Showing posts from September, 2009

The Power of the Mandatory NOW

A homeless youth comes into my office seeking to escape the torture of sleeping in shelters and other people’s hallways. He is only 19 and sick of selling drugs and being hooked into the gang culture, but ultimately, he is tired of being tired. He wants to suddenly find himself transported and living in a brand new reality. In his mind, he has determined to go to Job Core NOW, but the process says he needs to go to an interview, organize finances and get documentation. Due to a miscommunication or lack of listening, the process develops a minor kink. In frustration, like an angry rapper he starts jumping up and down, with his arms flailing he explodes into a colorful display of explicit words, venting his frustration with tears running down his face. No rationale can calm this poor boy down. He wants the solution and he wants it NOW.

A 39 year old male, whom I know well, pounces on me while walking down the street early one morning. He yells at someone to watch and he pulls my goatee r…

A rejected community

When I walk to the Shelter, I normally pass a number of men and women I personally know, who struggle with alcoholism and drug abuse. Most of them, being homeless or precariously housed, have isolated themselves from almost all social services and society. Because of their addictions, lack of impulse control and lapse in hygiene, they have become America’s ultimate rejects. This country’s poor of the poor! Sadly their lifestyle results in homeless shelters constantly having to bar them due to their extravagant behavior, yet ironically, a strong little community has formed.

This community of ex-offenders, drunks, prostitutes, crack heads and the mentally ill may seem ugly, but in reality, they have created a network of support and security. They eat, drink, fight, play and pray together. Amongst the chaos that constantly lingers, they have a system that functions to uphold one another, to cry for mercy and protect the weak. Whereas, they often indulge in illegal activities and enable …

Fleeting Allegiances

At work, I see the devastating effects of young men and women dedicating their lives to a Chicago gang. It will grip them and hold them and it won’t let go! They pledge allegiance to a philosophy, power and financial gain. The results are sometimes fatal, but at the very least, devastating. A dream was sold, a concept was grasped, a life was imprisoned and a family scattered! As I ponder; I witness, speak to and engage these gangsters and realize a life behind bars is not just the physical reality of seeing the inside of Cook County Jail and an impending movement down state to another cell block. An internal imprisonment is granted as another young soul pledged allegiance to the “5 or 6 pointed star” nation! It is a bondage that is so strong, this young soul carries this burden his or her whole life. After seeing the dream was a lie, the now older soul struggles to tear this burden from his tired back only for it to remain and stick like super-glue! Often in vain, I have discouraged t…