Richard Loek's website

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?

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.

Homelessness is a festering issue

2014-11-12 11.08.07
This gal – well, she drinks. I’ve seen her enjoy a beer on two occasions.

I grew up spending much time out of doors.  It was fun, boring at times, and I enjoyed spending time in nature.

Then as an adult I had the opportunity to become an Assistant Boy scout Master.  Once a month we had a camping trip – rain or shine.  Some trips were very cold, such as snow camping.  Cold was never as bad as when it rained.  Rain water has a habit of getting everything wet – especially clothes.  Then chill would set in…BRRR!
As I walked to my car today I came across a couple of people living outdoors.  An elder lady with a shopping cart – she pulled under an eve to blow her nose.  I later saw her walking her cart through a very heavy down pour of rain.

2014-11-15 20.41.35
These ones, well, they are not homeless, simply playing hardball!
The second person, well he had taken his wet shoes off and was sleeping in the elevator at the parking lot.  Three people went to get on the elevator and ushered him out of the elevator.
I wonder, are they enjoying living in the great outdoors?  How did they get there?  What happened?  Do they have mental health issues as most of the indigent do?  Maybe they simply lost their job and their world collapsed.  Or maybe they are like a friend of mine, Phil, who had health issues, lost almost everything and then lost everything when another car hit and totaled his van.
Do you wonder what happened when you see these people?

These people have a commitment to making a difference with people who have substance abuse issues.
These people have a commitment to making a difference with people who have substance abuse issues.
Is it camping or a bad situation getting worse?
Maybe you believe in Karma – the drought is here until we solve this issue?
I don’t have the answer, yet.  I do know this issue is eating at me.  I do believe solutions exist.  I also know that there is not a solution, this will be a body of solutions.
I don’t believe in hand outs, only hand ups – or hug ups!  I heard a story a couple of weekends ago.  A man was walking an outdoor mall in Southern California.  He walked by a pan handler…  A few steps later he turned around and asked her what she needed most.  She thought and responded with, “A hug.”  He gave her a hug, a long, long hug.  She told him that she had not had a hug in over a year.  Not long after this she managed to get her life back on track.  She reached out to this man to let him know she was okay.

As the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean
As the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean
A hug?

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