Quotes from people without homes…

Quotes from people who are homeless…

 

“I am going to make something of my life. It might be rough but things will get better for me.” Quashana

“It’s as if I am looking through a window trying to reach the world on the other side.”  Amanda

“I appreciate the little things in life and thank God for all he has given me.” Susan

“I never thought I would find myself in this situation at my age.” Karon

“All I can say is, if I can do it you can too. Be encouraged today. You can change if you want to.” Tony  on his recovery from drug addiction

 

Greensboro Voice Mission Statement

Our newspaper aims to serve as a vehicle for elevating voices and public discussion on issues that are not frequently covered in mainstream media outlets. These issues include homelessness, facing potential homelessness and the resources available to help those in need. This newspaper is for everyone: people experiencing homelessness, students, parents and anyone else who wants to have his or her voice heard. We hope the awareness gained from our newspaper will encourage the community to have a discussion about issues and people who are normally ignored.

Invictus

Out of the night that covers me
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced or cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
-W.E. Henley

Do Not Judge

By Lori Shepard

Do not judge

Do not assume

To know the life of

That stranger in the room

Or across the street

Holding a sign

Or standing and waiting

There on the line

Their life story

You cannot know

Just by looking

High and low

It’s true that some

Are in despair

But you don’t know

What  put them there

So do not judge

Do not assume

Why not smile

Across the room

Read that sign

Be more aware

At the very least

Offer up a prayer

Find a way

If you can

To make a difference

To your fellow man

Find a cause

To work or finance

Help someone else

To have a chance

Count your blessings

Find something to do

Remember, in an instant

That stranger could be you

Jim Rettig  1/25/54 – 01/17/17

Jim Rettig  1/25/54 – 01/17/17
Jim Rettig  1/25/54 – 01/17/17

by Bob Norfleet

Jim Rettig passed away last week. He leaves behind two sons and a sister. Jim was originally from Michigan. He came to Greensboro looking for a job after the recession put him out of a work. When I first met Jim at the Interactive Resource Center in 2015, he was homeless, jobless and broke. He also had no driver’s license which put him at a serious disadvantage. At that time, Jim was living at the Weaver House, a temporary homeless shelter operated by Greensboro Urban Ministry.

Jim had a couple of skills which he hoped would put him back into gainful employment. He was an artist and web designer.  Unfortunately, neither field was hiring in Greensboro during or even after the economic recovery.

Jim joined the staff of the Greensboro Voice in 2015. He was very involved with all discussions, attended every staff meeting , wrote several articles, and would frequently cause laughter with his dry humor. Jim created and submitted several items of whimsical art for the Greensboro Voice which reflected that humor. A couple of years ago Jim also designed the honor card for the IRC’s year end fundraising program which was a sketch he did of the Greensboro Bus Depot.

In early 2016, Jim was approved for housing and soon afterwards he secured a part time job with UNCG helping people connect with medical benefits.  Things were looking up for Jim but in 2016 he suffered a stroke. After making so much progress in his life, Jim wasn’t going to let it get him down and before long he’d bounced back and was his old self again.

Jim was always grateful, even for the smallest kindness shown to him by others.  He was especially grateful for finding and joining a new church where he met and made many new friends. And he always seemed to find humor and hope even when he was struggling to find work and living in homelessness.  I will miss Jim, and most of all I will miss his ability to find humor in even the most dire moments of life.

 (The Interactive Resource Center or IRC is a day center for people experiencing homelessness or near homelessness.)

A Beggar’s Story “Marsha”

by Stephanie Thomas

I saw her standing on the corner. She was bundled up in a heavy coat, hat and gloves. It was a bitterly cold day. I had seen her a couple of times before but I was always too busy to stop and speak to her. This time wasn’t any different except that I decided that speaking to her was more important than getting my chores done on time.

I pulled into the parking lot of a restaurant that was across the street and made my way through the traffic to where she stood. She smiled when she saw me walking toward me.

I introduced myself and asked her about her day. She said she was cold and didn’t feel well.

“I have a lot of health issues,” she said. “My biggest problem is with the arthritis in my knees.”

“You are too young to have arthritis,” I said ,trying make her feel better.

“Thank you but I’m 55 years old.”

“What’s your name?”

“Marsha.”

“Where do you live Marsha?”

“I stay with friends mostly. I used to put homeless on my sign but people gave me a hard time about it. I try not to wear out my welcome. I stay quiet and to myself. I’ve stayed in hotels but I can’t afford to do that right now.”

She waved at a red SUV that passed us.

“That women gave me this hat and these gloves,” she said appreciatively.

“That was nice of her,” I said. “How do people treat you out here?”

“Some people are nice. Sometimes men give me money and then tell me they’ll give me more if I’ll come home with them. I know what that means. I’m not going to sell myself. I always tell them no. I’ve learned not to trust men. I’ve had problems with them. They start out nice but they always end up abusing me. The last man I was with beat me and made me feel terrible about myself. I wanted to leave him but he hid the car keys and took my phone so I couldn’t get away. One day, when he was sleeping, I found my phone and called my girlfriend to come and get me. That was 5 years ago. I’m still not over him.”

“You have had a rough time. I’m sorry you had to go through that. What about family? Is there anyone here who can help you?”

My parents and my brother passed away. I was close to them. It’s really hard for me at Christmas time. I miss them.”

Marsha doesn’t have a job. She was fired from her last job when there was a discrepancy in the cash drawer. That incident and her age make it unlikely that anyone will be willing to hire her. She isn’t old enough to get social security which means disability insurance is her only option, besides begging. She told me she has applied for disability insurance, but it takes at least 3 years to qualify.

There is a system in place to help people like Marsha. Unfortunately, the red tape is difficult  work through, the process can be humiliating, and failure is more common than success. For someone like Marsha, who has been abused and is alone in this world, begging seems easier.

 

Friends

 

By Natasha Toussaint

On the first day of work orientation, I befriended Kenneth, a co-worker. Kenneth was always well-dressed, always in a good mood, and hysterically funny. He excelled in all of the training modules, and helped me when I had difficulties with the material. When we had settled into our work, I was able to rely on Kenneth to help me with work-related snags, and on occasion we ate lunch together.
Kenneth had a son who was a College Junior. Kenneth beamed with pride when he talked about him. He often said his son was his best friend.

One week, Kenneth was unable to get his usual ride home. He asked if I would take him. Later that week, after we finished taking care of some of his errands, I asked him if there was anywhere else he needed to go, like the grocery store, or if he would like to get something to eat. He said no and looked at his watch. I took the hint and asked if he would like me to drop him off at the library where I’d picked him up.

“No,” he replied. “You can drop me off at the Salvation Army. I’m homeless.”
I was stunned. Kenneth had been homeless for over 5 years due to a series of unfortunate life events.

In hindsight, I realized why Kenneth was more excited about the new job than the rest of us. For him the job meant change and stability. He hoped one day to get a place of his own.
Kenneth gave me the opportunity to change my perspective of homeless individuals. Homelessness is not a look, an attitude, behavior or a condition. Homelessness is a life situation that for a multitude of reasons can befall any of us, at any time.

Community Ventures: A Non-Profit Serving “Not-For-Profit Social Ventures”

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by Bob Norfleet

Many small not-for-profit social ventures attempt to set up shop but fail, not because of a lack of passion or vision but due to a difficulty in gathering startup capital. In most cases, it’s difficult to get funding because there are so many charities begging for the same dollars. In order to be successful and attract donor dollars, a charity quickly learns that it should be certified as a “non-profit” by the Internal Revenue Service. It’s expensive to hire a lawyer, get incorporated, apply for and receive the official 501(c)3 non-profit certification letter by the IRS. When a non-profit finally receives IRS certification, it may then seek funds from donors who desire the additional rewards of a tax deduction for their donation. If your charity has not been certified as a 501(c)3 organization, your donors will not receive a tax benefit.

The person who wants to start a charity must either have the money for 501(c)3 certification or beg for dollars from friends, friends-of-friends and/or set up a crowd-funding network to raise the start-up capital. Crowd funding, if done correctly can be beneficial but few people know all the strategic moves that must be taken during the process to reach their goal. The most successful crowd funding programs are those which are associated with a charity that is already certified as a 501(c)3 non-profit. Some crowd funding organizations will not help you unless you are already a certified non-profit.

This is where Community Ventures, Inc (CV) comes to the rescue! This company has already done all the early heavy lifting. It is a 501(c)3 organization whose mission is to partner with start-up social ventures which are not certified as 501(c)3 organizations. The win-win of this partnership is that the start-up contracts with “CV” to accept tax deductible donations from the project’s donors. Some donors then get a tax benefit depending on their tax status. Community Ventures, Inc pays out funds to the project as needed from time to time using the dollars in the project’s treasury. The costs to the social venture is a small initial set-up charge plus a small management fee depending on the degree of management the charity’s program requires of CV. That fee depends on the project and the support the venture needs to get started.

If you are a struggling social venture or charity and need a partner to jump-start your fund-raising program, you might want to make application to Community Ventures, Inc. Send an email to the following email address and “Channelle” will discuss the application process and if initial approval is made, she will set up an interview. You can also email Community Ventures, Inc to be added to their email contact list so they can let you know about their special programs on social entrepreneurship and supporting living wages for those who are underemployed in the Greensboro area.

Here is their email address: “channelle@communityventuresinc.org”

Westover Serving at Grace

stephanie-greensboro-voice-photo-website

Continued Series on Volunteerism
by Stephanie Thomas

Between 5:30 and 7:00 pm on the 2nd Wednesday of each month you will find over 20 volunteers from Westover Church serving meals at Grace Community Church. They have come to serve the homeless and the less fortunate, people who are hungry. They serve from the heart. From the youngest volunteer to the oldest, each person happily pitches in.

Before the first volunteer or guest walks through church the door at Grace Community, Brenda Hancock, a member of Westover Church has been working tirelessly for weeks to make sure there will be enough food and volunteers to make the meal go off without a hitch.

It’s 5:30 and mostly quiet as the volunteers and the food begins to come in through the side door. The tables for around 250 dinner guests and the preparation tables are already set up. The volunteers greet each other and do a bit of catching up. Then everyone goes into the dinning room to bless the food and pray for the guests who are at that point lining up at the front door. Inspirational music plays in the background as the volunteers respectfully move around the room stopping to pray at each table for the guests who will be sitting there. Next the group of volunteers gathers for directions, one more prayer is said, and just before the guests are allowed in, the volunteers retreat to a large hall adjacent to the dinning room.

This is when the excitement begins. There are four stations set up in the hall with 4 people at each station. In assembly line fashion they fill the plates with chicken, mashed potatoes, bread and green beans. Then there are other volunteers who take the filled trays and place them on a long table in preparation for serving, plus there are those who clean up spills, fill drinks, and put peach cobbler in the desert bowels.

The guests participate in a short service in the dinning area before the meal is served which includes gospel music, a message and a prayer.

Once the service is over the food is served. Each volunteer takes their responsibility seriously, carrying trays, pouring drinks, passing out food, cleaning, and taking care of issues that might come up like someone missing a fork or a special plate needed for a child. And Brenda is there giving direction and making sure all is running smoothly.

As soon as the meal is served, the desert comes out, people finish eating, and then in a flash the cleaning begins. Everyone helps out, clearing plates, washing tables, putting away the chairs and tables, throwing away the trash and taking it out, and making food bags for the little ones. Within an hours time 250 men, women and children are fed, everything is cleaned up, and at 7:00 pm you’d never know anyone was there. It’s pretty amazing.

Why do these volunteers come back month after month after month to help people they don’t know and in some cases won’t see again? Some have told me they come because they want to live as they believe Christ would have them live, others feeling blessed by God simply want to give back, and one young man told me he came because he knew if he didn’t have the love and support of his family he might have found himself in this kind of need.

It was a joy to serve with these caring and generous individuals.

Please consider volunteering in your community to help the homeless and those in need. Together we can make a real difference in people’s lives. To volunteer for serving meals at Grace Community Church contact Virginia Cornell at the church email address: thecity@gracegso.org.

“Working with Meals at Grace is always a humbling reminder that any one of us could lose a job and lose a place to live,” continued Brenda Hancock. “Even though some weeks are more difficult than others to serve in this ministry, it is important to me to extend God’s grace and love to a group of people in our community who really need it.”

“$2.00 a day: Living on Almost Nothing in America” – A book review

elizabeth-for-website

by Elizabeth Chiseri-Strater

This book by two distinguished sociologists and public policy professors is immensely depressing. That fact, though, should not discourage an audience from being educated about the struggles of those living in poverty and the governmental policies which have led to this situation. The authors share their research through statistics and narratives about those who live on two dollars a day per person. These heart breaking stories about the struggle of families with finding jobs, housing, food, and transportation should bring shame to all those who believe that poor people are lazy and really don’t want to work but prefer to live on government handouts.
The real problem with this attitude is that there is no longer any monetary handouts available from the government. The authors begin their book with a concise history of welfare and its reform which ended in 1996 under the Clinton administration. While single mothers with children—the main recipients of welfare– did indeed try to go to work, the consequences of this legislation led to the rise of households with children with no cash assistance available. There are one and a half million households and three million children who live on two dollars a day per person (This calculation is explained in the introduction as including any dollar that made it into a household, no matter what the source, would be considered part of the family’s income, including SNAP (food stamps) which is more like cash than any other governmental program).
These authors present compelling narratives of the struggles of the working poor and the sacrifices they make in order to survive: giving plasma twice a week; living on ramen noodles for two weeks; leaving children in perilous child-care situations; shuttling between family and friends’ couches and shelters, working at less than minimum wage jobs. Many of the stories about the working poor include having to quit jobs when the transportation costs are too high to get to a job, when working conditions cause or exasperate health problems, or where a child becomes ill and the parent needs to stay home, or when food stamps have to be traded for children’s underwear and socks.
Even though the statistics and narratives about those living in poverty are depressing, the authors end their book with some realistic solutions to the overarching problems of the poor in this country and of income disparity. One solution addresses the right of everyone to works and earn a living wage. The authors admit that job creation would cost money and if the private sector didn’t take up this task, the government would need to step in as they did during the Great Depression. They list many jobs that could be funded starting with rebuilding the infrastructure through jobs in after school programs and elder care. In addition to providing an adequate wage, work conditions also need to be safe and fair. One of the narratives about the working conditions of a mother who labored for a cleaning company stands out. She was part of a team that cleaned houses of the evicted which most of the time did not have water. This woman and her team had to provide the water for cleaning, often begging water off of filing stations or neighbors.
Another solution involves safe and affordable housing. If this means subsidized governmental housing, then it must be up to code and not limited to segregated spaces. If a family is living on a full time salaried job at $15.00 an hour, they could afford an apartment with two bedrooms in twenty-two of our states, the researchers conclude. So jobs and housing go hand in hand. A story about housing stands out because of its consequences. One girl, between sixth and ninth grades shared a subsidized three- bedroom apartment with twenty-four other people. And of course there was never enough food. When this young woman was in ninth grade one of her teachers offered her food in exchange for sex.
Finally, the authors suggest that a program that provides actual cash is important. While SNAP help families with hunger, these benefits are often sold for half of their value to help with utilities and rent. Currently there is no cash safety net for families that fall. And, as the authors suggest: “Without cash, they [the poor] can’t meaningfully participate in society.” There is no need to return to our previous welfare system that stole the dignity of the poor. There are other solutions and this book provides them in its conclusion. Like all of the other books that show how institutions fail—The New Jim Crow; Evicted; Nickle and Dimed, So Rich, So Poor, this book provides amble data and amble solutions for dealing with poverty. Read it. Be depressed but be educated as well.

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