Posts Tagged ‘Homeless Outreach’

In Over Three Years

// August 26th, 2010 // No Comments » // HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

It’s been 3 and half years since I created Do Something Saturday and over a year since I created Unpluggin’ HIV. I created both outreaches while I was homeless. I’ve lost count of how many homeless people I have spoken to, how many I have helped and how many outreaches I’ve done.  I’ve lost count of how many meals, pairs of socks, hygiene kits, granola bars and I’ve even lost count of how much time I’ve spent doing all I can to try to make things better for those I encounter.

If someone told me that I would be typing a blog such as this, or that I would be doing the work I’ve created and doing it for free, I would have said “not me” This is not to imply that I was once a selfish or uncaring person, but I cared far more for myself then anything else. It was all about me and anything else was second.

I will say that I’ve always had this desire to help people, this want to make things better and for as long as I can recall I’ve always wanted to some how, in some way make a difference. At a very early age I learned that money does not equal happy and it does not equal good. I learned at an early age that strength of character means far more and will carry me a whole hell of a lot further in life then a fat bank account or a fancy car could ever do. I learned that hard work and determination are required far more then having money. I’m glad I learned these lessons early in life, because without them I would have believed all the lies I was told about how I could not make a difference or that being homeless and now poor would prevent me from helping or doing anything that is worth anything.

What I have learned since creating my organization is that many people believe that unless I am a non-profit, work in a fancy building, wear a fancy suit, drive a fancy car that I am unable to help people. I’ve met people who say they will help with an outreach or with supplies for hygiene kits but in the end they are no different then the first group of people. In many way they are far worse and I must say that I have far less respect for. It least the first group says flat out “NO”  They dont comment on my blogs or vlogs about things they will do only to do nothing in the end. They say “NO” right up front, while the other simply lie.

What I have learned from corporations is that nothing comes before profit. I remember as a kid how you could write to a company and they would at least consider your request for help, but those days are long gone and have been replaced with companies setting up their own way of giving back that better suits and protects their bottom line. Many companies only use certain organizations and will not even consider others.  Such organization then become clearing houses and again will only deal with certain organizations. Now I am not pointing the finger and trying to say that this is all bad, I am sure there are great things that come from much of this new way of helping. All I am saying is that it is very limited and very selective or what I would call “inside the box” way of thinking and helping.

So the lessons I learned as a kid about hard work and determination play key roles in every single thing I do. Without these lessons I would have given up a very long time ago. Instead they have taught me to work harder and find new ways of helping people. What I have tried so hard to do since the start.

I really like how President Obama has sparked a new wave of getting people involved in helping each other, but I dont like how it limits how people like me can be involved. I dont like how the thinking behind it is still the old way of doing things, very much the “inside the box thinking” I dont like how it encourages people to go through large organizations as if to say individuals or small grass roots organizations can’t make a difference.

Anyone can make a difference, anyone can create positive CHANGE on this planet. You dont have to have lots of money, you dont have to have non-profit after your name, you dont need to go through so large organization plagued by red tape and bureaucracy. You can make a difference in small ways even large ways by doing it with a group of friends. All it takes is a desire to want to be part of something that is good, be willing to work hard, think outside the book and think about others before thinking of yourself.

As for me, I will not allow the “NO” from companies stop me from helping people and I will not allow the lip service from people who comment on my blogs and vlogs prevent me from doing all I can to help people who are homeless or battling HIV and AIDS.

In over three years I have met some awesome people who truly care about humanity, who are truly willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work required to make this nation great again and a better place for all of us. In over three years I have learned that bigger isn’t always better, larger doesn’t mean you can do more and having money and a non-profit status does not mean you are better suited to help anyone.

Thursday

// August 12th, 2010 // No Comments » // Cooking, Health and Fitness, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

Gifts 001This week has been both productive and difficult at times, but for the most part it has been a very rewarding and blessed week for me.

My week started with a trip to see my doctor to get lab results for my HIV as I stated in my blog, I wasn’t the least bit concerned about the outcome of the labs. The first reason was because I knew I was still fine and the second reason is because even if I was told I needed to start HIV meds, I know I now have a great doctor and awesome support staff there at the clinic that will get me through it. I know that with my faith and will combined with them, things will be just fine.

The only thing that was on my radar is the fact that there is a history of heart disease as well as other things in my families history and I need to make sure I am doing all I can to make certain I don’t go down the same road. While it was good to talk with my doctor about this and she was able to offer some expert advice and direction, the ultimate outcome is all in my hands. I have to eat right, make sure I am getting plenty of rest and I need to exercise. Bottom line is this, my doctor can give me all the information, advice and support there is, but if I dont start changing how I view food as well as spend more time exercising then the road that I want to avoid I will surely go down and I will have no one to blame for this but myself.

I also had the cool chance to spend some time with one of the guys from my Skid Row outreach and get to know him better as well as give him some information on how to go about correcting and dealing with some of the things he now has in front of him as it pertains to ADAP and Medi-Cal. Thanks to the support of my Keep-n-Touch program I was able to purchase a phone for him that will allow him to stay better connected to the things he needs to stay on top of. Not having a way to contact people, be in control of things you need to take care of and always having to depend on others to get messages or make phone calls can be very discouraging and even depressing for someone who is doing all they can to make things better for themselves. My Keep-n-Touch program allows me to supply a free prepaid cell phone to those in need. It may not seem like much to many people, but I know from experience that having a cell phone is a real connection and allows you to stay in control of some things in your life, while others are in charge of so much more.

Quality Products

One major set back this week came in the form of my video camera breaking on me. I’ve had some problems with the camera for a while now. Slowly but surely the camera has been in what I have called “shut down” mode and Wednesday afternoon the camera finally shut all the way down. JVC has been no help with this other then offering tech support that I must pay by the hour for or by shipping the camera to them and allowing them to repair it for far more then the camera is even worth. However they did say that if I ship them the camera and they find that the problem is something that is defective, they would cover most of it, but since the camera is past the one year warranty I would have to pay for some of the cost to fix it. So how this does not seem right, the camera could be defective, but I would still have to pay.

Whatever happened to the day when the customer was KING? Where companies made quality products that lasted forever? What happened to the days when you could by something and it would be around for many, many years? I recall things in my grand parents and even my great grand parents home that had been in their lives forever. How is that companies are allowed to make lousy products, that cost so much, but you get far less then what you paid for them?

BE OF YOUR WORD

Gifts 002Another thing I have noticed is that I am pulling away from certain people from YOUTUBE because they have volunteered or offered things and time and time again they never come through. Furthermore they act as if they have never volunteered or offered. For me this speaks to their character and the person they truly are. I am not saying they are bad people, just that they are people whose word no longer means a thing to me. Once I get to the place where your word no longer means anything, it isn’t long before I start to pull away. As I type this I am thinking about a call I received this week from someone who I had to step away from last year, she wanted to call to offer her apology and wanted to see if things could be different. She also tried to engage me in conversation, but I was not about to go back down a dead end road. I thanked her for calling and told her it was water under the bridge and not to worry about it. I then told her I hoped she was well and said goodbye. It is impossible for me to maintain any sort of relationship with someone who does not keep their word.

Hygiene Supplies

Wednesday shortly after coming home I had a knock on my door, when I opened it the UPS guy was there with a box. The box came from someone on YOUTUBE, who wanted to help me with hygiene supplies for my outreach. Inside the box were items such as toothpaste, deodorant and razors along with a very nice card. Let me tell you a little bit about this person, first she is a teenager and all we ever seem to hear, see or read in the news about teenagers is all bad. But here is one who reached out to me a while back after viewing one of my cooking videos where my family and I were doing an outreach to Chess Park at Santa Monica Beach. She wanted to help me with my outreach, she wanted to help me help those who are in need. A teenager stepping to the front of line and saying “I want to help” and not just that, but making sure she was allowed to help by staying on top of me and reaching out several times to remind me that she was willing to help.

This young lady saved her allowance and purchased items that will be used to help people who are homeless or battling HIVGifts 005 and AIDS. This young woman suited up and showed up, without excuse for people who are in need. She didn’t place empty comments on my blog or vlog, but she gave me her word and she followed through and this speaks volumes to the mother she has and the values instilled in her. It speaks volumes of the type of teenager she is and the amazing woman she will become.

Peer Support

So last month I was able to go with Donald as he made his purchase of his laptop. He saved his money and asked me to o with him to make assist him in selecting a new laptop. Since then I’ve had the huge honor of helping him learn his computer and once again today I have the huge honor of helping him once again.

Donald is someone I met through my HIV outreach on Skid Row and right away there was just something about him that stood out. He has become someone I consider as a friend, someone I care a great deal for, but more then this he has become someone I truly admire, respect and look up to. He is a massive inspiration to me and is someone who is beating the odds against HIV. He is someone you will never read about on some CDC report and is someone you may never see in some magazine, but for me he is the cream of the crop. He is kind, caring and damn funny. I look forward to visiting with him because it is always so much fun, but most of all I look forward to the pearls of wisdom he drops in my life each and every time I see or speak with him. Wisdom that you can’t get from a book, on a job or from any school, but the kind of wisdom that you must stop dead in your tracks to soak in, wisdom that can’t come from rushing things or by pretending, but the kind of wisdom that you must sit and allow to settle into your soul. Wisdom that comes from someone who has lived a rich life filled with great joy and even some sorrow that the soul is so ready to give to all who welcome it.

As a kid growing up I had the huge privilege of having what I called “elders” in my life. I use to want to go visit them and just sit and listen to their amazing stories from their rich lives and each time I would walk away with wisdom and a great feeling of encouragement. I had great respect and a greater reverence for the “elders” in my life and in many ways  Donald has become an “elder” in my life. I can count on one had, three fingers in fact, the “elders” I now have in my life and they are my great Aunt Loraine, my Aunt Emma and Donald. I am so richly blessed and honored to have them in my life.

Gifts 008I will spend my Thursday afternoon doing what some call “peer support” with my friend Donald, but in reality I will spend my Thursday afternoon in the company of my “elder” soaking in all the wisdom he allows to flow from his soul.

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