T H i s t h a n k s g i v i n g R e m e m b e r Richard, Jamie, Bri, Marty, James, Jeff, Omar, Ray, Erin, chris, alice, cowboy, Captan chris, samuel, Ms jenny, Mandolin Mike, skip, roger,
Most of us are with family, around a huge spread a the table, sitting in front of a warm fire -
thankful for all God has given us.
The names in the title of this post are homeless men and women.
They may find food today… but just like yesterday they will have to search for it…
A few will be invited to churches to eat a great meal and even fewer will go to homes of volunteers to celebrate Thanksgiving.
But most will sit in a tent or in a homeless shelter thinking about Thanksgivings past, and the love ones they shared it with.
The High temp to day is going to be 39 - and the low 27…
I'm in my home office and the heat is on and I am toasty warm…
I have nothing to complain about…
Some of our homeless friends will be in front of a fire - only to keep warm or perhaps to warm a hotdog or some ramen noodles -
that is if they have food at all.
One camp in Nashville is urging their group to save on food stamps so they can have their own feast today. That camp will feed around 40 - and who ever else wants to join them…
The hunger of the homeless is everyday not just this day.
They are hungry every day.
They are cold every winter day.
They get sick just as we do…
They get tired just like the rest of us.
They are people just as we are people.
and we can't forget that.
Today the heroes of the streets are Father Charles Strobel - Ingrid - Lindsay - Steve - Melinda - Johnathan - Nathan - Rachael - and her sister Ryan and his brother - Bobby - Craig - George - Irene - JoAnn - Tom - Jordan - Jon - Jeff - Ming - Dina - Feeby and her mother - Daniel - Kathy - Paula - Mia - Cindy - Lisa - Sherry - another Sherri - Gibson Cage - Jeff G - Komail - Judy - Barbara - Fred - Dot -
and the list goes on and on of all the people who support and work with the homeless.
Please perform an act of kindness for someone in need today…
and then do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next.
You will be richly blessed.
… and please say a prayer for the names at the top of this post.
Seven days after entering into detox…
Richard Cole is released.
We are encouraged about his mental attitude and resolve to complete the plan.
That plan the Steve and Lindsey of Open Table worked on with him was one of recovery.
Well it is pretty simple.
-Go home and become a father to his teens
-and become a son to his mother.
Simple plan right?
Well it really is.
Except for the grip addiction has on individuals…
Because of that Grip…
A plan such as this is very difficult.
As was the case with Richard.
He worked hard for this.
He worked his craft of making crosses out of drift wood and vines…
Selling them to supporters of his cause.
His goal to make enough money to use to travel to NY and have money to get started in his new life.
He succeeded! The money he made will help him do just that.
For Richard the move from the dirt in the homeless camp life he had known for 15 years
was an emotional one.
For starters the city had threatened to tear down the camp six months earlier…
30 + volunteers set up camp and lived with Richard on the banks of the Cumberland River - in a statement of solidarity and convinced the city to allow Open Table to continue working on finding stable housing for those in the camp. The City agreed and gave them 6 months.
Open Table whose success rate of placing homeless people in housing far exceeds other organizations,
did just that finding housing for the 7 remaining people in the camp.
Richard was the last.
Volunteers came and helped pack up Richards belongings packing them in storage bins and loading them onto a trailer… Ch 4's Dennis Ferrier a great friend of good causes came and reported on Richards move out of the dirt and the plan was to then go directly to the hospital.
But it was not to happen…
Richard needed more time to reflect - say good by and rid his mind and heart from the place he had called home for so long.
It wasn't just this camp that he was leaving - it was a life style of homelessness that he had mastered for so long. His parting was not as much the physical place he called home but the people who he had helped by giving them a safe place to camp as they plowed through the streets of homelessness.
Richard's heart was always giving -always feeding - and always protecting his fellow man.
But this day - he needed time…
Time to release the past…
Many would have said the hell with it - stay in the woods -
but Steve and Lindsey stayed with him for over 19 hours as he struggled to move from the vacant site on the river to the doors of the detox facility.
Finally he walks through the door into a new life…
and it is still to this day amazing to see the man Richard has become in sobriety,
After a week -
Steve and I picked Richard up at the hospital ready for our road trip to a re-hab center 2 and 1/2 hours away from Nashville.
When checking out the clerk gave Richard his personal items locked up at check in.
I noticed two beers in his bag.
My heart sank as I knew that this would be his first test.
I pulled Steve aside and told him…
We both shook our heads…
What do we do?
Sit back and watch him drink his last beers as we take him to rehab?
Certainly not the first time someone has grabbed a last chance to get high when going into a treatment program.
Steve said to Richard. "Before we go we need to take care of those beers."
Richard replied "Trust me…. Trust me…"
We walked into the parking lot heading for the car when Richard stopped took the two beers out of the bag and popped the top of the first one.
"These are the last two beers you will ever see in my hand he announced"
I liked that statement but didn't like that he was going to chug them in front of the Detox hospital.
Boy was I wrong.
Richard started pouring the beer on the parking lot - first making a cross - then spelling his street name
"Papa Smurf" on the pavement.
He gave a quick wave to the patients on the third floor -
we watched this pre-arranged and well planned symbol of his road to recovery.
He said - " I hope that this will be an inspiration to those watching up there - to do the same when they are released."
We were amazed at the new Richard and also inspired by his continued resolve to beat his addiction and enter society once again.
To date the reports are that he is his doing great.
We would love for all of you to write to him and give him a word of encouragement.
If you would like to do so you can write a note to him in the following space.
and please continue to pray for him as he works on his new life.
Many of you have been following the stories on Papa Smurf now better known as Richard Cole.
Steve with Open Table David with Veritas Schools and I spent time with Richard yesterday. HE LOOKED GREAT!
You can already see in these pictures before he went into Rehab that the transformation has already started.
Yesterday we met a sober Richard who was calm and resolved in his recovery - willing to continue in a 30 day program starting this week,
I was amazed at the new Richard and his sobriety.
He has a long way to go but with prayer and sticking to it he has a great chance to continue on his recovery.
Please keep him if you prayers.
When we get his address we will send it out to give you a chance to write and encourage him.
We are always looking for the future and what we will do when this and that takes place in our life.
Richard is in his future -
as he planned to do this for himself -
for his mother and for his children months ago.
We too are in our future…
Last year we all looked to the future -
So, last years vision of the future is now.
We are all in our future…Now is the time to act… Now is the time to move… Now is that time to DO…
Don't let your future pass you by.
Today is the day you need to have the resolve to make a change in your world - in your life…
Today we need more people like Steve - Ingrid - Lindsay - and Jeannie…
The people of Open Table Nashville.
Because today they are making a difference in the lives of the homeless in our city and in the lives of people like Richard Cole.
Whose life will you have a positive impact upon today?
Trish and Ken are a couple…
Both have records…
Criminal RECORDS - NOT RECORD DEALS…
(It's Nashville so one has to clarify…)
They are homeless.
We are trying to put them into housing…
Few places take non married couples.
and fewer places take felons… and it takes a while… usually months.
We have helped transport them to interviews, their parole office visits and social service agencies.
We have fed them and introduced them to agencies that will help them long term.
The temp hit 20 degrees this week.
The homeless camp they were living in was taken down and they had to move to another camp.
No one I know is camping this time of year… only the homeless…
So we found them another camp.
In Nashville we have 200 to choose from..
200 camps that house over 2000 people…
The new camp is a well run camp.
Clean and organized.
There is a Captain and a Lieutenant who run the camp, and 30 people living in the camp.
We know many of them from working with People Loving Nashville who feed the homeless on Monday nights.
The Lieutenant took them in cleared a spot in the brush and helped them set up their tent.
They have a place to stay…
in a camp…
in 20 degree weather…
I'm warm, watching football, just had a snack for lunch, drank more coffee than I needed and have a glass of fresh OJ by my side.
I'm pulling out the chips and dip at halftime…
Then I might take a nap before the next game comes on…
Trish and Ken are cold and looking for a warm place to huddle in and scrape for their next meal…
The contrast drives me crazy.
The need of helpers makes me even more diligent in spreading the word of the plight of the homeless…
and the reality of hunger on the streets of Nashville saddens me.
Count your blessings today my friends.
Consider your wealth in comparison of those in need.
and reflect on what you can do to help the people on the streets.
Activists for homeless - inmates and the poor of this world.