Project for the Homeless

A Project I would love to do someday…

The Background…
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No city or town has a shortage of Homeless people – I live in Surbiton, UK in the Greater London Area, and well – I know the faces of those who sit on the street hoping someone will read their plea for money and food, and drop something their way.

One of the guys, who seems well dressed enough – clean-ish clothes: jeans, sneakers and a t-shirt – I have seen sleeping in the back lot behind my flat. He took a cardboard box, flattened it and laid it out so he could lie on it in the back corner. Usually it was mid-day, I don’t know where he sleeps at night.

Sometimes I would look out at him from my kitchen or lounge window and think, maybe I should invite him in for something to eat or drink, or even a shower. But, I don’t, because I don’t know him and I could be endangering myself even if he SEEMS harmless – that doesn’t mean that he is.

A friend of mine mentioned to me once that he wished we lived in a world where people could help other people all while feeling safe. His example was of hitchhiking. He had given random people rides before because they were walking in the rain, or something that showed they could use a lift – and everything was fine. He saw two girls walking in the rain once and thought that maybe he could do the same for them, then he imagined what he would look like slowly pulling over to them and talking through a rolled down window, some strange guy in the waning daylight. He isn’t a creepy looking guy, and his car is well kept, but when you are semi-alone and you don’t know this person, things can seem awful anyway.

I may not be able to help him with his safe hitchhiking idea (though I have seen websites that already operate with a similar idea: UK, USA twice, and Europe twice)

My dream, since I was a teen walking through NYC with my parents and seeing the homeless under scaffolding, on the steps of a church and scattered throughout the sidewalks, was to create something that could help all these people.

In the past year, my former flatmate, and still very wonderful friend, Corey and I were near Tower Hill in London, UK when a normal looking guy came up to us and asked if we could give him a little money just to get a coffee. Corey went to an ATM to get him enough for Coffee, a small meal, and a space for him to sleep at the shelter. I chatted with him for a minute and he talked about going to Disneyworld in Florida with his parents when he was a kid, and things like that. He didn’t seem like he had a bad childhood or was lazy or was into drugs and on the street for that. He was just a guy, a face in the millions of others in this world, who just was down on his luck and couldn’t afford Coffee, Dinner, or a bed.

I know a lot of people that would say that they do not deserve a hand-out and that they should get off their lazy asses and work. But, when you have lost everything and do not have a permanent residence, or somewhere to shower and get cleaned up – Would you hire you? No permanent residence mean UNRELIABLE to some employers, and without a clean set of clothes and a good shower, the prospective employee would be turned away just because they are not up to their standards of what a worker should look like.

Yes, I do admit that there are those who beg like or as the homeless will through food back in your face, or use your money on booze and there are some who are playing us and when they get shooed away off the sidewalk of a store, they might get into a shiny and new looking car. Those are the ones that give us all a complex about helping the homeless. Though, I can understand wanting the booze – some beers come really cheap and well, if I was homeless I’m sure that I would be thinking – could use a drink to take the edge off. I don’t condone it, but I empathize.

Let me now just get down to the dream/plan I have:

When I was in and around NYC, I noticed that there are buildings (as in many cities) that were/are abandoned. If I had the means, I would purchase one of these buildings – preferably already set up for Apartments or Hotel Rooms so not much refurbishing will be needed.

Basically instead of a Homeless Shelter – it would be a Homeless Hotel or Rehabilitation Centre.

A place where they could have a bed or beds in the case of a family, with a bit of privacy and a place to get cleaned up. There would be mailboxes there like an apartment building or Hotel – so they could use it for their permanent address.

I would hope to have counselors there, first on a volunteer basis unless I already had the funds but inevitably I would love to be able to have them on payroll. There would be different types of counselors: ones to help find work and get people hired, ones to help with the emotional and mental difficulties that come with homelessness – either ones that made them homeless or ones that were caused by their homelessness. Basically I want a set of Guidance Counselors and Psychiatrists/Therapists. I would also love to have a set of medical professionals on site to help those freshly in with cuts, sores and other injuries.

Obviously I would need cooks, servers and housekeepers – possibly again on a volunteer basis at first, but I would like to be able to compensate these people for their good and hard work. Possibly, I would be able to get some of those who come in to help out as part of their rehabilitation – if I can pay them I will, but if nothing else – it would be something they could put on their CV/Resume.

So clean rooms, permanent address, a place to sleep and clean themselves, and a place where they can get food in their bellies. Like most shelters it would be a common dining room/mess hall, and we would invite those who do not live with us to eat with us as well. Either out of necessity, or if they want to donate to us and get a meal just to help out the cause – also good.

There would of course be stipulations!

1. “Time Limit”
As part of their counseling/rehabilitation we would set a guideline of how long they would stay with us, it might differ from person to person but the idea is to get them back on their feet, not have them squatting. If, and this is just another thought that popped into my head, I could get an estate agent of sorts to help us out, they might be able to find the people ready to be on their own affordable housing – it would also be nice to get them “discounted” housing to help them out until the income gets a little stronger.
2. Drug Tests
EVERYONE will have to take a drug test every once in a while as part of our rules and regs. Some who come in might have a habit when they first meet us – that is fine, we will not turn them away. However, once they are on our program our counselors are there to help them break that habit. They will get help from us, but after a certain amount of time – 3 strikes and we have to turn them out. It is a sad thought, but to get better they have to WANT to get better. Can’t force it on them.
3. Acceptable Behavior
Although the drug test will not include liquor – there will be rules for acceptable behavior. If alcoholism becomes an issue there will be counseling added to their therapy and possibly AA meetings, either within the facility(if we have the room and/or volunteers to run), or at a nearby one. Also, violence will not be tolerated. As part of the agreement, if you harm our property out of acts of violence we can have you arrested. Human harm will be taken with extreme caution but with severe consequences. If there are cases of domestic violence – the victim (and rest of family, if there is one) can stay, but the harasser cannot.

I would like to make the place pet friendly as well – I don’t want the dogs, cats, turtles, etc go homeless even if the family isn’t anymore. I am an animal rights activist – so animals will be allowed – sadly only accompanied by humans, but at least they are welcome.

If the place became successful – either had income revenue or large charitable donations or people willing to expand our reach, I would love to move beyond the city I start in (was hoping to start it in NYC, but right now I live in the UK, so maybe LONDON – either way) I would love to be able to make this a nation-wide or even world-wide thing.

For now, it is just a dream. But, with enough great minds and hearts out there – if you spread the word of my idea, maybe we can get it up and running! I mean, look at Kickstarter! People had ideas, put it up on kickstarter and now they are up and running – or look at all the silly frivolous ideas on there – couldn’t we use it to make something a bit more worth while?
What do you think?

Freedom to be yourself

So while I was on a bus heading a long way a ways away and up at the front of the bus was a girl – probably in her 20s, maybe late teens, who had her headphones on and, although the bus had a good amount of people in it, she was lip syncing and rocking out to her music.

It was honestly kind of refreshing. I had those little horrible voices in the back of my mind that were like “What is she doing?” “Has she no shame?” “What are the rest of these people thinking?” “Glad I am not her”

But really, why was I worrying? She was having a good time and wasn’t hurting anyone.
An older lady started talking to her, “You must really be enjoying yourself…” she said to her.

The girl took her headphones out to chat and laugh and she was not embarrassed, she knew what she was doing and wasn’t “caught” doing something that she wished she hadn’t. They conversed lightly for a while until the older lady exited the bus. Which was when the girl put her headphones back on and continued to jam. When a friend of hers joined her on the bus I heard her retell the story – still, no inflection of embarrassment.

I envy that kind of confidence! I also envy that enjoyment – I wish everyone could find that kind of fun and enjoyment in their lives. People say that it is the little things in life that make it all worthwhile – she might just really understand what that means.

Do the things you enjoy, and don’t be afraid to enjoy them! Sure, the work needs to get done, but remember that play is an essential part of a fulfilling life – and as my Uncle Scott would say, “Work Hard, Play HARDER!”

Variety is the spice of life, and all clichés like that. Someone once told me that they are only clichés because they are true. So, you know, keep that in mind!

Go out and have some fun – dance like no one is watching, rock out like you are part of the band, be unafraid!

It is all those things we were told as kids – we need to ask our inner child – what do you want to do? and just allow ourselves to be free.

Now I feel like I need to give this a re-watch:
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All children must be kept on a lead?

So here in the UK I have seen so many kids on leashes…

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…and I can’t decide whether I am appalled by it or not. On the one hand – it can keep children out of trouble (what they could get into and what others could create for them – i.e. you won’t lose your kids) but on the other hand – it restricts the child’s freedom, and I wonder what being on a leash does to a child’s psyche.

I found an article from the Huffington post that also has a quick overview video.

I have seen a multitude of types of leashes – from straight up leashed (as seen above) to a leash attached to a backpack, to leashes attached to scooters (see below).

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scooter leash

I suppose if you are going to have a leash on a child, I prefer the backpack idea. They can choose what fun backpack they have – say the teddy bear one that I found – and they can be happy and proud to wear it, rather than being forced into a weird looking harness. Scooters are already annoying, with the amount of them and the kids using them that I have had to dodge, but doesn’t a leash on them defeat their purpose? It’s funny that half the time the kid on the scooter is miles ahead of their parent and I wonder whom this child actually belongs to – and the other half of the time the parent is basically dragging their kid along on the scooter via the leash.

I only hop that many parents haven’t turned around to find they are pulling an empty scooter – but I’m sure that you could feel a difference in the leash, but I do wonder.

I also wonder if it gives too much of the sense of detachment. A parent holds you on a leash instead of carrying you or holding your hand. A leash may seem easier, but is it worth it? I feel that if it is a matter of safety or peace of mind – maybe using the leash as a tether more than what it is would be better; where the parent has it attached to themselves the same way it is attached to their child – to show equality and that they are willing to do as much as they are putting their child through.

I don’t know, is there a good answer to this? Am I thinking too much of it?
I suppose it could be worse:

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Vlog Brothers

Okay, so I have been an avid Vlog Brothers watcher since my super amazing mega foxy awesome hot friend Kendyl (Head of Adaptationpodcast.com that I reblog and podcast with) turned me onto them.

If you don’t know who the Vlog Brothers are – I will tell you. Hank and John Green, actual brothers, send video messages to each other each week, but it is more than that – we get updates on their lives and they talk about fun, interesting, and sometimes upsetting things – but all in a good way. If John Green sounds familiar, that is because he is a best selling young adult author, yes THAT John Green – his book “A Fault in our Stars” is about to become a major motion picture staring Shailene Woodley. In one of John’s latest videos we got a small sneak peek into the filming – though they are not telling where they are filming, and probably for good reason! If you don’t know Hank, well, then you should! While John seems to be more of the history and English side of things, Hank has a science sense to him, plus he is a musician and created DFTBA records (based on their saying, Don’t forget to be awesome!)

Anyway – lately, I have loved the Vlog Brothers even more than I thought was possible – Mainly because I have loved them so much since Kendyl introduced me, I mean they created Nerdfighteria (which I would like to consider myself a member of!) and they are out to better the world, or as they put it “decreasing worldsuck” and they are just generally informative and entertaining! But now, I have more love for them – one because I am very happy for John Green, and the other is because of this video by Hank:

And this new video (since I drafted this post) by John:

They are amazing guys! So please check out their youtube channel. Plus their affiliate channels for fun, science and education, and more! I linked them in the words, and don’t have to link them in any dooblidoo (because I am determined to make that a real word thanks to John Green!)

Join Nerdfighteria! And help “Fight worldsuck” (also all my links and more can be found there)

And to the Green Brothers… Keep doing what you are doing, you are both super amazing! – and Next time you guys are in the UK, assuming I’m still here, contact me! I would love to meet you!

Much love and big hugs. Catch you next time and don’t forget to be awesome!

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