Posts Tagged ‘homelessness’

Thanksgiving

// November 9th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // Cooking, HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

cooking with Kengi 011Last year was my first Thanksgiving in my apartment and it was the first Thanksgiving outreach that I have done here in Hollywood marking the second overall Thanksgiving outreach to homeless people here in Los Angeles County. Each time I approach an outreach I do my best to see how it will really help people right now, not weeks, months or years from now. I guess from being homeless I know helping someone right now means so much more to a homeless person.

Last year was the first time I was able to not just feed homeless people, but formerly homeless people and people battling HIV or AIDS, by providing three food boxes to families in need. Thanksgiving day, with the help of friends I was able to feed about 75 people a home cooked Thanksgiving meal. Later I enjoyed the evening with my friends.

So as I type this blog  I am doing so from a much different place then last year. As I said before it was my first Thanksgiving living here after being homeless for 29 months which came to an end in June of 2009. However this year I now have a job and I am able to simply help people instead of waiting and hoping that people will donate items to make what I do possible. I know I can always count on my core group of supporters, but it is now nice to know that I can contribute far more then I use to.

The goal will once again be to feed homeless people, but this year the goal is to provide 10 Thanksgiving food boxes to low income families who are formerly homeless or battling HIV or AIDS. So far thanks to the support of my two friends Tina and Andy who donated two large bags filled with boxes of cornbread dressing mix. I have two people who have said they will donate turkey’s and the rest I will balance out.

I still need someone with a car to help me get the items to the families and also Thanksgiving day I will need people to help me pass out the food to homeless people here in Hollywood.

Once again this will be another Thanksgiving where I am so thankful and humbled by all the blessings God keeps sending my way and yet another year that I will be able to be a blessing to others through my Do Something Saturday outreach.

Ambassador of Hope

// September 27th, 2010 // No Comments » // HIV and AIDS

cell phones 004It’s after 6:00pm on Monday September 27, 2010 and the temp is well above 80 degrees, in fact the entire day has been a day of record heat here in the Southland. Before noon today it was already over 100 degrees.  This made for a very hot, frustrating and uncomfortable day.

Although it was hot, there was still much to celebrate and be excited about for my outreaches as I am preparing to make a Dab the AIDS Bear presentation to my former case manager at AIDS Project Los Angeles. In 2009 Dab Garner asked if I would be an Ambassador of Hope for his organization. Dab Garner is one of the first Americans diagnosed with what was once called GRID (HIV), he was told that he would not live to see his next birthday. But his will to survive and thanks now to life saving HIV meds, Dab is till here and his organization stands as a living tribute to him and his legacy. I am both proud and honored to be a representative of his organization.

Tiana is my former case manager from AIDS Project Los Angeles, she is someone that I will never forget, someone I will always be so thankful too and grateful that God placed her in my life. She was unlike any case manager I have ever met and unlike any case manager I have had since. First she is kind, caring and compassionate, something that most case managers are void of. She is the most knowledgeable  as well as intelligent case manager I have had the pleasure of meeting. Her goal was to help me get through all that I was dealing with and every step of the way, she and I worked on things together, as a team. Whene I said “NO” to things she suggested, she never once made me feel like I was making a bad choice or allow anything like ego to be involved.

I will never forget one of the darkest days I came to see her, I was crying, really messed up, lost……so damn lost. To be very honest I was really starting to self destruct, but Tiana would not allow this to happen. It was the first time in over a year of homelessness, months of being HIV positive that I felt anyone besides myself truly gave a rats ass about me. I was scared, feeling so lost, out of control and she was the only person I had to turn to. Most case managers would have walked away, refused to help me, but I didn’t have just any case manager, I had Tiana and when the rain in my life was so damn solid that all I could see was grey, she saw the colors for me, she saw the light at the end of the tunnel, when all I could see was a black hole, she believed in me when I lost hope.  She told me not to give up, she told me to be strong…she saw the best in me and refused to allow me not to see it as well…..even though the darkness in my life was so deep.

I cried so much during those days of my life, but whenever I spoke with Tiana or whenever I saw her, she had this way of getting me to feel like things would get better and I could not allow life to take away the joy that God gave only to me. When friends or at least that was what they said they were, walked away she told me to “keep it pushin” When friends said “oh you can stay here or I know a place you can stay and then simply flake out leaving me with an empty promise, she was right there to encourage me and again say “keep it pushin”

I trusted her completely and to this day I still do. Although she is no longer my case manager, I know that she played a very prominent role in getting me through being homeless and being HIV positive. For me and I know for so many others, she represents HOPE even as I type this I simply cant help but cry because like the song says “you dont know, like I know.”

When friends walked and doctors, missions, shelters all failed, Tiana was right there to help me move forward. When churches and so called Christians condemned me to hell for being gay and an even deeper part of hell for having HIV, she reminded me that I am still a child of God.  When road blocks came up, she didn’t tell me “deal with it Kengi” or “your thinking is stupid and backwards”  like others did. In my darkest hour, when my Ma passed, it was Tiana who encouraged me, hugged me, I still have the card she gave me. She was the only person who thought my Do Something Saturday was worth working hard for. She was the only person who worked to restore my dignity and my pride in myself.

No one who has never been homeless can ever understand what being homeless strips away from a person and each homeless person deals with this in many different ways. Add to this cancer, Sickle Cell and HIV and the odds that people will make it through without any scars and the odds are pretty grim. I tried very hard not to be angry, but there were many times when I was very angry. I tried very hard not to allow depression to set in, but there is no way to live through all that I have and depression not begin to take shape. However with my FAITH, strong will and Tiana even when I was shattered I never became broken.

I will never forget the day she told me about this apartment, how hard she worked to make it happen and when I got the keys I can still hear her voice on the line being the same awesome woman and case manager as when I met her. “Keep it Pushin” is a video on my YOUTUBE Channel and is my motto.

So when people ask me why I work so hard doing my outreaches through Do Something Saturday and Unpluggin’ HIV, why I am out and up late trying to help people who are in need, I cant help but respond with “because it is how I was raised, it is the right thing to do.” I often think of how Tiana went the distance and then some for me. She is one of the many reasons why I refuse to give up on people and she is a huge inspiration to me……..every day.

Today the tears are far less, the struggle is a bit better, the 29 months of homelessness is now almost two years behind me and HIV is no longer I stress out about. My life is in a much different place then it was when I first met Tiana, my smile is in place way more then it was back then, so it  will be a great honor to present her with a Dab the AIDS Bear which will make her an Ambassador of Hope.

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.

Inspired By My Peers

// August 7th, 2010 // 1 Comment » // HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

Clothes 004There’s this gospel song that I really like to listen to called “Again” and the words are very simple

Again I call you and again you answer,

Again, I need you and again you’re there

Lord

Again, I reach out and again you hold me

You console me once more and again……..

About a week ago I was starting to get a bit discouraged and was really starting to hit a wall. I was approaching August and my drive to raise supplies for the Do Something and Life Kits wasn’t going so well. I had received nearly all the letter that I had mailed out asking for donations of tooth brushes, mouth wash, body wash and other items and all of them came back as “NO” I was also seeing that some people who said they would help were simply placing meaningless comments on my vlogs on my YOUTUBE Channel. It was looking like what I had set out to do was going to fail and I was not feeling happy about this at all.

However I did now my core group of supporters would come through, they always do without fail, but even with this help I would still fall far short of the goal to raise enough supplies to make 600 kits total. I knew my core group of supporter, which also happen to be my friends would do all they could to help me reach my goal and for this effort I am so happy and thankful.

I was watching to news and seeing reports of how homeless people are treated and also saw an article in the Los AnglesClothes 003 Times about homeless people that were very disappointing to me. I’ve always had the mindset that helping people requires care and it always requires you to actually speak to and take into consideration what they person you are trying to help needs. There is simply no way of helping someone, when we refuse to speak directly with the person or persons who are trying to help. If my Nana was still alive, she would say “That’s like going fishing in the middle of street. All that will happen is you getting your silly ass run over. It would serve you right for being so damn dumb”

I started Do Something Saturday over three years ago after a access center in Venice refused to allow me to give my shower time to a woman and her kids. For those of you who dont know what an access center is, it is a place where homeless people are supposed to go to get help. But it was my experience that places like access centers are more trouble and heartache then they are any help. Do Something Saturday was started by trying to address the many problems I was having like clean clothes, new socks, food that wasn’t spoiled, respect and dignity, but I wasn’t trying to get this for myself, I wanted it for other homeless people. I guess what I am saying is that I’ve always spoken with and asked other homeless people what they needed and then did my best to try to get it for them.

Clothes 009Simply taking someone off the streets and placing them into housing does not and will not ever correct the out of control homeless situation here in our nation. There are many reason why a person becomes homeless and until we address each and every issue person by person, case by case and not by the cookie cutter, you must fit the mold way of doing things, then there will always be a massive problem with homelessness in this country. Pretty words on fancy paper or a flashy website wont work and neither will beating people with scripture and thus says the Lord will work either.

It is my opinion that no one really wants to do the hard work…..well I’ll take that back, there a few people and places willing to do the hard work to actually make steps towards ending homelessness for the people of this nation.  Case managers who look down upon people and do not, will not and can not grasp basic human compassion will only fail. Furthermore just because someone was once an addict or once homeless does not give them the green light to being a case manager or in charge of anyone other then themselves.

Many people have called what I do as being a “case manager” or “peer support” you can give it whatever fancy title youClothes 001 want, but all it really is, all it really requires is CARE, COMPASSION and a HEART. This isn’t some new approach to doing things, it is simply CARING or to make it plain like my Nana would if she were alive “It’s called giving damn” Some people will never understand what CARING means because they can’t stop to think about anything other then themselves. We live in a world of “get all you can, can all you get and then sit on the pot and poison the rest” CARE has been replaced with “what will I get out of this?” Many people talk about caring and loving humanity, but they truly have no concept of what caring and love truly means or what they truly require.

In every outreach I plan, no matter how large or how small, I always speak directly to the person or people I am trying to help. I need to know that they need, what they require from me and from them I require nothing. Everything I plan I ask myself “how will this help?”

So I was discouraged and I asked God for some inspiration and encouragement. I was very specific in my request saying “I need this now God, not later….right now.”

The next day after coming in from a walk with Dodger I opened the mail box and there was an envelope inside and when I opened it there was $10 from one of my friends from YOUTUBE, she sent the money to help buy water for my outreaches to homeless people. I smiled and said “Thank you” Two days later I got a paypal donation from another friend to help with the supplies for the Do Something and Life Kits and again I said “Thank you” less then 3 hours later I got another donation through paypal and this one made me fall to my knees and not just say “Thank you” but to really give praise and honor to a God will still answers prayers, who always shows up right on time.

Clothes 005Wednesday I woke up, made some coffee and starting working on a letter for my quilting project that I’ve started for people with HIV and AIDS here in the United States, I got a call from my friend KoKo (Rene) who is now working in the head offices for the company where my Skid Row outreach takes place. I am so happy she is now working there, I am sure she will do an outstanding job. I guess I should back track and say that when she told me she got the job there, she too was part of my answered prayer, but God wans’t done just yet.

While speaking with her there was a knock at my door, when I answered it was the postman with a large box. I knew it was from my friend Jen, another person from YOUTUBE who wanted to help. She sent a box of clothes. “Kengi it isn’t much, but I want to help…..” is what she said in the email to me a week prior, but when I say how big the box was and then opened the box to find that many of the items were brand new, with tags still on them and the used clothes were in such great condition, again I had to say “Thank You.”

“When do you think you will be back down on Skid Row, I’d like to see what you do?” KoKo asked me

“Well now that I have this donation I will schedule something for this week. How bout Friday at 1:00pm?”

She told me she needed to check with her boss and would let me know. When we hung up I emailed the case managerClothes 006and asked for the sizes of the women in her building. If they couldn’t wear the clothes, then I would take them to Common Ground in Santa Monica which is the only comprehensive HIV care facility on the west side, which also has clients who happen to be homeless.

I received an email back right away and the clothes would go to my Skid Row outreach. I was very happy about this, because when I get clothes for women they have been smaller sizes and I’ve only been able to help one lady in the building.  Now to be able to help the other women was awesome.

I had a very close encounter at the front door of the building which reminded me of how very important it is to always be aware of my surroundings, not to carry money on me and to take off my ipod when I walk toward the building. It also reminded me not to look like someone who is going to allow BS from someone. The past few times I’ve been to the building there is no one of the office so I have to call for one of the residents to come open the door. This time there was someone in the office, but was very slow to open it which could have been bad for me because the person who had passed me on the street walking toward the building was now walking behind me. When I buzzed I sat the bag down near the door and turned towards him. He asked me for 25 cents to catch the bus, I told him I had no money on me, but he was not about to take this for an answer.

“What’s in the bags then my nigga?”

Clothes 007I looked him dead in the eye and said firmly “None of your business. I said I don’t have 25 cents to give you now I suggest you move on” The entire time I was buzzing the ringer and finally was buzzed in. I didn’t bend down to pick up the bags of clothes until the gentleman had started walking away.

“Thank you” is what I said when I walking up the stairs and I heard “you’re welcome” from the lady in the office. I laughed to myself because I was not saying this to her, but to God for placing a hedge of protection around me. Something I had prayed for prior to leaving my apartment in Hollywood.

While I wasn’t able to give the clothes to the women, I was however able to meet my friend KoKo and I then had the honor of going to the head offices of the corporation and right away I was impressed. I was later blown completely of out the water by the staff I had the chance to speak with, but what clearly stood out for me was the conversation I had with the Executive Director. His passion and great CARE for what he does was very apparent to me. He was interested in the programs I bring and wanted to hear what I have to say.

I had the chance to talk with my friend and hear and read some of the awesome things this corporation is doing for people who are homeless and even people battling HIV and AIDS, How CARE and COMPASSION is at the front of what they do and even as I know there is much work to be done, I was so encouraged to know that the leader of this corporation was nothing like any other leader on Skid Row. I can honestly say without a doubt that this man truly cares about the work he does and wants the people who work with him to have the same care.

When I got home and was relaxing on the sofa. I called my friend Donald from the building on Skid Row to see how hisClothes 010 day was, he had to attend a funeral of a friend of his an I wanted to make sure he made it home ok. After speaking with Donald I got a call from another resident who said “I just want to thank you for all that you do for us. We really appreciate all that you do.”

When I hung up the phone I again said “Thank you” and before I knew it tears were falling down my face and I was crying. I was thinking about what I had asked from God and he supplied that and so much more. I was so encouraged by what I had just saw, read and encountered that I had no choice but to break down and cry.

I know first hand what it is like to have friends and even family walk away, I know what it is like to have people attack my character and say things that are not true, I know what it is like to eat from trash cans and have to fight for my things. I know what it is like to be called “stupid” or be told that my “Thinking is backwards” and later have my housing blocked by someone who is a “director” at at another large homeless agency on Skid Row. I will never forget how he treated me like I was less then the gum he stepped on when he entered his high rise office  with pictures of him shaking hands with fancy people and sitting across from me acting like he was some how better then me because I was homeless and HIV positive. “Your thoughts don’t matter” is what he said to me. People think I cried because he defeated me or that he had broke me and I sure he felt like “I fixed his wagon” but the tears were for people who would walk out and give up on life ultimately becoming the people we see pushing shopping carts, talking to the make believe person that no one else can see but them. He words were hateful and filled with hatred toward people like me, but he sits in the position over people he cant even stand.

Clothes 008I cried because God has just showed me that his angels sit in higher places and do far greater things for humanity. I cried because my day was spent being encouraged to keep doing the work that I have been given to do and I could rest in knowing that the place where my friend now works is filled with people who truly care, not only that it is lead by a man who truly cares for homeless people and people battling HIV and AIDS someone who knows people deserve to be treated with dignity and respect at all times, no matter who they are or where the live.

People often ask where I get my energy, my passion, my drive, my inspiration?. They also ask how can you find the desire to help, when you are still going through so much? The answer is always the same. “It comes from God, he always sends someone or something and he has never failed me and he never will. There are times when I will be down, but not out, shattered, but not broken, wounded, but in time I will heal and there will be times I will have to struggle, but I will find my way through.”

THANK YOU for inspiring me, for encouraging me and for the awesome work you do for broke down people like me.

Again I call you and again you answer

Again I need you and again you’re there

Again I reach out and again you hold me

Yon console me once more and againquilt 011

73 Thousand Each Night

// August 1st, 2010 // 1 Comment » // HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

beach 011I know, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a blog, but I hurt my wrist from not sitting at the correct level at the computer and then for the past 5 days my Sickle Cell has really been bothering me.

As many of you know August is the month that I have picked to do my large Do Something Saturday and Unpluggin’ HIV outreaches. The goal was to have enough supplies to make at least 600 Do Something and Life Kits for people who are homeless and for people battling HIV and AIDS here in Los Angeles.

This is a very huge undertaking for me and I knew from the time I started that I may not reach my goal, but I was still willing to do all I could to at least try. I started by asking all my friends and supporters if they would help out, I also mail over 100 letters to hotels and large companies. In addition I also made a few videos on my YOUTUBE channel and yes, I even blogged it as well.

Like always, right away I had an overwhelming amount of people make comments on my video saying they would help,beach 017 but just like I knew would happen, more the 95% of the people who made comments were simply making comments. They never stepped forward to help. However there were those who kept their would and I was able to supplies for this outreach. I have received 92 of the 100 requests for support back and all of them said “We are unable to help at this time.” Many of the reasons given were, “we support the united way, blue cross” and other organizations.

However with the help of my friends and loyal supporters I have been able to get enough supplies to make at least 50 kits, now this is far short of the goal of 600, but today is only August 1, 2010 and I still have the rest of this month to raise more supplies for the outreach. While I don’t like to fail at anything I set out to do, it is clear that I may have a accept a small defeat this time around.

beach 027People have asked me why I care so much and why I spend so much time trying to do whatever I can to help people and the answer is always very simple to me, but to be very honest I never get why people ask me this in the first place, just like I never get why people tell me to get some rest or you can’t help everyone. Well I could help more if people like this would be of their word and follow through. I do it because it is the right thing to do and I was once and in many ways still very much am, one of those people who are in need of help.

It is estimated that there are about 73 thousand people who are homeless here in Los Angeles County each night. I was once one of those people and had it not been for people like Tina and Andy, who started reading my blog and then began to care, people like Ryan and Monia, who also found me through my blog, Eric and Willow who I met through Ryan and Moina and Krystal and Patrick who I met through a former friend and for some pretty cool people who read my blog and watch my YOUTUBE videos I have been able to do what so many said I could never do. What some said would not last simply because I was homeless, or they had made up in their mind that was not worth damn, has now lasted more then 3 years and is getting stronger with each outreach.

These people believed in me and what I am doing when others simply laughed tried to get me to stop doing it. TheyHomeless 004show up, help out and support my efforts each and every time I ask and for this I am so happy and thankful. Through them many of their friends and families have also started helping when they can and the end result has been awesome.

People always asked me where I get my energy, drive and motivation to keep moving forward with my work, especially when they realize that I am not paid for what I do. Again the answer is very simple, I was once on the streets, I know what it is like to wear the same socks for weeks at a time, I know what it is like not to have a place to take a shower, get a decent meal or even have a kind word. I try very hard to take the hardships in my own life and try to create something awesome out of it.

More the 90% of the people in my life are a huge inspiration, motivation and give me the energy and courage to do what I do. This combined with the awesome “home training” I was raised with and my unshakable FAITH, makes what I do so much fun. However it is hard work and there have been many tears along the way, but in the end it has all been well worth it. The other 10% comes from people who simply talk, say what they will do and then do nothing, more then anything else these people remind of places that I turned to for help when I was on the streets, they never came through, but motivated me to all I could to make things happen for myself and others.

Homeless 007So it’s August 1, 2010 and for the rest of the month I will work as hard as I can to get enough supplies to make 600 Do Something and Life Kits to GIVE to people who are homeless and to people battling HIV and AIDS here in Los Angeles. My Nana use to always say “If I can’t do it, then Skippy is a damn liar”

I have to say that my biggest motivation is what I see by simply looking out my window, riding the bus or walking. You can’t live here in Los Angeles and not see a homeless people. I can either ignore them or act like there is nothing I can do to try to help, I can even make up plenty of excuses as to why I should not help, but the bottom line is that by doing this I am part of the problem and I would much rather be part of the solution.

In close I would be remiss if I do not mention another motivation and huge inspiration that comes from every day people who email me, text me or call me and say, “I have some awesome clothes to donate” or “I want to buy some gift cards” People who think with their hearts not wanting anything in return.

Homelessness

// July 11th, 2010 // 3 Comments » // HIV and AIDS, Homeless Outreach

So many times during my 29 months of homelessness I had so many people offer to help me, but their help can with such high pries that I had to pay, so I refused. I was already having to deal with so much crap from the all the agencies I had to deal with. When I was diagnosed HIV positive things only got far worse long before they got any better. My friends had to sit on the sidelines and watch because helping meant the rules of government programs would kick in and they would say “your needs are met Mr. Carr” It’s was like I was being punished for having friends that cared. But, by the grace of God, combined with the love and unconditional support of my friends, the 29 months of homeless is behind me.

It’s been a full year since I moved into my apartment here in Hollywood, I have a great HIV doctor with an amazing support system in place, so the nightmare of HIV is also something that is behind me as well. Dodger my sweet little dog has been such a complete joy to have around. I had the chance to travel back to Washington DC for AIDSWatch, and my outreaches have grown and continue to be support to homeless people and people battling HIV or AIDS. So on all accounts my life is much better then what it was a year ago and I am so happy, thankful and blessed for this.

Even though homelessness is behind me, I still work very hard to serve homeless people and I must say that I still get very angry, pissed off and bothered when I run across people who go out of they way to exploit homeless people. It bothers me even more when I see the people who are doing it claim to be doing “what thus say the Lord”

Last month I saw someone on YOUTUBE making videos about a homeless couple where near where they live. While watching the videos I had to ask myself  why this person was doing this. They clearly had many other issues that they needed to deal with and I knew that this person has no idea of how to help a homeless person. With her camera in hand she showed the license plate of the homeless couple and even disclosed where they were sleeping. Things that can pose clear danger for people who are homeless.  She even covered the seats in her car while the homeless woman was in her car. Her entire set of videos showed her lack of common sense , compassion or even the smallest amount of care or concern for the people she started to call her “friends”

Just like I knew would happen she quickly dropped her mission to help homeless people saying in a comment on one of her videos “you can lead a horse to water but you cant make them drink” When I saw this comment from her I have to say the last ounce of respect I had for her was gone. This woman claims that she was once homeless, but she makes statements that clear show she was never homeless and had no intention of helping this homeless couple, she only wanted to try to take the attention off the mess she created.

The way she simply used these homeless people they was she did was disgusting and down right mean. Then to simply walk away and say something like “you can lead a horse to water……” was nothing but a bunch of bullshit. First of all she has no business leading anyone any place. Then for her to say she did it to bring attention to the homeless issues is just sick.

Homeless people have plenty of crap they must deal with and shot they must endure for a system that is beyond repair. They should not have to deal with people like this woman and her sick mind leading them wrong  and making things far worse then what they already are.

Many people ask me what I do what I do and why I care so much for homeless people and I must say that it is because I was homeless and had to deal with all the harnesses and even crap like this couple had to endure from this woman. I do it because I care and I know people are in need of support.

This woman used this people and what she did was wrong and I dont care how many comment of her videos and tell her what a great lady she is or how much God will bless her for doing what she has done, I know and so do many other people the real reason why she went out of her way to exploit homeless people and it had nothing to do with caring for them and wanting to raise awareness for the horrible homeless issue in this nation.

But I guess when you can quote bible verses, make videos where you claim to be a true child of God, when you shout up and down about how God will “get” other people, I guess this excuses you for being human. This some how gives you the green light to look down on people and act all high and mighty.

Well guess what, the same wrath that you talk about is going to happen to other people, please tell me what will happen to you? Does God not see all that you do? Does he not see the hate that LIVES inside of you? People like you are going to bust hell wide open.

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.

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.

Stand Tall

// April 15th, 2010 // No Comments » // HIV and AIDS

I use to dread the visits to go see my HIV doctor, I knew I would leave there even more confused and lost then when I walked through the door. I also knew there would be no point in asking questions about my labs or anything else because I would never get answers because my doctor was always far too busy to take time to do things like this.

I remember when I had the Staph Infection and he told me

“You have got to do a better job at cleaning this”

“I do the best I can. Have you forgotten that I am homeless and this Staph Infection is in an area I can not see?”

He just looked at me like I had said something wrong. Later it would be this same doctor who would stand in the way to me getting housing which would end homelessness. When I think of what I had to deal with since I was diagnosed my heart sinks for all the people who are too afraid to speak up for themselves because this would mean the lousy care they are already getting would get worse.

Thankfully all the disrespect, hurt, shame, headache and stress of being HIV positive with less then lousy care is behind me because I now have a great doctor backed by the awesome staff of a great clinic. Thanks to this doctor and clinic homelessness came to an end after 29 long months. HIV is no longer something that I wake up from with nightmares of being at my own funeral and watching my friends cry because I was dead because of access to care. HIV is no longer something that I am stressed about, in fact besides doing the community work that I do with people who are HIV positive or have AIDS, it no longer is something that dogs my mind day in and day out.

A few weeks ago I went in for my HIV labs and I had no concern, Tuesday, April 13, 2010 I went in to get the results of the HIV labs and once again I am in a really awesome place. My t-cells remain very high and my viral load is still very low. I had the chance to ask my doctor a few questions about HIV meds and all the new debate and discussion as to when someone should start meds. It was so reassuring to hear her say that my HIV care is based on my medical history and how my body is doing against HIV. It was so cool to once again hear her say that she isn’t concerned about me starting meds, she just wants to help me remain healthy.

Even with all the stress that was in my life, my body has done an awesome job at defending itself against HIV without the assistant of HIV meds. It’s great to have a doctor who is willing to allow my body to do its job. It is also nice to know that when and if the time comes for me to start HIV meds it will be something she and I will sit down and talk about. I’ve heard many people say how their doctors had already picked out meds they would start, but when I asked my doctor she told me it was something we would discuss and we would come to a decision together.

I’ve heard and even read so many people say, just do what you doctor says and do not question it, I’ve also heard people say that ASO’s are the only place to get sound advice about HIV and AIDS. From experience of being sick since birth with Sickle Cell and my battles with cancer, I know that simply taking advice and not asking questions or even asking if there is another way, is not something that I would consider to be very wise. I certainly don’t put a great deal of trust, nor do I have a great deal of respect for ASO’s and this is also true for my local Gay and Lesbian Center. I feel this way because when I turned to these places for support, answers and even education, they failed more then 95% of the time. Now this isn’t to say that I have not met and have a huge amount of respect for a few people who work at such places, however it has been my experience that these places don’t always do the great jobs they would have us believe they do. Furthermore I know plenty of people who share my feelings about ASO’s and the local Gay and Lesbian Center.

So what do you do when the places you are told to turn to for support are the very places that cause so much hurt and harm. What do you do when you’ve done all you can? What do you do when you don’t trust the doctor or clinic where you “care”, for lack of a better word is administered? Who can you turn to when the system in place is failing you?

First of all you don’t give up and certainly do not settle simply because you are homeless or poor and told that this is your only option. You hold on and work as hold as you can to find another place that will respect you, that will offer you complete care and treat you like a human. You keep believing in yourself and your ability to weather the storm that is before you. You demand care that you are entitled to and you do not rest until you get it. If this upsets people and causes them to say you are a “trouble maker” and say things like you think you’re too good and “who do you think you are” you look them dead in their eyes and tell them exactly who you are. You tell them that you are their patient and you are holding them accountable for your care. You tell that case manager that you don’t care how heavy their case load is……”do your job” Don’t ever allow anyone…..and I mean anyone……including yourself tell you that you don’t deserve the best care regardless of your ability to pay.

You stick you chest out, square your shoulders and dig in your heals. You stand firm in making certain that they live up to their oath “first do no harm” you hold them accountable for for everything thing they told you they would provide regardless of how heavy their case load is. You hold them accountable for every federal dollar, every single private dollar they receive as if it came from your pocket and you don’t give up.

Being sick is stressful enough and you should not have to deal with any added stress, headache, hurt, harm or pain for the very people who are supposed to be helping you.

I am in a place where my doctor is awesome, my clinic is awesome, but there are people who don’t share the same feelings that I now have about my HIV care. There are people struggling through a system that is designed to cause setbacks, hurt, harm, pain and even death and I will not rest until it is fixed. I will not rest until studies are conducted fairly and accurately and I will not rest until places that get federal funding are held accountable for such funding. I will not rest until patient care becomes more important then how much the Executive Officer is paid. I will not rest until budget cuts that affect people who are suffering first include deep cuts for people being paid outrageous amounts of money for no real reason.

HUMANITY most always come before politics and certainly before the narrow minded thinking and stigma of “community”

I refused to give up on me, despite all that was encouraging me to do so and I  refuse to give up on people that this nation has given up on simply because they are homeless and poor battling HIV or AIDS.

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