We will be reissuing a 2nd Edition of Bend Me Shape me in June with a brand new cover to match the others in the series. What do you think of it?
Here are the covers from Painted Black and Box of Rain. Good match, right?
“I speak four languages.”
“I’ve built robots.”
“I have a degree in biology from West Virginia University.”
These aren’t statements from renowned business leaders or well-known academics. These are truths written on cardboard signs by homeless people living in Orlando, Florida.
Their stories are highlighted in Rethink Homelessness, a campaign created by the nonprofit Impact Homelessness, to change damaging stereotypes about those living without stable shelter. The campaign — which also features stories from accomplished athletes, a computer geek and individuals grappling with serious illness — is taking on “a problem that has dogged Central Florida,” as the Orlando Sentinel’s Scott Maxwell noted.
And the facts back Maxwell up.
Florida has an estimated 47,862 homeless individuals, which is about 8 percent of the total U.S. homeless population, according to the 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. What’s more, Florida was deemed the most dangerous state in the nation for homeless people last December, by the National Coalition for the Homeless — the third year the Sunshine State took the No. 1 spot since 2008. In 2012, Florida had more than double the number of hate crimes against the homeless as the runner-up California did.
But Impact Homelessness believes its message of compassion and understanding can prompt positive change.
“Since the recession began, the face of homelessness has been changing,” the organization’s Facebook page reads. “From school children to the elderly, from the barely employed to the victims of abuse … homelessness can affect anyone … unless we all come together to make a difference.”
What do you think of homeless people? If you’ve never actually talked to one, how can you possibly know what you should think?
For all of her life, she had been unintentionally discriminating against the homeless population. She had assumed homeless people must all be crazy or doing drugs, she said.
But when her daughter took a field trip to San Francisco to work with the homeless population, Mayer learned differently.
Because she didn’t feel comfortable allowing her daughter to go on the mission trip alone, Mayer attended as well.
There, she met with a young homeless woman who changed her views on homeless people.
“I had thought they were crazy, addicts or filthy,” Mayer said. “My whole outlook toward homeless people completely changed.”
She returned home and after about three years of working with the local homeless population through her church’s youth group, she started the nonprofit YouthHope Foundation.
Snow in Bend Me Shape me is one of the lucky ones. She has family if only she will let herself trust them.
“Having mental illnesses doesn’t mean a person can’t be highly intelligent and extremely successful professionally”
You probably know, if you’ve been following this blog, that the main character in my second Street Stories suspense novel, Bend Me, Shape Me, has a main character who is diagnosed as bi-polar.
What most people probably don’t know, is that my dad was bi-polar also. This didn’t get diagnosed until later in life. I was already married and out of the house by then, so not as aware of the toll this took on my mother and younger siblings. Looking back, I guess I can see signs of it before then. He was quick-tempered sometimes and prone to bouts of extravagance, though quite frankly that seemed more like his passionate Italian heritage showing. I never remember seeing him depressed as I was growing…
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Do you think I’ve been trying to make it sound like the homeless are all misunderstood heroes simply in need of a hot meal and a white horse? I tell you that’s not at all the case. It ain’t pretty living on the streets, and sometimes neither are the residents. There are junkies and gang members and tweakers and thieves out there, it’s true. But how will you know them from the trustworthy, deserving, good-hearted, and loving individuals unless you take time to learn their story?
In Chicago, Heroin is literally oozing from the streets… Much of the gang related gun violence is connected to the heroin market. If you think you can do heroin just one time, maybe while at a party with your friends – think again.
This is one of the top stories picked up recently by my Paper.li newletter Street Stories, thanks to a tweet by @sherridamoore. While this pastor pulled a “trick” on people, there is an underlying truth in what happened. How many deserving, talented and kind individuals are we turning a blind eye to when we refuse to treat people without homes with human decency?
Pastor Jeremiah Steepek transformed himself into a homeless person and went to the 10,000 member church that he was to be introduced as the head pastor at that morning.
He walked around his soon to be church for 30 minutes while it was filling with people for service, only 3 people out of the 7-10,000 people said hello to him. He asked people for change to buy food – no one in the church gave him change. He went into the sanctuary to sit down in the front of the church and was asked by the ushers if he would please sit in the back. He greeted people to be greeted back with stares and dirty looks, with people looking down on him and judging him.
Paper.li is a website that offers the ability to gather stories together from across the internet related to a certain subject or interest. I created one called Street Stories that searches various sites looking for stories related to homelessness. I’m not sure I have the filters set up right, because sometimes it will collect stories about homeless dogs, or that don’t seem to relate to the subject in any way that I can tell, but for the most part, it does a good job of collecting relevant info and then sharing it via Twitter. There have even been a few retweets so hopefully it is helping to spread the word.
If you want to get a look at the paper, or subscribe to it, please click the image below . You can see what today’s stories are. If you come back here and click tomorrow, you will even see what tomorrow’s stories are.
Yesterday I shared an excerpt from Anne Marie Walsh’s blog “formerly homeless in Chicagoland.” Today I found a post by someone else who also discovered her site. Here’s some of what he had to say.
Yesterday morning I shared via Twitter that Twitter had enabled Walsh, a homeless person, to be an agent for help and change. Yesterday afternoon Walsh thanked me, to which I tweeted back thank you for the inspiration.
I was inspired enough by Walsh to find her Pads Chicago’s Blog :The Voice of the Chicagoland Homeless Community.
On the site I found that one way to help her was to add value to Walsh’s Starbucks card. This morning I added $15.
Maybe you’d consider helping Walsh like this as well. You’ll not only be helping her, but the other homeless people Walsh helps through her social media efforts.