Posts Tagged ‘homeless people’

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.

Freedom of Speech! Freedom of Press! Obviously NOT in Columbia, South Carolina

April 24, 2013

Last week I saw a letter by a fellow homeless person in the Columbia Free Times newspaper under the topic of “Sound Off.”  This column is basically a letter to the editor item and the Free Times is of course a FREE newspaper in Columbia.  Does this mean that they believe in the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States?  I guess not.

Compare the following copies of the same letter.  The first is the original that I typed up to submit to the “Sound Off” column.  The second is what was published today.  You be the judge yourself.

My version:

Dear Editor,

I’m writing in follow up of “Treat the Homeless as “You’d Treat Yourself” April 17-23rd issue.  Along with Mr. Brown (and I’m sure others homeless or not), I couldn’t have put it better myself.  A lot of these programs who benefit the homeless and needy are NOT  run by our illustrious mayor or city council.  No matter what they do, they’ll Never find a way to free downtown of those in need or the homeless. First of all, there are at least three local businesses that this city will find in disagreement with their thoughts.  They are businesses whom the city collects taxes from.  If they were to move with the homeless population out of town, then you’d lose those taxes as well as taxes the homeless DO pay into the system.  Of course this doesn’t count the other businesses who DO hire the homeless. Every year I’ve been here (that will be 13 years as of June 2013), I see the same thing no matter who is in city council.  City council, the mayor, or any other politicians ignore their constituency all to fill their own re-election coffers and hope they can fool the voters into re-electing them into another term just like those other politicians around the country.  In the almost thirteen years I’ve been here, I’ve been homeless for almost half of that or better.  The other half has been either living with a friend or in an extended stay motel.  I’ve witnessed each year the city council has GONE BROKE and had to raid some other fund (namely the water and sewer fund) to pay for schemes that didn’t bring downtown any business at all.  Prime example is the ice arena in downtown (which has been committed to again next year).  No one really has heard the total cost of that fiasco.  Your paper printed a story on the cost but left out one key expense.  That was the electricity bill the city paid for that rink.  I personally heard from a city employee who will go nameless that the rink was costing the city $10,000 per month in electricity that it was open.  This is just one of the many mismanagement issues I’ve witnessed. This city is in major trouble and not just locally.  Its infrastructure is a train wreck.  The city council and mayor are only interested in two things (lining their re-election pockets as well as their own).  What this town needs is three major items that will get EVERYONE off the street and help fill city coffers.  First of all, the city needs to rebuild its infrastructure (that means resurface roads, fix sidewalks, rectify the bus issue, as well as fix the sewer (using water and sewer fees instead of using them for other expenses).  You know it’s bad when the Environmental Protection Agency comes down and has to fix something that the city IGNORED.  Secondly, bring full time jobs (both technical and otherwise) into Columbia by completing the first item.  Third, educate those you have in the city instead of importing more and more people to perform the jobs that are brought into this city.  Fourth and last item, direct the police into their proper roles of protecting the citizens of this city instead of CONSTANTLY harassing the homeless.  The city could be wealthy if they were to properly enforce their traffic laws.   Every day I see people running red lights or stopping on the heavy white lines on the road meant as stopping points to protect the pedestrians of this city.  I’ve seen this happen not just when a police officer was not around but right in front of an officer and the officer never did a damn thing.  The more the Columbia police harass the homeless, the less time they have to do their appointed jobs.  Judges are getting pretty tired of the same thing year after year in their court rooms.  One judge was even quoted as saying to an officer a couple of years back, “Bring me someone who can pay their fines, instead of the homeless who can’t.” As to your other article “Councilman Calls for Homelessness Dialogue as Issues Boil Over” (same issue), you miss stated who actually ran the city’s winter shelter.  It was run by Christ Central and Jim Jones.  USC had nothing to do with that to my knowledge.  Also mentioned in this article are two meetings that city council has planned to hear in the near future.  I’ll lay odds that there might be one or two actual homeless people who show up.  The problem is they WON’T be heard by city council.  Matter of fact, I’d lay odds that city council won’t have more than one or two members show up for these meetings and they again will do what they want to do and everyone else be damned. If anyone is truly interested in the insights of homelessness in the city of Columbia, South Carolina, I personally invite them to my blog.  Just search for “touringfrog” via any search engine and click on the link with WordPress in it.  You’ll find a number of articles about homelessness there and what is actually happening in the city with the homeless and those that purport to help those who are on the street or those in need. Now I’ve stuck my two cents in, its someone else’s turn.

Sincerely,

Terry L. Parris (Homeless Veteran)

Published version:

I’m writing in response to “Treat the Homeless as You’d Treat Yourself” (Sound Off, April 17). I couldn’t have put it better myself. A lot of these programs that benefit the homeless and needy are not run by our illustrious mayor or City Council. No matter what they do, they’ll never find a way to free downtown of the homeless or those in need.

In the almost 13 years I’ve been here, I’ve been homeless for about half of that. The other half I have been either living with a friend or in an extended-stay motel.

Each year, I’ve witnessed the City Council going broke and having to raid the water and sewer fund to pay for schemes that didn’t bring downtown any business. Prime example is the ice arena in downtown. No one really has heard the total cost of that fiasco. Your paper printed a story on the cost but left out one key expense — the electricity bill. This is just one of the many mismanagement issues I’ve witnessed.

This city is in major trouble. Its infrastructure is a train wreck. The City Council and mayor are only interested in two things — lining their re-election pockets, as well as their own. What this town needs is four major items that will get everyone off the street and help fill city coffers.

First of all, the city needs to rebuild its infrastructure. That means resurface roads, fix sidewalks, rectify the bus issue, as well as fix the sewer — using water and sewer fees, instead of using them for other expenses. You know it’s bad when the Environmental Protection Agency comes down and has to fix something that the city ignored.
Secondly, bring full-time jobs Columbia by completing the first item.

Third, educate those you have in the city instead of importing people to perform the jobs that are brought into this city.

Fourth, direct the police into their proper roles of protecting the citizens of this city instead of constantly harassing the homeless.  The city could be wealthy if they were to properly enforce traffic laws. The more the Columbia police harass the homeless, the less time they have to do their appointed jobs.

If anyone is truly interested in the insights of homelessness in the city of Columbia, I personally invite them to my blog. Just search for “touringfrog” via any search engine and click on the link with Wordpress in it. You’ll find a number of articles about what is actually happening with those who are on the street or those in need.

Terry L. Parris
Homeless veteran
Columbia

As you’ll note, there was some restructuring of my letter as well as some severe deletions.  I’m not entirely displeased with the restructuring.  However, I’m very annoyed with a publication who is unwilling to reprint the original material I sent without chopping it all to hell in order to make me look like I didn’t even have an education.  It’s quite obvious that the publication is either checking my claims on some of what I wrote or they are just too damn scared to publish it in it’s entirety.

For the record, I’m a high school graduate who majored in English, Math, and Sciences in high school.  I attended Southwestern Michigan College for computer sciences (dropped out due to funding as well as burn out and grades).  I’ve also attended Florida Technical College (diploma in C++ and Java programming).  And this DOESN’T count my twelve years serving in the United States Navy fighting for the rights granted to me an all the others under the Constitution of the United States.  As if this isn’t education enough.

What happened here strikes me of George Orwell’s 1984.  Yeah, you guessed it.  No freedom of speech here in Columbia, South Carolina.  You have to mark your speech very carefully when talking about politicians in the press or pointing out errors in the press itself.  Maybe that is why I spend more time reading news on the web instead of reading the printed (filtered) publications.

Now I have no animosity toward the editor of the Free Times.  He has a job for which he is paid for irregardless of what he feels is right and what his publication requires of him.  However, it’s his publication for which I seldom read anymore that I find myself at odds with.  Obviously the “Free” in their title only refers to the cost of their publication and not to “freedom of speech.”

Thanks to the “Free Time’s” I’m now in wonder of just how corrupt the press really is.  I could understand something like the “State” newspaper in South Carolina just flat not publishing my letter.  Their a corporate entity.  I’m unfamiliar with who owns or operates the “Free Times.”  However, if they were unwilling to publish my letter as a whole due to some things I investigated, then hold it till they investigated it themselves.  Don’t butcher it.  In most cases, I don’t speak unless spoken to and I don’t say anything I don’t KNOW to be fact.

I’ll end this with but one thing.  It’s an age old saying.  I may not get it quite correct but it applies here.  “If you can’t talk nice about others, then don’t talk at all.”  In this case if you can’t print something due to unsubstantiated facts that you haven’t investigated, then don’t print it at all.  At least send me an email and explain why you won’t publish it.

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.

Many A Homeless Veteran Faces This!

December 19, 2012

Generally I don’t open up about myself.  However, this has come to mind as I remember an old friend.  Though he wasn’t a veteran, many veterans face the issues I face.  Twenty five percent of all veterans will or have become homeless at one time or another.  Below is a short story I wrote that would have been me had I not continued on.  For many a veteran, this story is what they will go through.  So here it is:

The Homeless Vet

           He is awaken from a drunken stupor.  Not from the person he shared the bottle with the night before.  That one is sleeping quietly several feet away.

It isn’t from the hustle and bustle of the busy streets surrounding the alley he has awaken in.  They are hundreds of feet away.  Even the stray animals and occasional rat scampering about hasn’t done it.

Then he realizes what is happening.  It’s not another he sees.  But it’s his own prone body as a soft warm hand takes his own.

As his spirit lightens and rises, he continues to look down upon the body that was once his.  Slowly the scene becomes larger as he turns to see who has taken his hand.

It’s as the city lights fade to stars that he realizes just who has taken his hand.  It’s the only one who never gave up on him.  Though no one will remember his body or his name, this man remembered his soul.  The soul of a forgotten veteran.

 

I’m not a man of any set religion.  However, this can and does happen to a lot of homeless veterans.  Unfortunately, it’s not always alcohol.  Sometimes it’s drugs. Some of those drug addictions are actually started from the Veteran’s Affairs hospitals in the name of prescription drugs relieving a patients pain or other disorder.

A lot of those addictions (alcohol or drugs) are actually people who are doing what is called “self medicating.”  This is where a person who is taken off a narcotic drug, when faced with no further supply or limited supply drinks or does other illegal drugs to substitute for narcotics he/she would have otherwise be prescribed by his doctors.  Then again, there are those that were addicts before they left the military (both legal and illegal drugs).

I won’t care to wager just how many homeless veteran’s end their lives each year due to addictions.  My guess is that one in ten do though.  It may be higher than that.  At least I beat it.  However, I’m far from out of the woods yet in this aspect.  Temptation is still there, so this story may still come true for me.  I certainly hope not.

I couldn’t have said it better myself! VA disgraced!

December 6, 2012

Perspective

As a service to taxpayers, the IRS’s longtime policy is to pay tax refund claims promptly and only later to refer the refund files for possible audits and collection, in the event of over payments or fraud. This policy, though, means that ordinary taxpayers are treated better than the nation’s wounded warriors who file disability claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The V.A.’s assumption seems to be that wounded veterans are cheating — and thus most veterans receive at least five evaluations, and each one reviewed over a several-year period, before full benefits can be awarded. (Even though some temporary financial relief is available before final determination, veterans complain that the amount is almost never enough for complicated rehabilitation programs and other support.) [Washington Post, 11-11-2012]

Need I say more?

Why do they do this? Police brutality!

December 6, 2012

Not since Rodney King and the Los Angeles police department did I ever expect police officers to be as they are today.  There is just so much corruption, discrimination, and down right anger in the Fraternal Order of Police.  The problem is how they represent themselves to the public.  The other part is the quality of the officers they enlist for their employment/service.

One of the titles stated on the street for Columbia, South Carolina’s city police department is:

Uniformed Gang Members

In fact, they aren’t all that bad really.  It’s just like society.  They have their good and bad people.  It just seems they have far to many bad people of late.  With what they pay the CPD officers (Columbia Police Department), they seem to be getting the bottom of the barrel officers.  These officers come from a couple of different camps.  There are the type who are over aggressive and then there are those that are downright lazy in their enforcing the law.

Let’s first address the lazy type of officer.  These are unique in that they have been on the force for quite some time now ( I’d like to say 5 years or more experience).  I’m not going to go any deeper than that at the present time as there are some other issues with these particular officers.  Most notably, they are overweight.  Generally, these officers are much easier to deal with than the other attitude.

Most of the “lazy” officers tend to be easier going than the rookies.  They’d much rather do something else other than harass the homeless.  Here in Columbia we know that the police would much rather deal with real crime than cajole the homeless.  They give their show of force by doing what they have to in that they patrol the area they are assigned.  Some are quite nice.  They give the homeless man a warning in the first incident then after that they up the ante so to speak (harsher violations and more).

The largest issue with these officers is that they generally don’t put pressure on the real criminals.  They don’t stop crime where it starts (traffic citations).  They also have a tendency to be corrupted easily but not as easy as others.  A lot of times you’ll find these officers wasting time with others of their ilk.  In this case, they are at the local coffee and doughnut hole (Crispy Creme, Denny’s, IHOP, or even Waffle House.  Sometimes you can find them at mini conventions where you’ll see four or more patrol cars rolled up at the same location without any of them doing any law enforcement.

Now let me tell you a story of a different kind of police officer.  Generally they are rookies or ones with less than five years on the force (though it could be ones who have had this attitude since they were rookies and made rank).  Like children, they are easily swayed as well as much easier to corrupt than the later officers.  I call them “yes” men as they will broadly apply anything their supervisors or even city counsels tell them to do.

Let’s start off with my own experience in Orange Park, Florida while I was homeless down there.  With a friends help, I was able to set up a small CLEAN camp to live in.  At the time I did not know it was private property.  I later learned in a big and costly way.  Had I known now what I know today, a county police officer would have lost his job.

I’d went to work one day for Action Labor in Orange Park for several hours.  Once I returned to camp, I found what was left of my three man tent and all my belongings strewn all over the place and the tent literally cut to pieces.  The worst part of it was a note left by what was presumed to be a police officer of Duvall County Florida.  I was told in no uncertain terms to leave the property and the officer left his business card.  Now this could or could not have been the officer named on the business card.  It could have been an impersonator.  Stranger things have happened.

Needless to say, I moved in less than three days.  I chose so to avoid prosecution and also got permission to use company land of which belonged to the company I had hired on to from out of Action Labor.  It was much better than the sixteen mile one way trip by bicycle to work and then back.

I don’t believe this is the only time it’s happened.  I beat a ticket written out by an officer here in Columbia.  The following Sunday while I ate breakfast at a local church, I left my panniers on the bicycle.  They weren’t even three weeks old and I came to back to my bike (gone less than an hour) to find them knifed and stuff strewn over a twenty foot area.

I can’t prove anything as to who did the deed.  However, I have my suspicions that the officer who’s ticket I beat had something to do with it.  He’s one of those who probably has been on the police force less than five years and is doing just what city council wants just to earn his Sargent strips faster.  He’s a known harasser of homeless and has had more homeless before the local city magistrate (judge) than any other officer.

Now this brings me to yet another incident I found out about just the other day.  A homeless acquaintance of mine got the poles on his tent destroyed and it was witnessed by yet another homeless man.  The person who did the deed here was a member of you guessed it.  Columbia police department.  Now it’s likely they will not be able to do anything about this as the witness will likely not come forward because of reprisals.  Also, the acquaintance, was probably trespassing on private property for a while.  I don’t know the entire details about his camp nor did I want to know.  Safer for him and me.

These police officers are not only brutal in their willingness to make advancement but they will listen to just about anyone or do anything to get what they desire.  There are names a plenty for these types.  I’ll leave that to your discretion.  And police wonder why the homeless WON’T help them or even communicate with them.

This is not only happening here but in several cities around the United States.  There has been to my knowledge at least one death of a homeless man due to just such discrimination and hate.  It’s not about race or anything else but the fact that people are homeless.  It has to end here and now.  We as a people CAN NOT tolerate this.

Now I’d like to share with you something I read in the local Free Times newspaper which you can read at:

http://www.free-times.com

or follow them on Facebook at:

http://www.facebook.com/freetimes

This was in a column called “Rant and Rave”:

“I have two rants I need to get off my chest today.  Columbia drivers need to stop running red lights.  You are not only putting yourself in danger but you are putting the safety of pedestrians and your fellow drivers at risk.  I see this every day.  People will blatantly run red lights and turn left on red lights.  Please stop!  I really don’t understand why our police will not give these selfish and careless drivers traffic tickets.  Something should be done.  I have seen two accidents due to  running red lights.  You know how Spain has the Running of the Bulls?  well, Columbia has the Running of the Red Lights.  And finally.  Don’t stop doing your job because a co-worker (according to you) won’t do theirs; worry about yourself.  What kind of logic is that anyway.  Oh, and if Halloween is a fall festival, then Christmas is a holiday.  A pagan one to be exact.”

The previous message exemplifies Columbia police department.  Due to orders from city council, they would much rather harass a homeless man than stop the most petty of crimes.  If they were to stop these petty crimes, then most wouldn’t graduate to felonious crimes to begin with, thus dropping our prison population and putting those tax dollars to use in better places like education.

Let me add that a recent bill which got canned in the U.S. Congress was about police being able to search your email, Facebook, and other electronic data without warrant.  The federal Fraternal Order of Police is still trying to get this passed not to mention attempting to stop you from photographing/filming them while they are on duty (within reason: must be out of the way of harm/a safe distance from any activity an officer is doing in the line of duty).  Feel free to do a search via your favorite search engine with the search of “videotaping police”.  You’ll find loads of info on it and more.

Final thought for this.  ARE WE BECOMING MORE AND MORE LIKE WHAT GEORGE ORWELL SHOWED US IN HIS BOOK ENTITLED “1984.”

20 years later! Discharge anniversary. A small look back!

November 28, 2012

Come this December 14th, I’ll celebrate 20 years since my discharge from the United States Navy.  However, I have nothing really to celebrate other than more freedom (though several of those freedoms are being challenged by our current congressional leaders), more police harassment, and politicians who refuse to find jobs for and help those veterans that protect their rights.  Of course, I can believe this since there are only 103 people in the upcoming Congress who are veterans themselves.  That’s not even 25% of our congressional leaders are veterans.

Before I give you my opinion on that, let me give you a brief synopsis of my life since I left the military.  Well maybe not so brief, but it will be enlightening to say the least.  Let me add that before I entered the military, I had some if not much college education.

Ok, I was discharged in December 14, 1992 and I remained in San Diego for approximately four months living in what some would call a studio apartment.  At the time rent was $425/month in San Diego and that was behind the San Diego airport.  Living anywhere near the beach or in a decent neighborhood was cost prohibitive.  What sucked was, I was attempting to do this on a security officer’s (as most call them “rent-a-pigs”) salary.  No easy task back then.  Alas, it wasn’t to be.

In May of 1993, after already filing my Veteran’s administration claim, I had to leave California due to monetary reasons.  So off I went back to my home state of Michigan only to find no work for almost three months.  Then it was back to the recreational vehicle industry (manufacturing).  That move cost me almost everything I owned and eventually cost me the pickup truck I was driving at the time.  Then my transportation became a bicycle.  Probably a good thing too.

Between 1993 and 1998 I stayed as actively employed as I could.  Even in the rust belt it wasn’t easy at the time.  While I was in Michigan I got to visit with my uncle who is now deceased.  He was the only non-family member of Florida Technical College Dean’s.  This college was set up by Ronald Reagen’s ex-Education Secretary with multiple locations all over Florida.  He offered to help me further my education in the field of my choice.  It would be later that I’d decide to take him up on his offer.

Out a job and in financial trouble (about to be evicted from my rental mobile home and forced to call the bank and return a truck I bought just less than a year ago), I took the last $1500 I earned spending it on a reasonable bicycle and what I thought might be appropriate to travel around 2000 miles with.  I left in June of 1998 headed to Florida to see my uncle who made me the offer.  Needless to say, I had little or no knowledge then what I was letting myself in for not to mention I became homeless for the first of many times to come.

Trip to Florida

Now this was the most interesting or harrowing trip/vacation I ever made.  It was also a vast eye opener as to what was going on in the country most people don’t see and our politicians try to hide.  It took me one full month (21 actual riding days) to roll from Three Rivers, Michigan to Winter Haven, Florida.  I traversed Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida in my travels.

While many only see what they view from the interstate highways and tollways, I got to see America up close and personal as bicycles are not allowed on those roads.  Most of my travels were on two lane highways (some four lanes).  What I saw was that there were only a certain few people who used what they earned properly (i.e. good home and functional automobile).  One such case I witnessed, a man owning a mobile home with no less than five automobiles in the driveway (one of which was a BMW sport sedan).  Now all of those vehicles may or may not have been his and some or all could have been non-functional.  However, no person should put an automobile of that expense over a home.

The vast majority of what I saw on my trip was shocking.  Most people in the areas I traveled lived in modest homes and had modest cars.  Many were living paycheck to paycheck to keep what they had.  They WEREN’T competing with the Jones.  Only a small percentage of people had any true wealth (i.e. luxurious home, extravagant automobiles, mobile homes, boats, and other luxuries by my standards).  All this got me thinking of who pays the most taxes.  Come to find out it’s not those with the luxuries.  It’s the ones barely making ends meet.

Sure there may be more of us who barely make ends meet.  However, the ones that can barely make ends meet are those who are most likely to become homeless and also those most likely to be imprisoned because of trying to stay alive while those that rob other people blind (i.e. white collar criminals) generally get of with little or no punishment.
As they say “The best law money can buy.”  Basically stating, if you have money you can buy the law/lawyers.

Needless to say, this trip opened my eyes up more than my time in the military or advertisements for aid to the hungry and homeless in Africa.  I saw both homelessness and hunger right here in America and am still witnessing it growing by the day in Columbia, South Carolina.  All this because of a small percentage of greedy people whom DON’T want to pay any taxes whatsoever.  It’s this, petty jealousy, religion, and the fight over resources that cause wars both civil and otherwise.

Jacksonville, Florida

After making it to Winter Haven, Florida and getting to talk with my grandmother for a week, I was picked up and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida where my uncle was opening up another branch of Florida Technical College.  It would soon be my new school since I told my uncle of my decision on his offer of further education albeit two years later.  It’s also where I took up residence with my aunt and uncle while I attended school before they were transferred south.

Once my time at Florida Technical College ended, I moved out from my aunt and uncle’s apartment.  I held a studio in Jacksonville for just a short bit before becoming homeless yet again.  Eventually, I got back to work for a day labor place and moved from there to full time work.  It didn’t last.  I ended up back on the street in 2000 without a home, a job, or any unemployment benefits per say.  It was at that time, I decided on a location change as there was nothing in Jacksonville.

Thinking with the little head!

In 2000, I met a lady online whom I fell for rather hard.  Thinking with my little head,  I decided to move to South Carolina.  Alas, she moved to Texas and I was stuck again.  I ended up in Columbia and remain to this day.  Still homeless (I was living out of a cheap used car I was driving at the time), I started working day labor again in an attempt to get back off the street and into something a little more permanent.

In the last twelve years, I’ve been on and off the street time and time again.  Each time it gets harder to get up and off the street.  Coming up on my 53rd birthday, I wonder if I’ll make it up this time.  Will I be stuck on the street while awaiting my Veteran’s Association claim to be denied yet again?  Will I finally be driven beyond the brink and do what I thought of doing last when I was 15?  We’ll just have to wait and see.

At this point, I can no longer do the physical labor I once did and Information Technology jobs in this state are far and few in between.  All I can hope for now is the resolution of my VA claim and my disability payment goes above 50% so I can at least find myself off the street.  From there I can at least run a part time business fixing computers from my home to supplement my disability pay.  Perhaps eventually, I’ll be able to garner the other certifications that will allow me to return to the work force in a much better job.

With all this on my plate, I’ll leave you with something about my next post.  It will be entitled Why do they do this? Police brutality!

Interesting development! Healthcare, what a joke!

November 19, 2012

It appears to me that the social elite are at it again.  I just got an email from Credo about the CEO of Macy’s calling for the end to Medicaid, Medicare, and any form of welfare including Social Security.  Rather interesting since a lot of people in the social elite draw Social Security even though they DON’T contribute any money into it.  That’s correct.  The social elite (CEO’s and others making over $1 Million a year DON’T contribute anything to the Social Security system).
What this idiot doesn’t seem to take into account is without Medicaid or Medicare, over 45% of us could not afford medical costs thanks to the people like him who control the medical system (FDA and pharmaceutical companies who actually run the FDA).  Yes, you heard right.  The FDA is not controlled by the federal government.  The medical fields have very little or NO control by the federal government.  Thus we pay not once but twice for the development of new drugs.  It’s also the reason we pay more for those drugs than any other country.

Don’t get me wrong.  The original idea of the FDA was good.  Problem is we’re back to the pharmaceutical companies peddling snake oils instead of looking for cures like they once did.  For instance, there has yet to be a cured disease since Polio back in the 1930’s.  What’s with this?  Where are all the research dollars that the FDA pumps into the pharmaceutical companies going (taxpayer dollars)?  Certainly not for cures.  All the pharmaceutical companies want are treatments where they can charge over and over and over again.

Let me bring out another point as well.  With the growing number of people in the U.S. becoming homeless, the system is getting inundated because these people have no other means of getting any kind of healthcare.  Most homeless aren’t even getting first rate care.  They have to go to “FREE” clinics that are vastly understaffed and don’t have access to even rudimentary drugs to help a patient with a common cold let alone something more drastic.  The quality of healthcare for the homeless is even worse than it is for a fix income social security recipient.  Even my grandmother who died at 91 years of age (yes she lived on social security till her death) got better care than a homeless person does.

Now this is where I have it better than the average homeless person.  At least I get FREE medical care because of being a veteran.  How good is it?  Frankly it’s probably as bad if not worse in some cases than the healthcare under Medicare/Medicaid.  Often times I have to resort to the ER to get immediate care and even that takes hours.  Heaven forbid I try getting care from my primary physician which is a nurse/practitioner instead of a real doctor.  If I go the later route, I’m often waiting days, and sometimes weeks to be seen.  Pretty sad for care for those that made the sacrifice to serve their country.

Of course, it doesn’t end here.  Now the government and their corporate masters having me pay a copay for any and ALL medications I’m prescribed whether I pick up the prescription or not.  I was forced to go down to V.A. hospital to straighten these fools out for billing me for medication I never received (the prescriptions were for medication I couldn’t take due to allergies that have been noted in my medical record since 1982).  That’s right, the doctor didn’t even ask me about allergies or anything before prescribing me the pain killers.  I had to flag the pharmacy to make sure my record stated I couldn’t take those medications.  Talking about malpractice waiting to happen.

You be the judge.  Look at the current state of your medical care.  And don’t think you CAN’T be dropped for pre-existing conditions.  It’s a well known fact that the insurance industry DOESN’T like to pay out on anything.  How do you think those companies have such high profits year after year.

One other well known facts of medical issues and being homeless.  The diet they feed the homeless (me included) is worse than the diet that is fed to most school children in ANY school system.  Most of what I eat is starches,  fat, fiber, and sugars.  It’s no wonder many of the South Carolina homeless are diabetic.  Of course, many of those don’t pay attention to their health to begin with further hampering a broken system.  It’s just another vicious circle.

Accountability!

August 15, 2012

This a term you’ve heard a lot lately in the news and everywhere else.  The biggest problem I see with this term is that NO ONE seems to want to be held accountable.  They’re all trying to dodge the bullet that they know has their name on it.  Even I sometimes try to escape responsibility for my own actions.  However, I attempt to accept responsibility for all that I do or say.

By far the largest group of people who don’t want to accept responsibility for their actions are those people who are in control of our own governments and corporations.  Even though there are some who are honest enough to admit it when the problem IS their fault.  However, it doesn’t stop there.

Like a plague, the issue has spread from the government and big business to that of the individual on the street.  I’ve seen it happen amongst the homeless time and time again.  I’ll openly admit and accept responsibility and accountability to myself for my current status in life.  I have no one to blame.  It was my decisions that put me here and it will by my decisions to get me out of here.

Let’s look at welfare and accountability for a moment.  It seems the Republican party bitches about this one the most.  Funny thing is there are many who currently get welfare who DON’T need it when others that do need the assistance can’t get it.  Now I’m counting corporate welfare in on this one since corporations took a large chunk of taxpayers dollars in the last six years thanks to George W. Bush and his administration.  Some of these “bailouts” were given under the current president but were set up by Bush and his administration in advance.

What annoys me more than anything is that several of these corporations got these huge “bailouts” and then turned around and gave them out as bonuses to those that put their corporation into the situation that they supposedly needed the “bailout” money to begin with.  Even though the current Congress forced those individuals into a 90% tax on those bonuses, the American taxpayer still gave those corporate individuals a 10% bonus they didn’t deserve to begin with.  Those individuals should have been bare minimum fired by their respective corporations if not brought up on criminal charges for FRAUD!

Here’s are a couple questions that the taxpayer should ask.  How many of those “bailout” loans have been paid back?  Were these corporations who were foolish enough to get themselves into the bind that they required these loans charged interest on those loans and how much?  Frankly, I doubt very much that these “bailout” loans were anything but NO interest loans.  At least the vast majority of them were.  Sure GM was able to pay back the loans they took ($60 Billion) prior to the repayment date.  However, are they having any regulation to stop them from doing the same thing they did to warrant them the “bailout” again?

Same is true of the bank system.  Many took “bailouts.”  They would have never needed to be bailed out if the Glass-Steagall Act of 1932 had not been abolished or severely eroded.  This act made it so banks had to be either commercial or investment banks.  Alas, this is no longer so.  This act was originally instituted to keep what happened in 1929 from happening again like it did shortly after George W. Bush took office in 2000.  The provisions in it were realistic and well thought out.  Unfortunately the banking industry sought deregulation to allow it to do what it did before 1929’s stock market crash and got it.  Now we are facing pretty much the same thing again.  But yet they state, “It wasn’t our fault!  Where’s the accountability here?

I’ll be bold enough to state that it’s corporate policies that have gotten the government into poor accountability.  Take for instance weapons procurement.  Bids are accepted and the lowest bidder wins the contract.  In a lot of cases a company will purposely under bid so that they can later state that they have “cost over runs” and “delays.”  If this was going to happen why did they bid so low to begin with?  This is reprehensible in the least.  If a government contractor can’t or won’t deliver on a contract bid at the cost of the contract they should lose the bid or be fired when they get behind schedule and run into “cost over runs.”  Unfortunately it’s not happening due to many things.  Corruption being the worst.  If a company low balls a bid and can’t deliver it should go bust.  It’s obvious to me that many companies are not being held accountable for this mess.  F35 Joint Strike Fighter ring a bell here?

Simply put, ALL people should be responsible and accountable for their actions.  If it gets a company into trouble then the employee causing the trouble should be fired even if the company has to eat cost over runs to keep a contract they bid on.  In this case the bidder should be fired for his stupidity instead of the company folding and costing more jobs if the cost of the company delivering the product on time and in budget doesn’t close them down.  Until we start holding each other accountable for our actions we’ll continue to see what we are currently seeing now.  BOTH CORPORATE AND GOVERNMENTAL IRRESPONSIBILITY AND BAD ACCOUNTABILITY!

Relationships and being homeless!

August 2, 2012

Is it possible?  Can a homeless person have a relationship with friends and or the opposite sex?  Look around.  It happens just like it happens in everyday society.  The only difference is you don’t see many relationships developing between those that are working and the homeless as you do the homeless working out relationships with the homeless they are with.

As in any of society, there are relationships.  Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you don’t interact with society developing friends or even a romance.  I see the exact same thing being on the street with homeless as I do with while working and dealing with others who are employed.  It’s the same thing with some minute differences.

Developing true friends on the street is not easy.  Trust is a big issue in this.  Some can be with friends for years even out on the street.  I know, I was with one such friend for approximately three years before that relationship turned sour.  Others have shorter relationships.  Not many go as long as I did with one friend.
I do have other friends but they are more acquaintances than true friends.  I’ve found the biggest problem for those with friends on the street is that you never know when your friend will turn on you.  It could be mentally, physically, or both.  Usually it’s something simple that starts it out and is blown out of proportion.  Just like in the rest of society there is usually DRAMA behind the split between friends.  If it’s not a fight for foolish reasons it’s from theft.  Yes homeless steal from each other.  Often times more from each other than from stores.

As to relationships with the opposite sex, they do happen.  Again, like the rest of society, they can be lasting and then they can blow up.  The difference is the blowup are generally too public and again DRAMA over something he/she said or he/she did starts it all.  I have to admit though, I’ve yet to witness any physical abuse in any case.  It’s mostly shouted words instead of physical domestic violence.

Now for the most touchy of all the relationships.  The relationship between people who have and people who have not (home owners vs homeless).  In most cases you WON’T see any kind of relationships (romantic or otherwise) between them at all.  Homeowners/people who are considered wealthy no matter what they still owe out for their properties absolutely refuse to associate with the homeless in downtown Columbia.  Their personification is that ALL homeless are bad people.  We’re either thieves,  con artists,  nor even disabled according to people like those on city council or the mayor’s office.  If they had their way they’d lock all the homeless up on Bluff Road (southwestern part of Columbia city proper).

My answer for that is similar to the answer for getting rid of corrupt politicians.  In the case of homeless, there are a very few who make it bad for the rest of us homeless.  Alas, they are the ones who demand the most from society as well as government.  And yes, a great deal of those have served jail time.  Most for trespassing.  Otherwise, there is no felony conviction.  Pull those off the street who are consistently causing the issues and put them in a place more fitting.

Romantic relationships are almost non-existent between the homeless and those that have homes.  Believe me, I’ve made an attempt or two myself in getting to know ladies in town here.  I’ve used subtlety when dealing with those women who I’m attracted too.  Alas, even just trying to get to know a female who has a home is next to impossible.  Harder yet is getting one to go on  a “date” with you.   In most cases, if you haven’t got any money you need not apply.  It doesn’t stop me from trying to communicate with the ladies.   But then, I’m not in it for money nor sex.  I’m into it for companionship.  The other things will come in time if there is any chance at all between people.