Showing posts from June, 2014

Blessings Flowing Out Of The Mundane

On Thursday I went to the dentist in the western suburbs! After my appointment and while nursing my numb mouth, I hopped into my vehicle and started heading back to CCO. I was expecting a long, tedious and boring traffic ridden drive back to the Northside. It was into this mundane scenerio that I was hit by 5 pleasant surprises! These surprises blessed me, but more importantly, they would ultimately bless many others in big and powerful ways! 
I love it when the mundane is overwhelmed and overtaken by surprises; of course, surprises can be downright horrendous and terrifying, but on this particular day, these surprises were most certainly pleasant and were amazing blessings for some of Uptown's poorest and most marginalized people...
1. I'd bearly left Melrose Park when I received a phone call from David. (don't worry y'all, I was wearing headphones) He told me that Greg had been accepted into permanent housing for seniors. This made me very happy because he'd been…

The Rugged Streets of Uptown!

Imagine if you'd been homeless since 1974?
Just try to imagine that....
I was born in 1972, so trying to wrap my head around John's reality is virtually impossible! This man was born in Wisconsin, moved to Uptown with his family as a very young fella, was raised in Uptown and then lived as a homeless teenager and man in Uptown until this year: 2014.
He's seen and been through it all. He's seen and lived through all the changes to the neighborhood! Uptown is his home, Uptown is his family, Uptown is his support network, Uptown is where his Church is, Uptown is where his faith is challenged, Uptown is his community; Uptown embraces him and we are his people!
John's "streetname" is Chief and I consider him as the "Chief Survivor" of Uptown; he's been the victim of many vicious and unprovoked attacks, simply because he was homeless and sleeping in an alley. He's also been attacked because he's Native American, because he's been intoxic…

Hustlers and Our Reputations!

Let me start by telling you a quick story; I first met James back in 2002, he was paroled to our shelter and needed help. The games started immediately. We'd let the older guys come in early so they could get off their feet, he faked his age and told me he was 64. Even though I showed him his parole papers that stated he was 46, he wouldn't drop it and continued to lie about his age, trying to convince me that the Illinois Department Of Corrections got it wrong!

That was only the beginning, it got worse, he told story after story, hustle after hustle, often doing it in the name of Jesus! James could act! He could preach! He could fall on the ground, get loud and cry crocodile tears. He could condemn you if you didn't believe him. There's so many stories I could mention here, I heard stories about a dead daughter, how he was beaten and robbed on multiple occasions and how he owned a fleet of trucks with 2 black panthers guarding them. Of course, all these stories were l…