Thursday, February 27, 2014

Creative Housing!

I love creative solutions for complex problems!

News report from WWBT

Would love to know where there is land in Richmond to do this?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What if the City of Richmond Took a Different Approach with Abandoned Houses?

Homeless man pays property taxes after moving into abandoned Cleveland home to fulfill homesteading dream: Mark Naymik |

I'm not saying it would be easy, but what if?

I love the fact that this man is paying the property taxes and the electricity!

When will we be more flexible and think outside the box?

Let's not focus on the reasons we can't, but what if we focused on yes we can!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Caring Heart! It's Worth It!

The following is an email exchange between Kat and myself.

The original email on 1/4/14 

My name is Kat and I wanted to bring a situation to your attention. I want to start off by telling you the reason I chose you to reach out to is because it seems your ministry is addressing, identifying, and working for/with homeless folks. Although I do not personally attend church my mother, sister, brother in law, and sometimes my youngest daughter do. That is how I found your name and information and your ministry is through them and the Atlee Community Church Facebook page.

    I want to give you some history on the situation I am writing about. Each day twice a day I drive my father to and from work. We take mainly back roads as our path instead of main roads. Not only is it an easier less congested route, it is also for the quiet beautiful drive. There is a section of woods that we come to just before a bridge which takes us over the interstate. We are aware of a group of homeless men that have taken up what seems to be somewhat a permanent residence just before the bridge in the woods.

    I am not sure whether there are 3 or 4 men. They are actually visible from the interstate itself only I'm sure because of the top speeds most folks are doing they don't notice unless travel was at a standstill. They have tents, tarps, what looks to be a fire pit so I am pretty sure they have a way to have a heat source whether it is for warmth or cooking. It seems there are some other things back there as well. We've actually seen them and they appear to have weather appropriate attire which is a blessing in my opinion. Heck all the things I've listed above are a blessing in my opinion. I've had little interaction with them at the Food Lion which is located just across Brook Rd on Concord Avenue.

    If I were standing in front of the Food Lion I typically see them sitting on a bench located to the left. I have not personally seen them asking for money although many of the employees (manager(s)) included have sat with them and even talked with them. I have seen while shopping before picking up my father that a couple of them have purchased alcohol. I do not usually see them purchasing food or toiletries; etc. It is not to assume that all they do with funds given/received is to buy alcohol. I can only say what I have personally seen.

    We have seen a white truck that drives down into the woods some and stays for a short period of time. Going off of assumption we think someone is checking on them. That is a blessing as well. A lot of my father's co-workers have made mention of the same truck and they seem to be of the opinion that someone has obvious contact with them. To what degree and how often we are not sure.

    My boyfriend and I have talked extensively about this. In fact, he drove here this am and we talked about this in detail. He says it has been on my heart long enough and I need to take that as a sign from God. I have gone back and forth for some time now. This am I am certainly drawn to speak up.

    As the seasons have changed I have put myself in their shoes. I do that nearly every day and not just with them. It is my 'fix' part of my make up. I have had a lot of thoughts over this situation. A lot of questions too. Why would they choose to be in the woods instead of seeking out opportunities to help themselves? Why would they use money received to purchase alcohol instead of food or maybe they do purchase food and a little alcohol. I wonder if they have enough food, clothing, if they have a place to get cleaned up. There are parts of my thoughts that get a little angry. I ask why they don't try harder or why they sit on that bench, get money, then walk right in and buy alcohol and sometimes cigarettes.

    It isn't my place to judge. At the same time I believe as hard as we try we all have and at times do judge. I do know there are some folks who simply are down on their luck and they have to do what ever they can to get the basics most take for granted. I also know and have seen some abuse the good others have done and are trying to do to help them. I don't know if these men are receptive to a visit. Will they be angry? Will they reject any sort of conversation or help? Are they looking for someone to reach out to them? Have they just gotten so comfortable with being uncomfortable that they don't know anymore that they have choices? I don't know if they are open to suggestions for help and resources to make better choices. I don't know if they have some of the very basics for day to day survival. I don't know if they are able to receive services through our local county services or housing; etc.

    What I do know is God is telling me if I do nothing else I need to reach out to someone who has made this their ministry and someone who is making a difference. I also know that each am and pm I drive my father to and from work they are there. They are visible. Their blue tents and tarps are obvious through the leafless trees. The smoke from their homemade fire pit billows through the vacant trees. I see them walking in the am and pm back and forth. In the pm it seems like they are trying to make sure they are in their makeshift home(s) before dark. Each am and pm I see them my curiosity and need to at least try to help them even if it is only through this communication has grown stronger.

    What do I want from you? To read this with an open heart and mind. To take away from it whether or not your ministry with this very subject will lead you to reach out to them and/or help them. To see whether or not you are able to get through to them with the help of God and your lessons learned. I would like to ask for your feedback. Would you consider going and speaking with them? Would you also consider following up with me letting me know what you've found out?

      I know this is long. If you have made it this far having read the entirety of my message I thank you. I needed to get this out and feel a sense of relief. I am hopeful you might follow up on this and get back to me. If you are unable to address this situation I would still like to say thank you for reading.

All best,



I am sorry that it has taken me this long, but let me give you an update.

I just got back from visiting Steve who lives at the camp off Scott rd. 

It turns out that the cops showed up the other day with representatives from Va Supportive Housing.

He claimed that VSH is going to get him into an apartment in a couple of weeks.

Answer to your prayers!

Steve was the only one in the camp, Norman and Rayburn were off working on a job.

A total of three live there.

Steve has been homeless since 2000. He has lived there in the woods for 6-7 years. His parents are deceased and he has 12 brothers and sisters. He is 53 years old from Norfolk. He loves the cold weather and has no problem with the severe cold. He prefers it over the heat.

I gave Steve a ride down the road to return a rake that he had borrowed. He had just finished raking two yards to earn some cash.

He says he doesn't ask people outright for money, but he will fly a sign on the street and take whats given to him.

He even told me of a time he flew a sign outside Walmart where he made $85 in less than an hour before he was told to leave by the security.

He doesn't care much for his other camp mates. He seems very independent.

He can't stand the city life.

He prefers to be alone and can't wait to get into his own apartment and disappear.

I delivered him a backpack full of food, personal items and socks. The backpack was put together by a group of folks from church. They provided me with 15 backpacks to give out.

Steve was very appreciative of the backpack and slung it on his back as he headed to his camp to eat some hot dogs.

He seemed very happy. When I asked what I could pray for him he said "nothing."

He wakes up every morning thanking God for a beautiful day!

By the way you are right he has a friend, Bryan who has a white pick up truck.

He seems to be doing quit well for himself, but was especially excited about getting an apartment!

That's about it!

Please pray for Steve, Norman, and Rayburn!

Take care!

I appreciate your heart!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Neglecting the Homeless | the 2×2 project

Great article! 

Here you can learn something about the short comings of the government's attempt to solve homelessness.

It's time for the Church to step up and be the Church!

I believe the Church can make the difference!

Neglecting the Homeless | the 2×2 project

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Helping homeless students stay in school |

Education Liaison!

I haven't heard much about this locally, but I think it is awesome!

Helping homeless students stay in school |

At some point I will write about the need for a liaison for the homeless when they go to the hospital.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

You May Not Want to Watch This Video!

This video is very powerful and comes from National Community Church in Washington DC.

It makes me ponder so many things.

Homeless is a full time job!

One provides hope for others!

The definition of a family or a home?

What if?

I Like Home from National Community Church on Vimeo.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The Snowball Effect

116 families benefit from housing blitz - Richmond Times-Dispatch: Local Richmond-area News

This was an interesting article in the local paper this week.

One of the points that caught my eye was the fact that four area 

organizations took on the challenge of trying to house 160 families 

in 100 days.

They came up short with 116, but they tried!

They faced the challenge and changed the lives of 116 families!

We need to remember it's not just about statistics, as it is the lives that are being helped!

In a lot of cases when someone is helped they in turn want to help others!

This can snowball in so many ways!

The snowball starts when one person is helped and is in a good place personally.

That person then helps others who are struggling because they have walked in their shoes.

As one person is helped then another and another!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

It's Been Three Years since He had a Home!

I got a phone call from Dave last night.

He was so excited!

He had just moved into an apartment.

Dave has spent the last six months in the first phase at Good Samaritan Ministries.

Last night was his first day in phase two.

In this phase he gets an apartment for the next six months free of charge .

He also gets paid $35 a week and can get his cell phone working again, thus the phone call last night.

The call was followed up with a few texts.

I don't blame him. 

He has been without for six months.

It's great to see him so excited and who can blame him it's been three years!!!!

It's a blast seeing lives changed!

Monday, February 10, 2014

CBS 60 Minutes - "Let's Use a Different Lens!"

Last night 60 Minutes did a piece on "100,000 Homes: Housing the

Homeless Saves Money?"

The story was done well. It takes place in Nashville, TN.

They did a great job of explaining the complexities of homelessness.

My favorite part though, had to be Anderson Cooper's (The 

Reporter) response after the story.

Anderson Cooper himself was interviewed as a follow up.

Here is a quote from that interview. Anderson Cooper was talking 

about a homeless man in front of where he lives.

“Before the story, it really annoyed me,” says Cooper “I just ignored him. I just pretended he wasn't there. And after the story, I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. This is my issue. Me pretending not to see this person is insane and offensive.’"

After the assignment, Cooper decided to approach the homeless man, ask his name, and engage him in conversation. Now, he regularly greets the man and talks with him.

“Anytime you stop and talk to somebody and you learn about them, you start to walk in their shoes a little bit and you see things through a different lens,” said Cooper.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Circles of Influence

What happens when my circle of influence (A) intersects

with my friend's circle (B).

Life change!

The other day my friend David texted me that he knew a

single mom with two kids, who desperately needed some


David said to me in a text "Just a shot in the dark to try and

help her".

The challenge was that the mom lived an hour away.

I must admit at first, I thought it was going to be too difficult

to pull off.

I was too busy and didn't recall knowing anyone in Amelia.

That's when I had to stop and just ask God for help.

Sure enough, I then recalled knowing a Church in Amelia.

I called the youth pastor and he said he knew someone that

could help.

This was on a Wednesday and by that Saturday David's

friend had some firewood delivered.

So what happens when we work together and try to meet the

needs of others?

Lives are changed!

Mine, David's, and a single mom's

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Solution to Poverty and Homelessness

Some would say that you can never end poverty or 


The argument would be, that the bible says there will

always be the poor.

That would be correct.

Don't let that argument stop you from trying!

We must press on and do what we are called to do.

The bible also says to love thy neighbor.

It never says stop loving thy neighbor when?

I have seen it over and over again when a person has 

burned all their personal relationships they are left with

nothing and thus the definition of poverty:

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty."

How do we love the least of these?

How do we love those who are not like us?

How do we love a complete stranger?

These are questions I ask myself all the time.

I want to be stretched in ways that I might better learn the 

definition of poverty and how to help one overcome it.

If we would just be willing to pay the cost of time and effort 

in building relationships, we would see God move in 

amazing ways!

I have seen first hand that the solution to poverty and 

homelessness is through building relationships.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Trash Talking

Wikipedia describes Trash Talk as 

"Trash-talk is a form of boast or insult commonly heard in competitive situations"

No I am not talking about what happened after an NFL game a couple weeks ago.

I want to talk about what took place this morning on my prayer walk.

I was walking down the street when a lady in a parked car spoke to me and said.

"I just moved into the neighborhood and I wanted to say thank you for picking up the trash!"

I told her that I was praying while I was walking by picking up trash.

I said "I don't believe there is trash in heaven so, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven!"

I immediately saw a smile on her face.

She got excited and started to quote the verse with me.

It was a special moment at 7:15 am!

I love meeting new folks in the neighborhood.

I welcomed her to the neighborhood and continued on my way.

This is why I love trash talking!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mr Fixit

The other day I spoke with Richard Galloway, founder of a ministry in New York City.

The ministry is called New York City Relief

One of the outreach programs is called The Relief Bus

The Relief Bus goes into Harlem, the Bronx and other sites throughout the city.

It is a mobile outreach center for the poor and homeless.

A lot of their work is to build relationships with the people they meet and then connect them to partner agencies to help them in their journey.

The bus goes to where the people are!

I had a blast getting to know Richard.

We spent about an hour on the phone sharing stories of what God has taught us.

In my conversation with Richard he spoke about how we are not called to fix people.

I am a fixer and I could relate to what he was saying.

I see a problem I immediately want to fix it.

If your homeless then let me find you a home.

If your jobless then let me find you a job.

Don't get me wrong these things are not bad in and of themselves.

Richard went on to say that we were not called to fix people, but to LOVE them.

When we love with God's love all things are possible; homes, jobs etc...

We must first love our neighbor.

Not everyone will receive what is being offered, but that should not stop us.

It's called unconditional love.

I can't fix everyone, but I can certainly try to love them. 

I say "try" because I am still learning how not to be a Mr Fixit!