Posts Tagged ‘feeding the homeless’

Question asked, question answered late and sorta!

June 9, 2014

A while back I was asked something that I thought was a good question.  It was actually difficult at the time to answer and the person asking me this question wanted me to share my answer with his church and others in support of his group called Resurrections.  The answer has been forthcoming for a good long while and believe me it took more than a week to come up with it as well as more that I keep bringing up to myself often as time goes by.  But first, let me tell you what Resurrections is about.

For over a decade now Resurrections has been providing one meal each Saturday to those that are homeless and those in need.  This group of individuals is not from just one church but many.  This organization gets others involved (other churches, local businesses, as well as one entire school district).  So it’s not just a core group who comes to feed those like myself who are on the street or those in need (low income people).  The volunteers that come feed those of us are the ones who share their time and also learn that homelessness isn’t about just one issue but many.  From here out, I’ll describe individuals I know from the group’s core and talk about the people who volunteer their time.

Over the years, Resurrections has gone through two organizers.  The first person goes by C.J.  I never really got to know him well or know what Resurrections was about till he retired and Larry took over.  When Larry took over is when I started actually assisting Resurrections with their setting up for feeding those in need.  I’ve not asked what Larry does for full time employment.  However, I know he does a lot of footwork for Resurrections.  He sets up the volunteers for time slots and hunts down donations as well as more volunteers.  I’d like to think of it as his second job and almost a calling in life.  Other than that, Larry has been a great individual and I like to count him as a friend.

Monica, is one of the sweetest individuals I know with the group.  She’s what we call our chili lady.  Every week she cooks up at least two to three pots of chili for the hot dogs served as well as offers prayer at the beginning of the meals when there is no others available for this small chore.  However, that isn’t where her work started.  By day she’s a school teacher that is deeply involved with teaching her students.  She goes above and beyond the usual teacher stuff.  It wasn’t till I met her that I knew more about teaching than I did when I was a trainer in the military.  Often times she’s putting in over seventy hours a week.  And yet, she still feels as if those that come are like her wayward children.  I know no other person that can do this.

Betsy, our cookie lady, is also a fine person who has problems of her own which I can’t discuss here.  She’s there at least once every two weeks handing out home made cookies she bakes herself.  Every week she’s off, I miss her and think about her as well as keep her in my prayers.  She makes me think of my mom’s own cooking when I get her chocolate chip cookies 😀

Tobie is the woman who brings our bananas most weeks.  When she can’t she gets Herb or some other member to pick them up where she gets them from.  I won’t name the place because I don’t advertise anyone if possible.  There are many like Tobie who are concerned citizens and think that everyone in America should treat each other with equal respect irregardless.  She’s a wonderful person to talk to and know.  I wish I could say more.

Robbie is our desert man.  He’s one of the most unique individuals I’ve met here in Columbia, South Carolina.  Sometimes I think of him as our overgrown child.  He often brings his “big kid” toys to the weekly feed.  Bless his heart for always thinking about those in need and working with a local grocer to provide the deserts at each of those events.  He’s a blessing to many of those that come and is always friendly with those he talks to.

There are many others in the core group and it seems like it’s always growing.  Some come and some go.  They will never be forgotten.  I could name many others who help out here by name but I’ve covered the main individuals.  They are just what keeps this going.  If it weren’t for the volunteers this wouldn’t come about at all.

That is the main point of this weekly event.  It brings those that often don’t know or have very little knowledge of what really goes on in this town beyond their own personal life.  I’ve met many a volunteer through this weekly event and have several people who I’d like to call friends other than those I deal with on the street.  The volunteers make this event work more so than the core group.  We ALL get to know more about each other when they come.

Yes, I say I don’t advertise here.  However, I’d like to thank two groups in particular.  One is a local business called Southeastern Freight.  Their corporation has two or three groups that come down once or twice every three months to volunteer their services feeding those in need.  They are a great bunch of people that I relate to very easily as one of my brothers was/is an over the road truck driver like many of them.  The second group is a large group of children of various ages coming out of Richland county school district two.  They frequently come out to volunteer their service and actually work to get some of the things those out on the street need (mostly book bags so that those on the street can carry their belongings in something other than trash bags).  These children give me faith that there is a tomorrow for this country.  I hope they can learn some valuable things as well from those of us out on the street.  I know I try to impress upon them the importance of education as I’m still learning even from them.

All the volunteers as well as the regulars do so much with so little funding it’s truly amazing.  I can’t recommend more for those that chose to do something for their fellow man but to get involved in this group in one form or another.  Donations are always welcome by these people.  It could be clothing, shoes, book bags, toiletries, your time helping out by serving those in need, or even chipping in funding this wonderful group and their volunteers.  Resurrections would be more than happy for any assistance in their mission.

My final words here are words I’ve shared with Larry about Resurrections.  I’ve promised him that if I remain in South Carolina, specifically Columbia, that once I got off the street I’d still come and help him out.  I would be bringing more instead of just my assistance of helping set up in this case.  I believe in this groups mission and thank God himself for what it’s done for me in the way I see society in general.  If you’re not from South Carolina or the United States there are others like me and those of us out on the street.  Help however you can.  It doesn’t have to be a monetary handout.  It could be a meal or even just time listening to those that need a person to listen to their story.  Never ever look down on those that are having a hard time.  You could be there yourself at one time or another in your life.  Everyone needs friends no matter what the circumstances are.  Because of a group like this I’ve many more friends than I first had here and hope to find many others through this group.  God bless everyone involved.

Advertisements

Nutrition and being homeless!

March 12, 2013

This is a topic almost NEVER discussed and I feel it should.  It seems that NOBODY and I mean nobody pays attention to this topic at all.  Most people worry more about the nutritional feeding of school children than they do the homeless.  Aren’t the homeless a member of society too?  What puts more strain on the Medicare/Medicaid programs?

A while back, I did a posting on the various places that feed and shelter the homeless.  Unfortunately, I did not go into great detail on the feeding of the homeless.  I hope to correct that here with additional information.

It’s said around Columbia, South Carolina, that “if you go hungry around this town, you’re not trying to get food.”  This for the most part is true.  There are tons of places feeding at various times of the day/week.  I’ll list several here:

Oliver Gospel Mission (from here out known as OGM)

Ebeneezer Church (usually prepared by the Salvation Army)

Trinity Church

St. Peter’s Church

First Baptist

Soup Cellar

various other groups large and small

The three main groups here are OGM, Ebeneezer, and the Soup Cellar.  These are the people feed on a daily basis.  Well OGM and Ebeneezer do.  The Soup Cellar serves lunch during the weekdays but is one of the main providers of food.  Here is where I’ll admit even I don’t have all the facts.  However, I’ll tell you what I know about OGM and the Soup Cellar.  I’ll relay what I’ve heard about Ebeneezer (we call it Ebisqueezer).

OGM I know well.  You’ve read what I’ve already said about them as a shelter.  Now you’ll know what think of their food service.  My biggest complaint about OGM’s food service is not so much the food, which is often times donated and reasonably fresh (sometimes you get a meal that is prepared the same day, sometimes not).  My biggest complaint against them is with a cook that adamantly will NOT follow the Department of Health’s food preparation regulations.  But to talk of their food is another thing entirely.  Yes, there are times you get what is suppose to be nutritious and it is a balanced meal if nothing else.  Problem with any prepared food (most of their supplies come from U.S. Foods when it’s not donated), it’s not really nutritious at all.  It’s more like institutionalized food.  Over cooked and tasteless.  I’ve had vegetables there that were like mush.  Meats are mostly soy or fatty.  Donated meals are often overcooked as well.  Anyone in their right mind knows overcooking food ruins the nutritional value of the food not to mention fatty foods raise cholesterol levels.  Oh wait, they think pumping too much overcooked veggies into you to up your fiber levels will prevent this.  Bullsh*t!  This isn’t the only thing I’ve been served there while I did eat (I no longer go to OGM for anything) there.  I’ve actually had to eat or starve some stuff there that I wouldn’t slop a hog with and being from rural Michigan, I do know what they slop hogs with.

Now the Soup Cellar on the other hand does NOT serve anything but lunch Monday through Friday as well as most holidays.  For the most part these people are a group of churches in the community who provide lunch for the homeless as well as those needy people who are barely getting by.  Their lunch consists of two sandwiches of which on is PB  &J (you all know what that means), soup during the winter months, fruit cups during the summer, and cold sweet tea.  The bread here is generally fresh though at times it suffers.  PB & J is generally nutritious and not overly fat.  The soups during the winter are generally good though they tend to be either too much salt or too much pepper.  And, as God is my witness, they use far and away too much beans in their soups.  I can deal with green beans, Lima beans, or even butter beans in my soup but they’ve gone beyond even that making some of their soups totally inedible.  When you can pick up an eight ounce cup of hot soup and the bottom comes filled with no less than four kinds of beans (some of which I’ve never heard of or eaten before other than the ones I’ve mentioned) you’ve gone far to far.  Homeless people don’t need all the fiber and protein that they are getting fed.  Now where the Soup Cellar gets decent at is getting other things like pasta salad or bagels or things like that in to supplement their usual offerings.  I love pasta salad personally.  However, their pasta salad often has far too much oil (oil based dressing) and again beans in it.  The other pasta salad they serve from time to time is mayonnaise and mustard base.  This type is excellent for the most part.  But again, they ruin it by adding beans.   I don’t mean just any beans either.  I mean a bean that is red in color and leaves a foul taste in my mouth.  When they use this bean in the soups the soups often come out looking like human manure and tasting just as foul (NO I DON’T EAT HUMAN FECES ).  At least when the soup is good you can have all you can eat of it.

Ebeneezer, I’ve only heard minute things about.  Mostly the meals they are served are done by the Salvation Army or so I’m told.  When one hears of the Salvation Army, they think how good they help the community.  One only has to look at the South Carolina Salvation Army’s record.  Especially the fact that it fired one of it’s Major’s for embezzlement/fraud and said person is still in jail last I knew.  The only thing good I’ve heard about Ebeneezer is that they serve dinner at all.  The biggest complaint I’ve heard is that their portion size is way too small.  Go figure.  Sounds to me like the Salvation Army hasn’t gotten rid of their corruption issues yet.

There are other places to eat for the homeless.  These are the three main ones who serve a meal or sometimes two a day.  Others (churches, private individuals, and small groups) seem to do better than the larger feeders.  One church for certain takes precedence.  That is Trinity Episcopal  Church who does breakfast every Sunday.  It is at least a nutritious breakfast of grits, scrambled eggs, sausage, warmed apples, milk, and coffee.  The apples part is new as they use to serve baked beans and orange juice instead.  Personally, I welcome that change with the exception of dropping the OJ.

Sadly, the homeless AREN’T getting the proper nutrition for what they have to face on the street.  Often times the homeless are walking from one place to another to warm up in the winter.  Most of these places feed a high fat, high protein diet instead of getting these people what they need.  People burn a lot of energy quickly during the winter especially.  A high carbohydrate diet is called for in the winter for the homeless.  Fatty and protein rich diets do not metabolize quickly enough for the person to maintain energy for what they are doing.  I can see the high protein diet in the summer where the homeless are less likely to move during the heat of the day.

Proper nutrition is everyone’s concern.  Even today’s children are being fed better stuff in the school cafeteria now than what the homeless are fed.  They at least get more choices. The homeless get little or no choices in what they are served breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The only way we can get people off the Medicare/Medicaid merry-go-round is to educate them as to proper diet (yes, advertising actually is getting better for food substances on this issue).  The homeless need better nutrition in order to face the environment (especially if they don’t go into local shelters).  A great deal of the food fed to the homeless is largely FAT, PROTEIN, and SUGARS. These are absolutely the last things the homeless need at any time.  Especially those that are diabetic as there are a large contingency of those that are homeless.  Feeding a balanced diet of protein, carbohydrates (not over cooked vegetables), starches, and dairy products would go a long way in taking a number of homeless out of the health care system.

Far too often the homeless are getting fed some of the nastiest stuff known to man because it’s CHEAP and the providers can get away with extra money for themselves in return for providing a minimal amount of sustenance for the homeless.  All to often, some of the food is day old stuff (mostly baked goods from a local bakery) or stuff that wasn’t sold at a local restaurant.  OGM is notorious for doing the later as a cost cutting practice.  Is it better than some of the stuff the relief organizations feed the third world countries?  In one word NO!

We can do better than this in America.  Yes there are children still not getting their nutritional requirements at schools across the U.S.  But think about it this way.  Many who are homeless or possibly about to become homeless will be that much more of a burden to society if their health fail due to improper nutrition.  I myself have witnessed it’s effects on me.  At one time, my body was eating it’s own muscle due to improper nutrition.  Would you rather see children on the street the same way due to YOUR GREED! Enough said.

Philanthropy!

March 10, 2012

This one is for El Gwapo since he was kind enough to make me think about this word and it’s meaning.  As per Dictionary.com:

phi·lan·thro·py

[fi-lan-thruh-pee] Show IPA

noun, plural -pies.

1.

altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.
2.

the activity of donating to such persons or purposes in this way: to devote one’s later years to philanthropy.
3.

a particular act, form, or instance of this activity: The art museum was their favorite philanthropy.
Let’s look at each of the four meanings of this very special word.  The first one is more or less left to those whom have excessive amounts of money to contribute though there are those that contribute over time to the extent taht the other parties do.  Most of these people generally contribute to schools or hospitals.  They generally do so and get the promise from the entity to which they make their (tax write off) donation to, to name a building or something after them.  Yes, there I said it again.  Tax write off.  Many of the wealthy use a limited but usually maxed out amount of contributions as a tax shelter or writeoff.  Admittedly there is only so much that can be written off as contributions.  Then  it’s that persons money.
Getting back on subject, the wealthy besides, donating monetary funds donate time in the form of public speaking engagements.  Think of one of our former presidents (I am in the U.S. for those that may stop by from a country outside of mine) donating an hour to give a short speech as well as have a short Q&A session.  Most public speakers charge between $30K and $60K per hour.  At least the most successful do. So they’ve contributed a check to a school, hospital, or other charity as well as monetary funds in their speaking performance.  All well and good.  This is definitely a plus for those asking for the donations.
Ok.  Moving on to the second description.  Let me use a very dear and known name to you and me both to tag this one.  Bill Gates.  Yes, the billionaire.  He’s publicly stated that his children will have to earn their money the old fashion way (I won’t comment on this statement here).  He’s using his entire fortune to benefit man/woman in various projects funded through his and his wife’s organization aptly named Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Every now and then you’ll hear of this organization and what it does.  That or you’ll look it up on the web.  They take other people’s donations as well.  Most of what I’ve found out about their projects has been positive.  They’ve helped the homeless, they’ve helped educate African’s about AIDS, Bill himself is active with a company who’s sole job is to make it so weather forecasters can better predict hurricanes saving ungodly amounts of money, manpower, and time.    It’s truly amazing that this man acquired all this wealth and is spending it to do some good though I’m not a fan of Microsoft (more later).  This is philanthropy to its finest.
As to the third description I think  those that volunteer their time or money or both such as the people in El Gwapo’s group (Resurrections) which the homeless refer to as Hotdog Joe’s as well as those that do the tireless work at the Soup Cellar best fit this description.  They volunteer their time if nothing else.  Some contribute their money to help these organizations.  Then still there are others who do volunteer work in any number or fashion to help others out.  They all fall under the third definition for philanthropy.  Most of these people are middle class or even the poor themselves helping out those less fortunate.  They can be church groups or any other group or individual.  Even I could be a philanthropist with the measly $127 disability check I get from the Veteran’s Administration.
Now number four via Dictionary.com’s definition I don’t believe in.  A philanthropy organization is  a fallacy.  First of all they have a staff that gets paid to select the work they fund.  Most times that pay comes out of the donations either monetarily or otherwise.  Like all charities, these organizations generally come at an administrative fee.”  This to me excludes them from the definition proper.   Charities are just that ,charities.  They are not meant to be organizations used by greedy people to enhance their agenda or their own gains which so many administrators do now.
Don’t believe me, look at your local public school system.  Don’t believe that, ask any charity Muscular Dystrophy Association, The American Cancer Society or others, what administrative costs they have.  You’ll be astonished.  Some run as high as 30%.  That’s right up to 30 cents on every dollar is taken out on administrative costs.  It’s pretty shameful what others will do to get into yours and my pockets in the name of charity/philanthropy.
Alright, that’s what I’ve considered philanthropy.  I know others have their definitions too.  However, one thing is for certain.  All organizations whether it be places like Oliver Gospel Mission or the Muscular Dystrophy Association have administrative fees.  Look before you donate and find out just how much is going to those that are needing the charity of others to get by from day to day.  If an organization is spending more than 15% of it’s donations on administrative fees then they are spending too much that should go to those they are championing.  That figure is ball park.  you can set that standard higher or lower.  You may think 10% is too much in administrative costs.  As for me, I haven’t got the money to be a philanthropist.

Homeless: Feeding Honors!

February 28, 2012

I was at a local feed for the homeless this Saturday when I got to talking with the person organizing the feeding and the people that volunteer.  I’d asked him to read my blog before last weekend and he did so.   He’s still not commented but it’s ok.  I’m ready to be blasted for my views in some cases.

When I mentioned those that fed us homeless, I only mentioned the bad.  There are a number of people here churches included who do a great job of helping out.  Sometimes it’s only a few from a church and sometimes it’s a large group.  I’ve only mentioned those that I’ve dealt with.  Well accept one whom I’m now going to talk about.  Without further ado, the top honors go to two groups.  They are : The Soup Cellar and also Hotdog Joe’s.

First let me cover Hotdog Joe’s.  It’s been around now for going on 11 years.  Long before I had issues with homelessness, this group has been feeding the homeless every Saturday at 12 noon.  This is a day various organizations feed.  However, Joe’s is known by all.  Originally started by a man who goes by C.J. and I assume his church, they group together with churches, businesses, schools, and all kinds of other volunteers to feed us each week.  It’s been great and I thank all the core group as well as each and every volunteer they get.

C.J. is married now and the group stopped serving for a bit.  However, my friend and hopefully fellow blog reader Larry has stepped up to the plate to take C.J.’s place and they are going strong and feeding the homeless again.  They use a local law firm’s parking lot to feed.  Those to should be thanked for supporting C.J. and now Larry for this.  The best part of this group is, they do this out of LOVE for their fellow man/woman/child.  They DON”T do it for money like certain other organizations.

One other I’d like to thank as well who is no longer working with Larry as he’s got himself a job after a long term of unemployment.  Hat’s off to you Rick.  You split my eardrums with that whistle more times than I can count.  I wish you and your family the best.  And just for you, “How ’bout those Gamecocks.”  LOL.

There are many others who are a core part of Hotdog Joe’s who are good people.  Two I know of fairly well now.  Monica whom without we’d not have chili dogs.  Your chili is fantastic.  I’ve not had SWEET chili before having yours.  Also for lack of knowing her name “The Cookie Lady”  Bless her heart.  She slaves over a hot oven to bring us fresh baked cookies twice a month.  All your cookies are delicious (the chocolate chip are my favorite).  Many more deserve thanks but those are the ones I know personally.  Keep up the good work.  If no one else does, I love you all.

The final honor goes to the Soup Cellar of Columbia.  This place feeds the homeless Monday thru Friday between 10:30am and 12:00pm.  It’s only soup (fruit dish in the summer months) and sandwiches with a small desert and a drink, but it fills a need during the week.  This place relies on volunteers to help serve the homeless as does Hotdog Joe’s and is supported by the local food bank and 18 downtown Columbia  churches as well as the USDA Commodities Program and Donated Foods Program.  The Soup Cellar serves seconds when available.  It has been serving the community since 1979.  I think it’s the longest running project here.

I personally know Mike who along with a partner runs the place from what I’ve been able to see.  Mike is a fantastic guy if you don’t give him any static.  He’s worked with more volunteers than I care to count.  Between him and his partner, they look out for the homeless and the impoverished who use the services of this place.  I don’t know Mike or his partner’s background nor why they do it.  All I can say is thank you and all the volunteers that work there.  Without you a lot of people would not have anything for lunch during the week.

There are a lot of good people in Columbia, South Carolina.  as well as BAD people.  The good always stands out in a crowd.  These two stood out and will continue to stand out among those that help out the homeless and impoverished.  Please, by all means if you’re from here and read this help these two with donations or with your time and assistance.  Their the best Columbia has to offer the homeless.