Sunday, September 30, 2018

Learning About the Gift of Time and Respect

Many homeless find themselves begging for any spare change you can spare. While you may not realize it, they're aware of how they look (and smell). They peer out into the crowd wondering who'd be a "kind soul." It isn't your rejection that hurts them most... It's how you shake your head without even speaking a word or acknowledging their existence. When you speed up to walk away after shaking your head no or choose to look away or pay attention to something else, like your phone, it's like you're dismissing the fact that they're human too. Of course, the opposite is also true in that when you say "Yes," you're acknowledging this humanity. What it all boils down to is the fact that the homeless yearn to be respected and treated as you'd treat any other human.

One way you can show them respect in this regard is by giving them time... Share a meal, sit down and talk to them like you'd talk to anyone else, or if you're in a hurry, look at them when you say "No." Time and respect are ways of showing them they're still human, even though they're down on their luck right now. This is something you'd do with the elderly, your family, and other people around you so why can't you do it for them? Why can't you let the light of Jesus shine through you? It doesn't take long to bless someone in this way today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Stop Stereotyping

God has created each and every one of us in His image. What gives us the right to look at someone else and cast judgment - whether consciously or subconsciously? Nevertheless, most people stereotype the homeless as being drunks, drug addicts, mentally ill, or just plain lazy. The truth though is that none of this is the reality of many people who are homeless today. Instead, you'll find many people who are fleeing domestic violence, caught up in messy divorces, growing up in foster homes, and other unfortunate circumstances.

Everyone has a unique story - whether they're on the street or not. Everyone is dealing with their own issues. We need to stop letting our pre-conceived ideas about a segment of society prevent us from seeing them as God sees them - as people created in His image and loved by Him. Once we start seeing everyone in the same light, we'll be better prepared to serve and love our fellow humans the way Jesus wants us to.

Friday, September 21, 2018

A Look in the Mirror

I'm working on my masters and one of this week's assignments was to write about what makes us angry. I think this is worth sharing here, you'll see why in a moment...

There are many things that used to make me angry but aren't making me so angry anymore. I think that the changing point here came from the fact that I work with the homeless part time. This has really changed my attitude on life. Now the things I once thought were important really aren't. For instance, I wake up feeling blessed to have a bed and a roof, what more do I need? Clothes and food... Got them too. These people have changed my life and made me care deeply about them, which is now where my anger lies: People don't see the homeless as people. They don't get to know them or treat them as humans. The systems that most people feel are there to help the homeless don't work the way they're supposed to... This is now where my anger lies.

I don't think this is something most people realize. We tend to take it for granted that "If these people wanted to get clean and find a home, they would." Sorry, it's really not that simple. There's a whole host of issues at work here. Under the surface, those systems that are meant to help these folks are riddled with red tape (I's that you must dot properly and T's whose lines must be perfectly straight). Sometimes no matter how hard we work to do this, the system still fails these people. Some radical changes must be made - soon!

Do I have the answers for how these changes should come about? No, but I do think that if we as humans were a bit more compassionate, it'd be a great place to start.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Forming a Community

I've been away for a while but I'm back and more committed than ever! I want to create an online community here in which we get to know the homeless so we can truly advocate for them - especially when they feel like they have no voice of their own...

With such a shortage of affordable housing, homelessness is now touching people from every walk of life - addicts, single adults, families with children - nobody is "invincible." In fact, on any given night in America there are a half million people who are homeless. Fortunately, in Philadelphia we have organizations like The Sunday Love Project and Brotherly Love Homeless Ministry; in New Jersey we have Fairview Gives Back and One Love South Jersey; and here in Pittsburgh we have Light of Life Rescue Mission. Cherished Angels serves as a support agent for all these organizations while also actively volunteering time at Light of Life.

OK, so here's a crazy question...

If there's one thing you'd want to know about the homeless, what would it be? Leave your questions in the comments and I'll start answering them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Governor Wolf Tries to Help

It seems like Governor Wolf is starting to see the real depth of the homeless problem in PA. While our state typically charges $20 to obtain a copy of your birth certificate, he's currently waiving the fees. Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure how long this will last but it's definitely something that will help the homeless. Of course, it still costs $30.50 to get a PA ID. This means that essentially the process of getting ID is currently half off, which isn't much help for the homeless. It'd be nice to see that fee waived in certain situations (e.g. for the homeless) too. For this we will need to continue to lobby, you can start getting busy here.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

After some much needed rest...

I'm happy to say that Cherished Angels is finally back. Now that I'm living in Pittsburgh I'll be working with East End Cooperative Ministry. While there's no official start date it will be within the next couple of weeks. We're just tying up the loose ends.

Over this past summer I've been supporting my friends who run ministries in Camden and Philly and this will continue as well.

I look forward to seeing what takes place in the near future and sharing this adventure with you.

Friday, June 23, 2017

I left part of my heart in Philly...

It's a tale where I'm torn by 2 cities but know for sure where I'm to be (Pittsburgh).

It's a tale of transformation for this ministry (from Aramingo Ave. to greater Philly).

It's a tale that I've been watching unfold for a while now and I think I'm finally ready to share it with you.

Previously I'd posted about how Pittsburgh "hides" their homeless and yet this is where I call home, but my heart is still with the homeless in Philly where the need is so evident they'll never be able to hide it. Over the past couple of weeks, I've been taking note of this, thinking, praying, and deciding that my efforts (even from afar) need to remain focused there. Fortunately, I have some great friends in ministry there who have hearts of gold and who I know want to make a difference in a city they can call home. (Let's leave my personal biases and why I can't live there out of this ;) So, Cherished Angels is NOT dead, it's finally being resurrected and here's how...

Organizations that I know, trust, and love... and you can too, include:

The Sunday LOVE Project
Angels in Motion (serving Aramingo Ave. ;)
One Love South Jersey
Salvation of Sorrows
Friends of Fairview Give Back

Of course, I can't be there to help them, but what I can and will be doing...
1. Margaux has a lot on her hands, feeding the homeless daily. I know she enjoys including a little note in the lunch bags she hands out in Kensington so I'll be sending notes to LOVE to give out to remind the homeless to keep their chins up, someone cares about them.
2. Angels in Motion make these awesome sleeping mats out of plarn for the homeless to sleep on. I'll be lending them a hand in the plarn making process (LOL) 
3. Sending old clothes and blankets to Friends of Fairview Give Back. Instead of giving these things to local thrift stores I'll just box them up and send them there :)

I still need to talk to Salvation of Sorrows but Abbie is working on getting a shower bus up and running. She's already got a mobile haircutting bus. Hopefully, when she gets the shower going I'll be making and supplying her with homemade soap.

I also need to talk to Mike at One Love South Jersey to find a way of helping him. I know he does a lot of different things. I'm wondering about whether the Ronald McDonald house there could use some encouraging pictures that could be used for placemats, hanging on the walls, etc. I know this isn't "homeless ministry" but knowing Mike does so much to help the homeless and this is a cause near and dear to his heart makes this one worthwhile.

So, as you can see, Cherished Angels is transforming, but hopefully in and by doing so it will be an organization that can help more people. I hope you'll hang on tight and enjoy the ride with me. Next stop... Pittsburgh. I'm sure there's something I can do here, I just haven't figured out what yet since ministering in the shelters themselves isn't where my heart or this ministry are meant to be.