantage of the guy, one particularly egregious one known as “The Animal.” The animal and her malignant mob damaged the house and stole from the host. They resemble the lowlifes in the movie Trading Places who partied with the homeless street hustler (played by Eddie Murphy) who came into money and wrecked the place and split.

As was the case with The Little Red Hen, everybody wants to eat the bread but no one wants to help make it: https://youtu.be/Od6R3a33bro

The homeless and needy community need to help one another, bearing one another’s burdens. The liberal establishment in Bucks County, PA helps the homeless basically for what they can get out of them. In previous blogs, I related how mercenary and condescending people are towards the homeless, particularly politicians and institutions who say they care for and aim to help the homeless. Talk is cheap!

Then I will come down and speak with you there, and I will take of the Spirit who is upon you, and will put Him upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you will not bear it all alone.” -Numbers 11:17

It’s up to us to help each other! On many occasions, this was the case in this community of people who have fallen behind in life, both financially and with personal problems.

People have encouraged others when they were going through a rough time, giving moral support, finding out for them how to do things, and in this case, physically helping out. A true friend of the guy who lost his home has been leading the house clearing, acting as a liaison, and working many days to help.

In Buck’s homeless and needy community, there are people going through struggles, with drug, alcohol and other problems. Besides each other, caring people have reached out to the homeless, bringing them food, clothing, and giving them moral support. Churches that host the community meals have offered physical and spiritual food and acceptance, understanding.

Pick your friends wisely! True friends are those who are committed to being there for you through thick and thin. And a true friend sometimes has to practice tough love, not just enabling bad behavior, even when the person he’s trying to help becomes hostile and making enabling destructive behavior a condition of friendship. There are those out there who do enable destructive, even criminal behavior (not mentioning any names, as I’ve already blogged about them) for expediency, sometimes just to artificially make peace and sometimes just for their own self-aggrandizement.

We need to work together, like the homeless characters in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” -Ecclesiastes 4:12

 

Tell It Like It Is

Even before Halloween, we started getting accosted by ads that used a sacred holiday to peddle wares. Since then, there’s been a crescendo of cacophonous claptrap of the bastardization of Christmas. It’s phony. It’s no wonder it’s said that there is an epidemic of depression this time of year. The worship of things leaves people empty.

Likewise, institutions, such as a particular non-profit, the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN) in Bucks County, PA, leaves the people they are supposed to serve running on empty.  Advocate defined: “A person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy: ” ‘he was an untiring advocate of economic reform.’ synonyms: champion · upholder · supporter · backer · promoter

-Oxford Dictionaries

Tyrannosaurus Rex”, a homeless man who has for about two years terrorized community meals for the homeless and those in need after arriving drunk, is sitting in the Bucks County prison.

An organization that is supposed to help the homeless improve themselves wears a Halloween mask all year long.

AHTN knew about T-Rex’s problem for about two years. To my knowledge, the non-profit didn’t try to get him help, which not only hurts him, but people around him. There’s been about a half dozen episodes of this individual coming to meals drunk and disorderly, attacking people and disrupting the meal for everyone. The last episode resulted in the reptile with a record slamming another guest to the ground, causing a cut to the back of his head.

Instead of trying to resolve the problem and promoting civility, AHTN has been giving T-Rex and other homeless people who cause problems a pass.

On one occasion, a formerly homeless couple were caught having sex at the AHTN bus stop at the Levittown public library. Consequently, the bus stop was destroyed and the homeless would have to go far out in the parking lot at the government complex, without shelter, to catch the bus. The bus stop buddies couple is now in county assisted housing, and I believe on disability. Someone found two jobs for the guy, who quit both, after which he continued to get handouts. The unofficial, de facto reason for their disability: Lazy and irresponsible.

The same “advocate” from AHTN who got the couple off the hook also got T-Rex off the hook at the community meal at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Penndel, PA. T-Rex showed up drunk and started cursing at another guest who was sitting a few chairs away from him, at the end of the table. The victim was talking to other guests about a court case he sat in on about evicting the homeless from a camp. He was there for another matter.

T-Rex insulted the victim, questioning why he has nothing better to do than to listen to court cases.  When he threatened to “jump over the table” and beat me up because he didn’t like the way I was looking at him, he referred to the victim as “that faggot” I brought with me. T-Rex also cursed at him. At one point he lunged at the other guest, threatening violence. T-Rex had to be physically restrained. As one of the hosts restrained him, T-Rex yelled “who do you think you are?” He challenged the host for restraining him.

Christine Jandovitz, part of AHTN’s Homeless Outreach Team and T-Rex went to the opposite side of the large room.

The police came. An officer told the victim, who didn’t even argue with T-Rex, that the host said he has to leave immediately. The victim also got banned from the bus, while T-Rex didn’t. I believe that the advocate fabricated a story to convince the host that the person T-Rex attacked was the source of the problem.

When the victim showed up at the next meal at Redeemer Lutheran Church, the host told him he was not allowed there. After he pressed for an explanation, the host said that he was banned for saying bad things about the homeless.

Some time ago, T-Rex harassed and threatened me. While I was waiting for the AHTN bus, reading a book on homelessness, he asked, in a drunken stupor, why I am reading about the homeless. On the bus, as I was talking to a guy behind me, he kept telling me to shut up. After T-Rex staggered into the Mosque for the meal, he started making veiled threats. When I asked him for clarity, he said “you’re smart, you can figure it out,” and called me “Kevorkian”.  I told him I’d be glad to assist his suicide and added I’d be serving a dual purpose: his suicide and pest control. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Kevorkian

T-Rex asked me to step outside. As I walked to the restroom, he followed me. I spun around and went into a defensive position. A host got between us and we separated. Unlike the hosts at Redeemer Lutheran Church, where the victim did a rope-a-dope, the host here thanked me “for being calm.”

This host banned T-Rex from coming to the meals. If you come to that meal drunk, you are never allowed back. This is the way it should be.

At a later meal at another church, T-Rex came up from behind me and loudly cursed at me. He yelled  “keep my name off your F***ing blog”. On my blog, I called out T-Rex’s behavior at the Redeemer Lutheran Church. Some hosts and AHTN members were sitting at my table. One AHTN member said that T-Rex needed to be banned from the bus. He was banned for two weeks.

After this ban, T-Rex acted civilly. But it didn’t last. He was banned from the bus for another two weeks after another incident. The day the ban expired, he pushed another guest to the ground, injuring him. He escaped the police but, after a few weeks, was captured and caged in the Bucks County jail, where he remains.

T-Rex’s latest victim said he plans to ask the judge if he would refer T-Rex to rehab in lieu of a fine or imprisonment.

By giving people a pass for bad behavior, you are not helping them. You are keeping them down. If you don’t encourage responsibility from the homeless, they will never get out of this place, if it’s the last thing we ever do (to adapt a line from Eric Burdon and the Animals). Their dependency guarantees business for AHTN and other charlatans.

People have complained about holding a homeless guy accountable for his behavior, but some of us like to, as was the saying in the 60’s, tell it like it is!

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” -John 8:32

Helping the Homeless Help the Homeless

“They should utilize the talents and skills of homeless people to help other homeless.”
                                                        56 year old man staying at the Winter
                                                        Shelter in San Mateo County, California

This was one of the many comments from a survey conducted by the Peninsula Library System, a consortium of city, county, and community colleges in San Mateo County, California.

The comments were from the homeless themselves.  I remember once seeing an illustration where, to find out what people think about something, a computerized study was conducted.  The results: “Talk to people”.  So the best way to learn about the homeless is to talk with the homeless.

Most of the homeless people I’ve talked with in lower Bucks County, PA, want to be productive members of society.  The problem with many of them is that they don’t have the opportunity. Given the opportunity, they will seize the day.

Such is the case at the rooftop garden in Atlanta, GA, where the homeless work the garden, and helped feed an entire shelter.  This private sector initiative lets the homeless become self sufficient, gives them purpose and lets them help one another.

The metro Atlanta Taskforce for the Homelesswhich operates the rooftop garden, offers a way to secure a permanent solution for the homeless.  One way is through it’s resident volunteer program, which gets people, who are drug free, off the street and into housing in exchange for doing work. From there, they are on their way to permanent housing.

Unlike the shelter in Levittown, PA, run by Family Services of Bucks County, where the shelter houses drunks and druggies,  the task force welcomes just clean people who don’t have these issues into the building. The drunks and druggies have created problems in the Levittown shelter for people who just can’t afford housing.

There is a waiting list to get into the Levittown shelter, a wait that would be shorter if the drunks and druggies would be in a place better equipped to handle their issues.  Consequently, people find shelter in the woods, on pavements, and in their cars.

Despite the struggle for shelter, some of the homeless people I’ve hung out with for more than a year have found jobs, mostly part time and sporadic jobs and a rare few who have landed a full time job.  A couple of the homeless with full time jobs have found a regular place to stay.

One particular homeless person I know, like many of the local homeless, has worked as a seasonal kettle worker for the local Salvation Army, and as a part time bus driver.  The last time I talked with him he said he may be getting more work, and maybe a place to live.  He currently sleeps in his station wagon.

Like the rest of us, the homeless need to have responsibility and purpose in life.  A community garden, run by the local lower Bucks County homeless, would do this as well as give the local homeless nutritious food.  Besides, as the Bible says, idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

After I lost my job and was down and out, I volunteered in the food pantry at the Salvation Army, after having gotten much needed food there.  I wanted to do something constructive and be with people who can help me by steering me in the right direction.  Since losing my job, I’ve gotten only sporadic work.  I’ve found purpose in helping my fellow homeless in various ways, including writing blogs and publicizing for a nascent non profit a friend and I launched a few months ago.

http://www.timespub.com/2015/04/30/working-for-a-place-to-stay/#more-45529