By Michael Vorhees
I sell the Street Chronicle as a newspaper vendor, I was homeless for 14 years 6 mos. The reason I was homeless for so long because I did not apply myself to get off the streets. Today what I do to stay off the streets is pay my rent, so I will have a place to call my own.
While I was on the streets, I had nothing coming in-- no money. Today I have Social Security Income, to help me. I also sell The Cleveland Street Chronicle to help me make it through the month. I also help out at the church, and help with feeding homeless people. It helps me, remember where I came from. I really like being able to help.
If it was not for someone helping me, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I have been inside for 3 years 6 mos. I moved from under a bridge, to a place on East 55th street, to a place on the lake. It might be a studio apartment, but it’s a place inside that I can call home.
I really love being inside, it makes me feel good to help others. I can never look down on a person, because I been there. If someone needs help, I try to be there for them. God has granted me with so much, I’m very thankful to be alive. My life is so much better, now that I have a place to live, staying clean and sober has been so much easier, because I am off the streets.
God bless everyone!
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle December 2015. All rights reserved
by Michael L. McCray
People often look at the homeless and see only a reflection of the moment, not the person's history. Most homeless people are not born homeless, nor do they necessarily die homeless. Ron Reinhart is a 47-year-old man who understands this, having been homeless at various times during an 18 year span of his life.
Ron's homeless life began in 1970, during the end of the hippie movement. He attributes much of his homeless experience to drugs and alcohol abuse. I think I was like everyone else at that time - we were trying to find ourselves, but in reality we were already there,” he says. “We were all looking for a change but there could not be any change because you brought the same person with you wherever you went.
During those times Ron did a lot of things he was ashamed of - such as lying, cheating, and stealing - just to get through the day and support his drug and alcohol habits. Eventually, he was no longer able to care for himself.
But Ron's life has changed, and today he is the Program Director at Bishop Cosgrove Center in Cleveland. The center offers meals and other support services to homeless drug users and alcoholics. Ron has been free of his addictions for eight years. He attributes his recovery to spirituality. “I get up every morning and give it to God and go about my business. When I do face a crisis in my life, God removes the obsession and I do not drink, I do not even think about it. I do make mistakes every day but so does everyone else. It's a part of life." Ron sees the main cause of homelessness a little differently than most people. He attributes the problems many homeless people face to broken personal relationships.
“Today we seem to think that homelessness is caused by economic conditions. But if that were true, then during times of great prosperity we would have no homeless people," Ron says. “Economics is a partial answer, it is not a complete answer. Getting people back into housing, rehabilitation, is all a good thing, but if they do not learn how to nurture relationships with other people and a crisis enters their life again they will be right back on the streets again."
Most people who are alcoholics or drug addicts break down those important human relationships. He feels that this behavior destroys the vital human safety net that we all need to survive.
When asked if he thinks he will ever end up homeless again, Ron says no. He now has just too many friends who would prevent that from happening. His own safety net is firmly in place.
Originally published for NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine Copyrighted Oct. – Dec. 1995 Issue 12
By J Robinson
I am a 56-year-old homeless, unemployed, female veteran. I served in the United States Army for one year, after which I was honorably discharged. Over the next thirty years, as a single mother, I managed to successfully raise my daughter to adulthood, as well as earned a B.S. and M.Ed. What I was not so successful at was finding and keeping stable, gainful employment. After my daughter graduated from college, my life seemed to be an endless cycle of getting a job, getting a place; losing the job, losing the place.
During this time of financial insecurity, I contacted The Veterans Service Commission to see what assistance they could provide. I was informed that the number of months’ assistance I was eligible for is equal to the number of months I was actively in the military. After several years of unsuccessfully trying to hold my life together, on December 31, 2013 I entered a homeless shelter.
The past year has been long and hard, but very rewarding for me. Thankful for the services provided at the shelter, which provided me with a very safe and wonderful place to “fall apart”, combined with some of the following services I’ve received from the Veterans Administration, I’ve been able to begin to put the scattered puzzle pieces of my life back together. At the end of 2013 I was homeless. At the end of 2014, I’m full of hope, gratitude and looking forward to moving into my own place in February 2015.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle and NEOCH January 2015
All you concerned people, I have now lived in my apartment for almost six-months. It has truly been an rewarding experience. Since the first installment of this journey from homeless to living somewhere that I can call my own. I have gotten most of the essentials together such as cleaning, supplies, coffee pot, television, living room furniture, microwave, vacuum cleaner, and most of the things that it takes to sustain a comfortable living environment.
I am teaching myself to maintain a clean and healthy environment. One of the things you really don’t care too much about when living on the streets is keeping a clean space. Each and every day I am learning to replace those bad habits with good habits. I guess the best experience that I have had thus far is my family has been to my place of residence and giving me a thumbs up. At times when I was living on the streets my family wouldn’t hear from me for months or even years, but that was the way of the streets. Your only concern is where is that next meal coming from and where you can rest for the night, out of harms way. I didn’t want to bring my family into that lifestyle of homelessness.
I was really rewarded in June when my youngest sister came up from Atlanta Georgia and wanted to stay with me while she was here. Of course, being my sister she immediately started rearranging my furniture and telling me the do’s and don’ts of maintaining a home. I think anyone else would have been upset with someone coming in their home and telling you this and that, but I needed the help. I wanted help and she did just that. It made me feel so good inside to know that my younger sister was pleased with my place and she enjoyed staying with me when she was here.
I am still not as neat and orderly as most of my brothers and sisters, but I am pleased to know that I am on the right path. When I started this journey, I was just like a baby starting to crawl. I am now pulling myself up and bracing myself as I learn how to walk. As a child, I know that I will fall sometimes, but I will pick myself up again and get back in the race. Because that’s life, as Frank Sinatra put it so bluntly. So here I sit in my apartment writing these few lines to let everyone know that I am doing okay.
I am excited for sure. It will not be displaced in my demeanor when you ask me,” How’s life in your apartment?” I will still say it’s better than being homeless. Having a place to call my own and taking it step by step, day by day, and asking the creator to give me the strength to keep striving for the prize of one day calling this my home with all the comforts that a home entails will be a beautiful feeling. So when we pass each other at the West Side Market, at an Indians game Downtown Cleveland, or wherever I am selling the Street Chronicle remember that I truly grateful to all.
No matter what has transpired between us, I have been truly glad to make your acquaintance. I enjoy giving all the readers this update on my journey to turning a place into an apartment an apartment into a home. It’s been exciting, rewarding, uplifting, crazy, fulfilling--just all those good feelings. I do want to say as I bring this part of the journey to a close, I don’t call my family as much. I’m starting to feel comfortable and putting all my trust in the creator that he will see me through, So, until next time, I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Thanks once again for your support and concern.
Continue to keep the faith.
Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle August 2013 Cleveland, Ohio