Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Final Home For HIFW

Homeless in Ft Worth is now live and well on a new host with a permanent name. The new address is http://www.homelessinftworth.com . Please bookmark the new site and I will see you there.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Look

In the last posting I talked about the site upgrade I'm in the process of getting done. Well as of today I have officially gone LIVE with the new blog / web site. You can find the new site at homelessinftworth.mzzhost.com. Please click on the link and then bookmark the new pages.

Thanks and enjoy the new Homeless in Ft Worth.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A New Look

As some of you may know, I've been spending time working on a couple of projects. The first project has actually been helping me earn a few dollars each month. That is, of course a street newspaper called "The Journey". If you hadn't already heard, I write a regular column for the paper and do some staff work. What helps me earn some cash is selling copies of the paper. My personal subscriber list is beginning to grow with most people purchasing 10 to 20 copies of the paper at a time to take to work or church or just give away to friends and neighbors. This is the concept behind the paper. It is written about homelessness and it gives a poor or homeless person an opportunity to earn a few dollars with each issue. I you are interested in purchasing copies for yourself or become part of my regular customer list just send an email to me at gkirksr@gmail.com.

On another front, the other project that I have been working on is a complete change in the style and format of this blog as well as it's associated web site. Actually I am combining the two and moving them to another server. I've been working on this particular project for almost two months writing the code that makes the site run, straining my eyes looking at this small screen and loving every minute of it no matter how frustrating it gets when something doesn't work right. For those who are curious go to homelessinftworth.mzzhost.com and take a sneak peak. There is not much content there and I am still testing some things. As soon as my budget will allow, I intend to purchase my own domain name for the new site to make finding it easier.

While all of this is going on I will continue to post articles, commentary and my general ramblings here as usual. When it is time to move to the new site I will make sure everyone knows. Lastly, I'm still on the lookout for a replacement laptop. As many of you know, my Dell laptop with it's high speed dual core processor finally bit the dust. Currently I am using a borrowed netbook and mostly need something with a bit more power to handle my programming, testing and editing chores. Let me know if anything comes up.

This year is turning out to be a very good year for me. I have met a lot of people and I am developing new friends. My thanks and prayers go out to all of you who have shown me your love, concern and even friendship.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Ending the Homeless Lifestyle



Ending the Homeless Lifestyle

That’s exactly what homelessness is for most people on the street, a lifestyle. Much like any other lifestyle, the homeless lifestyle has a negative aspect that can and in most cases, does entangle people. In some of those cases, for a very long time. In a way, the homeless lifestyle can be considered an addiction. Like all addictions, whether mental or physical, the homeless lifestyle is not broken nor left behind without a lot of effort and pain.

One common misconception is that if you take the homeless person out of the homeless environment and place them in an environment that is closer to what is considered “normal” then the problem or addiction will solve itself. Just like trying to keep alcohol away from an alcoholic does not cure alcoholism, keeping a homeless person away from the streets does not cure that person’s homelessness.

Each homeless person is homeless for a reason. Financial problems, problems with family, problems with keeping a job, addictions and other issues contribute to that person becoming and embracing the homeless lifestyle.

Personally, I like using the addiction example because in order to eliminate an active addiction one must eliminate or at least have an active plan to fix the underlying problems that the addiction is covering up.
I fought alcoholism and failed many times before I really knew that I had to address all my issues. I’d fought my homelessness with the same lack of success. An alcoholic cannot just stop, nor can a homeless person just stop being homeless. There’s much more to a persons homeless problems than just getting them off the street and into housing or just giving them some sort of income and expect them to fix themselves. That is the path to failure.

In my case, I had to deal with alcoholism, drug abuse and a whole host of personal issues that were preventing me from dealing with any of my deeper issues. These were the very same issues that were either directly or indirectly keeping me homeless. Which meant that I had to deal with them all and not just a few of the easier issues before I could even consider making whatever changes necessary to get me out of this camp and my homeless situation. Not an easy proposition, nor something that would be accomplished overnight. I’ve been at it for more than 5 years and only just now can I see any daylight at the end of the tunnel. That’s not to say that I am completely ready to leave my homeless lifestyle but if I had the opportunity to make the change today I would have a better, if fact almost certain, chance to succeed.

The reason I bring this up is that by getting a homeless person into a home or apartment, by providing them with an income either from a job or some sort of assistance, will not break that person’s homeless cycle. It is almost a certainty that without dealing with the underlying issues that caused that person to adopt the homeless lifestyle in the first place, he or she will certainly fail and return to the street.

We are all unique, complex individuals and there is no one size fits all solution to our homelessness problem. My solution will not work for anybody else. The only thing we have in common is that it takes time. A lot of time. All of us require something different in the way of treatment, help or education to eliminate our personal addiction to homelessness before the housing and income issues can be addressed.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

More Ramblings



Ramblings: 7-26-13

Lately I’ve been spending time along Lancaster Ave near the Presbyterian Night Shelter, Union Gospel Mission and the Day Resource Center. I’ve had some business to take care of in the area and while I was there I did some serious observing of who is around and what sorts of things are happening…

It’s depressing really, for I’ve while I’ve noticed some new faces there are plenty of old faces out there as well. When I say old faces I mean people I recognize who have been around for several years. Some who have been around almost as long as I’ve been homeless. The depressing part is that, as I once was, most of the people I’ve seen often over the years and to a smaller extent the newer people seem to be stuck in a rut. All they do and all they know how to do is survive on a daily basis with no plan for their future except to be homeless, maintain their chosen lifestyle and do whatever they do on a daily basis.

A few find work occasionally but then their earnings pretty much get spent on maintaining that lifestyle. Severally more receive an income from Social Security, SSI or disability pensions and pretty much do the same things every month. In other words maintain the homeless lifestyle.

I too, once, led this lifestyle. Mostly it meant drugs, alcohol and personal pleasure with little or no concern about where or how I lived. As long as I had a place to sleep, in my case my tent, I was satisfied. I had no real plans to step up and get out of this situation. 

With some differences in the details, all those people I recognized whether they have been around for a long or short time, are doing the same things I did all those years. They have no real plans for their future and as long as their immediate needs are met they won’t plan for the future either. That’s the depressing part. They will remain living their lifestyle until some event or circumstance occurs that will cause them to wake up and do the work necessary to remove themselves from that lifestyle.

I’ve got no solution as to how to cause them to want to change. Every person out here has different issues and different trigger points. The one thing we all have in common is that we have only two real ways to go when living this sort of lifestyle. They are to fail completely in our lives or to actively change our lives.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Personal Update



A Personal Update


Where I Am Today

July 2013
Much has happened since I last wrote a definitive posting of what has been happening in my life and my journey towards leaving my homeless condition behind me.

I still am camping, collecting aluminum cans (sometimes), going to food banks and all the other things I need to do to survive. Much of that will never change in any substantial way while I am still homeless. With that being said I have to make adjustments in the sorts of things I am doing because of my age, my medical issues, the weather and several other factors. On top of that there a few things that I have started doing that are new or at least, that I am now prepared to undertake.

Some of you already know that I have started writing a regular column called “On The Street” for a local street newspaper called The Journey. While writing for this monthly publication, like my blog, is extremely gratifying, neither one provides any real income with one exception. My writing does not generate any income of any sort, I do on the other hand make a few dollars by selling copies of the newspaper. This is the concept behind the paper, a means for poor or homeless people to earn a little money. At present I manage to sell about 30 copies of the paper per month and am looking for more people who wish to buy it. Most people purchase 5, 10 or more copies at a time to give to their friends or to deliver to friends that have purchased copies themselves. If you are interested in purchasing copies of the paper let me know.

On another front, I’ve had to make certain lifestyle adjustments because of my age and increasing difficulties with the summer heat. I spend more and more time trying to stay cool. Sometimes at the library, even though getting there and back is difficult with the heat. Some of the time when I don’t leave camp I will spend time just soaking in the cool water of the creek here.

On another heat related issue, walking or riding my bicycle is not a good idea except early in the morning or for very short distances which makes trips to most of the food banks extremely difficult. Until I manage to increase what little income I do earn I have not been able to budget enough to use the public transportation system. Even riding a bus is a good way to stay cool although it can eat through a limited budget rapidly.

Now on another front, I have been adopted by a family that lives on the west side of town. In terms of blessings, this is a huge one. While this family is not wealthy, they have made a huge difference though their love and caring as well as helping as much as they can with material things that are difficult to find otherwise. They have been to my camp several times and have had me to their home for a meal and fellowship many times in the 6 months that I have known them. Thanks have to go to Jeff, Sondra, Krystal, Jessie, Emily and Elijah.

Last year my friend John Ramsey, CEO the local branch of the Hands of Hope organization made a statement that this year will be my year to get out of this camp and leave my homelessness behind. Truthfully this seems to be coming true. There haven’t been any great developments in this but with the right mental attitude, the support of my adopted family, The Hands of Hope people and a host of others, John’s statement may just come true. It sure seems more likely than it did last year.

Now things have not all been positive. There have been some issues with rowdy neighbors  who attract their friends and of course ultimately the police. Then there was the drug dealer that somehow found my camp whom I’ve not talked to in several years and more police. Fortunately I’ve been blessed and even these two issues as well as a few others have all been resolved with a good ending, at least well in my perspective.

All along I’ve figured HE has got me here for a reason. I’ve been through what I have for a reason. If you are alive, then you are learning. I’ve learned a lot of things. I’ve managed to change my basic personality from being an introvert to someone a bit more outgoing. I can now deal with people, professionals and friends more easily than I ever have in the past. Today I when I pray for my friends, real friends, instead of 2 or 3 people being prayed for it is a much larger number.  Between my faith in HIM, my real friends and all that I have learned, I know in my heart that getting out of here is going to become a reality soon.

With that last being said, even though I may leave this camp and start moving forward, I still plan to write for the blog and the newspaper. I guess you might say that I will become a sort of advocate for the homeless people who are struggling as I do and have. I feel comfortable writing about these things. From all the feedback that I get from the readers of the blog and the newspaper this may be what I was meant to do. I will probably annoy some people as I have with my writing in the past but I have to tell it like it is. The homeless people themselves are seldom heard. I have a couple of channels to reach people about what homelessness really is and I’m going to use it.
 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A Few Ideas

Over the years I've had several people approach me and ask the question, "what more can I / we do to help you?". The short answer is a lot of things can be done. There's more to helping a  homeless person than just providing a meal, clothing or a hygiene kit.

Over the next several months I'm going to talk about some of my ideas in depth but for now let's just throw out a few ideas. Keep in mind though, most of these ideas only work on a homeless person who is ready to take the next step. He or she will have the underlying problems that are keeping them homeless well in hand whether it is a physical issue, an addiction or even mental health issues. Care must be taken and any of these ideas can be accomplished by individuals, families or groups of people working together.

Adopt a Homeless Person
This is an interesting concept that I had in the back of my mind. In fact it's actually happened to me. I have been adopted by a family who are not only there to provide me with food and other supplies from time to time but in fact are there giving me their love, their friendship and many more things that I will speak of in another posting.

Homeless Housing
This one can be pretty simple or extremely complex in implementing. Much depends not only on funding and space availability but also depends on the homeless person themselves. One thing I do know is that having a place to call home with a real address can make all the difference in the world when it comes to things like getting a job, feeling secure, pride, confidence and the list goes on. Micro houses in micro villages are can be found in several cities is one idea that seems to be slowly catching on. Several more ideas that are not shelters come to mind.

These are only two of the concepts I will speak of over the next few months. One overriding fact must be kept in mind by all people who wish to take on a project such as these two and others. The homeless person involved has to have the problems causing or keeping them homeless well in hand or the project will fail. Another consideration, is that the homeless person and the group or family involved have to be a good fit.

Helping a homeless person beyond the food, clothing and blanket stage can be simple or complex. It can be hard work for both the person or group providing the help and the person receiving the help or it can be easy depending on the level of help is provided. Providing food, clothing and hygiene kits is only a start and much more can be done.