Posts Tagged ‘street newspaper’

Over the past weeks I’ve been writing about my frustrations with programs that were intended to help the homeless communities but seemed to fall short of their goals.
I think we can all agree that there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to improve assistance to the homeless community but at the same time there are many who are doing some great work to help the homeless in the community.
In the weeks to come I will be posting profiles of organizations who have devoted their time and talents to help the homeless in our community.

The Stephen Center

The Emergency Shelter at the Stephen Center works with homeless men, women and children. The program has operated over capacity for the past several years.

As the area’s only dry shelter, sobriety and a drug-free environment are the hallmarks of this program. The shelter is open on an emergency basis from a few nights to two weeks or longer depending upon the situation. The Emergency Shelter provides a gateway to a variety of supportive services including the opportunity to enroll in the Stephen Center HERO Substance Abuse Treatment Program or Transitional Living opportunities.

The Stephen Center’s Emergency Shelter houses as many as 20-25 children and their mothers at any one time as well as up to 40 single men and 20 single women. Each person is treated with dignity and respect as Stephen Center staff and volunteers work with each person individually to develop and implement a plan for success in emerging from homelessness and regaining a healthy and happy life. Meals are served seven days a week to those staying at the Stephen Center. The Stephen Center is staffed 24 hours a day including the overnight hours when volunteers are typically in charge.

Below is one of the many success stories from someone with firsthand experience of being helped by The Stephen Center:

The Stephen Center Helped Me

Often times a person faces a situation he/she never fathomed they would have to face. About a month ago, I was put into one of those situations.

I had been living in a house in West Omaha and paying dearly for it, month after month for five years. One year into the lease, I was diagnosed with a fatal disease. I continued to work while being treated with chemo and radiation.

One and one half years later, I chose to leave the company where I was working. I then applied for unemployment for the first time in my life. I received unemployment for 13 weeks while I was searching for a new job, all to no avail. The treatments and medicine that I was taking was altering my ability to perform as well as I had in the past.

The failing economy also negatively affected what I had been able to save. I had to withdraw funds from my insurance savings to make the rent payments. I kept thinking that things would get better, but they didn’t. I found myself in a motel with two days and nights to find a new place to live. I made as many calls as possible to the Veteran’s Administration.

I was fortunate to receive a call back from Mike Johnson, a counselor for the homeless with the VA. He suggested that I call the Stephen Center and ask for Maggie. He told me that he would also call her to let her know my situation. What a blessing. Maggie had me come to the Stephen Center for an intake session. I did this and became a resident of the Center.

I quickly discovered that the Stephen Center was a “special place” with rules that positively framed me and many others. Most of the residents pitch in to keep their personal and common areas clean. The residents also gain so much by sharing valuable information with one another. Friendships are born here.

After receiving support and help from the staff, I have now moved into an apartment of my own. Thank you to the staff and friends that I’ve made at Stephen Center. I appreciate the network that Stephen Center has made with the VA, city agencies and state agencies to create health, hope and promise for those of us that are unhealthy, despairing and doubting.

Thanks to the many generous donors who provide food and clothing to us.

God Bless!

To read more of The Stephen Center’s success stories click here.

To view other videos click here.

The Talmud teaches that “to save one life is to save the whole world” I pray that more and more people will step up and help those in the homeless community. The ones who struggle on the streets of our cities are someone’s mother, father, sister, or brother. And yes, we are our brother’s keeper.

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Below is a poem that was contributed by a good friend of mine.

Where Will They Sleep Tonight? by Tom White

She keeps to herself during the day
As each day seems to be the same.
A forgotten person in a crowded place
without a bed without a name

She gives what it takes to get by,
And takes what is given by strangers.
She lives without the comforts we take for granted
And survives each days dangers

But where will she sleep tonight?
While you’re at home behind locked doors.
Hidden away from the wet and the cold
She is under a bridge or on a bench
Growing only lonely and old

He spends his days at the crossroad.
Trying to get people to just be good
A vet down on his luck in life
Holding a sign: “will work for food.”
He doesn’t want to be here
His hunger forced him to the street
He tries and cries at his place in life
And wonders and ponders the day at his feet
And where will he sleep tonight?
In the heat with the threats that come
In the darkness where no one cares what happens to him when the day is done.

So what will be your excuse, your well intentioned reason why
That you will give when called to task
As to why you just passed on by.
And forgot the anthem that rings thru the years
And still carries on a holy breeze
The Son of Man with His eyes aflame
Saying as you’ve done to the least of these….
And tell me where will they sleep tonight?
If you turn your back on the homeless crew
Where will they live tomorrow?
If you don’t show a love that’s true.
You can turn a deaf ear to the call they give
But except for the grace of God
There goes you.
You can give up on a holy charge
And surrender in this Godly fight
But tell me if the chosen won’t help the homeless
Where will they sleep tonight?

We are now in the infant stages of starting a street newspaper called The Word From The Street. Not yet able to afford to put it in print we must be content to build it online here.

Word From The Street was birthed from the idea that homeless people above all else, need to be treated with respect and dignity. Homelessness is not a crime, (although in some cities it is treated as such) and the majority of the homeless population are not drug addicts and alcoholics. Nor are they lazy or have mental problems.

The majority of the homeless community are, in fact, families with children. They are people just like you and me. And in this economy any one of us could be facing homelessness ourselves.  ( But for the grace of God go I )

The Word From The Street will be a collection of articles, poems, and drawings depicting life on the street. Most of these writings will be contributed by the homeless and formally homeless in our community. Once we’re able to get Word From The Street into print we will contract with those in the homeless community to act as vendors to distribute the paper around the city.

In this way, the vendors will be able to supplement their income while helping to bring more public awareness about the homelessness problem in our city. Most importantly, our vendors will be able to regain some of their dignity and self worth as they work on the streets.

Some have asked why we would take on such a task; To put so much effort into a project that is sure to be  mentally and physically challenging, with no prospect of return on our investment. The answer is simple. Living in this world one can easily get caught up in its philosophy of  “me, mine, and I” and “looking out for number one.” But when when circumstances that are beyond your control force you to become one of the victims of homelessness yourself,  it forces you to re-evaluate what is really important. And when you realize that it was only by God’s grace that you were pulled from a life of despair you want to give something back in return.

It is our hope and prayer that by publishing Word From The Street we will be able to help someone else who struggles to find peace in this life. Someone who only wants what we all want; a place they can call  home; to have enough to care for their families; and to walk the streets with dignity.

I know that a simple street newspaper will not change the world or solve the homeless problem. But if we can help one blind person in this world find their way to a better place, then our job is done.

So for now… I will stand by the door.

I Stand By the Door Written by Sam Shoemaker

I stand by the door.

I neither go to far in, nor stay to far out.

The door is the most important door in the world

It is the door through which men walk when they find God.

There is no use my going way inside and staying there,

When so many are still outside and they, as much as I,

Crave to know where the door is.

And all that so many ever find

Is only the wall where the door ought to be.

They creep along the wall like blind men,

With outstretched, groping hands,

Feeling for a door, knowing there must be a door,

Yet they never find it.

So I stand by the door.

The most tremendous thing in the world

Is for men to find that door – the door to God.

The most important thing that any man can do

Is to take hold of one of those blind, groping hands

And put it on the latch – the latch that only clicks

And opens to the man’s own touch.

Men die outside the door, as starving beggars die

On cold nights in cruel cities in the dead of winter.

Die for want of what is within their grasp.

They live on the other side of it – live because they have not found it.

Nothing else matters compared to helping them find it,

And open it, and walk in, and find Him.

So I stand by the door.

Go in great saints; go all the way in –

Go way down into the cavernous cellars,

And way up into the spacious attics.

It is a vast, roomy house, this house where God is.

Go into the deepest of hidden casements,

Of withdrawal, of silence, of sainthood.

Some must inhabit those inner rooms

And know the depths and heights of God,

And call outside to the rest of us how wonderful it is.

Sometimes I take a deeper look in.

Sometimes venture in a little farther,

But my place seems closer to the opening.

So I stand by the door.

There is another reason why I stand there.

Some people get part way in and become afraid

Lest God and the zeal of His house devour them;

For God is so very great and asks all of us.

And these people feel a cosmic claustrophobia

And want to get out. ‘Let me out!’ they cry.

And the people way inside only terrify them more.

Somebody must be by the door to tell them that they are spoiled.

For the old life, they have seen too much:

One taste of God and nothing but God will do any more.

Somebody must be watching for the frightened

Who seek to sneak out just where they came in,

To tell them how much better it is inside.

The people too far in do not see how near these are

To leaving – preoccupied with the wonder of it all.

Somebody must watch for those who have entered the door

But would like to run away. So for them too,

I stand by the door.

I admire the people who go way in.

But I wish they would not forget how it was

Before they got in. Then they would be able to help

The people who have not yet even found the door.

Or the people who want to run away again from God.

You can go in too deeply and stay in too long

And forget the people outside the door.

As for me, I shall take my old accustomed place,

Near enough to God to hear Him and know He is there,

But not so far from men as not to hear them,

And remember they are there too.

Where? Outside the door –

Thousands of them. Millions of them.

But – more important for me –

One of them, two of them, ten of them.

Whose hands I am intended to put on the latch.

So I shall stand by the door and wait

For those who seek it.

‘I had rather be a door-keeper…

So I stand by the door.