Homeless Protest- For 15 days, myself, and Dennis Davis, a on/off homeless individual, set up our 25' Tipi, on the NW corner of Martin Luther King, and Third Street. Adjacent to Detroit Rescue Mission, and kitty korner fron the NSO, Neighborhood Service Organization. DRM feeds folks daily, offers bathroom and shower facilities, and houses men overnight, at this location. The NSO offers overnight housing, and day admittance, with no food. This block has been very busy, for a long time, with homeless and street folks. Jesus Love Detroit has been feeding and helping folks here, along with many others, for decades. We lived outside for 15 days in December weather. It was brutally cold. It was below 19 degrees the first 5 days we were there. At that temperature, it was never comfortable in the Tipi, just tolerable. I always had great respect for all Native Americans, but gained huge respect for those who wintered in northern climates. Our goal was to draw local, and international exposure to these tragedies of homelessness and hunger! You can read an account of this protest on our blog page
Homeless Dinner at Farmington First Presbyterian- This was our third year of being just one, of many folks and organizations, who fed, and helped these folks. When we cater an event, we purchase,prepare,cook,serve, and clean up, as if our clients were paying top dollar. We serve drinks, and appetizers, several meats and side dishes, along with deserts, and after dinner beverages. We put on an elegant dinner, that serves better food, than most high dollar weddings, I attend. We buy the best ingredients, prepare and cook them properly, and serve them with a flourish. Brisket that has been slow cooked, and carved on the buffet line, to a selection of pastry chef's finest's cakes! To read more about our food, see our food page.
We put together our road show, complete with a feast, to educate churches, and other organizations, about homelessness and hunger, that is happening right in their communities, and how they can contribute to combat these tragedies. Our first presentation was hosted by Mack Ave Church, who in turn, was hosting a student mission trip from Cornerstone University. Charles John is the mission director at MACC Development, who had invited the students to this mission trip, in Detroit.. We had a great time eating, and teaching these eager students about hunger, and homelessness. As part of our presentation, our team includes homeless individuals, who had great interaction with the students. They were able to converse, ask questions, and to pray with a homeless individual, in a safe setting.They also were able to give us advice, and pointers on our presentation. We were looking forward to many more of these in the near future.
Covid restrictions curtailed our Feast's, and our presentations, and little did we know, that would be for the whole year! We were locked out of our offices at Tech Town Detroit, for most of the year. We had to pivot, and adjust as the whole world has. Folks needing help never stopped, we just encountered more folks needing help! I had been a reading mentor, and homework helper for Detroit kids, through MACC Literature, which also had to stop in person gathering. They have since resumed via ZOOM, and the director Alyce Hartman is always looking for volunteers, and with ZOOM, you can be anywhere in the world, and still help these children. Sign up at MaccDeveloement.org
We partnered with a local resale store ( Share House) that helped us outfit apartments for homeless folks, moving into their own place. It is hard to imagine starting from zero possessions, to stock a home. Sure, a bed, and bedding is first. Then how about clothes, toiletries, furniture, and kitchen stuff. We receive the basics from the resale store, and we purchase the rest. Imagine sitting down on a folding chair, wanting a cup of coffee. First you need a coffee machine. Then coffee, coffee filter, sugar, cream, spoon, and a coffee cup. We try and make their home as comfortable as we can, and let them personalize their home, as they want.This comes after searching, and finding an affordable place, which is extremely hard to find in Detroit. You would be shocked at the rents charged, for places, I bet you wouldn't spend one night in. Then helping them with the application process, and utilities. There is always follow up, and mentoring and friendship, to keep them here, and off the street.
As mentioned in previous months report, constant monitoring of these folks is needed. Because of mental health issues, it is hard for many to adjust to paying bills, and maintaining their own place. Sadly we are no stranger to the 2nd floor of 36th District Court, where eviction proceedings are handled. Many tears on this floor, as it is the last resort before the street, for many folks. Detroit Housing Coalition has attorneys and case workers, but sadly there is not enough housing to go around, and folks fall through the cracks in the system, and become homeless! The government has plenty of tax dollars that are allocated for this, but most of it is bled off, by all the bureaucracy, and administration of these agencies!
We do a lot of phone counseling of spiritual nature. We used to do this in person, but have switched to the phone, during this Covid season. Alcohol, drugs, domestic violence, anger, child custodies, and other topics,are regularly discussed. I give my cell phone number to lots of folks, and dare them to call me. Few rarely do. But the ones that do, we have developed relationships with, and counsel them in person, and the phone. The ones that do call, they learn they will be helped, day or night, as many times as necessary, and great friendships have developed from this.
Transportation continues to be one of the cities greatest shortfalls . Folks put off medical care, visiting family, buying food, education, court appearances, job interviews, and everything else, simply because they don't have a ride! We have transported folks so they could visit their sick children, go to the grocery store,medical appointments, accompany them to court, Covid Testing, find a job at Michigan Works, go to Social Security, Department of Human Services, renew their I.D. at theSecretary of State, and everything else life requires. One of our greatest successes was helping an eldery man see again. He was losing his sight over several years, when he simply needed cataract surgery. He just needed a friend to help. Getting him into Kresge Eye Institute was a blessing. He had waited way to long, and he was finally going to get some help. This was not easy in a Covid year. This took many, many visits, and postponements. This took most of the year, but now he has improved vision, and can get on with life! Others we have helped needed Urologists, Kidney Specialists, Cancer Oncologist's, Orthopedics, Cardiologists, Mental Health Specialists, Physical Rehabilitionist, and others.
Poverty and Hunger took no vacation during this Covid Season, they actually made it all worse. Folks who work for cash, or don't have bank accounts, never receive any government help. I get so angry every time an agency tells me that folks just need to go to their agency's website, or access it through their smartphone! These are agency people, supposedly trained to help the less unfortunate! During their time in college, I believe they either got stupider, or lost any reference to reality, or the population, they are paid to serve! 1/3 of the homes in Detroit don't have internet, and their flip phone is inadequate to access anything. When all the big guys get bailed out, and the smallest of small, get nothing, this is messed up people!!! We along with others, purchase restaurant food, and deliver it ourselves to folks. It helps the struggling restaurants, and the recipients. What I don't get is all the folks, and governments that buy restaurant meals for Healthcare Workers. Good intentions are not good enough! Healthcare workers are extremely important always, and even more during Covid. But they have jobs! Health Insurance! Paychecks! Lots of folks have none of these things, and a little food to them is a Godsend!!!
We ask families what they would care to eat. Then we go purchase that, and deliver it to the most grateful folks you ever meant. We also go to the market and fill their freezers, their refrigerator's, and their pantry's. As a chef, and a person who appreciates great food, I mostly take it for granted, that I can buy whatever I want to eat. I know God supplies everything I have, but sometimes I forget how fortunate I truly am. Food banks, and Food box giveaway's are nice, but how would you respond to just getting boxes of food from people, with no concern of your diet, or personal preferences? 30 lbs. of carrots and cabbage are more than a home needs. But some agency;s check off the box, thinking they are really helping someone. Everyone talks about saving food, and giving it to a food bank, and they in turn give it to needy people, and everyone goes home thinking they did a good deed. You would be very surprised how much food gets thrown away, after everyone thinks they salvaged it. While we are talking about it, no one likes old food, that was going to be thrown away, or fed to animals! Do you? I think not! Read our food page for more of this insight. Its amazing how you can light up a kids face, and a whole families outlook, with their favorite pop, and chips. We are nutritionist who enjoy a pop, and chips ourselves.
Our catering equipment was put to good use, for a family in need. We have had personal experience with several funerals this year, Covid related and others. First our friend's daughter was a victim of a violent crime, and eventually passed. This was in the beginning of Covid, and we had to mourn,help, and pray from a distance. Very hard for a family at anytime, but especially during Covid. The funeral was limited to 10 people, and the funeral home live streamed it. I am pleased to say this man, and women, leaned on God through out this ordeal, and were a shining example, of how followers of Jesus Christ, can find refuge in His love! During this time I was constantly amazed and encouraged by their walk and talk!
Another of our friends passed in 3 days, from this deadly disease. Sixteen year old twins were suddenly without their father! We helped the mother during this trying time with transportation, food, medical care, and spiritual friendship. Again, I am totally amazed how my friends are spiritual pillars. This is real life, and death, and whoever you are, it is certainly revealed to all, who you really are! I pity the folks who don't have a relationship with Jesus, and in difficult times like these, have to put their faith in the world.
Another family we love, lost their 13 year old daughter suddenly over a weekend, with a headache! Six months later, they held a driveby Covid celebration, on what would have been her 14th birthday. So many folks turned out to stay, or drove by to support this family. We had a very small part in bringing our equipment, and serving food. Medical,hospital,police,funeral,postal, and so many friends turned out for this family during Covid, it put my faith back into mankind, that I had lost a little. In my whole life, and I am an old man, this was one of the most special things, I have ever been part of, and to observe! She was a very special, jazzy teenager, who is now in Heaven, and I believe I saw Heaven on earth that day! Her brother and sisters, and mom and dad, are my heroes!
Home Repairs are needed on any home, no matter where, or no matter the value. Most of us don't keep up on our home's preventative maintenance, now imagine you have no money for food,so home maintenance gets put off for years, if not forever! We were blessed to meet one of the nicest ladies I have ever met. God continues to put these elder women in my life as He has, for many years. Nancy and I had the pleasure of meeting Gramma, in her 87th year., and becoming her friend. We met her through a friend, of a friend. She was fighting cancer, from her sharply groomed, flowered home in Detroit, on the north eastside! We helped with food,transportation, and prescription medicines. As I sat on her couch, she regaled me with stories of the deep south years ago, that prompted her, and her late husband to move to Detroit. Her unwavering faith was in God Almighty, and she knew her day was coming to meet Jesus! face to face. Like too many widowed, elderly women I meet,who are strong, whether they want to be or not, she was taking care of an adult son, and an adult granddaughter. My admiration for Gramma is incredible, and I often wished I had met her earlier in life. When fall came, and the seasons changed, her furnace wouldn't start. We supplied her with temporary heat, and monitored the situation, until her furnace was fixed. This was during her treatment for her dehabilitating cancer.This saint of a woman had a very close relationship with Jesus Christ, who she leaned on everyday! She would send chills down my spine, with her tales of walking with Jesus, as a little girl in the south, to being an active member of her church in Detroit! I thank God, that he allows me to meet the folks, He puts in front of me! It makes me a much better human down here on earth!
Several of our friends are blind, and several are confined to a wheelchair. When you are homeless, or low income, life is hard enough, but Imagine not being able to see, or walk. We had an opportunity to help celebrate one of our friends 56th birthday, in her new house. She is blind, and had been homeless the previous two years, before securing the home she lives in now. What a celebration. Food, music, and friends came together to party with her. Another of our friends who has persevered through what would have killed, a lesser person. The wheelchair that Medicaid pays for is the cheapest wheelchair made. It is for indoor use, for a small person.It doesn't last very long, when a large homeless man, with all his belongings hanging from it, wheels through the snow, and mud.We have purchased many wheelchairs over the years, and know what a good one is. Sadly, the folks who run Medicaid, don't know what a good one is! Another friend of ours is a musician, who isn't getting any Covid government relief, even though he is unemployed because of Covid. With some help of transportation, we have been able to get him to a few gigs, where he has been able to make a few bucks. Things we take for granted, are Godsends to other folks! God continues to help me see so much, through my blind friends!
We were able to help families during this Christmas season with holiday food, and help with purchasing their children's Christmas gifts. This time of year is a joyous time for Christians as we celebrate our Savior's birth. For some it is an additional burden, when your budget is already broken, and Covid has robbed your family of a paycheck. It's maddening for parents who are not getting by anyway, to wonder how they will get through Christmas. For those of us who live comfortably, how you use your money is very important. Actually no matter how much money you have, its very important how you use it! It's God's money, not yours! Read Matthew 25, I dare you! The bible says if you have the means to help someone, and you don't, that is a sin! If you don't know anyone experiencing poverty, homelessness, or hunger, we do! Contact us, and I will show you very directly how your concern, money, talents, and gift's can be used, to good use. In closing this year end report, we encourage all of you reading this, to open your eyes, and help the folks right in front of you, who despertely need your help. Open your eyes, open your ears, and open your heart!..