Friday, December 09, 2016

"What am I worth to you?"

My friend, Joe is dying.  Joe has advanced stage cancer. 

I've known him for about three years.  I met him on a street corner.  Almost all of that time Joe has been homeless and on the street. 

Thanks to a public health benefit, Joe's health care as he reaches the end of his life has been really excellent. Ironically, Joe's had the best living situation of his life during his time in a couple of local hospitals and a rehabilitation center. 

Joe and I have stayed in touch by phone, and I've visited him in the care centers where he's been receiving treatment. 

Earlier this week I visited him in the hospital.  He is weak, battling pneumonia and the cancer.  As always, he was glad to see me.  We visited for a while, and then, I had to go to get to another appointment. 

As I prepared to leave, Joe asked me. "Larry, can I get a $20 bill from you?"

I said, "Sure, Joe, that's an easy one," as I lifted the bank note from my wallet. 

"Here you go!  Are you going to buy you something better to eat," I asked and motioned to his untouched, cold meal the nurses had set before him. 

"Yeah, man, I'm going to find me a great buffet," he exclaimed, flashing his broad smile.

As I turned to leave, he called out, "Larry, how long's it been since I asked you for a $20?" 

"Long time, Joe, long time," I answered. 

"I love you man," I told him.  "I'll be back by."

"I love you, too, Larry," he replied.

As I walked to my car, I remembered our street routine, repeated so many times.  Joe would ask me for money.  Usually, I gave him $20 at a time for something to eat. He needed a little help because he hated the shelters and preferred the freedom of the street, as cruel and unforgiving as it was.  At least with the street, he could deal on his own terms. 

As I recalled those times, it hit me.  Joe didn't really need my $20.  He wasn't going to any buffet.  He's headed to hospice. 

What Joe needed was to know that I'd still honor his reqeust. Joe needed to know that he was worth something to me, that he was special, that we were, after all, friends. 

As I pondered in my flashback mode, I realized that is all Joe ever needed from me.  The money possessed varying degrees of value to him, depending on his circumstance.  But being able to approach a friend and have a request honored, there was what he really sought. It all translated to his own sense of worth.

My, my. 

Joe, old pal, you're worth so much more than you understand, so much more. 

Monday, December 05, 2016

Advent Conflict

Advent tensions. . . reading the Gospels

A "virgin birth"                                       A teenage mom

Emmanuel (God with us)                        A very poor child     

A father's dreams                                    Harsh reality facing fathers

A political tyrant                                     Suffering people

Oppression and lies                                 Dishonesty with the poor

Refugee family                                        Immigrants systematically excluded

Children murdered                                  Children in toxic stress

A special child                                         Syrian children

Surprised by joy!                                     Tables turned upside down

Birth                                                         All people included

Waiting ended                                          Celebration of jutice realized

Wise men & shepherds                             Classless community

Advent                                                      Advent



Thursday, December 01, 2016

Chideo comes to CitySquare

Chideo provides an effective platform for non-profit leaders, as well as celebrities, speak up for their causes. 

Not long ago, Chideo added a podcast feature.  Check out my interview with Drew Hamilton here or here

Thanks, Drew and Chideo! 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Inhuman Generosity

One of the real special blessings of my life is friendship across miles and years.  My longtime friendship with Randy Jolly has meant the world to me.  Just today, Randy sent me one of his uplifting notes.  It is worth simply quoting. LJ


A great quote from the recently departed poet Leonard Cohen:

"I'm very fond of Jesus Christ.  He may be the most beautiful guy who walked the face of the earth. Any guy who says, 'Blessed are the poor.  Blessed are the meek,' has got to be a figure of unparalled generosity and insight and madness. . . A man who declared himself to stnad among thieves, the prostitutes and the homeless.  His position cannot be comprehended.  It is an inhuman generosity.  A generosity that would overthrow the world if it was embarced becasue nothing would weather that compassion." 

Love you brother,

Monday, November 21, 2016

Race and Homelessness

The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance hosted representatives from the Center for Social Innovation to lead a discussion of race and homelessness in Dalllas. The presentation is the latest in MDHA's "Hard Conversations" serires.

Thought provoking and relevant!

Watch it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Race and Homelessness

Racism and Homelessness
African Americans make up 13% of the population, both in the U.S. and in Dallas.
Across the country, on average, African Americans make up 40% of the homeless population, and 28% of the unsheltered homeless population, which is troubling, in and of itself.
However, in Dallas, African Americans make up 67% of the homeless population, and 70% of the unsheltered homeless population! 
Read more from Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance here.

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Hey man, got any spare change?"

People ask me all the time: 

“What should I do when approached by a homeless person for a handout?”
And, of course, I have no idea!
Oh, I have ideas, but no standard idea or answer.  Everyone is unique, including people without a place to call home.
So, I follow "my gut" most of the time with no predetermined, stereotypical response, just like I repsond to others who do have homes in which to live. I realize this deficency on my part drives lots of people crazy, especially professionals!  But, so be it. 
One thing I do know from lots of experience: I find it hard to walk on without at least “knowing"  or acknowledging a person who asks me for a little help. 

For me, my entire duty as a person is to come to know God, and in the process, come to know the people I encounter for meaningful engagement with both. 

Every encounter should be considered worth a response of kindness. 

Every person is worthy of my repsect, even if I decide not to honor their requests by providing exactly what they seek. 

What I  always can do is respond with gentleness, attentiveness, openness and respect.   



Sunday, November 13, 2016

Direction on Power

   Psalm 15

Lord, who can be trusted with power,
and who may act in your place?
Those with a passion for justice,
who speak the truth from their hearts;
who have let go of selfish interests
and grown beyond their own lives;
who see the wretched as their family
and the poor as their flesh and blood.
They alone are impartial
and worthy of the people’s trust.
Their compassion lights up the whole earth,
and their kindness endures forever.


Friday, November 11, 2016

Political Leaders and God

Psalm 72

Prayer for Guidance and Support for the King Political Leader

1 Give the king your justice, O God,
    and your righteousness to a king’s son.
2 May he judge your people with righteousness,
    and your poor with justice.May the mountains yield prosperity for the people,
    and the hills, in righteousness.
4 May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
    give deliverance to the needy,    and crush the oppressor.

May he live[a] while the sun endures,
    and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
    like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish
    and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
May he have dominion from sea to sea,
    and from the River to the ends of the earth.
May his foes[b] bow down before him,
    and his enemies lick the dust.
10 May the kings of Tarshish and of the isles
    render him tribute,
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
    bring gifts.
11 May all kings fall down before him,
    all nations give him service.
12 For he delivers the needy when they call,
    the poor and those who have no helper.
13 He has pity on the weak and the needy,
    and saves the lives of the needy.
14 From oppression and violence he redeems their life;
    and precious is their blood in his sight.
15 Long may he live!
    May gold of Sheba be given to him.
May prayer be made for him continually,
    and blessings invoked for him all day long.
16 May there be abundance of grain in the land;
    may it wave on the tops of the mountains;
    may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
    like the grass of the field.
17 May his name endure forever,
    his fame continue as long as the sun.
May all nations be blessed in him;    may they pronounce him happy.
18 Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
    who alone does wondrous things.
19 Blessed be his glorious name forever;
    may his glory fill the whole earth.
Amen and Amen.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nouwen on community. . .

Prayer and Compassion

Many people tend to associate prayer with separation from others, but real prayer brings us closer to our fellow human beings. Prayer is the first and indispensable discipline of compassion precisely because prayer is also the first expression of human solidarity. Why is this so? Because the Spirit who prays in us is the Spirit by whom all human beings are brought together in unity and community…. In the intimacy of prayer, God is revealed to us as the One who loves all the members of the human family just as personally and uniquely as God loves us. Therefore, a growing intimacy with God deepens our sense of responsibility for others.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Press Release: Haskell Encampment to be closed, Tuesday, October 25

Contact: Cindy J. Crain
President and CEO, MDHA

Housing and Shelter Targets Exceeded as Haskell Encampment Closes;
Street Outreach and Case Management Continues

Haskell Encampment, Dallas, Texas – Today , October 24, 2016, the Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance (MDHA) and the Street Outreach Initiative, closes out an intensive week of case management and engagement, reviewing options with the remaining thirty-seven individuals, living at the Haskell Encampment, who had not moved yet. The encampment area located between S. Hill and Haskell Avenues under I-30 will be formally closed beginning at 9:00 a.m. tomorrow, October 25.
The site was slated for closure after a joint meeting with City Officials on September 29, 2016, when MDHA and collaborative partners agreed that the Street Outreach Initiative could reasonably house half of the then population of eighty-two encampment residents. The closure guidelines were developed by MDHA in consultation with the City of Dallas, following the clearing of Tent City in April-May of this year.

As of today, 45 persons have been placed,  just above the goal of 41. 

Over the course of the last few weeks, in fact, MDHA and its partners from the City of Dallas, CitySquare, Nexus Recovery Center, Turtle Creek Recovery Center, The Bridge, Austin Street Shelter, the Salvation Army and Metrocare Services, were able to find and place forty-five residents into shelter, treatment, rapid rehousing, permanent private housing, and group homes or help them reunite with their families.

“Consistent and persistent case management, patiently undertaken by seasoned professionals, trained in trauma-informed care,  and armed with a toolbox of evidence-based solutions, is the only way we can end unsheltered homelessness in Dallas,” said Cindy Crain, President and CEO of MDHA. “The success of this effort could not be accomplished without strategic interagency collaboration, which has been developing over the course of 2016 into a true crisis response system, where we all work together, breaking down silos, and securing the best possible outcome for every individual,” she added.   

Today, as case managers and volunteers helped the remaining residents pack up, they were joined by five formerly unsheltered homeless from prior tent encampment closures who are now permanently housed.

Crain reflected, “Their presence gave residents a glimpse of hope and possibility of the results of accepting shelter, housing, treatment and services. Seeing is believing, and is critical to motivating and working through the ever present  trauma enforced fear and uncertainty of accepting assistance. The Street Outreach team gets better every day at the hard work that they do.”

MDHA and its partners will continue to work with these and other unsheltered individuals to get as many of them as possible off the streets and into shelter and housing. The overall impact of the successful, peaceful and housing-oriented closing of three encampments since the beginning of May 2016, will not be fully known before the annual Point-in-Time Homeless Count, which will be led by MDHA on the night of Thursday, January 26, 2017.

In the last Count, conducted on the night of Thursday, January 21, 2016, MDHA counted 539 unsheltered homeless individuals in Dallas. In order to conduct a full and accurate count of the unsheltered homeless, this coming January, MDHA will need 1,000 volunteers, registered as teams of 3-5 persons. Registration will open mid-November. Those wishing to receive notification of such, should text keyword MDHA to 22828 to join MDHA’s mailing list. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

This resonates. . .

The Creative Life

Some say the creative life is in ideas, some say it is in doing. It seems in most instances to be in simply being. It is not virtuosity, although that is very fine in itself. It is the love of something, having so much love for something—whether a person, a word, an image, an idea, the land or humanity—that all that can be done with the overflow is to create. It is not a matter of wanting to, not a singular act of will; one solely must.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Important Book Synopsis

On Monday, Setember 19, MDHA, CitySquare, and the Dallas Public Library presented a book synopsis of Housing First: Ending Homelessness, Transforming Systems, and Changing Lives.

The data for client success in Housing First programs in Dallas comes in at 96%!

Watch the presentation below!

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Urban Bird: 9-20-2016

observed a small bird,
mouth a-gape,
on searing asphalt parking pavement;
an urban bird,
hopping toward the hope of
unseen water, shade--
so much like me!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Housing First--even Starbucks understands

The data and the experience make an irrefutable case for the best, most logical approach to solving the riddles of chronic homelessness.

 Members of the Dallas Continuum of Care have been using this approach for several years, and it works!

  As more Dallasites turn their attention to homeless encampments, the concerns of property owners in the Downtown core of our city and the pressing needs of the homeless; the best way forward to sustainable solutions will involve a deeper and deepening commitment to Housing First.


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Just In: Donor Match Challenge!!!


This just in!

A generous donor has offered to give CitySquare a bonus of $100,000—if we raise $100,000 through North Texas Giving Day. Visit the North Texas Giving Day website today before midnight and make a gift to CitySquare.

With your help, more neighbors will move beyond poverty.


Your friends at CitySquare


Pitch In today!


It's time! Happy North Texas Giving Day!

Visit the North Texas Giving Day website today between now and midnight and make a gift to CitySquare. Any gift greater than $25 is multiplied, thanks to the Communities Foundation of Texas!

Remember, our goal is to raise $1 to represent each neighbor we will serve in 2016. We need to raise more than $50,000 to make that happen. Follow us on Facebook throughout the day to find out how much we've raised.

Thank you so much for standing behind CitySquare today and every day. 


Your friends at CitySquare

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Treading on dreams

Bishop Mike McKee shared these words this week at a meeting of North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church ministers.  My Bishop loves Yates! 

The sentiment below is worthy of consideration in a number of contexts. 

HAD I the heavens’ embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
W.B. Yeats (1865–1939)"He Wishes For the Cloths of Heaven"
from the Collected Works of W.B. Yeats

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Monday, September 12, 2016

KERA 90.1 FM on The Cottages

KERA 90.1 FM here in Dallas, Texas, reported last week on the "soft opening" of The Cottages at Hickory Crossing.

Tune here to hear the report!

(From L-R): Dallas County Commissioner Dr. Elba Garcia, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas City Council Member Tiffinni Young, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Monica Egert Smith, John Greenan and Larry James.