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SONGS FROM THE VALLEY February 2011

Volume 4, Issue 4

HOMELESS The photos in this newsletter are by photographer Joseph Wilson, from his art exhibition at Gallery FortyTwo in Mason, Ohio. The proceeds from it will go to benefit Interfaith Housing Network, The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless (GCCH) and Bethany House. See pg 6 for web information I have been wanting to do a newsletter on homelessness for a while now and as soon as I saw this exhibit I knew it would be the perfect art for this issue. My thoughts about homelessness are difficult. I struggle to lay down my pride. I know being transparent with my own life and journey is what I have been called to do, even when it feels embarrassing. The only way I can truly help others is to share and use my own life experiences along with the value, and lessons, I have learned from them. And so, I am tackling this newsletter, and as I do it brings up feelings that I have felt almost daily over these past 13 difficult years. Feelings of fear, pain and panic as I walked through these types of issues. Feelings of fear, frenzied desperation, complete helplessness and the bleakness of reality. My struggle to keep my dignity and my sense of self, value, and respect, the fading of my human spirit, my weakness, and my fight to keep my faith, hope and the belief that God’s promises were true and that love truly does conquer all, and the sheer strength and determination that kept me going!

Morning Service Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

I have come to believe that each of us just want to be valued, seen and heard. No matter what our choices. No matter what else has happened to us. We need to feel like we are valuable. I take as much time as I can to connect with everyone I can. I have had many conversations with people. Some of those people have had lots of money and some of them have been homeless and many of those caught in the grip of addictions. I have come to the conclusion. All people have the same needs. In this newsletter I seek to understand more about this issue - to help my own healing and thus the healing of each human being I make eye contact with as many people as possible as I walk smiling through the streets of the city of life! AL


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Home is not where you live, but where they understand you. - Christian Morganstern

LOST SOULS

Tattered man, as tattered as his clothes, and as many layers of him. Probably not as old as he looks. A little dazed, maybe from booze, maybe meds, maybe lack of meds. His speech is hard to track. He might be making sense, or maybe reciting poetry, or maybe just nuts. He could be a noble fellow fallen on hard times, or maybe a lazy, bitter drunk. It would certainly take a long time to get his whole story, but you're not likely to get that close and listen that long. Nobody ever will. He smells too bad. Noxious kid. Tattoos, cartoon hair, offensive clothes. Some kind of knife. Smokes like a 50's movie. Dull eyes. Not going to make much of an effort, but ready with a deep, rumpled anger like a bad cough if you're ever interested. Which you're not likely to be. He's too scary. What are you miss-

Am I Dreaming Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

I'm still working, I've got two arms, two legs, two gorgeous kids, a lovely wife. Fifteen years ago, I was homeless. So when you think about it, I'm lucky. - Ian Hart

ing? Invisible woman. Cleans the outhouses at the campground. Probably doesn't speak English. Probably is an illegal alien. Probably doesn't have any kids, or hopes, or feelings. But you'll never know. You never saw her. Ever wonder what her prayer life is like? It's easy to see them as roles, as traits and behaviors, as occasions, symbols, ciphers. A collection of adjectives. But not as full human beings, as divine creations living in minds and bodies that sometimes fail them. Not as souls, as God's Beloved. No, their souls are lost to us amidst our own judgments and reactions. How might Christ rejoice if we whose souls are so lost were to repent of our fear and seek those who have been dropped into society's dusty corners and treat them so that they might believe that they are worth seeking, that Someone values them and rejoices over them, that even in their loneliest muck they are beautiful and Beloved, that they are God's precious silver coin? How might we ourselves rejoice in the presence of the angels of God if we were to go among the last and the lost and the least and discover there the only Gospel there is?

_______________________________ Steve Garnaas-Holmes Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net


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PLEASE DON’T SEE BY

MICHAEL

TOWERS

The headlights blinding, the noise so clear, Clinging to the blades, grass scratches my face, Hiding from the shame, of being myself, Sink into the ground, please don’t see. The lights now blind, sounds move past, A heartbeat races, danger so immediate, Another car comes, Illuminating failure, Sink into the ground, please don’t see. Sleep not an option, fear too close, Beneath the branches, harbouring a child, People scream, they walk the street, Sink into the ground, please don’t see. Heart skips beats, tears abandon ducts, Trickling down, clinging to the blades, Laughter is sounded, masses rush by, Sink into the ground, please don’t see. Morning coming through, safety so near, Never believing, the other side of night, They will come, and surely judge, Sink into the ground, please don’t see. Walking on, as if I’m non-existent, Never acknowledged, truly abandoned, Trapped in my shell, to be ignored, Sink into the ground, please don’t see. I cry today, for a different moment, Praying for a life, more than this, Knowing there’s something, elsewhere to be, Reasons I’m here, questions not asked. This feels like forever, an endless dream, But all dreams end, a chance again, One day I promise, there’ll be a way, I’ll rise off the ground, for people to see.

Living Room Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

I mean, I don't think I'm alone when I look at the homeless person or the bum or the psychotic or the drunk or the drug addict or the criminal and see their baby pictures in my mind's eye. You don't think they were cute like every other baby? - Dustin Hoffman


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THE HOMELESS ARE A REAL PROBLEM SOLUTIONS BY STEVE FACKERELL HTTP://WWW.HEARMYSTORY.ORG

WITH

FEW

As bad as life is, it could be worse. I sit here in my rotating office chair and look out the window into a strange, compelling world. I am the assistant manager of a low income hotel. I live on-site, so I have gained a unique perspective on the poor population of this area.

Persons who have been homeless carry within them a certain philosophy of life which makes them apprehensive about ownership. - Jerzy Kosinski

Jimmie The Vet Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

Out this window I see the same people day in and day out walking around like zombies. The same blank stare, the same ‘I don’t care’ attitudes. And it is easy to classify all of them the same way, but in reality that is not the way it is. Seven years I have been down here, me just as down and out as most of them. The biggest difference is that I have a job, and I refuse to live off of society and not even try to better my life. But I have seen some wonderful people come and go through our doors. People who had it all and lost it through no fault of their own. Some of them never recover, some move on and rebuild. And yes, we also have the stereotypical lifelong lazy people. The zero renters who want everything handed to them, who trash the units, can magically come up with beer money, but come ask me for a light bulb. But believe it or not, they do not last long here. We do have some very strict and well enforced rules. There are those that act tough, but get them talking and you see a whole other side. And I have to admit that I am getting burned out. Especially when I see a guy holding a sign on the freeway making double what I am doing legitimate work. It is getting harder and harder to have compassion for some people. The ‘what have you done for me lately’ tenants. So I sit here day after day and contemplate the reality that some people are just not meant to be indoors. Some will get approved to rent here and stay through the winter and move on. Some will come in from the local shelter and make our lives miserable, while they create disgusting messes and do thousands of dollars in damage. Then they are kicked out on the street again and are happy with that. So many different kinds of people, and not one of them will tell you they wanted to be homeless when they grew up. Sometimes I think that all the stupid crap I did when I was young put me down here, and other times I wonder if I wound up here to teach me that everyone is someone, and not to judge too quickly. I myself am living paycheck to paycheck, barely making ends meet at $7.35 an hour. And you know, I never really thought about this until the recession hit. Wonderful, hard working Americans are losing so much. Families forced to live in motel rooms after their homes were foreclosed on. Losing their health insurance, stressed out to the point of insanity. What if their children get sick? What if the car breaks down? What if...what if...

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We watch as bank executives get huge bonuses while we bypass the name brands and try to save on generics. Being threatened by credit card companies and collection agencies, not to mention the hundreds of scam artists that pop up with every new disaster. It all scares me, and I have never really had all that much to lose. Now that I am thinking about things like this, I realize that I have a perspective that a lot of other people don’t. I live in-between two worlds. By that, I mean I have friends who own their own houses, drive nice cars, people who help me out because I help myself. So I have seen that side of life, but on the other hand, I live right in the thick of a world that Joe Walsh wrote a song about.

At any given time today in America, there are about half a million people who are "homeless" they don't have a “permanent, safe, decent, affordable place to live.” Around the world there are about 100 million homeless people, and many of them are women and children. - Robert Alan

When he said that city streets don’t have much pity, when your down that’s where you’ll stay, he was not exaggerating. Even the hard working folks down here will stay down here without some miracle. It sometimes is hard to distinguish between a lazy bum and a person trying hard to recover. I have been here a long time and I can’t tell at first glance, unless someone is drunk on the street and falling all over the place. You won’t hardly ever see a Anything Helps hard working homeless person wearing the suit and tie Joseph Wilson - JWP he used to wear in another life, but it is all about mind- http://josephwilsonphotography.com set. I am definitely no better than anyone else, but seeing what I see every day just motivates me to try to set myself apart from some people. I have recently had a poetry book published. I am trying very hard to start my own business. Small dreams, small accomplishments, but focusing your attention inward and forcing yourself to take a look at who you are will make you realize who you want to be, and you will find yourself making small strides toward that goal. We should all remember that no matter how much money we have, or how untouchable we think we are, life can change in an instant. There are so many like me that have rotten, low paying jobs. But think about those people who don’t have a job. A crappy paycheck is still a paycheck. I would love to do more than go to a movie once a month or be able to fill my tank up more than once a pay period, but the reality is that I do have a few bucks to see a movie, and a half tank is better than an empty one. One of the reasons I wrote this article is because every day I see well-to-do people looking down their noses at me and my 1995 Pontiac Transport, as if to say, ‘how dare you not let me and my Mercedes go first.’ Or the person who snickered at me the other day when I grabbed for the value fish sticks and she got crab legs. Just try to remember that tomorrow she could be applying for food stamps, wondering what the hell happened. If I can keep perspective on the life I have, then I see no reason why other people can’t as well. The homeless/low income world is a mixture of the lazy, the hard working, former high society and the very talented. Recession, hunger and loss affect everyone. Do what you have to do to survive, but keep in mind that it’s the way in which you choose to survive that will determine whether or not you can live again. Grab your family and hold them tight. They are your greatest resource. And if you’re in such a neighborhood, look closely at the homeless; at one time, they may have been you. So as bad as things are, they could be worse. God bless.


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MEETING JOSEPH WILSON This month’s artist is Joe Wilson. I am doing two issues on Joe Wilson’s amazing photography this month. The beauty of Joe’s exhibit, and the emotion behind his art, is evident. I asked Joe about the circumstances that led him to create this exhibit. He explained to me that in the early 1990’s, Joe was away in college and his mother and sister were homeless for sometime. They lived at Bethany House in Cincinnati, and he has never forgotten that time. He knows and feels the complication of the homeless. All the proceeds from this exhibit will go to the Homeless Charities I mentioned on pg 1. If you would like to find out more about them, you can check them out at: Bethany House http://www.bethanyhouseservices.org/ Saigon Sam Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

Interfaith Housing Network http://www.ihncincinnati.org/ The Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless (GCCH) http://www.cincihomeless.org ________________________________

Seven out of 10 Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless. - Pras Michel

Sunrises Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

In the other issue featuring Joe, you will see his breathtaking photos of nature, and read words about nature and read his bio. His spiritual awaking came through an encounter with nature and his camera. I understand the feelings. I truly believe , without nature I would not be here. My healing started as I began to connect to the beauty of God’s creation. I am not sure if I want you to enjoy this issue, but I certainly hope you appreciate it and that it makes you think about this issue that is touching more and more people as this recession here in America continues to grow, AL


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If you have

Food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep YOU ARE Money in a bank, your wallet, RICHER and some spare change THAN YOU ARE AMONG THE TOP

If you have

75%

OF THE WORLD

8%

OF THE WORLD’s WEALTHY

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness YOU ARE MORE BLESSED THAN THE MILLION PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT SURVIVE THIS WEEK

If you can read this message

YOU ARE MORE FORTUNATE

Than 3 BILLION people in the world who cannot read at all

- Unknown

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the agony of imprisonment or torture, or the horrible pangs of starvation

You are luckier than 500 MILLION people alive and suffering

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty. - Mother Teresa


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Volume 4 Issue 4 2011 January

Grocery Shopping Joseph Wilson - JWP http://josephwilsonphotography.com

There are congressmen in our congregation, judges, federal reserve governors. And there are also people who are homeless and some who are mentally ill. To be able to talk to each of those people is something that I've had to learn how to do over the years. - James Green Somerville

ABOUT ME... My name is Amy Lloyd (AL) and over a period of thirteen and a half years I moved forty times and was homeless eight times. My criteria for naming myself homeless was when I had no actual house to sleep in. If I was sleeping at a friends house I did not consider myself homeless - even if it was an extremely temporary situation. I started the template for this newsletter in 2008, I knew I wanted to talk about it, but I was not ready to tackle the issue. Between March 2008 to August 2010 I was in the most transient stage of my journey, I had no permanent home, I lived with several friends and family for these two years. So when I knew it was time to take it on, it was a very big deal to me. Yes, I have finally reached home! But I must tell you, when I began to write and address this subject it brought me face to face with all of those moves, all of those moments, and I went down! I cried...and cried...and cried some more. It took me days to process it, feel it and write about it. I did it because I knew it was time and I needed to share my feelings on this subject in order to truly heal and to try to help others think. Through the difficulties I have endured, I have learned the value of my soul which is the same as every other soul on this earth. The true value of life and this great gift of choice we have! God loves each of his creations and wants us to feel the same way about each other. How has all this changed me? In every way!

http://www.hearmystory.org/

Homeless  

Putting a face on the homeless in Cincinnati.