Dec 17 2011

 

Being proactive to initiate change for the better
while being patient enought to wait until things
change
is the homeless person’s balancing act.

Homeless people, and their increasing numbers, have
been largely ignored by mainstream media. Now the
problem is so noticeable, coverage is more frequent.

InvisiblePeopleTV is a YouTube Channel that profiles
homeless people, giving them a face and a voice
reminding us that many are just one paycheck away.

Here, in New Jersey, homeless folks living in a camp,
sometimes for months and years, discuss their
situations and what led to their predicaments.

You can see each person has a story to tell and value as a human spirit. Listening to these dialogues makes me feel so fortunate. In addition, I can’t help but think we can learn from each person profiled in these news clips. Many of us are just one medical emergency away from joining them. Never forget that most bankruptcies are filed due to inability to pay medical expenses and not because of spending beyond one’s means.

A contemporary book author, Chet W. Sisk, was a successful entrepreneur of an advertising agency. Suddenly things changed, as they often do, and he lost everything. Mr. Sisk began volunteering at a homeless shelter and claims that’s where his second life began. His book, “Seven Steps to Success: I Learned from Homeless People” is not only an informative eye opener, but also a reference for making it through difficult times.

SUMMARY: This is the journal of what happened to one man who hit rock bottom and lived to tell the lessons learned, the insight gained, and the visions revealed after spending time with homeless people. This is the true story of a man who lost the world and gained his soul.

To preview this book that will change your outlook, hover over this link:

Seven Steps to Success: I Learned from Homeless People

Two articulate Amazon reviewers give us heartfelt praise for “Seven Steps to Success: I Learned from Homeless People:”

“This thoughtful work should be read by those fortunate enough to have a place to call home and by those looking to find that place. Read this book first, all the way through, marking your favorite pages and passages. Return to the book for inspiration, strength and courage. Looking to conquer a challenge? Do so with “love and light” in your heart – and with the thoughtful advice you’ll find in this book.”

“A book about more than the physical state of homelessness. “Self empowerment, letting go, and moving forward”. Chet encourages you to look within, while allowing you to reflect on how you got there without placing blame or guilt. Chet offers tools for self exploration at the end of each chapter while encouraging you to find the lesson in each life’s event. The stories as told by the homeless helped to offer some insight into their plight. Well written and thought provoking.”



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Nov 16 2010

It seems many homeless people have pets to
cuddle for mutual warmth and comfort.

Homeless. If you live in any kind of urban setting, you must have seen homeless people. People who live on the streets, trying to figure out how to survive another day obtaining the basics of food, water and shelter. The indigent poor and the “by choice” freedom seekers: there have always been those who lived outside of society’s demands for a regular job. There have always been those that preferred the freedom to choose a living experience, even if that selection lacked security and comfort. Now, however, the numbers have increased significantly and the face of homeless people has changed. In addition to those who might be considered a little off beat, we find families with children experiencing urban survival in its rawest form.

Homeless is like old age. You can’t begin to know what it is like until you have experienced it, stared it in the face and realized, up close and personal, it has happened to you. Homeless is something that happens to others, until you realize, putting two and two together, that with the mortgage crisis, you are just a stone’s throw away yourself. Not a pleasant feeling. And the belief that friends and family will sustain you in your crisis lasts only as long as the last phone call telling you they have problems of their own and “can’t help right now, maybe later.”

The prospect is startling. The realization daunting and the means to remedy the situation can be illusive and far in the future. Where at one time, I, myself, would have thought homeless people unconditionally mentally ill, without direction and just plain “should have planned better,” now I have a compassion that daily reminds me, “There, but for the grace of G-d, go I.”

In today’s economic climate, it is good to consider the possibility of being homeless, yourself. Whereas, in better times, it was pro-active to plan for only vacations and retirement, now it is also prudent to examine the “what if” of being without shelter or the means to feed oneself and one’s family. Even if your mortgage is paid in full, the possibility of bio-hazards and social upheavals cycle the options closer than ever before. It is better to think of solutions and alternatives before you need them and figure you never will, than the other way around. As my Marine husband was taught in Boot Camp at Parris Island, S.C.: “It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

With all of this in mind, why not examine the situation for yourself, as it relates to you? And, for those of you who can relate, all too well, to what I am talking about, let this be your guide that you are not alone and have a compassionate ear leaning toward you. Discussing possibilities and options will familiarize you with realities while leaving you better prepared, should things turn out unpleasantly.

For an introduction, here is The Shelters and Soup Kitchens Directory listing facilities in the United States offering aid and sustenance to those who need it. You will surely find a facility near you. And, now being proactive about your own possible homelessness, you might want to consider donating goods, services, time or money to insure life saving options are there, should you ever need them.

A compassionate trucker interviews a homeless couple.

To preview this moving book, hover your mouse over this link:

The Visible Poor: Homelessness in the United States



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Oct 29 2010

Crowd at New York’s American Union Bank during
a bank run early in the Great Depression.

The stock market crashed on Tuesday, October 29, 1929. I suppose everyone knows someone in their family who was ruined by The Great Depression. When I speak with people about those years, most everyone suffered and had to cut back on their living standards. In addition, however, were those who were living in wealthy circles and overnight, lost great fortunes, relegating them to what they considered poverty.

“Anyone who bought stocks in mid-1929 and held onto them saw most
of his or her adult life pass by before getting back to even.”

Richard M. Salsman

There was a high level of prosperity during the 1920s.
Most people felt the country would never go back

Rethinking the Great Depression is a very informative book by Gene Smiley. It is good for formally educated economics students and also, for beginners without such a background. All readers will have a better understanding of the Depression period which technically only lasted from 1929-1933, but whose repercussions are remembered as lasting throughout the 1930s.

If you would like to learn more about the great Depression and the effects it
had on all facets of American life, hover your mouse over the link below:

Rethinking the Great Depression (American Ways Series)



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Oct 28 2010

For many Americans, futures are dark and without direction.

I am amazed at how unaware people are of the financial situation of many Americans. It seems that unless people’s personal finances have been lessened, many have no idea that many Americans are suffering as never before in this country. When I mentioned my idea of a blog to connect the dots on family finances, bankruptcy and the currents times to the Great Depression last summer, she felt that “aren’t enough people with an interest in a blog like that.” She continued by asking “How are homeless people going to access a computer?”

Whoa! That was a real, “Let them eat cake” comment for me.  There are plenty of people with computers suffering in this downturn. In fact, it is shocking how many people, who have worked all of their lives and done all of the right things are suffering and sometimes homeless. Here in this video of a 60 Minutes documentary are those who have access to a computer and are realizing the long term effects of the financial situation now dominating their lives.

In California, we see those who have exhausted their
99 weeks of unemployment benefits and are still unemployed,
are calling themselves “99ers.”



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Oct 22 2010

 

Sadly, the number of homeless people is increasing

When one thinks of homeless people, it is easy to understand the level of poverty putting a person on the the streets would cause extreme hardship. Food, water, bathing and so many other things that we take for granted become luxuries. But, I did not understand the danger of living in such an unprotected manner, just out in the world without shelter. I never dreamed that aggressive individuals would feel a need to harm and physically abuse those in such a miserable, vulnerable position. Here in Maryland, we had a homeless man killed where he slept in the grassy, wooded area of a highway cloverleaf.

As Brian Levin, advisor to the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) and director of the California-based Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, states in the article below, “Homeless people have become a socially acceptable target of aggression.”

US Senate urged to act on rising attacks on homeless

WASHINGTON — The US Senate was urged Wednesday to require that violent attacks against homeless people be tracked and formally reported as hate crimes, which could lead to stiffer penalties for the perpetrators.

Senator Ben Cardin (Maryland) said he was “shocked and horrified” by reports of 43 homeless people killed in 2009 alone, compared to 27 murders a year earlier.

The victims were specifically targeted by their attackers, including cases in which people were strangled, beaten to death with bats or set on fire, experts and family members of the deceased told a Senate judiciary subcommittee hearing.

Cardin urged support for his “Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act” that he introduced a year ago that would allow authorities to track homeless attacks along with other hate crime categories such as race, religion and sexuality.

“The homeless, just because they’re homeless, are being victimized and that has to stop in America,” said Cardin, who chaired the hearing.

Acts designated as hate crimes lead to harsher punishments for those convicted. For example, a second-degree felony would become a first-degree felony, with a maximum sentence bumped from 15 to 30 years in prison.

To read the entire article, click here.

It is hard to imagine this would be a problem, with teenagers being the main protagonists and advertising their cruelty by posting videos of their cowardly conquests on YouTube, but that is where we are. Apparently it is happening all over the United States. Here is some coverage of the situation and then comments by those who are determined to stop the violence. To watch, click play:

Heartless cowards are beating up homeless people, sometimes to death.

 

Hard Lives, Mean Streets, just released in May, 2010, has a well documented look at the dangers to one of the United States’s most defenseless populations. If the subject interests you, hover your mouse over the link below to preview the book:

Hard Lives, Mean Streets: Violence in the Lives of Homeless Women (Northeastern Series on Gender, Crime, and Law)

 



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Oct 17 2010

Soup kitchens were and are well attended. Here the Navy
staffs a recent soup kitchen in Salinas, California

The Great Depression and what is happening today financially seem very similar. No matter how these times are labeled compared to the Great Depression, there was hardship then and I know there is a great deal of hardship now.  That’s from practical experience, from reading books and searching the Internet and I’ve learned it must take a great deal of research to sort it all out.

I never feel like I’ve gotten to the heart of the matter with all of my questions answered.  So, as there is safety in numbers, I’ve decided to take you with me to see what you think about it all and share some information, hoping that you’ll respond about what’s happening to you where you are in the country, or the world.

First, here is an interesting comparison page on CNN, that you can access by clicking here.

Then I found an article, also on CNN, that says this is definitely a recession and not another depression and explains the ramifications of each, and you can find that here.

This video finds more similarities than not between the Depression and whatever is happening today, however you want to label it. To me the video was helpful in adding another point of view. Love the song, by the way…

Housing Bubble vs. Great Depression

Then, to top it off, here is an article on saying that the only difference between a depression and a recession is the length of time…whoa! After all we’ve learned in other places, that’s heavy. You can see in the article that “a depression is a protracted recession.” Here, you can read it yourself,  or read this except to get the gist of the discussion:

Recession versus Depression:

“It’s pretty easy to understand depressions once you get the concept of recessions. A depression is simply a prolonged or particularly excruciating recession. Economists don’t really have a watermark to indicate a depression. Believe it or not, there’s even an economists’ joke that describes the ambiguity between recessions and depressions: A recession is when your neighbor loses his job; a depression is when you lose your job [If you need a more technical explanation, click here.] While the presence of a recession is debatable, when a depression hits, the issue is no longer up for debate.”

H-m-m-m. Sorta’ seems like when you’re a kid and ask grown-ups, “How will I know when I fall in love?”

They always answer, “Oh…YOU’LL know.”



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Oct 01 2010

How could I have a web site theme of The Depression Era and not mention John Steinbeck’s book, The Grapes of Wrath written in 1939? I couldn’t. Nope, can’t be done. The Grapes of Wrath has to be mentioned and in detail. So, here goes….

On the Amazon web site, one of the reviewers sums it up pretty well. Let’s hear from Ned Middleton, a British professional underwater photo-journalist and author, when he writes,

“Today the world is either in recession or emerging from the dark grip of this latest financial catastrophe. Whilst we may live in a time when millions of families are no longer allowed to starve to death – well, not in the developed world at any rate, I earnestly believe there are lessons to be learned from this book about the rich and powerful who care not for their fellow man but only for personal gain. More importantly, those lessons are as relevant today as they were in 1939.”

Yep…I’d say that connects the Depression to the Recession better than I ever could. But wait, there’s more! Here are two current videos that connect the dots between John Steinbeck’s book and our times as well:

How John Steinbeck came to write The Grapes of Wrath.

 

Gabe Johnson, New York Times, discusses
the similarities between the 1930s and today.

 

If you are interested in previewing the book, hover
your mouse over the link: The Grapes Of Wrath

For an enlightening discussion on the connection of The Grapes of Wrath to the struggle of the Exodus in the Old Testament click on this link.



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