Posts Tagged ‘Family’

You Never Know…..

// June 23rd, 2010 // 4 Comments » // HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time, Uncategorized, video

….how things will turn out, who your friends will be or how your life will end up. Yeah, you can do all the planning you want and do all it takes it be in full control of things, but the bottom line is that you never know. Even the best laid out plans don’t turn out the way we want.

I never thought in a million years that I would ever be homeless, but I was homeless for 29 months. I never once thought that I would be HIV positive, but I am sitting here typing out this blog almost three years into my HIV diagnoses. All I am really saying is that we never really know where our lives will carry us and we can’t change where we’ve been, but if we keep walking on our own paths living our truth, then the universe will always yield and unfold for us, just as if continues to for me.

When I started my Unpluggin’ HIV outreach the ultimate goal was to raise awareness for people living with HIV or AIDS as well as try my best to provide support for low income or homeless people battling these diseases. It was only 4 months after my diagnoses that I was able to do my first outreach to a group of 15 men living in HIV or AIDS in Long Beach thanks to the support from my friends Ryan and Moina. The outreached touched the lives of these 15 men by providing hygiene items, laundry soup, cleaning supplies, gently used clothes and even food.

The outreach would later grow to offer a full scale outreach to the HIV clinic at USC which would later move to Skid Row where today it offers support to 40 residents (men and women) living with HIV or AIDS. In addition the outreach still provides support to people with HIV and AIDS who are homeless on the streets.

Today I took the first step in creating two projects which will help to raise awareness and foster unity compassion and respect  for people living with HIV and AIDS. I met with my friend Brian to discuss  and lay the ground work for a project that will include stories from people living with HIV and AIDS as well as some artwork. In addition I have already started working on a film project that will feature people living with HIV and AIDS.

June 29th will mark on full year of being in my apartment and it will also mark the end of the goals I set for myself and my outreaches. The cool thing is that I reached these goals nearly two weeks ago.

Sunday I had the chance to meet someone who reads my blog and watches my YOUTUBE channel. He explained to me how much both the blog and videos have helped him to deal with his HIV status and how he gets encouragement and strength from them. I was both honored and humbled by him sharing the things he’s been through and how my blog and videos have helped him.

Right before I left for my final job interview today I got an email from a mother who just finished speaking with her daughter about being a lesbian. She said told me she would have reacted in a much different and less supportive way had she not found my channel on YOUTUBE. She told me how through watching my videos she has learned to simply love her daughter for who she is and not to “judge” or “condemn” her. She left her number for me to call her and I did. She shared a little more about her talk with her daughter and how things went. I couldn’t help but be happy for the outcome and to hear how much this mother truly saw how to LOVE her daughter without conditions.

I never know who is reading my blog or watching my videos, but every now and then I am able to hear from and meet people who do and each time I walk pleased in knowing that what I do with this blog and my videos has helped to make things a bit better for people.

My final job interview went well, I will know the result next week. Right now I am spending the night with my niece and the kid while her husband is out of town. I am enjoying my time with them and so loving where my life is right now. I could moan, groan and find many reason why I am not happy with things in my life and even find things to be unhappy about with regards to HIV, but what good would that do? What point would that serve? Who would that help?

It has been said that the purpose of a life is to live a life of purpose, well through the adversity t in my own life I have found my purpose and I am living it each and every day.

Technology Off

// June 20th, 2010 // 6 Comments » // Me Time, Social Networking

It’s Sunday, a little after 7:00PM and this weekend has been about being disconnected from being so connected. It seems that I spend a great deal of time online doing things for other people and keeping up with online friends which in turn leaves almost no time for me.

It’s almost been a month since I placed a video on my YOUTUBE channel and at first I was logging on every other day to approve channel comments and what not, but that stopped the very first week. I figured if people really wanted to keep up with me, see how I am doing or just shoot the shit, they would do a few things, call, read my blog or message me on FACEBOOK. The first week there were about 10 people who checked in to say hello and as of last week there were only 7 and this past days it has gone down to 4. I guess you can call this out of sight out of mind friendships, but it is what it is and life will go on.

Friday I took a break from FACEBOOK and closed my TWITTER account, I am not even sure why I had a TWITTER account and to be honest I am starting to question why I have a FACEBOOK account as well. It seems society has become people who only exist online. Social networking has made it easy for us to create friends that only exist online. God forbid there is some strange sort of events and no one is able to get online, text or any of this for months. What would people do?

The other day I sat down and I wrote a hand written letter to a friend who lives in Chicago. He received it and was blown away that I had taken the time to write him and then put in in an envelope and mailed it to him. He joked saying he couldn’t recall the last time a friend wrote him instead of emailing. There was once a time when you got a letter from a friend or family member and this meant so much, but now we just email each other or meet up online. There are people we even have dated online, family reunions online……everything online.

So my weekend was about being old fashioned, actually calling my friends to talk, making time to hang out and see each other face to face. Other then the news, the TV was off and more the 90% of my weekend was spent away from home, away from the computer and my cell phone was off. The world didn’t end and I had a great time just being in the real world with real people doing real life things TOGETHER!!!.

Now I am not saying that social networking is bad and should be done away with. Nope not at all. I have made some really cool friends using social networks, friends that I know are solid and in my life for the right reasons. My time away from YOUTUBE and even this weekend away from FACEBOOK has shown me this. Social networking is great and you can meet some really cool people, but ask yourself this. When was the last time you had dinner with friends from where you live? When was the last time you went on a date with someone from where you live? When is the last time you went to the beach, went bike riding and besides sleeping and the time you’re at work, when is the last time you were not online? Some people can even be online at work, so they are never offline.

I spent my weekend hanging out with Dodger, being outside, walking, making ceramics, making plans for my “living quilt” as well as a few other projects I want to work on. I was able to make some solid contacts with people right here where I live to help me reach my goal of making 600 hygiene kits for people who are homeless and people with HIV or AIDS.

I had a great weekend and social networks were not at all a part of it. Real life people in my real life were and it was awesome. So I am making some changes to my “online” presence to one that requires me to be present in the real world more then 95% of the time. Again, if people are truly my friends they know how to reach me, but if they are only “online” friends then I will see them when I am online.

You can’t see a laugh, feel an embrace from a friend or loved one, you can’t watch an awesome sunset, walk on the beach, or really enjoy the awesomeness that all this world has to offer by always being online. You have to get out and live life to the fullest and make being online something that you do when you want to, not something you do when you want to see your friends, family or loved ones.

“Technology Off” is something I am going to be doing a lot more of.

Helping Others Through Food

// June 5th, 2010 // No Comments » // Cooking, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach, Me Time

Chillin and Doing Something 008It’s been a great relaxing, but very busy past two days for me, I know I haven’t blogged about it, but there was a death in our family and I have been busy babysitting my great nieces and nephew for the past two days so my niece and her husband were able to attend the funeral and the kids could keep their schedules with school.

Thursday was pretty busy with outreaches down to Skid Row for Unpluggin’ HIV and picking up and dropping off the kids, going to the park, beach and cooking for them as well. Our day finally can to an end at 8:40PM. The kids took their baths and then played for a while before heading to bed, while I chatted with my friends on FACEBOOK as well as laughing my ass off with my friend Leah.

I must say I have really missed sleeping in my own bed. I am laughing while IChillin and Doing Something 006am saying this cause it just feels so funny to say. For the past two nights I have slept on the futon in my great nephews room and man has that been very uncomfortable. I even think it was bad for Dodger too because at one point her really started to throw a fit. I think I was able to get better sleep last night because I was so tired from all the running around we did, but it was still not a good nights sleep.

As I said in my blog earlier this week, my friend Jacque from Texas sent some amazing clothes that were her sons to help support my efforts to provide clothes for people in need. I used the clothes to support my Unpluggin HIV outreach down on Skid Row for people battling HIV or AIDS. With this donation I was able to give clothes to people who I have not been able to help very much because of the sizes I get most times are very small. Not that these two men are fat or anything like this, but one is tall and thick and the other is medium height and thick as well. I was also able to give clothes to other residents as well. In fact, Michael, the resident who I just interviewed for my Conversations with Kengi was able to get the smaller clothes. This was so awesome because he is in school, doing a great job I might add, and is in need of some help.

From Texas 001Jacque, I cant thank you enough for sending these awesome clothes which allowed me to help some pretty awesome people who are battling HIV as well as people I consider my friends and care for a great deal. I know there are plenty of places you could have sent these clothes and I am so humbled and thankful that you selected what I am trying to do. The guys were very thankful and I know if they could do it in person they would, but since they cant I will do it for them. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

So, it’s Friday and right now I am typing the first part of this blog before I takeFrom Texas 010 off for a interview with a director for a film project he is working on. Some of the things they are looking for are people who use social networking and bloggers. Now even though I am a huge user of social networks and I blog all the time, this does not assure me a place in this project, but I am sure it gives me a good shot. Plus my friend Alison who is friends with the director told me about it. I also vlog, so that my be a good thing as well. How very cool would it be to get a spot in a film project?

I also had the chance to help out my friend Franklin who is also HIV positive, but is in desperate need of some dental services. He has braces that are falling apart in his mouth and does not have the money to pay to have them removed. He has tried going to dental clinics, but has had no luck getting them removed. So I made some calls for him to see if people I know would be able to help him. It took about three days but two people got back with me and I was able to pass Franklin a list of over 40 places for him to call to see if they can help him with his dental. I have learned from hanging out and talking with Franklin that I cant do too much for him, because he has a tendency to not do anything. By giving him the list to make the calls himself, this will empower him to make the effort to help himself. I am very hopeful that he will follow through on this. I will keep you posted on how things turn out for him.

2:20pm, Saturday

Chillin and Doing Something 043The rest of my Friday with the kids was really cool. Since they always have questions about what I do I thought it would be cool to simply show them. Their parents are really good at making sure they know about many social issues and homelessness is one of them. So I took them with me to shop for items for two different outreaches. One that will take place in August to help homeless people as well as people battling HIV and AIDS. The goal is to get enough supplies to make 600 hygiene kits. I call them Do Something or Life Kits. There will be 300 Do Something and 300 Life Kits.

For those of you who are new to my blog, let me just tell you that a Do Something or Life Kits are made up of travel size hygiene items that are packed in gallon size ziplock bags that are provided to people who are homeless or battling HIV or AIDS free of charge. I created the Do Something Kit when I was homeless. After I was diagnosed HIV positive, still homeless, I then decided to create the Life Kits for people battling HIV or AIDS, who also might be homeless.

The past week I got donations from people on my youtube channel to help meChillin and Doing Something 001 get supplies for the outreach in August. I wanna extend a huge “THANK YOU” to them for helping me with this effort. Because of their donations I was able to purchase 104 bottles of water and 80 Rice Crispy Treats for the outreach in August.

In addition to getting some supplies I need for August I was also able to do a feeding thank to the support for my friends Lee and Philip who have been helping me feed homeless people. Since we had plans to head down to the beach, I thought it would be awesome to stop by Chess Park and feed my homeless friends there. I mentioned this to the kids and they too thought this would be cool. Farah, then suggested that we make a video about our day as well. Since I am taking a break from putting videos up on youtube I told them that we could simply take pictures. This is when she said, “we can do the video and you can film us.” I said ok, so the video is uploading to my Cooking with Kengi channel.

Chillin and Doing Something 002Before leaving for the store we talked about what we wanted to do. I really wanted them to take charge of this outreach so I told them some things about the people they would meet. After talking about them for a bit I asked them what did they think we should make for them to eat. They suggested turkey sandwiches, with macaroni salad and glazed doughnuts. When I asked them why doughnuts, they said “they need something sweet to cheer them up.”

I knew we would arrive at the beach after 2:00PM and this meant that not many of the guys would still be around. I never want to make too much for fear it would go to waste. I would rather run out then to have far too many. So we made 9 lunches and headed to pick up their little sister from daycare and then down to the beach.

The kids were really excited to do this and all along the way to the beach theyChillin and Doing Something 042asked questions about my friends and how I knew them. We talked about how I knew them and once we parked at the beach Farah came over to me and said “Uncle Louis, if you dont have a place to stay again, I will let you sleep in my room ok? I dont want my uncle homeless again.” I smiled at her, gave her a kiss and said “ok sweetie. Thank you.”

We took the lunches and headed into Chess Park and right away we found David. David was the very first homeless person I met when I was homeless and he showed me how to stay warm at night by stuffing newspaper in my clothes to stay warm. He also gave me warnings as to which places I should avoid sleeping. He also told me who to avoid.

Chillin and Doing Something 052As always David had a huge smile when he saw me and right away jumped into one of his stories about teaching kids to play chess. The kids thought he was so cool and very nice. He even offered to teach them how to play chess. Maybe one day soon I will be able to take them back there and David can spend some time teaching them how to play.

Just like I thought, many of the homeless people were already gone. We made just the right amount. I talked with David for a while and then I headed over the sand with the kids to play on the swings for a bit. When it was time to go they said how much fun they had and asked if they could help me feed homeless people again. I told them yes.

By this time we were all tired and hungry, so we headed back to my place. AlongChillin and Doing Something 051 they way they asked if we could have ribs for dinner and I told them that the BBQ place was way on the other side of town. This is when they said “we want your BBQ” I laughed, said “ok” and we headed to the store.

Our dinner was BBQ ribs, corn on the cob and the last of the macaroni salad. We had ice cream bars for a snack. They watched TV and played while I cleaned the kitchen and talked to Dodger who was sitting next to my feet as I washed the dishes. Their parents arrived around 11:40PM. WOW, this was a long two days with them and I was so ready for them to leave so my life could slow down again. I really love spending time with the kids. It’s really funny cause as my niece was walking out the door she turned and gave me a hug and said “I love you uncle Lou, thanks so much for watching the kids.” We both laughed and then she said “Do you remember when you use to pick me up when I was a kid?” I smiled and said “yes and your kids are no different then you and your cousins were back then.”

Chillin and Doing Something 062Dodger and I walked her down and said goodbye to her, the kids and her husband. He even calls me “uncle Louis.”

Once back in the apartment Dodger let out two barks as if to say “we got our place back to ourselves” ran over to his toy duck and began to shake the shit out of it. He retired to the back of the sofa and looked out the window until he fell asleep. I took a hot bath, chatted and then called Leah, had some awesome laughs and went to bed.

I had a great two days with my family and I was able to help people who areChillin and Doing Something 065homeless as well as battling HIV and AIDS with the help of my awesome friends. What better way to start my weekend, then with family and friends, doing our parts to help those who are in need.

It’s been a very lazy Saturday for Dodger and I and we are loving every single minute of it.