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.

Yohanna

I had a client named Yohanna come in today with another client named Maria. They are immigration clients. Lovely ladies who have been he...