Set your mind to it

I was a the 21st Century Democratic club meeting on Friday, November 13, 2015.  An amazing conversation about homelessness, the financial impact and what we can do to move about and beyond homelessness.  Jennifer Loving of Destination Home spoke.  Very engaging.  I spoke up that none of the solutions will take three years.  They can all be accomplished in 24 hours – Set your mind to it!

We can accomplish anything – Set your mind to it.

  • We can end homelessness – if we set our mind to it.
  • We can build shelters for people in record time – if we set our mind to it.
  • We can feed the world – if we set our mind to it.
  • We can cure diseases – if we set our mind to it.
  • We can end terrorism – if we set our mind to it.
  • We can build a house in under three hours – if we set our mind to it.

What would you make happen – if you set your mind to it?

Homeless and physically challenged
My Buddy, Phil – homeless

Put yourself on alert – what will you take on today?

A quick update on my brother

You may have read my story about finding my brother.  I have not said much since then other than my visits to the homeless task force meetings.

My brother was able to stay at with my son for about 90 days and then he transitioned into a Transitional Housing Unit (THU).  He has been there a little over two weeks.  There is no click your heals option as there was in the Wizard of Oz.  He has a long road before him.  I’m most thankful that his daughter, Emily, has been available to support him along this journey.

I’ve been there when I can.

Imagine if you will, there is a line.  That line is between supporting and pushing.  It is my nature to appreciate someone’s support – well, when it is offered in a way that I can accept it.  Pushing simply does not work for me.

My brother, Randy, is much like me in that regard.  He appreciates the support but strongly resists pushing.

I intend to create time to visit with my brother as his mind and schedule start to allow.

As the county board of supervisors begins to review the options forwarded to it from the Task Force on Homelessness, I’ll be requesting that you email, write letters and make phone calls to your elected officials.  I will alert you that Mr. Wasserman is on the task force and he warned the public to be aware that money for these suggestions still needs to be located.  We, the community present, pointed to the article in the Mercury News stating the County is spending $500 MILLION dollars each year for services for the homeless.  Of course you can’t simply move money in its entirety that $500 MILLION to cover these newly suggested programs.  However, we know that funding these new programs will reduce the drag on $500 MILLION.

If you are interested on having your elected officials supporting these new programs, let me know and I’ll keep up to date.

That’s all for now.

What is the cause of addiction

rat drug study - what causes drug addictionDo you know what is the cause of addiction?  Really?  This article will likely not resonate with what you think you know.

This article is an eye opener.  There has been a study about drugs and addiction.  However the subjects used were rats.  This study brings a spin to that study and you’ll be amazed.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

Who would have thought?  Would you have ever guessed?

Senator Jim Beall

I had the pleasure of listening to State Senator Jim Beall speak at a luncheon in April.  It was interesting to hear some of the initiatives.  If you aren’t aware of who Jim Beall is he is an elected official who has a passion for supporting Mental Health and getting it the funding it truly needs.

One subject Mr Beall spoke of was the cost of various shortcomings of our communities.  The phrase was who pays for <fill in the blank>.  The answer was we all do.  Who pays for the homeless?  We all do.  Today a report was released that put in concrete how badly we are all paying for this.

Keep in mind – I am not waiving my finger saying these people are an issue.  I’m stating boldly that our society has somehow failed these people.  Well, failed is harsh and only true if we give up on them.

My cry for help is to have the entire community, not just the folks nominated and put on some committee (which by the way excludes input from those they are supposed to serve).  Each and everyone of us can “be the one.”

Here is the article in the Mercury News that has the details of the costs.

Give a hand up, not a hand out.  Buy someone a meal, buy someone a razor, buy someone a hair cut and a shower.  Giving cash does not seem likely to truly provide the needed help.

Homeless and physically challenged
My Buddy, Phil – homeless

Stigma – what would you do

As the last couple of weeks have unfolded I’ve seen many aspects of humanness that I’ve not seen or perhaps simply ignored.

Stigma – what a sharp and stinging word!  You don’t even know what the stigma is associated with and you already know it hurts.  There is meaning being created.  Or even worse – judgement from others helping to reinforce the infliction (creation) of stigma.

Yesterday, May 22, 2015 at around 4:25 PM, Mary and I were returning to our office on Winchester Boulevard in Campbell from running an errand.  We found, or noticed, a mountain bike outside of our office.  As we entered the building we were met by a young man, maybe 18, maybe a little older.  Hard to know at that point (I later determined he is around 21).

The young man asks if we do health insurance.  We both say yes and invite him into the office.  We also encouraged him to bring his bike into the lobby, which he did.

After just a few moments of speaking with Ronnie we determined he really is not looking for insurance.  He is looking for someone who cares enough to help him.  He has been homeless and living on the streets of San Jose.  He came to California from Nebraska. “I just want to get home to Nebraska,” he says.

Ultimately he was looking for $109 for a Greyhound ticket to Lincoln Nebraska.  Mary dove right in – calling agencies.  After several calls it was suggested she reach out to a church in his hometown.  Mary asked Ronnie what church may be supportive of him.  She called the pastor.

Well, this was not Ronnie’s first episode with needing a ride home.  The pastor will be talking with the family to see if the church will buy a ticket home.  If they buy the $109 ticket Ronnie will be on the streets for three weeks.  The $109 ticket requires advanced purchase.

While Mary was making her calls I was making my calls.  There were a few agencies that were open at 4:30 PM on Friday before Memorial Day weekend.  Most unsettling was that the City of San Jose’s homeless hotline was an answering machine and very vague about what number to press.  I dislike automated voice response phone systems.  Seemed any path I chose I was left with the option to leave a message.  Frustrating!

I was asking Ronnie many questions.  Much was learned about a young man on the streets.  He chooses to be one his own as he does not feel safe with groups.  He has extreme anxiety in groups.  He also mentioned he had been molested on the streets.  At the age of 14 he witnessed his uncle kill his mother, grandmother, step-father and wound his cousin.

Do you think this young man has some stigma he is dealing with?

What words would you use to motivate Ronnie to step up and push through his fears?

Would you take $109 out of your pocket for a bus ticket?  If we were to put him on a bus for Nebraska with just a days notice the price was more like $280 or more.

Ultimately I offered to take Ronnie to the City Teams shelter.  They would provide him a meal and a place to sleep for free for a week.  There after it would be $5 a day. Because of his anxiety he was not able to embrace this option.

He has Mary’s and my email address – heart broken, we had to let him continue on his adventure.

There is so much more that Ronnie and I spoke about.  I would like to figure out how to best support our homeless population.  The people, yes they are people, truly need our support.

We are all connected – how will you help?  Rather, will you help?

I asked Ronnie if he had considered the military.  He lit up, smiled and said yes, but sadly stated, “I don’t know if they will take me with my tattoos.”  I called the Army recruiter and got a message machine at 4:50 PM on Friday.  Well, we don’t know if they will take him.  He has a tattoo over his right eyebrow in addition to his arm and neck and who knows where else.

San Jose Homeless camps – creativity is what we need

How can we support the homeless without soliciting their input?
How can we support the homeless without soliciting their input?

A duck walks into a restaurant and asks, “do you serve duck?”

When you read that you don’t instantly yell out, “Ducks don’t talk!”

When someone speak about homeless people – most seem to say this issue is bad, these people need to go!

I say, we, society, need to set aside all that we know and own that we have not been effective.  Sure, we can look at other models or do study after study.  We can create think tanks, we can create a task force, etc.

I say until you have set aside what you know, you will not create a viable solution.

I will continue to invite Sam Liccardo and Dave Cortese to think outside of the box.  For now, it should be very clear that harassing these people is not the solution.

San Jose Homeless camps

Starting from scratch, a clean, slate, an empty binder, with no preconceptions of how to address this situation will yield the very best result.

Let me ask a question.  Are the homeless people citizens?  Are they truly homeless?  Have we revoked their citizenship?  (Sure maybe a small subset is from another country – I’ll give you that).

For now, assume everyone is human, a citizen, and has unalienable rights.

I’m looking to create a new distinction.  What new word can we create for this amazing class or group of people?  The Greeks created citizenship.  I’m curious what we can create that enfolds all of us, especially those we call homeless.

Join me in thinking outside of the box.  Set aside all that you know or think that you know.  Embrace this opportunity to create a solution from scratch.  Not idea is too silly, too bold, or to be discounted.  All ideas will be considered – they must however be respectful of all citizens.

 

Looking for support – a car

JimTalk about an adrenaline filled week.  On Sunday, May 10, Mother’s day, my son and I embarked on an adventure.  We toured various homeless camps in San Jose around Capital Expressway and Quimby looking for my brother.  We met several great people who all have the same situation – they are living in the great outdoors.

I asked most, if not all, of the people I met one question.  The question caught these folks off guard.  I preframed the question with, many people are talking about the homeless issue.  They are talking about it as though the problem is that these people are living in our communities.  I have a different view – my view is that society somehow failed the homeless.

In that context, I asked, “What can society do for you or provide for you that would make a difference.  NOT a handout, rather a hand-up.  What would you suggest?”

The responses were varied.  Most were of shock that someone would ask them this provoking question.  The very best response was from Jim, “someone who cares.”  WOW!

We spent the next several hours together with Jim.  He made it his mission, not just my and my son’s mission, to find Randy.

During that three hours Jim realized he does have one need.  That need is a vehicle.  A running vehicle that can get him from handyman job to handyman job.  He says he can make $300 a day if he could solve his transportation issue.

If you have a car that you are willing to donate (tax deductible is an option), please let me know.

– Rick Loek, 408-874-6234