Wednesday, February 23, 2011


FACT:  In 2010, there were at least 88,923 homeless Chicagoans, a 19.9% increase from 2009.
FACT:  Of the homeless population, approximately 11,471 are unaccompanied homeless youth - or, homeless kids who are living alone.  That's 12.9% of Chicago's homeless population.
FACT:  There are about 60,000 homeless children in Illinois right this minute.  25,000 of them are unaccompanied youth.

Each night, there are at least 6,000 people sleeping on the streets of Chicago.  That simply is unacceptable.

I go out each weekend taking socks,toiletries, clothing and anything else I might have so that I can help these people get through another day while they wait for housing. I spend time with them, chat with them, treat them like what they are:  fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity.  Often, others come with me.  This particular photograph was taken on one of these weekends.  I occasionally meet up with a suburban church outreach ministry.  They're good people with good hearts and, no matter what, they come out once each month to spend a day with the people who live on the streets of Chicago.  What about you?  What are you doing to make a difference?

You Need To Leave, Ma'am

One Sunday, I stopped into a fast food restaurant for a cup of coffee.  Immediately, a woman called out to me from one of the tables, "Hey!  Buy me a fish sandwich??"  She was filthy and a strong, eye-watering odour emanated from her body.  I handed her a small gift certificate for the restaurant and said, "enjoy."  She got her sandwich, ate it quickly, then sat back down. 

A family came in and, offended by her body odor, complained to the management. A police officer was called to handle the situation and the woman was ordered to leave.  She quietly got up, slowly put on her tattered overcoat and walked out the door. Something about the scene just broke my heart.  This woman didn't ask to be homeless.  If she'd been wearing the "right" clothing and didn't have bad body odor, she wouldn't have been ordered to leave. I just couldn't believe it.


This is Abana.  He looks tough.  He sounds tough.  Actually, he is tough.  You'd probably give him a wide berth if you saw him coming your way on the sidewalk.  But here's what you don't know... He has to be tough after everything he's been through.  Abana had a life, a family, a job, a home.  His wife passed away a few years ago.  His son, an aspiring student who defied the neighborhood norm and refused to join a gang, was shot to death in his own doorway.  Abana bore this burden and persevered.  He was a janitor.  That might not seem like much as far as work goes but you know what?  It kept a roof over his head and it paid the bills.  That is, until the recession hit three years ago.  Abana hung onto his job to the best of his abilities.  He was one of the last people to be let go but eventually, there was just no more work for him.  And soon afterward, he lost his home.  I can't even begin to imagine what it must be like to walk a mile in Abana's shoes.  He has my utmost respect and I'm honoured to know him.