Monday, July 30, 2012

Yohanna

I had a client named Yohanna come in today with another client named Maria. They are immigration clients. Lovely ladies who have been here legally for over 20+ years. Maria is in her 60's and Yohanna is probably my age. Yohanna brought Maria in to pick up her immigration mail. She finally has her appointment with USCIS for the last step in replacing her green card (many more steps than I went through to replace my PA birth certificate). But it was Yohanna who touched me today. While Maria waited with her wonderful, always smiling son who has down syndrome, Yohanna asked me if I could help her understand a word on her own USCIS appointment letter. She said her brother usually helps her but he is out of state at the moment and she just wants to make sure she does everything right. I explained the word and its context in the sentence to her and she was relieved to have a better understanding. Then she said to me, "Ms Tracy. When I get all my documentation renewed I want to start the process for citizenship. It means so much to me." I was touched because I don't often think of my citizenship in the same way someone like Yohanna does. It is a dream of hers. I just have it by default (thanks mom!). She qualifies for citizenship and I said of course I'd help her with the extensive paperwork. But then with tears in her eyes she said, "Ms. Tracy. After my new green card comes and I can work again...can I come give you money for you to help other people too? I mean... I don't have it now but when I do I want to give back." Sigh.....You know that story in the Bible about the widow who gave everything she had and it had more meaning than the gifts of the rich? Yea. That's Yohanna.

Luke 21:1-4
As Jesus looked up, he saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. “Truly I tell you,” he said, “this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day

We walked among the crosses
Where our fallen soldiers lay.
And listened to the bugle
As TAPS began to play.
The Chaplin led a prayer
We stood with heads bowed low.
And I thought of fallen comrades
I had known so long ago.
They came from every city
Across this fertile land.
That we might live in freedom.
They lie here 'neath the sand.
I felt a little guilty
My sacrifice was small.
I only lost a little time
But these men lost their all.
Now the services are over
For this Memorial Day.
To the names upon these crosses
I just want to say,
Thanks for what you've given
No one could ask for more.
May you rest with God in heaven
From now through evermore.
~ C. W. Johnson

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Thirst in the Desert

I went for a bike ride tonight with my daughter. We pulled off the road twice for a water break. It's almost summer in Phoenix, Arizona and that means more than the desert can become parched.

Have you ever gone hiking in the summer? Or played summer golf? Or even walked to the mailbox? It's pretty stinking hot here. I take cold water with me on a hike, get a bottle of that fancy square-bottled water on the golf course, or grab an ice cold bottle of water when I get back from the mailbox.

But I have never really been thirsty. I'm betting you haven't either. At least not in the sense of 'my God I feel like I'm dying and where can I get a bottle of water?' thirsty. 

What if you are homeless and have no money? What if it's 110 degrees out and you keep getting run off any little patch of shade you find because you are 'trespassing'? Where does someone like that get a cold bottle of water to quench that kind of barely surviving thirst that you and I have probably never really known?

The Human Services Campus and its partnering agencies including the Chaplaincy are beginning their Thirst Aid Water Drive for 2012. It will kick off on Friday May 11, 2012 with the arrival of a huge Sundt Construction semi-truck filled with pallets of water!

Last year the HSC collected over 380,000 bottles of water and this year we need help to reach the 500,000 bottle goal. Thirst Aid has been a huge success in allowing us to meet our needs for water without calling on the City of Phoenix Heat Relief Network for donated water, and lessens the need for agencies to spend their resources on purchasing water.

I think you should help. I happen to know plenty of churches, lots of civic groups, tons of friends who want to make a difference in someone's life.

How about donating some cases of bottled water so the next time I have a client in my air-conditioned office who is drenched with sweat and red in the face from the heat; I can swivel around in my chair to my tiny refrigerator knowing I have some ice cold water in there to offer.

Contact our amazing HSC change the world kind of gal Holly Zoe at hzoe@hsc-az.org if you'd like to be involved in saving lives this summer in a very tangible way.

You can also check out more Thirst Aid 2012 info at the new Human Services Campus website HERE.


pace e bene!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I love God, advocating for the homeless, and changing people's minds!

I have had people say to me recently that some people chose to be homeless. I’d like to talk about that common stereotype for just a second. I do not know one person who woke up one day and made the conscious choice to sleep on the street. I do know people who struggle daily with addiction and that makes other decisions very difficult for them. I do know people who suffer from mental illness ranging from just severe enough to make life difficult to severe enough to create an alternative world in someone’s mind. I do know people who are homeless just because one bad decision started an avalanche of bad situations.

I also know I have never had to make any of those decisions or struggle through extreme hardship without a support system of people who love me.

I got a phone call today from a woman at an area hospital and she asked me if we have 'next of kin' information for homeless people. I said sometimes. If they have been in our office we have a file on them and we might have names and numbers. She gave me a name and I froze and asked if by requesting 'next of kin' was she saying that this gentleman had passed away? It was a name I knew well and while a death resulting from his addiction would not necessarily surprise me, it would sadden me greatly.

Fortunately, he is not dead but he is hospitalized and she is trying to reconnect him with family. She found my name and card in his pocket and he told her to call me. We have known Larry for many years. He can be a cantankerous old guy. But he always knew where he’d find people who would give him unconditional love in addition to a healthy dose of scolding. I am so glad Larry is not dead.

Although this is not the first time he’s been hospitalized, it is the first time he told someone to call me. Maybe he’s ready for a change. It's never too late to start living to live rather than living to die.

I’d much rather see Larry again at my door than receive a phone call saying he was found dead on the street. That is just not cool.  

Pray for Larry this week please.
 
Pace e bene!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Starfish Story

The Starfish Story
A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved.

- Adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley

Or as Mother Teresa says: If you can't feed a hundred people, feed just one.
 
Pace e bene!
Tracy L. Geivett, Chaplain/Executive Director

News from the Street!

Ms. Anna lacking ID of any kind called her mom in Michigan for assistance in getting her and her kids birth certificates. Her mom was happy to help and happy to hear from her!

Ms. Shayna also lacking ID of any kind called and talked to her mom in New York City for help in getting her birth certificate and same result.. mom was happy to help!

Mr. C brought his documents in for safe storage because he understands the importance of keeping them safe.

Mr. G was literally just released from prison and came immediately to get his Arizona ID and sign up for a job readiness class with our neighbors St. Joseph the Worker!

Walter got an Arizona ID.

Donald got a Bible, a hygiene kit, and an Arizona ID.

All of these people (and many more) had their day changed with one small gesture this week.

Thanks for joining with us to make a difference for each one just like in the Starfish Story. When we look at changing the world one at a time we don't become overwhelmed and mired in the numbers. We just do good....for one at a time.

Be blessed and be kind.

Romans 12:2

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:2


I was reading The Servant Leader: Transforming your Heart, Head, Hands and Habits by Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges when I came to this snippet of scripture that made me think of the gentleman I met Friday at the sub shop by the Human Services Campus. Our conversation really epitomizes this part of Romans 12:2. It illustrates how change begins, sometimes with just a willingness to trust God. I hope you enjoy Ricky's story this morning. While you're reading, I'm hiking the Estrella Mountains in solidarity and in support of our fabulous neighbors in the LDRC:
St. Joseph the Worker.
 
Pace e bene!
Tracy L. Geivett, Chaplain/Executive Director

News from the Street!

I had a noon meeting at the sub shop one block over from the Human Services Campus on Friday and decided it was a fabulous day for a walk. I arrived early and as always the lunch crowd was shoulder to shoulder. I placed my order and tried to find a spot out of the way between the door and the drink cooler. I looked up from my frenzied email-answering multi-tasking on my phone as the door opened and a gentleman stepped into the little room filled with more people than tables.

"Holy cow! This place is busy!"
I smiled and nodded.
He asked, "Is it always like this?"
"Yup" I said.
He pointed over his shoulder towards the government buildings to the north. "They come from over there, huh? Do you work over there?"
"No" I said, pointing south, "I work over there."
He smiled, "Oh! Do you work at CASS?"
"No. I work in the LDRC. I'm the Chaplain."
Now he really smiled! "Hey! I need to come see you! I lost my ID and just started a new job. The problem is I work the days you guys are open and I need the ID by next week!"
We traded names and some more small talk.
I told him, "You know what Ricky? If you come over to the office at 1:30 I'll get you hooked up for an ID."
"Really? Cool! I'll be there! I really appreciate it."

Ricky was true to his word and knocked on the Chaplaincy office door at 1:30. As we sat and chatted he said this to me, "You know, I was really messing up for a long, long time. It wasn't until I started believing in something bigger than me that my life started getting better. I know that sounds cliche and all but I mean it. When I started not focusing on me me me good things started happening. People need something to believe in!"

Just like in Romans 12:2, Ricky was transformed by the renewing of his mind.
How cool is that?
 
Be blessed and be kind.

Monday, February 13, 2012

It will never happen to me....

"I never thought it would happen to me but hey, God's got me! I know everything I went through is for a reason.
There is something big He wants me to do. I'm not sure what
it is yet but I'm most certainly not done."
Jane


There is something extra special about those words when you hear them from a woman who has endured extreme hardship. I titled this newsletter 'It will never happen to me' because I bet almost every one of you cannot imagine losing everything and becoming homeless. Well friends, neither could Jane. A bit of her story is below and I hope after reading it you will remember that we are all on the same journey and just one dip in the road can knock you completely into a different lane.

Pace e bene!
Tracy L. Geivett, Chaplain/Executive Director

News from the Street!

Jane is from California. We met her on Wednesday when she visited the Chaplaincy to get assistance with obtaining her Arizona state ID. Jane and I began chatting about how she ended up in Arizona. I asked her how long she had been here and she said only 2 days. She then described to me the most astonishing, heart-breaking chain of events that I have heard in a long time and believe me I have heard much.

Until about 8 months ago Jane lived in a nice house in California, drove a nice car, and had a decent job.

But a diabetic coma changed her life drastically. It became that dip in the road that sent her life into turmoil.

 A friend arrived at her house one day to find her laying on the floor near death. After spending 6 weeks recovering in the hospital, she spent nearly 5 more months in a nursing home for further rehabilitation. During this time she lost her house, her car, and her job. She found herself homeless. The shelters in the city were full and after a few nights of sleeping on the street she used the money she had left to take the Greyhound bus to Phoenix, Arizona. Thinking ahead she planned a stop in Riverside County to pick up a certified copy of her birth certificate. As I sat there in utter disbelief, I had to tell her that she needed more than her birth certificate to get Arizona state ID; but her amazing decision to stop in Riverside saved her from a 6 week wait!

I peeked in our stash of change and found I had enough to buy her a daily fare bus ticket. I slid it into the envelope with the check for MVD. I explained that she actually had 3 different stops and the MVD would be her last one. She needed to go to the social security office to get a printout showing her social security number did indeed belong to her. She then needed to hop on the bus and head to the local IRS office where she was to pick up a copy of her latest W-2. She then needed to hop back on the bus, come back to the shelter and go to MVD in the morning. About 3 hours later she knocked on my door and asked if I needed to see the documents she picked up. I smiled at her tenacity and her admirable, awesome ability to have such a positive attitude in the face of such daunting obstacles. After being assured she had what she needed for the next day, she went off to get cleaned up so she could attend the Lodestar Day Resource Center campus orientation to learn of the other services available to help her.

I'm positive we won't see Jane around here for long. She's got a check list of goals and is marking them off one by one. Not to mention it is quite obvious that just like she said......
God has something big for her to do.

Be blessed and be kind.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Final Analysis

This week had some trying days that sent me searching for light in a dark place. Words of wisdom from the walls of Mother Teresa's Calcutta children's home gave those days perspective once again. This prayer originally called the Paradoxical Commandments by Kent M. Keith will join the sayings, scripture, quotes and wisdom that adorn the walls in the Chaplaincy office. It is too good not to share. Here it serves as a precursor to the stories that broke our hearts this week because it so aptly illustrates how even on a trying day we must not stop. We must keep moving forward. We must continue to do good.


The Final Analysis
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


Phil came to see us this week. It wasn't the first time, we knew Phil fairly well, we just hadn't seen him since 2010. Phil is my age and battling some pretty serious mental illness. His hair was matted and despite the 70 degree day he was dressed for snow. He was paranoid and bordering on angry as he tried to articulate why he was visiting our office. After much conversation I realized he only wanted his documents out of the file, nothing more. As I handed him his documents, a photocopy of his passport caught my eye. Phil was a little younger, smiling, handsome, with shorter hair and a clarity in his eyes that was missing presently. I couldn't stop wondering what had happened to Phil. What had life thrown at him that brought him to this point? It made me sad to know that Phil is just one of many who wonder the streets lost in an abyss that exists within. It makes me feel helpless.

Jay visited the office the same day as Phil. He was tall with short hair and sad eyes, younger than me and Phil in years but he looked so weary. He needed his ID renewed. He didn't realize it had expired and he couldn't get his social security card with an expired ID. He looked so very sad, beaten down, and defeated. Susann, being the office mother that she is, smiled gently and assured him that today will be a good day. He asked if he could do something, anything to repay us. We explained that we don't do what we do for repayment but that he should 'pay it forward'. We talked about random acts of kindness and such. He was so grateful, so appreciative for all the things we take for granted. He nearly cried when we scrounged up enough money for him to buy a bus ticket. Jay has goals and a tentative plan to reach them. He has his associates degree and wants to go to ASU. He wants a job. He wants to sleep inside tonight.

These men broke my heart. They took me to my knees that night and this line from The Final Analysis spoke to me:
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.

Pace e bene!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Morning Routine

Chilly mornings mean long lines at the LDRC Cafe where coffee is available for .50 cents. Or a random act of kindness or helping with a project will earn a man some 'get going bucks' for spending at the Cafe. I love watching people enjoy morning coffee and the newspaper. Being homeless does not make you less human and does not make you different than who you were last year. Sometimes the simple things like a normal morning routine of coffee and the paper help a person remember that. Pace e bene!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Street Donor chat from Facebook

The streets of Phoenix around the HSC are awash in garbage and discarded clothes. The normal holiday aftermath of the holiday 'street donor'. Those well meaning folks who decide the homeless need help at Christmas. I invite you all to come tour the Human Services Campus just 50 yards south of where you usually set up your tables for handouts. Three hot meals a day, shelter, ministries, clothing closets, employment services, healthcare and the list goes on... Everything you thought the homeless were lacking. Love, respect and dignity. If you really want to join the fight to END homelessness please come see how you can help year round. Pace e bene.
· ·
    • Tracy L. Geivett What so many people do not realize is how hard it was for the campus to 'win over' the neighboring community, both residential and business before it was built in 2005. The common argument was 'We don't want a homeless campus in our backyard. It will create trash and problems.' Well the holiday street donor inadvertently creates trash and problems and the neighboring community says, 'See... that's exactly why we didn't want it here.' So unintentionally the street donor 'hurts' those who are trying to empower people to end their homelessness. One might even say they hurt the very people they think they are helping. It saddens me because if everyone put those wonderful intentions to good use we could most certainly END HOMELESSNESS. Think of the power we could have in collaborating to make a difference. Someday soon I hope. Pace e bene!
      10 hours ago · · 2
    • John Bowen People are just dropping 'stuff' off curbside willy-nilly and taking off?
      10 hours ago ·
    • Tracy L. Geivett They most certainly do that John... I was giving a tour last Friday and walked past a box that was just left on the corner of 12th Ave and Madison. But they also set up tables on the street and it becomes almost a mob-like street fair. They leave and someone else comes and the cycle continues. What they don't see is the aftermath. The man that took 3 new sweat shirts and then realized he couldn't carry them all so he dumps them in the gutter. Because he knows he can get a new sweat shirt at Andre House the next day. Their intentions are good but it is misguided.
      10 hours ago ·
    • Don Vance Drive-by charity. They open the back of their mini vans and start a stampede.
      9 hours ago · · 1
    • Tracy L. Geivett It is mob mentality. The 'What can I get for free? What am I missing?' mentality. They then walk around the corner and realize they don't need the stuff they grabbed so they drop it on the street.
      9 hours ago ·
    • Ron Friesen There are some people who think they are doing God's work doing this stuff - they don't get it - I call it "hit and run" ministry. God forbid that some of these folks should come to their homes.
      29 minutes ago · · 1
    • Tracy L. Geivett Yesterday morning was the worst morning so far this season I'm told. The streets were swimming in junk. Brand new clothing tossed around. Garbage from half eaten meals. Generally a disgusting mess that had to be cleaned up. I appreciate your comments Ron as a former Chaplain to the homeless and a Reverend. I call it 'trolling for souls on the street' and I don't generally like it. Sometimes it is downright creepy. Have you read Dirty Word by Jim Walker? Excellent take on street ministry and getting dirty.
      6 minutes ago ·