Topics, Tags & Catagories

So here’s a list of topics that we’re talking about on these pages:
Affordable Housing, Employment, Food Stamps SNAP, Food, Food Deserts, Work, Jobs, Manufacturing Moved Offshore, Poverty, Welfare, Income Inequality, Occupy Homeless, Gnat, AtomGnat, Gnat-one-ette, Facebook, Twitter, Activist, Religion, Mental and Physical Health, Education, Writer, Artist, Community…

Do You Have a Story to tell?? We want to publish that on this website and our Facebook page! Come on, don’t be shy! And if you are, we’ll happily help you with a alias so that your identity can be kept private. 

this is a test to figure out the placement of tags and wtf categories are…

A light In The Darkness

Adam-wounded002

IT’S HARD TO SEE the light within us until someone holds up a mirror to help us reflect.

Over the past three decades, I watched my younger brother, Adam, deteriorate from musician and high-functioning bipolar to exhausted alcoholic. In November, he was found dead in a cold New York City subway stairwell.

The coroner just recently called to say my brother had seven times the legal limit of alcohol in his system, which stopped his weak heart.

Adam, who was homeless, often told me that he was “drinking away the darkness.” He was so blinded by others’ light that he failed to see his own.

My brother believed that his light had gone out.

I’ve written before that the homeless are invisible to most people. We don’t want to see them; they make us uncomfortable. By shining a light on them, I hope people will be forced to open their eyes.

Because of the last piece I wrote about my brother, at Thanksgiving, other homeless people and shelter workers who read his story online contacted me to say they’d met him in his final years.

Adam would have been shocked to learn that he was their light. His self-deprecating jokes, guitar playing and sketches on pieces of cardboard, handed out freely at shelters and on the street, brought joy to others.

Hearing that, I resolved to hold up a mirror for others who are walking around in the dark.

A veteran in North Carolina who had been stationed in Hampton Roads and has been homeless off and on since 1981 contacted me through Twitter. Many street people find a kind of safe invisibility online as they spend countless hours in public libraries while waiting for shelters to reopen at night.

On Twitter, this veteran uses the handle “Occupy_Homeless.” “You good folks that are not from our tribe, seldom understand,” he said. “Being invisible can be safer at times, but we need to be visible and you need to keep writing that. Please. It’s hard for us to trust, but I trust you to do that.”

Darkness isn’t reserved for street people, though. Last week during the weekly chess night at a Norfolk community center, I noticed one of the regulars, a young, divorced father, sitting alone in a corner.

He’s always been one of the lights in the room. Seeing him go completely dark shook me up.

He works hard at a blue-collar job and still makes time to bring his son every Wednesday evening, from another city, so they can learn the game side by side.

This man’s quiet presence speaks of hope for fatherhood, community, the mending of broken families and broken dreams.

He told me that his problem that night was a weight familiar to many: Finances. Self-worth. Family issues.

Sometimes sharing your own story can help other people pull themselves together, so I told him mine.

I told him about Adam and my pain over feeling that I had failed him.

Then I told him that seeing him with his son, and all the promise they held, helped me look away from my darkness and into their light.

He needed to know that he was a light.

As soon as it sank in, his eyes told me his spark was still there.

Sometimes we need to take that few moments to recognize when someone’s gone dark and stoke them up.

In addition to being a light, we are all mirrors for each other. We reflect what we see. To be the best reflections we can be, we cannot be blind to the suffering of others.

 

The author, Lisa Suhay of Norfolk, is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk Initiative for Chess Excellence, http://www.NiceChess.net.

**This article first appeared in The Virginian Pilot news paper (online) and can be seen here: http://pilotonline.com/opinion/columnist/guest/lisa-suhay-a-light-in-the-darkness/article_a913f84f-2ae0-5809-9045-5f52afd31ac0.html and has been used by permission from the author.

GOODWILL INDUSTRIES — Helping or Harming

Goodwill

Goodwill Industries a great place for low income families; or so it would seem. You can walk in with twenty dollars, and walk out with two bags full of clothes. Just a nice clean thrift store, helping out in the communities; or so it would seem.

Goodwill Industries, a tax-exempt, non profit, generates more than five million dollars in annual revenue. Executives get paid a six to seven digit salary, but pays its employees twenty two cents per hour; which is all legal. I did not say it was right, I said it was legal. Goodwill employs the disabled, the Fair Labor Standard Act of 1938 gives the employer the right to pay people with disabilities sub-minimum wages.

A bill called Transitioning to Integrated and Meaningful Employment (TIME), was introduced to Congress in January 2015. This bill would phase out the special wage certificate, the bill reached the floor in April 2015, but the bill is still alive.

In 1938 TIME seemed to be a good idea, but in 2016 it has been way out dated. So the next time you decide to donate think about the men and women making slave wages, to benefit who?

There was a time when we saw a person in need, and handed him/her clothes free of charge. Now in this society we think about giving to Goodwill for a small tax break, not thinking that the man/woman that needed those clothes, will now have to find the money they don’t have, to buy them.

— J.S. / gnat1ette

Ref: http://www.cheatsheet.com/business/how-goodwill-industries-fails-to-show-good-will.html/?a=viewall

Please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/OccupyHomeless

Things That Knock Us Down and Kill Us Slowly

homeless-person-edit002

This sort of story is so common that many of us homeless folks barely mention it anymore. If you’d like to meet the worst sort of people, try getting housing with a very little money or while homeless. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll get ripped off or worse.

Besides low paid jobs, housing costs and deposits are our biggest obstacles. The fastest way that i know of to become homeless is to get in the wrong area, by trusting some property owner. Sure, they have it rough, the probably get a lot of low-life’s that tear up their property. But does that justify them overcharging and gaming the system to cheat everyone else?

And while i’m on this topic, maybe now would be a good time to mention the mental and emotional toll all of this has on person. As you may see, J and i are not weak-hearted and i think we’re both rather intelligent. What may not come through in words is, we’re also rather brave and will address problems head on. We’re both more stubborn than an old mule and don’t get pushed so easily.. lol, this makes it tough between us at times, 😉 but it’s given us both a resolve to make it through the tough things in life. The things that generally stop other folks. We just don’t quit and never give up. Sadly, that’s not so for most folks.

Humans can only take so much rejection and/or abuse. We give up. We get crushed under the hopelessness of it all. Many will have some sort of breakdown. Others, turn to drugs or alcohol for relief. Others find themselves selling themselves for a meal and/or a warm bed… even if that bed is a high-priced back ally motel.. these things eat your heart, mind and spirit… we despair and die a little at a time until there is nothing left of us… those are the ones that most people see, our broken ones.

None of our words on this page/s are meant to shame you or us… we’re really hoping to gain some understanding, a little peace with all of this mess. We hope that your understanding will help us to bring about the needed social changes to prevent this from getting worse… and maybe even to turn it all around and end homelessness, once and for all.

Now, this post started because i’d read an article By Terrence McCoy, at the Washington Post called: ‘The confounding story of the disabled veterans who went weeks in winter without heat — and then were evicted ‘ and it can be found at this link: https://goo.gl/A1W8Gm

As always, thanks for reading and such… ~ gnat

visit our facebook page -> http://www.facebook.com/OccupyHomeless Thanks

Late night confessions from a homeless facebook page admin

There have been many times during these almost five years that i thought that this page would be better off closed. I’ve second and fiftieth guessed the name, thinking it was all wrong, but kept it and stumbled on… even though many have abandoned the ‘occupy’ name — occupy said to occupy the things that we cared about, hence this name — i was homeless before they surprised the world with their message, i was homeless for most of the time that they engaged the world, was housed for a brief moment and then homeless again. This pattern repeats for most homeless folks, if you didn’t know.
What else should i occupy, but the things that i know? hahaha, what sort of nut sits in a cold and leaky tent, keeping a facebook page going on an old cell phone? Who writes and works offline on a laptop saving work and posts, waiting for an opportunity to “occupy” a motel room with the priority being it has wifi – the shower and bed are going to be there, but the internet connection was my single thought! I worry that i’ve become obsessed, then i remember that someone must speak for all of the invisible ones, the forgotten ones… and my words pour out, so they might as well go to some use – you’ve helped me to write more clearly, an unexpected byproduct of this work i do… thank you for that too.
Tonight, we got our 931st page like! Another fan, she makes the 18th new ‘fan’ for the last 7 days! There were months that we didn’t see 18 page views! Idk about all of our other admins here (5 in total) but these things humble me at best, and amaze me beyond my ability to say.
Even as i say that i’ve learned to write a little better, i know that this is a rambling mess that i’m working through.. it comes from my heart.. a heart broken by the stories that i hear, the stories that i live…
a secret, that i’m surprised that no one has asked me/us here – people on the streets contact us from time to time… they are in a scary place and have no one to talk with and all i have are words to give… all i can say is ‘i know’ and ‘me too’… it breaks my heart and i can’t keep that stuff inside of me, so i let it leak out on this page and other places — sorry for the times that i rage accusations — be grateful that it doesn’t happen more often… know that i literally scream those words and try to do so far from any ears — but there’s always some misery that i’m carrying and it leaks, no, it bleeds onto these pages…
hahahaha, i sometimes bitterly think that you folks are hanging around, like some folks slow to look at a car wreck, to see this train wreck of a person hunt and peck his way through some other thing.. then one or three of you will empathize in amazing ways and speak love words – your ‘likes’ comfort me and my sweet helper, J….., know as gnat1ette on these pages and that’s enough to cause us to keep this going a moment longer. A moment longer.
At this point, we’re awaiting critical mass. The tipping point. That moment when *Everything changes* and a social movement blooms from the crap we’ve seen and spoken about. Is that soon? What happens then?
We dream of a big old farm house or at least a large chunk of farmable land for our tent or yurt and space enough that any needful soul can pitch a tent in that safe place too… the only requirement being the desire to help farm and feed others in need… i jokingly call it ‘Hundred Acre Wood’ or ‘Misfit Island’, either would work.
….this isn’t the first time that i’ve sat somewhere and written disjointed thoughts for this page, but this may be the first time that i hit ‘publish’ instead of delete. There is an emptyish blog for this page, but it scares me — writing in general scares me — i used to be a little shy and a lot insecure, that got burned away while i walked this long path. Maybe i should cut/paste this to that blog, no one knows the address, it may never be seen 🙂
Ok, here goes – #931 aka ‘Kim’ our newest page ‘like’, this post is a hello and an introduction and an apology, inspired by your seemingly random like. Yes, Poet Christopher, i saw you click that Like button too and yes, your beauty inspires me to bravery…
It’s lightened my heart sharing this, don’t let these words bring you down.. Smile and be glad with me that many are listening and collectively we’ll figure out how to make a difference..
With Love and Gratitude, gnat