Nov 11

It’s Veterans Day. In contrast to Memorial Day, when we remember those who were killed while serving in the armed forces, I feel that today is even more important, a time to show our gratitude to those who served and are still with us. Too many return and find themselves jobless and even worse, homeless. It’s awful for homelessness to be any issue in this country, but doubly so when we’re talking about those who risked their lives for the rest of us. One of the charities I list below to the right is the Center For Homeless Veterans. They are in Boston, and do a great job, not just giving a handout, but training Vets to find work and live independently. Consider donating to them or a Vets shelter closer to you.

iwojima

This is the iconic Raising the flag at Iwo Jima. It became a symbol of the end of World War II.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Sep 12

This is the last post in an 8 part series on being homeless, by a guest author who goes by the name Dreamscaper. It’s my honor to share his story with my readers.

Most, if not all, people don’t choose to be homeless. If they are like me they don’t want to ask you for help more than you want to give a quarter to. When you are at the point of asking for a handout you are pretty bad off.

I’d imagine most homeless people can’t get back on their feet without a little help from people. How do you get a phone number and address and clean clothes when you are trying to figure out how you are eating today or this week? Giving a hungry person something to eat could motivate them to try to get back on their feet.

The Easter Sunday I was homeless I was reading a stolen book outside a church service on campus. After the service someone came out and offered me a piece of cake. They apologized for not having a fork or spoon. They were all out. They just wanted to give me a piece of cake with no strings attached. They didn’t try to convert me or anything. Just wanted to give me a piece of cake.

For anyone making it this far, this is the best thing I ever remembered during my time of being homeless. If you want to make a difference, do something nice for someone and don’t expect anything in return. You’ll always be remembered as “That person who came out with a piece of cake”.

Note from Joe – I hope you enjoyed this special series of posts. What was your attitude towards the homeless, and has it changed at all since reading this story? Let me know, I’d enjoy the discussion.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Sep 05

This is the seventh post in an 8 part series on being homeless, by a guest author who goes by the name Dreamscaper. It’s my honor to share his story with my readers.

I never once begged on the street for money. I wish I did. If I was homeless again in the future I probably would. Easier than what I went through.

1. If you see someone that looks hungry, buy them a good meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A few burgers from the $.99 menu does the trick. When you are hungry and don’t know when your next meal will be from having someone give you something nice and warm is nice.

2. If you have a couple bucks, give it to them. People don’t like this because “they’ll just blow it on booze”. Who cares what they spend the money on? I think if I ever became homeless again I’d booze it up to help kill the pain of what daily life was like.

3. If you are more giving, why not buy the person a meal and find out what they need. Maybe they might need a new pair of shoes or a backpack or a blanket or…there is a lot of stuff people could use. You could probably go to a thrift store and find something perfect for them that would make their life a lot easier. I think I would have been happy if someone bought me a notebook and a pen. Nobody offered. That notebook and pen would have made life easier for its lifespan because I needed it.

4. Don’t judge. There are professional homeless people who make good money begging. But people like me exist that was having a hard time. It’s easy to roll up your windows when a homeless person is around and hard to actually care because there are so many. But if you help just one person that could be a big deal to them as they figure out how to survive the day.

Next Week – Final thoughts

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Aug 29

This is the sixth post in an 8 part series on being homeless, by a guest author who goes by the name Dreamscaper. It’s my honor to share his story with my readers.

By the time I got kicked out by my ex-fiance, I had found a job. She kicked me out and I moved into a hotel. The taxi that took me there wasn’t too happy about me using a taxi to move. What could I do? The $100 tip I gave him afterwards he didn’t complain too much about. That hotel has since been demolished.

I moved in with a wannabe-cop. I can’t tell you exactly what he did, though. After a month he threatened to put me in the hospital and blame it on me. After that I stayed in a hotel closer to work and eventually found a room for rent that was cheap. I stayed in that room for about 4 years while trying to make ends meet.

I still did what I could to survive. I stole less food but more money from work. I took buses everywhere, went back to school and got financial aid, I basically still did what I could just to survive.

Eventually I found a job close to “home”. I moved in with my brother. I got fired from that job 2 years later and he was pretty much taking care of me for 3 years. Even though I was on food stamps for a month before, I didn’t think of reapplying for it. That was ages ago. Also didn’t know the first thing about unemployment benefits. Most of my working life was done under the table. When it got pretty bad and I knew he was struggling, I was thinking of just simply “running away” and becoming homeless again. At this point I was eating condiment packages from fast food restaurants and anything else that was sitting in the cabinets for awhile.

My brother passed away some two years later. He gave me a $15k life insurance, which was used to pay his funeral and the rest for me. The rest I used to become an alcoholic. I actually never drank when homeless or when stealing money from my bosses. But his passing was so hard on me that that’s what I turned to. I eventually drank away the rest of the money and couldn’t afford to pay rent.

I found a job paying pennies online but it was legit. I was hoping to make enough money a month to pay rent but that didn’t happen. So I started to hide from my landlord and go through the eviction process. At that point I had two options:

1. Be homeless again. This time I knew what it would take to survive. I was making some money so I could buy a tent and blanket and survival stuff. I knew about foodstamps and other programs.

2. Ask family for help. Ask my mom who was the one who kicked me out of the house 15 years ago causing me to be homeless. I didn’t speak to her in 15 years, so that was awkard.

I chose number two. We eventually patched things up and I’m able to sleep with a roof over my head and food in my belly. I also patched up a 15 year old relationship that only happened because of my sister and brother passing away.

Next Week – How You Can Help

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Aug 22

This is the fifth post in an 8 part series on being homeless, by a guest author who goes by the name Dreamscaper. It’s my honor to share his story with my readers.

I consider me surviving homelessness was only because of the good hearted friends and strangers who took care of me once they found out about my situation.

The first person to find out was a friend living in the dorms who offered to store my books I bought with me. There wasn’t anything he could do so he did what he could – he kept my stuff safe so I wouldn’t have to bury it or hide it.

The second person was the person who kicked me out of the dorms. Again, he couldn’t do much, so he did what he could. He is still on my friends list on my messenger program. I also had a few friends that took me in every so often when I needed a roof over my head. Sadly I don’t remember their names.

The first persons who did something were friends I used to play cards with to pass the time. They thought I was a student still. I was sleeping in the tv lounge and took a bottle of Advil. 30 minutes later I was throwing up outside. Another 30 minutes later was my 2nd trip. By the 3rd time I was greeted by a few friends and complete strangers. Apparently one friend realized something was wrong – really wrong, and made a few phone calls.

One person who showed up made sure to go to Taco Bell right before. He gave me some tacos saying “I didn’t know when was the last time you ate”. Of course at that point I wasn’t hungry. The Advil killed my appetite and by that point I was growing accustomed to not eating. As mentioned earlier, I lost about 100 pounds in 9 months, this including the times that my friends made sure I had plenty to eat when I was hungry. I don’t remember much of these days, but if I were to guess, I probably didn’t eat much besides chips, sunflower seeds, and whatever friends gave me. So when I wasn’t doing something with friends I wasn’t eating.

They fed me, sheltered me, and did what they could for me for a month or two. One person bought a blanket to make sure I had a warm blanket. I think someone bought some clothes for me. After the month or two, the friend I was living with and paying my portion of rent, his roommates had a problem with me being there. I didn’t want to cause problems with this room mates, so I left.

I stayed at someone’s house that was in that live action role playing game. I got kicked out for 2 reasons. First, I remember a roommate having one of those big boxes of cheese fish crackers. I never had those before, but boy, where they good! One handful turned into two, into a half dozen, turned into an empty box. I still feel guilty that I ate that persons cheese fish, but they were good, and at that point I wasn’t eating. To this day (15 years later?) I still can’t buy that box of crackers because I’ll eat the whole thing in one sitting. Second reason was someone had a problem I didn’t move the shower head back to some random position. Whenever I hop in the shower I make sure it’s at a “safe spot”. I kind of assume everyone does this. Apparently not.

Considering all the times I ate out of a trash can, slept on a toilet, and did what I could to “fit in” to make it seem like I was still a student, the shower was the best thing that ever happened. I remember after 4 months of being homeless I stayed with a friend. I remember just standing in the shower for 45 minutes.

Another friend from that live action game made sure to drive me around on her days off. She took me to get food stamps, took me to fast food places and waited for me to fill out applications. I needed a food handlers card for a fast food place and she took me there and waited for me to take the test.

What finally got me off the streets was a woman who showed interest in me. We went out on one date than offered to let me move in with her. I don’t know if she knew I was homeless or just moved fast. That night I searched the net for “Sex FAQ”. I was still a virgin. But it’s been 9 months about since I first became homeless and was willing to do anything to get a roof over my head. I stayed with her for 2.5 years, got engaged to her, and things fell apart. I found out the only reason she even talked to me because she was interested in one of my friends she hoped I’d introduce. I never did because I didn’t know.

Next Week – Aftermath

written by Joe \\ tags: ,