Land of the Lost Souls

“Land of the Lost Souls, My Life on the Streets” by Cadillac Man

This book was originally written by Cadillac Man in spiral notebooks over a period of sixteen years. He covers the perils, freedoms and uncertainties of a man living on the streets of New York City. No matter how many homeless people you’ve seen, perhaps even known, I am sure that you know little about what their day-to-day life is like. I know that I did not. This book gives an intimate and frightening view of what that existence is like.

Cadillac Man got his street name from being hit by a Cadillac and afterwards bearing the imprint of the car’s logo. He has a way of telling much of his story humorously, but there is also fear, fighting, death and even romance in his life. If you are offended by foul language then perhaps this isn’t a book for you. I found the gritty verbiage more believable than if it had been sanitized.

This book is illuminating and probably should be read by most of us who have a safe environment and place to call home. There are many reasons why there are folks living on the streets and we should be more aware of them.

Pitching Plastic

Pitching Plastic

Years ago when I traveled in my job, I was a frequent hotel “guest.” Like everyone I collected those little individual use toiletries. There were plastic bottles of shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion and sometimes body wash. There was always more than one could use, so I’d cart them home in my suitcase. Pretty soon I had too many at home and I’d donate them to homeless shelters, as I know some of my friends do today.

It took a while for me to realize what a waste these plastic pieces were and how they were destroying our planet. Our world is drowning in plastics of all sizes and shapes. Thank goodness some hotel companies are waking up to this problem and are doing something about it.

Hyatt, Marriott and Holiday Inn are three of the companies phasing out these little plastic bottles in their hotels and replacing them with large multi-use pump bottles. In addition some hotels are no longer routinely providing plastic bottles of drinking water. They are encouraging the use of personal refillable bottles by providing fresh water dispensers in their lobbies.

Hopefully this trend will continue. We should support these efforts. We all can do better.

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Here is why this is important:  https://crookedcreek.live/2018/07/02/waste/

Photos by Pixabay

Haven House Needs Met

Specific needs identified at Haven House Homeless Shelter https://crookedcreek.live/2019/07/10/haven-house-needs/  have been met by volunteers who learned what needed to be done and stepped up to do them. Some of those who worked on these projects are Allison and Stan Puckett of Stan’s Home Improvement, LLC, Bob Fred of Bob Fred’s Welding and Elizabeth Puckett, IUPUI senior.

In addition employees and residents of Haven House planted flowers and rosebushes at the entrance and prepared a small garden area inviting guests to enjoy the out of doors and nature. Here are photos of that area:

 

 

Lighting has been installed in a dark stairway.

 

 

The church rehabbed into a homeless shelter has three entrances with steps and none had handrails for safety. Now they do. Below are photos of the two rear entrances:

 

 

Installing the handrail for the front entrance steps was more of a challenge but was accomplished after four hours of work in the hot sun.

 

 

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A big THANK  YOU to all who helped with these projects!

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Stan Puckett of Stan’s Home Improvement, LLC

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Allison Puckett, LMHC

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Elizabeth Clay Puckett

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Bob Fred of Bob Fred’s Welding who contributed his time and labor to weld the handrails.

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https://crookedcreek.live/2019/07/07/haven-house/

NOTE: These are my observations and opinions. I do not represent nor speak for Haven House. 

Haven House Needs

Haven House Homeless Shelter  https://crookedcreek.live/2019/07/07/haven-house/   has many needs but used clothing is not one of them. After having taken clothes numerous times, I recently learned that clothes seem to be the easiest items for folks to donate therefore the supply is endless. According to the Executive Director, Barbara Anderson, staples for the kitchen are very much in need. Other needs are harder to meet.

Some of the obvious needs I identified on my visits are handrails and lighting for safety, replacement of damaged and stained ceiling tiles, paint and drywall patching. A handicapped ramp is in need of repair and these are just the obvious.

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Handicap Ramp at the side of Haven House

Anderson states that many people do volunteer their time to help out Haven House. For instance, one person does maintenance work for free. Another group planted and is helping to tend a garden to provide fresh vegetables for the kitchen. See photos of the garden below: 

 

As stated before https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/02/people-are-good/ people are good and often willing to help others if they know what needs to be done. 

NOTE: These are my observations and opinions. I do not represent nor speak for Haven House. 

Haven House

Haven House is the only homeless shelter in Southern Indiana to serve fourteen counties. It is set up to house around sixty-five people, men, women, and children, per night, but rarely is it not over capacity. Most nights there are eighty-five people sheltered and often as many as one-hundred and ten. Thirty percent of the residents are from across the Ohio River in Louisville, KY. The average stay is 26 days.

Haven House, established in 1985, has been in its current location at 1727 D. L. Motley Jr. Way in Jeffersonville, IN since 1999. The facility is a rehabbed church building which you see in the photo below. V8Uqb9tCQZGsIVc26YOM6w

Besides meals and lodging residents of Haven House are provided clinical care by four volunteer Registered Nurses. These volunteers do minor treatments, monitor prescriptions, triage medical needs and maintain necessary records of treatment and health maintenance which is provided by Life Spring Health System that has a grant to care for the homeless. Once per week a van transports residents to the healthcare facility.

Residents are expected to pay for lodging ($5/night) and meals which run from $1.20 for breakfast to $1.60 for dinner. If residents have no money to pay a tab is kept and they are expected to pay when they have obtained a job. Volunteers assist residents with job applications and interviews.


Information in this post was gathered in an interview with Haven House Executive Director, Barbara Anderson on May 3, 2019. Haven House has a Board made up of six members who meet quarterly. There are five full-time employees and all other work is performed by volunteers.

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Barbara Anderson

 

For additional information on the Haven House see: https://crookedcreek.live/2019/04/02/people-are-good/

 

NOTE: These are my observations and opinions. I do not represent nor speak for Haven House. 

People Are Good

A few years ago I started taking used clothing to a homeless shelter in Indiana. It wasn’t a big deal, just sharing some things that no longer fit. I mentioned this in passing to a couple of neighbors and friends and was surprised when several offered some things for me to take on my next trip. One woman even provided beautiful new hand-knitted caps for adults as well as clothing and blankets for babies.  These good people continued to donate and started my more frequent runs to the shelter, sometimes with the back of my SUV packed to capacity. 

I am sharing this with you today because I believe we need to be reminded that people are good. With so much bad news bombarding us each day, it helps me to think of these kind people who are helping others. It may seem like a small thing, but to the men, women, and children who are living in this shelter having nice clean clothes to put on each day is not to be taken for granted. 

Haven House

I went to the shelter, Haven House, a few days ago and there were many people who were staying there because they had no other place to live. While living there residents are expected to share in chores such as cooking and cleaning. They are assisted with job applications and finding permanent housing.

As usual, the shelter was way over capacity the day I visited. The best example of what the people there are like is this man:

In the dining room which doubles as a day room, there were four rigid plastic chairs pushed together to make a bed. On the chairs lay a man who had no bed due to the overcrowding. He was covered head to knees in a sheet and his feet with his shoes on stuck out the bottom. The room was noisy and I asked the volunteer who was with me how he could sleep like this. She said it was his only choice if he was going to be able to go to work on the night shift. 

Too often we take things like our beds, clothing, and meals for granted. https://crookedcreek.live/2018/12/05/home/  There are those who are struggling daily for these necessities. The good news is that there are volunteers working, people giving and men and women working when given the opportunity. Working to make their lives better. 

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“Where we love is home – home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts.”    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

 

NOTE: These are my observations and opinions. I do not represent nor speak for Haven House. 

 

Home?

Home Sweet Home

It is a pretty sure thing that most, if not all, who read this have a place to call home. It may not be considered “sweet” but is probably warm, private and comfortable. Do we fail to appreciate our homes? Probably. I know I do at times. Once in a while though, I really pause to look around and genuinely appreciate each convenience and comfort, but it is easy to take these things for granted.

The Poorhouse

When I was a very little girl growing up in Anderson County, KY I remember a place called the “Poorhouse.” This big house sat up on a hill on the way to Lawrenceburg. There was a front porch that wound around the building and when we passed this place in nice weather there were men and women sitting in rocking chairs on this long porch. They looked old to me, but then all adults did at that time in my childhood. 

Looking back I can still see those figures sitting on the porch and I now have more idea about how they became residents and how much stigma must have been connected to moving to the poorhouse. This was before Medicaid and supplemental programs to help the poor live independently. Such programs have changed the face of poverty but have not erased it.

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Homelessness

Homelessness is a problem all over the world but today let’s look at the U.S. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness in January of last year there were 553,742 people homeless in this country. This number, which represents 17 persons out of 10,000, is actually down since the last year counted. Some states such as Georgia have decreased their number of homeless but others, including New York and California, have increased. Thirty-four percent of homeless citizens are living unsheltered in such places as underpasses or abandoned buildings. I find it interesting that our places with the highness homeless rates are the nation’s capital (110 per 10,000) and Hawaii, a place we consider paradise (51 per 10,000).  https://endhomelessness.org/homelessness-in-america/homelessness-statistics/state-of-homelessness-report/

At Risk

The most common reason for being homeless is obviously financial. The National Coalition for the Homeless points out some of the factors that contribute to financial difficulties. These include foreclosure, loss of work and job unavailability, decreases in public assistance and lack of affordable housing. 

Many homeless individuals suffer from mental illness and/or addiction. Domestic violence often leaves families without safe homes. A decrease in available healthcare is another factor among many others. http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/

So What?

What can we do? For a start:

  • We can let our government representatives know that we care about this issue and that we are watching their decisions.
  • We can contribute money to agencies that provide shelter for the homeless. 
  • We can donate blankets, clothes, food and other essentials to homeless charities.
  • We may be able to volunteer to provide services directly to the homeless. 

What other ideas do you have to alleviate homelessness locally and nationally? 

 

“We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction.” Dennis Kucinich

Photos from Pixabay