You Can Overcome Homelessness and be Successful

By Diana Robinson

I’ve been a vendor of the Cleveland Street Chronicle for about 2 years. I’ve been dealing with blindness for 29 years, and at one point in time, was homeless for about a year.

I recently went to the library and asked the librarian for information about celebrities who’d experienced homelessness, and was given the names of several celebrities who had experienced homelessness. Ella Jane Fitzgerald was an American jazz singer the called the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz and Lady Ella. She had a disrupted childhood, but had an amazing voice. After her mother’s death in 1932, Fitzgerald ended up moving in with an aunt. She started skipping school. According to her Wikipedia listing, Fitzgerald was then sent to a special reform school but didn’t stay there long. By 1934, Ella was trying to make it on her own and living on the streets in New York. She won a singing competition at the Apollo Theater. Fitzgerald had a great career after spending much of her youthbouncing around and living rough.

Christopher Gardner is best known through his autobiography “The Pursuit of Happyness, and the 2009 film of the same name. His mission in life, is to encourage people 50 and older to “pursue new challenges, search for fulfillment at any stage of life, or craft the legacy they want to leave behind.”

In addition to receiving awards for both the book and movie versions of The Pursuit of Happyness, his work has also been recognized by many organizations committed to combating violence against women, homelessness, and financial illiteracy.

At the Sight Center, they remind you that although you may not have your sight, you do still have your life. I believe that as long as you’re alive, there’s hope. Although he experienced homelessness, Chris Gardner remained hopeful. He didn’t lose sight of his desire to be a first-rate father and successful businessman. If Chris Gardner could succeed at overcoming homelessness, so can I.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved        

West Side Catholic Put Together Steps to Find Employment

By Abby Bova

Mario McMichael started the employment program at the West Side Catholic Center roughly a year and a half ago and it has quickly blossomed into a well-oiled machine.  Mario, with the help of Karen in employment outreach, has created a three step program to help anyone in need find work.  The most common clients at the employment clinic are those staying in at WSCC or members of the WSCC housing program.  However, walk-ins are encouraged to come by and sign up for the course. 

The first step is employment clinic.  Through the course of a month they host a variety of classes from deciding what types of jobs suit your needs and talents, to how to strive in the work place.  The classes provided this past session included mock interviews, work pace etiquette and professional dress, communication styles and persuasion, self-awareness and conflict resolution, budgeting and resource management, and network branding.  Proper office etiquette is one of the most important lessons taught at employment clinic because they have found it is not so hard to find a job, however keeping that job can be challenging because of outbursts and other rash reactions due to difficult pasts. 

These classes may very between sessions, however are always helpful in not only landing a job, but more importantly keeping that job.  The last two weeks of the program are called “Job Club”.  During these last two weeks the group meets twice a week to talk about their trials in finding work.  “Job Club” goes above and beyond employment help.  As members of the group bring up daily life issues that prevent successfully acquiring a job, other members of the group who had been, or are in similar situations, essentially work as resource agents informing each other about different opportunities and programs to help the situation.  In a female dominated room the biggest barrier to those looking for work is childcare, and the recent changes to many families’ food stamps.  Fortunately, WSCC provides daycare for the two hour classes, so childcare will not prevent anyone, man or women, from attending the meetings.

The second step is mentorships.  The employment program provides mentorship opportunities mainly with volunteers from WSCC whom are masters in their fields.  Because WSCC functions primarily on a staff of volunteers, the employment program has been gifted with a large pool of mentors ranging from carpenters to nurses and almost everything in between.  Mentorships are a one year commitment aimed at developing a path to reach the individuals career goals.  The mentors are expected to counsel, guide, give honest feedback, motivate, and serve as a role model for their mentee.  Because these mentors have experience working in their designated field, they are able to provide “insider advice” about the ins and outs of their trade, which they have learned from their years of experience.    

The third step is community partnerships.  The WSCC employment program partners with employers who understand the connection between their client’s personal happiness and professional effectiveness, and are willing to make a true investment in the client.  The staff is constantly in contact with different employers, learning about new open positons and their requirements so that no employer, or member of the program, wastes time with an unfitting position.  All of these possible job opportunities go into a binder which is available to any member of the employment program.  When a fitting job opportunity comes up Jenifer, Mario, and any other volunteers help the individual to send their resume and prepare for the interview.  While the program does not currently have the resources for technology training, the members learn a great deal about computers through the job application process.  The job opportunities from this program range from temp jobs, for those with very little to no previous job experience, to jobs that require master degrees.  With a passionate staff and valuable resources the WSCC Employment Program will undoubtable flourish in the coming years.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved        

Where I Lived in the Winter When I was Homeless

By Buzz

Where did I live when I was homeless?

This is the most frequent question I am asked about my life as a homeless person. To begin back in 1999 when I became officially a resident of the homeless community, I was a follower and went to the shelters to spend my nights when the weather was too cold on winter nights.

This didn’t last too long because of the atmosphere in shelters at that time. Guys running around you all night asking for coffee and cigarettes. Guys snoring, guys stealing, guys that were not very hygienic. And guys not playing with a full deck. I immediately stopped going to the shelters for the next 15 years of being homeless.

When I started my homeless career on the streets, in the winter months, some of the places that I called home for those seasons have been quite numerous. My first several years were spent on a dock in the back of a factory on the west side of the Flats. As long as I made sure that no one abused the property, the person who owned the property and the security guards who patrolled the property didn’t mind. This lasted until the Flats started going under and they started building apartment buildings and remodeling the buildings I was living in the dock area.

So, while all this construction was going on, I stayed mainly in porta potties, bulldozers, makeshift shelters built out of wood and cardboard boxes to hold off the winds and snows of the harsh Cleveland winters. A few more places that I have been able to survive some of the harsh winters were in dumpsters in the Flats, before they became a ghost town; on the steam grates in downtown Cleveland, before Mayor White ran us (the homeless) off; and under certain bridges throughout the city. Although some of them you had to fight off the rats, opossums and raccoons if you wanted a good night’s sleep.

Some of the coldest places were in the parks, on or under the benches. If you had the proper bedding, it was doable. Some of the bedding was provided by various groups such as: Volunteers of America, Care Alliance, The Salvation Army, various church groups and just ordinary citizens who wanted to help someone during those cold winter days and nights.

That brings me to those citizens who did lend me a helping hand. Names need not be provided, but I will tell you about some of the Good Samaritans who found it within their hearts to help me on some of those harsh winter nights. Let’s start with the bus drivers who let me ride the bus all day or all night to get me out of the cold. Or the construction workers who found me sleeping in a port potty and collected $200 for me to get a room for the week at the Jay Hotel.

Or the men and women who took me home with them after they’d partied in the Flats, coming out of the bar and seeing me standing in the same spot panhandling, with several inches of snow piled on top of me. The most unusual and gracious one of these occasions was when this person took me to their home, let me use their car and credit card, and stay in their home until the weather broke a week later. Guess what? They didn’t want me to leave.

I consider myself one of the Lucky Ones! I didn’t get beat up, bitten or die during those bitter winters in Cleveland. I have lived to tell you about some of the places and exploits that accompanied my homeless winters on the streets of Cleveland. Then, there are the times that I walked all night, slept under some of the counters at the West Side Market, or behind the little gray house in the Market’s parking lot.

When you’re homeless, you have to be willing to adapt to your surroundings in and out of shelters or you die. There are a bunch of statistics to support what I have written. I’m just writing on my exploits.

I lived anywhere and everywhere during the harsh, severe, bitter cold winters here in Cleveland when I was homeless and living on the streets. I am truly grateful that I have been blessed with an apartment now that I can sometimes return some kindness by letting someone stay with me on some cold winter nights. Or I can stay with them in their environment for a night. I have heard that some of the homeless community use the casino as a place of refuge. As long as you don’t go to sleep at the slot machine, you’re welcome to stay. At least that’s one new place to, away from the cold nights. Another place that was quite convenient was the church property of St. Malachi; but until recently, they have opened the meeting room for the homeless during the winter months. Places to stay in the winter are getting harder and harder to find.

I’ve been off the streets for almost two years now, so I’m somewhat clueless about where homeless people rest their heads during the winter. I would like to thank all the people who helped me out with money, food, and lodging during my time on the streets, and a special THANKS to those who trusted me to come into their homes   

I send my blessings to the homeless community, because I know during this past winter you had it bad, considering how cold the weather was.  I hope you survived and are looking forward to the spring, summer and fall months. KEEP THE FAITH! GOD BLESS!

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved        

Vendor Talks about Depression and Homelessness in Cleveland A Tribute to Eugene and Vincent Boyd

By Michael Boyd

 I would like write this article as tribute to Eugene and Vincent Boyd, my two deceased brothers.  I was told to write a story about things that happen in my life.  On July 10th, two days before my birthday, I lost my second brother in less than a year.  For someone that reads my article they already know I lost my brother Eugene in August.  He became homeless, got depressed, and took his own life.  My brother Vincent died from medical reasons on July 10th.  July 12th was my birthday, it was a quiet birthday. 

 Three days later I went to work at the market selling the paper. I had no choice, didn’t want to go, but I needed the money.  When you lose somebody it’s sad, but I ran into a teacher who works at Horizon Science Academy named Anne T. Kline. She brought me a sleeping bag, hygiene products and a bus pass.  It’s a beautiful thing to see strangers that care so much. One joy to my heart. They say God brings angels in your path when you’re at your lowest and I believe that she was one of them. 

 I would also like to put in this article the name of a young man that really reads my articles. His name is Brian, he can’t be no older than 16 years old, but he also brings joy to my heart to think that someone even cares, that he would take time out to read something that I have written. 

 If you would like to brighten someone’s day like Brian brightened mine, you can donate socks, clothes, and other goods to St. Augustine’s, St. Malachi’s, the West Side Catholic Center, and I cannot forget St. Pat’s.  I always enjoy telling people where they can go to help out those on the streets, and educating people about life on the streets, through the newspaper because life is harder than you think on the streets.  I would know, I lived it! 

 My step-dad kicked me out of my mom’s house after she passed away and I became homeless.  There weren’t any shelters in Cleveland at the time. The only form of shelter were garages with a few cots laying on the ground called sites.  You can imagine what it was like when someone would open that garage door in the winter.

 I became depressed in those sites and began staying under bridges and in the West Side Market, before they put locks on the door.  I got into some bad stuff when I was living out there, but the joy I get from seeing the good people at the West Side Market warms my heart and reminds me that God is always present in my life.

 God Bless

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved        

Struggling with Poverty, Drugs in the Family

Commentary by A. J.

My dad is homeless.  Both of my parents were drug addicts as I grew up.  My mom was young when they married, she married to get out of her home.  Dad was addicted to crack cocaine, he introduced my mom to drugs and she ended up getting strung out too.  One of my only positive memories as a child is sitting and watching wrestling on TV with my parents. Fun times! Other memories include an argument which erupted between my parents and I watched my dad beat my mom.  Another time, I watched him throw my little sister across the room, and stab my mom as my other sister and I hid in a closet.  I remember the SWAT coming in and dragging my dad out.  He was in and out of jail and ended up in prison for a couple years. 

My mom prostituted to keep up her drug habit, she never tried to hide that fact.  She used to leave for days, we would call it the “three day store,” she would leave to go to the store and we wouldn’t see her for three days.  When I was in middle school, I remember seeing her standing on the street corner in her nightgown strung out.  Years later as I was on my way to college, I saw her on the street corner strung out yet again.  My mind became flooded with bad memories, I remember the rejection I felt as she pretended to not know me and I pretended to not know her.  I had to remind myself, this is not my life anymore, it’s hers and I kept driving.

I knew at any minute I could bury them.  I had to be honest with myself.  This life my dad lives is his choice, he chooses to be strung out on drugs, homeless, he can die, suffers depression, he drinks alcohol and smokes crack.  My mom chose to be a prostitute, left her kids with neighbors, relatives and in foster care, went to jail and prison.

My dad’s life is a cycle of jails and treatment centers to sober up.  He’s then funny and smart, a cool guy, the life of the party and very charming.  He has to face his issues and choices which lead to depression and drugs, then anger usually leading to domestic violence and then back to jail and treatment. 

My mom tried to commit suicide, was raped, abused, stabbed and a victim of domestic abuse.  The abuse took a toll, she has physical scars that constantly remind her of the shame and embarrassment. She was a prostitute and crack addict that frequently visited the “three day store.” Editor’s Note: hunger centers typically offer three days worth of food.

The best years of my life came when I was in the fourth or fifth grade, my mom decided to get clean.  My mom, sister and I stayed in shelters in Columbus and Cincinnati.  There was no man with my mom, just us!  She was there!  We went to school every day, we ate regularly and there were activities for families.  My mom was happy and smiling.  She enjoyed being a mom.  She had worked hard to get us back in her care.  She was working at Burger King.  We got into public housing, things were so good!  She wanted to help other people who were going through what she had been through! 

So where did this leave me?  I felt rejected, asked myself, what is wrong with me? I felt that no one cared about me.  I felt unloved, I was searching for love.  I fought with the thought that I was all alone, I felt lost and confused.  I did not know who I was, I had no identity.  I wanted to scream, YOU LEFT ME, YOU WERE NOT THERE.  I put on a mask, I was tough mentally.  The mask was to hide the broken child.  I had no options on who my parents were, how I lived or where I lived.  I was in an awful, abusive home with addicts as parents.  I had no options!  I developed a bad attitude, I didn’t care, became hard and nobody was going to see me cry.  I was angry, as I was driving one day, I was swerving on the road and told God to save me as I was intentionally swerving in traffic.  I heard a voice say, YOU ARE NOT A VICTIM, YOU ARE VICTORIOUS!

Today, I am 31 years old and have 4 children.   I go to Believe Worship Center Church.  It is there where I started to recognize the truth with the help of my pastors, Apostle Timothy and Prophet Nicole Reynolds.  They assisted me, a woman who was broken, to have a personal relationship with Christ, to face the truth of my past and to stop lying.  It happened, I am now free!  I am a minister helping other youths and young adults who have similar thoughts and situations through our Theatrical Arts Ministry.  I am sharing what I have learned on how to be victorious through traumatic childhoods, homelessness and addictions.

  • I was not going to be another statistic.  I had to get out of the victim mentality.  I am victorious!  I learned about drugs and what they do to people through a program called Straight Talk.  It taught me even though drugs were part of our daily life, we had to face them, and that we didn’t have to be like that.  Even though I was the daughter of two drug addicts, a teen mom, suicidal, molested, fearful and depressed, the TRUTH was, “I AM VICTORIOUS, NOT A VICTIM”
  • I learned how to fill emptiness with the love of Christ.
  • I had to get out of survival mode, I survived my childhood.  I had to stop hanging onto guilt, condemnation and the past.
  • I had to learn how to not fear failure, but to stop recognizing how many times I fell, instead of how many times I got up.
  • I had to learn to stop focusing on the problem, and focus on the solution.  You will become what you focus on.  If you focus on drugs or failure…….
  • You have to let things go with truth and let God be your strength. 

My dad asked to come live with me, I took him in.  After two weeks I asked him to leave.  Again, it was messing me up, and messing up my family.  There is help for him, he chooses not to get it.  I had to make a hard decision.  The roles were reversed, I was now having to be his parent.  I told him if he wakes up or has breath, he has another chance.  He doesn’t have to live his life ashamed and embarrassed, addicted and full of guilt.

My mom is now in church and she is doing well.  She is learning to live a victorious life.

As a child I was afraid I was going to be taken away, I was miserable, defensive and had low self-esteem.  I saw no chance of getting out of that lifestyle.  Today, I can say this is the first time I am living and not existing.  I look forward to helping teens going through similar lifestyles with addicted parents or facing homeless issues to understand this is not their end.  They don’t have to become what they have seen, but they can say, I am not going to become this.   I will help them find the bridge to success.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved        

Cruel, Unusual, and Unjust Punishment

By: Raymond

David Sweat, the prisoner who recently escaped from New York, has something waiting for him when they put him back in prison: cruel, unusual, and unjust punishment.  The guards are going to take turns on him.  He was probably shot unjustly but they’re not going tell us about that.  You know you can’t trust the media.  This guy probably told on all the guards for drugs; the guard’s buddies are just waiting at the doors for him.  21 days this man was free, and just two miles from the Canadian border.  Now he’s going to be put in a cell that he’s going to be in more like 24 hours a day than 23. They ain’t going to give him recreation every day. 

Now about the Angola Three in Louisiana, my home state.  It all starts in 1972 at the Louisiana State Prison at Angola with three innocent convicts.  Somebody killed one of the free guards during the riot.  [Editor’s note:  there are free guards who are not in jail and convict guards who are inmates].  The guard was 23 years and was stabbed 65-70 times, might have been a lot more than that. They put it on a man who wasn’t even involved in it, then they locked him in a 6 by 6 cell, although they’ll tell you 6 by 9.  They welded his cell shut for almost 30 years, and fed him 3 meals a day, or so they say.  He got two pieces of bread and all the water he could drink.  In 1975 the US Supreme Court said bread and water was cruel, unusual, and unjust punishment, the same year they had to get rid of the convict guards. 

People don’t realize back in those days the convict guards were in the red hatch.  The red hatch was the worst place I’ve ever been in.  If they didn’t feel like feeding you, you didn’t get fed.  And don’t expect a clean uniform.  They beat a guy to death.  The doctors said he died of spinal injuries, thank God for State Representative Dorothy Taylor.  She made them give him an autopsy or they would have gotten away with it. 

Dorothy Taylor and the state people closed the hatch for two weeks, cleaned everyone out, and then opened it right back up.  Now they got a guy who spent 42 years in the red hatch, that’s also the death chamber. When you’re talking about cruel, unusual, and unjust punishment, picture sitting in a cell, no sunshine, no air for 42 years for killing a guard that he didn’t even kill.

 Editor’s Note:  Three men were convicted of the crime of killing guard, Brent Miller.  Robert Hillary King (born Robert King Wilkerson), Albert Woodfox and Herman Wallace were placed in solitary confinement in 1973.  Wallace was released in October 2013 and died four days later.  In March 2008, Woodfox and Wallace were removed from solitary, and in June 2015 Woodfox was ordered released after his conviction was overturned.  Louisiana has appealed this decision and has not released him.  King spent 29 years in solitary and his conviction was overturned.  He was released from Angola after his conviction was overturned.  The author does not believe that the three were guilty of the original murder as he was in Angola at the time of the crime.  He claims that there was another man who committed the crime and was never charged for killing the guard.   

  Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved        

North Star: Giving Clevelanders Who paid Their Debt a Second Chance

By Abby Bova

 As a branch off of Oriana House, Inc., the North Star center works to help those living in Cuyahoga County who have been involved in the criminal justice system.  While North Star’s programs are geared toward those whom have been involved directly with the criminal justice system, North Star’s services are additionally available to the friends and family of those whom have been involved in the criminal justice system. One of the best parts of the program is the enthusiastic Marcus Bell who is knowledgeable of all the services.

North Star is not a shelter or a drop in center, the best way to describe it is a one stop help center.  North Star’s services include not only employment help, but also GED classes, family healing, computer training, vouchers for state IDs, life skill classes, free health care clinics and so much more.  Needless to say North Star’s calendar, which is sent out monthly, is always full.  In order to access the majority of North Star’s services one must become a member.  Fortunately, the only requirements to become a member are that the client is 18 or older and is there voluntarily.  Each year roughly 1,600 people become North Star members and continue to return year after year.  North Star’s staff of transition specialists help each client receive individualized help, whether the services needed are in house or through another agency.

North Star’s employment program is a core service path, meaning it is geared towards those who have had previous job experience and simply need a refresher in certain areas.  This program consists of an orientation, so that clients know what they are getting themselves into, followed by a brief assessment to determine the state of the individual client and discover any barriers.  The client is then given a check list of vital documents and other materials needed to successfully secure a job.  If the client is missing any of these items, North Star’s staff of transition specialists will help said client in acquiring whatever it is they need.  The final step is job club.  Each client is assigned to a job specialist who will assist them in acquiring a job.  These job specialists are constantly in contact with employers around the area to find the best fit for each client.  For those with little to no job experience, Oriana House has paired up with Towards Employment, which offers an intensive service path.

 The most important aspect of North Star’s programing is their staff.  The welcoming staff has created a “judge-free” atmosphere, which draws clients in from all over the area.  North Star understands that many people living on the street would rather stay on the street than seek help and be judged.  They went so far as to place it in their grant that all employees must treat everyone with kindness and respect at all times.  It is a miracle that North Star is able to keep their multitudes of programs running smoothly.  However, the 66,000 people who have found assistance through North Star since 2010 are a true testament to a job well done.

  Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved   

Living with Seizures Can Make it Hard to Keep a Job

By Tammy Hobbs

I am 48 years old and every day I have to take five pills for seizure disorders.  I started having seizures at the age of 34, and they have yet to discover what causes me to have them.  It’s a very scary situation to go through.  Sometimes I can feel the seizures coming on, however more often than not they are a surprise.  I have had seizures walking down the street, in the grocery store, at carnivals, and also at the bus stops.

It’s very scary because I could have one at any given moment, I have to take 5 pills a day for this. But sometimes they don’t work. I can’t be around bright lights, loud music, video games and many more things can trigger seizures. If you ever witness someone having a seizure roll them over on their side and call an ambulance immediately.  I have had seizures standing in the bathroom looking in the mirror and woken up with burn marks on my arm and belly, from my curling iron. The scariest part about seizures is to have one and wake up not even knowing what happened hours later.

I have what they call grand mal seizures. Grand-mal seizures are caused by abnormal electrical activity throughout the brain.  Most of the time grand mal seizures are caused by epilepsy.  In some cases, however, this type of seizure is triggered by other health problems, such as extremely low blood sugar, high fever or a stroke.  Grand mal seizures are the worst form involving the whole body, all extremities shaking, as well as drooling, loss of consciousness, and incontinence.  So it is scary to have seizures, but it’s just something I have to live with.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved   

The Foster Care System Needs to Be Improved

Commentary by Kim Supermutt Goodman

      When a baby is born they are usually placed into the arms of a caring mother who takes them home to a supportive family. As the baby grows into a child, a teenager and then into an adult their parents and family teaches them everything they need to know in order to live and survive in the world. The child grows up, makes mistakes and learns from them. Some children are born to caring parents but sometimes their parents pass away, get sick or become unable to care for them and they end up in foster care. Other with children end up in foster care because they were removed from their homes by children services because of abuse and neglect. In the past unwanted children, abused children and parentless children were placed in orphanages which had an institutionalized set up making the children feel as if they were being punished for not having parents. Now children are placed in foster homes or children’s homes.

      The idea of a foster home is to give a child a sense of family. The set up is supposed to be a caring family offers their home, love and support to a child in need so the child can grow up to lead a healthy and productive life. The problem with foster homes is not all foster parents are kind and caring. Some people take in foster children just for the perks, benefits and subsidies. Some children mainly teenagers and children with special needs are left to reside in children’s homes. A lot of people don’t want to foster a teenager due to the stereotype of “rebellious teen,” and don’t want anything to do with a special needs child.

      On the child’s 18th birthday they are no longer considered a child, they are now a legal adult. At age 18 a person ages out of the foster care system and can no longer live in a children’s home. As for children who live in foster homes many lose their homes once they graduate from high school. Some foster parents can’t afford to support an extra person once the benefits run out and others refuse to support a child they didn’t create with their own money and resources.

      In the greater Cleveland area 120 teenagers age out of foster care each year. Each month 15-20 teenagers in Cuyahoga County alone leave the system with nothing. In Ohio over 1,000 teenagers age out of foster care each year. Many of these teenagers have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Foster children are 5 times more likely to become homeless than their peers. A lot of 18 year olds go directly from the children’s home into a homeless shelter. Too many young men who age out of foster care end up in jail or prison and only a small amount get college degrees. Many young women end up getting pregnant so they can receive government assistant. A lot of young adults self medicate themselves with alcohol or drugs to the point they become addicted. The only program really designed to help young people with comprehensive services is Job Corp. There is a proposal to improve conditions in foster kids. Ohio House Bill extends foster care up to the age of 21 as long as the person is completing high school, going to college, going into a vocational program, enrolled in a job program, employed at least 80 hours a month or has a medical condition. This is a good start especially for those who live in foster home.  This allows a foster parent to care for the child longer.  This will also work for young adults who are mature and mentally stable. A mature and mentally stable young adult will find it easy to finish school and enter a job program, vocational program or enroll in college while they can. But what about those ones who can’t? Let’s face it, not all children are alike. Some mature faster than others. Some have more issues than others. In the past some parents gave up their children and sent them to orphanages because they didn’t want them or couldn’t care for them. At age 18 or immediately after graduating from high school we expect all young adults in foster care to be mature enough to live on their own and fully support themselves mentally, emotionally and financially. We expect them to have the natural motivation to get up each day and go to school with their peers who still live at home with their parents. We except the foster child to fully focus on their school work without dealing with the pain of not having a supportive family or not feeling any kind of jealousy toward their peers for having the support they wish they had in their lives. We expect a foster child to enroll in college and stay focused; never giving up until they get their degree while they watch their peers make mistakes and slack off but have their parents and family to help them. If society wants to make a big difference in the lives of foster children, they need to address their needs starting with childhood. Every child needs to fell a sense of belonging. Every child needs to feel cared for and every child needs to feel valued. Understand that some children were severely abused or had their needs neglected so abusive and neglectful behavior is all they know. Teach the child how to live, how to be gentle, how to be patient and whatever skills they need to be taught. In my opinion, the most important thing we can do is to create a support group for children separated from their families. Many children who live in children’s homes feel as if they are alone in the world and they must deal with and solve all their problems on their own. By creating a structured support group the adults who run it can teach the children how to get along and build a meaningful relationship with each other. Life is more manageable with a buddy. It is more cost effective for 2 people to get jobs, get a 2 bedroom apartment and share the rent and utilities than it is for one person to work, get a 1 bedroom apartment and pay for everything. Many children in foster care wish they had that family to be a part of, but if there was a way to teach these children how to become a family to each other it would make a bigger impact in their lives. Sometimes life is more about finding love, acceptance and companionship than it is about money and material things.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved   

Life Lesson: Listen Instead of Being Heard

Commentary by Jennifer Black

 Most children now a days don’t listen to their parents who have lived a hard life and then they end up falling back into the same situation that they were in at the beginning.  They don’t realize that when they mess up their lives they mess up other people’s lives too.  I am now taking care of my grandson because my kids did not listen to me.

 I’m currently experiencing the aftermath of someone who did not listen.  It is hard on me because I am now responsible for other people’s problems and have less time to take care of myself.  I suffer from severe emphysema and have to take medicine 3 times a day so I am not fully here mentally and physically.  It is not so much that taking care of other people is a burden, it is simply the principle of it all. I love spending time with my grandson, he gives me something to look forward to so maybe the aftermath isn’t so bad. 

 I love being a vendor at the market.  It’s really exciting to go and meet people at the market because not only do they help me out financially but I am able to help them out when they share their burdens with me.  I have built a strong “give and take relationship” with my friends at the market on this principle of listening.  I really appreciate everyone who becomes a part of the paper and helps me out and helps out NEOCH. 

 The people at the market have always gone above and beyond just buying the newspaper.  A few years back when I had cancer my customers at the market helped me figure out what kinds of foods I could eat and made the whole experience more bearable, because I listened.  I love spending time at the market and couldn’t be more grateful for all of the friends I have made there and the things they have done for me.  I wish everybody the best and to take life one day at a time.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved   

I Have a Few Suggestions for Where Homeless People Can Find Help

By Bobbette Robinson

People who live on the street and are looking for help, should think about organizations such as Murtis Taylor Human Services System and Connections: Health. Wellness. Advocacy. There are 12 locations for Murtis Taylor, on both the East and West sides of Cleveland, including a residential campus. Formerly known as North East Ohio Health Services, Connections is a good place for people who need mental illness and/or chemical dependency services.  Connections has four locations: Beachwood, Cleveland Heights, Cleveland West at West 25th, and Cleveland West and Cleveland West at North Ridge Commons. I personally go to Connections. They help me receive medicine, visit a doctor and see a nurse to fill my pill box. Connections also provided me with a case manager who helped me manage my budget, receive my birth certificate, and find low-income housing, like Section 8 and Eden; things I might not be able to do on my own.

The West Side Catholic Center, and St. Malachi are great places to go if you are looking for a hot meal at breakfast, lunch and dinner.  St. Patrick’s also has a program where you are provided with groceries to take home with you.  One of the first places I would suggest people go to for help is the Welfare building on Payne Ave (ODJFS offices). They can talk to a case manager and sign up for the Food Stamp program and for Medicaid. In addition to meals at the West Side Catholic Center, people can get clothes or household items, get outreach and advocacy assistance and help with earning a GED, showers, telephones and mailbox services.

The best way for suburban folks and individuals to help those in need living on the streets is by providing the bare necessities.  These include clothes, socks, shoes, blankets, coats (in the winter), and a little spare change.  Good places to donate these goods are the Labre programs at St. Ignatius High School and John Carrol University.  The Labre organization brings these goods directly to the people living on the streets in mini vans and it is very helpful. 

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved

I Do Not Have a Favorable Opinion of Homeless People

Commentary by Arthur Price Jr.

I don’t know how people end up homeless.  I think some people choose it. Everyday good people become homeless due to drugs, alcohol, loss of family members, and losing good jobs.  These people end up sleeping under bridges, in doorways, at Edgewater and anywhere else they can find. 

I have a friend named Lenny who gets $1,000.00 a month and is staying the shelter.  I asked him why he doesn’t get himself a place and he said he would rather stay in the shelter than pay rent.

I try to help people as much as I can, but it’s hard.  I like helping people because I know what they have gone through, it makes me happy when I can make someone’s day a little easier.   I saw a guy going into dumpsters to get food, I bought him fries out of the kindness of my heart and he didn’t want them, he just wanted money for drugs. I don’t know what else to do. 

It’s sad, I wish there was more that we could do.  If I had a million dollars I would help everyone. The stories in the Cleveland Street Chronicle do a lot to help educate the public about homelessness. These stories are true and it’s important that people hear them.  I would love to see the community come together and help out everyone around them as one.

The churches come around every night and bring sandwiches and coffee to help these people out and preach about God.  But most people on the streets don’t believe in God, they say God is hopeless.  Some of these people need more than just something to eat, they need rehab for drugs and alcohol, but they’re not getting it. I hope to see a day where everyone receives and accepts the help required for them to live a better life.

Editor’s Note:  Statistics from Cuyahoga County show only a small number of homeless people using the shelters have income.  Many people who fall on tough times give up on pursuing the American Dream and others give up on their religion or they limit contact with their family.  Many are embarrassed and attempt to hide their own shortfalls with braggadocios stories about their income, their life or their history.  Alcohol and drugs are a huge problem in the homeless community and it often alters a person’s thinking.  It is a behavioral health issue because it alters a person’s behavior, thinking and ability to make rational decisions.  In the end it is a health issue that needs to be treated in a similar manner as cancer, diabetes, and ALS. 

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved

How I Ended Up at Norma Herr Women’s Shelter in Cleveland

By: Donna Smith

I never imagined that I would become homeless, but here I am at Norma Herr.  I was born in Cleveland and moved down to Youngstown in ’82.  I have a lot of family down there and was able to find good work.  In Youngstown I put my degree in social work to use becoming a case manager for homeless people.  I saved up my money for five years and with the help of a financial backer I was able to secure a $50,000 loan and a house.  Unfortunately, as soon as my boss found out that I was getting into housing she found out a way to fire me.  She was a controlling woman who wanted to keep me, and everyone else, under her thumb.  At this same time, the economy took a turn for the worse and I was told I was going to lose my home.  I stayed in that house until they forced me out through eviction and I began to fall into a depression. 

I no longer had the desire to live in a house, or even an apartment so I began renting rooms wherever they would take me, usually with friends or family.  I began to get in trouble due to the activity of those I was staying with, and soon they didn’t want to take me in anymore.  So, I turned to the Rescue Mission in Youngstown.  While staying there I was able to find work at a call center through a temp agency and secured an apartment through Catholic Charities.  I secured a good job and had been preparing for it for a year when I found out that my mother was sick. 

This is when my life turned for the worse.  My mom had suffered from a blood clot in both her brain and her leg, and to make matters worse Chase bank was foreclosing the house she had lived in for 50 years.  Before I came home my brother was living with and taking care of my mom, and without her knowing he took out an $80,000 loan on my mother’s house.  He started paying it off and then, without explanation, turned the receipt book over to my mother and disappeared.  My brother was nowhere to be found and he was the only one who could have saved my mother’s house.  Because his name was the only one on the deed and the lack of help from the attorneys at Chase we missed out on several opportunities to save the house and rid ourselves of the debt from his loan.

My mother was very involved in her community, from working with the local church to coordinating the street club.  She loved her community and her house.  She even ran for city council.  Consequently, she was very stubborn when she was told she had to leave her home.  I began contacting a local foundation, hoping for an extension on the time we had left in the house.  However, the women I was supposed to be working with would not get back to me and we were running out of time.  I have always been a very independent women.  So, as soon as I found out I could fill out the extension forms on my own I did and was able to receive a 60 day extension.  This was just enough time to convince my mom that her house was too old to even bother staying in anymore.  I soon found out that my mom’s boyfriend was actually useful.  Because of his Veteran status we were able to receive help from Veteran’s Affairs, who helped us not only find a house with the security my mom wanted, but also helped throughout the entire moving process.

As soon as my mom was settled she began picking fights with me and used the life alert button, that I got her, to report me for domestic violence.  I have never hit my mother.  I spent 10 days in jail for an act of violence which I never committed.  During my time of incarceration my mother attempted to report me for coming to her house and harassing her.  I have not spoken to my mom since then, I do not need that negative energy in my life.  After my release, I attempted to find work, however no one wanted to hire some with a criminal record.  This record also made it incredibly difficult to find housing, and that’s what brought me to Norma Herr Women’s Shelter in Cleveland.

My experience at Norma Herr has not been a good one.  The food is barley edible, it’s impossible not to lose weight when staying at Norma Herr.  Without places like the Fifth Church of Christ and The Word Church we would never get a decent meal.  Recently they fumigated the entire building for bed bugs.  We were told that we had to fit whatever belongings we had into our lockers and anything that didn’t fit was going to be thrown out.  A worker informed us that we could keep a trash bag of belongings on our beds as long as it was a sealed bag.  In this bag was several of my belongings, shoes and clothes, and a few very important papers.  This entire bag was thrown out. 

Additionally, they have made a new rule which states that we cannot have stuffed animals and personal blankets.  They threw out the quilt the church gave me.  Finally, I don’t feel safe.  Not only is the staff disrespectful, but many of the residents are disrespectful because they are bigger than other residents and think they can push you around.  Fights break out every day within the shelter, many due to mental issues that are not addressed by the staff.  I have tried to leave behind the negative energy from my mom, however I am surrounded by the same negative energy at Norma Herr and it’s making it more difficult for me to move forward with my life.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved

       

Championship for Homelessness

By: Buzzy

Disappointment, frustration, and downright disgust; that’s what the fans of Cleveland have felt.  We thought this year we had the chance to be happy-go-lucky and carefree. But as usual, the good old hex of Cleveland, that curse we’ve had since 1964, fell on our fair city. 

LeBron may have been the king of Miami, but he sure hasn’t been the King of Cleveland.  All because he hasn’t been afforded a good supporting cast.  During his first reign the supporting cast didn’t show up, and the same happened during the playoffs.  Now we are in a dilemma waiting to find out whether the King is going to stay or go.  Hopefully he’ll stay.  But we do not want one of those episodes we had when he left Cleveland. He had us hanging on for dear life as he knew he was ready to leave town.  We just want him to say “I’m outta here” so we can start over again. 

I’m telling you this here because it was pretty good for the homeless during this last run for gold. Everybody was happy-go-lucky, and in a giving spirit.  I know several homeless guys who enjoyed shelter, monetary gains and a lot of food.  I, myself, sold a lot of papers because of the happy go-lucky- spirit that was going on in Cleveland during the play offs.  I know the good people of Cleveland have been through this before, and will probably go through it again.  Hopefully, since were trying to beautify Cleveland for the Republican Party Convention next year, they will be our lucky charm, bringing a championship into Cleveland.  Because on that glorious day whether you are a republican, a democrat, or independent everyone will be jumping for joy if a championship comes to Cleveland.

Being a Clevelander, I have experienced the highs and lows of our near championships.  At least we’re not like some cities, we’ve been to championship games but we have never gotten over the hill.  The Indians got to a couple of World Series, the Browns have made it to some championship games, and the good ole Cavaliers have too, but we haven’t yet made it to the mountain top.  And to quote Martin Luther King Jr. we in Cleveland have a dream.  Just like we have seen the dream of an African American becoming the president of these United States hopefully, I will enjoy another dream of seeing Cleveland become a championship city.  But more than Cleveland becoming a championship city I would like to envision Cleveland becoming a championship city for homelessness.  Because if Cleveland wins the championship it should be a great championship for homelessness because everyone will surely be happy, happy, happy.  

We have accomplished a lot of things in Cleveland over the last several years, but homelessness is still at the forefront of our society.  And although we have experienced the comradery of almost winning a championship, we should also come together to win a championship for homelessness.  So as I bring this to a close, I would like to say 2016 will be our year! We’ll definitely be ‘ALL IN’ and hopefully, we’ll be ‘ALL IN’ for homelessness! 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved

As Strange as it Sounds, Homelessness has Made Me a Stronger Person

Commentary by Simona Lynch

Although I never planned to experience homelessness I’ve always had the passion to help end homelessness. In fact, for the last eight years I have been a homeless advocate in a couple large cities, Pittsburgh, PA I volunteered for Bethlehem Haven Center for Women and The Task Force for the Homeless in Atlanta, GA. I enjoyed the experience serving the homeless, it also helps to know how to access resources and take advantage of organizations that service the poor. Every major city in the USA has a United Way First Call for Help /dial 211 and a Department of Children and Family Services these organizations have all local help agencies for any crisis.

My homeless experience has been beneficial to my life for a few reasons: I learned to never think I could not find myself in a serious crisis because of my education, employment status or the area I reside . It encouraged me to write a book on homelessness to educate the community, students, and community leaders about how serious this social issue is in the city of Cleveland. For the last two years I’ve spoken out about my homeless experience and how I plan to help end homelessness in this city. Speaking out and writing a book inspire me to prevent myself to become homeless again and how to help prevent many causes of homelessness to other people.

My advice to anyone looking to avoid homelessness is to first and for most save money!  Additionally, when finding housing make sure that you will be able to afford the rent, and when you are struggling with money do not leave a job unless you have another job lined up, no matter how much you hate it.  If you are married to an addict, take control of the finances, do not let your significant other have any access to the money.  Additionally, force your significant other into treatment through ultimatums and enact a two strikes and you are out policy.

One day I plan to own and run a resource center for homeless young women and young women who have been released from prison. If I never experienced this tragic event with my child I don’t believe I would be so eager to help young women to transition from this type of event in her life.

It is very important for me to share my story with the community to help prevent homeless situations especially with women who have children. I have experienced homelessness four times in a three years. Now that I have gained self –sufficiency, it has motivated me to be an active advocate for the homeless population. My plan is to educate, empower and inspire women who find themselves in this crisis.

For the book I am writing about former homeless people, I have interviewed five individuals who have different stories about their experience, how they gained self-sufficiency, their views before homelessness and after gaining stable housing (big difference). These individuals all have awesome success stories. I believe my book will inspire more people in the Greater Cleveland area to participate in helping service the homeless in our city.

In this book I provided information about a few Hollywood stars, Cleveland Natives who have experience this unsettled crisis. It amazed me how many local celebrities were homeless, got out of homelessness and became very successful and are successful men and women today. I say this to say, this is an issue that is not harmful or permanently although it can be if one does not take advantage of the resources available.

Currently I don't involve myself with drug addicts, I make sure I save money each payday and my rent is manageable to pay on my income. In the last few year since I gained self-sufficiency and stable housing.

The homeless population that does not have a mental health illness or chemical dependency can speak out for the disabled and participate in preventing this serious social issue that many Clevelander are facing.

 Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved

The Foster Care System Needs to Be Improved

By Kim Supermutt Goodma

    When a baby is born they are usually placed into the arms of a caring mother who takes them home to a supportive family. As the baby grows into a child, a teenager and then into an adult their parents and family teach them everything they need to know in order to live and survive in the world. The child grows up, makes mistakes and learns from them.

     Some children are born to caring parents but sometimes their parents pass away, get sick or become unable to care for them and they end up in foster care. Other children end up in foster care because they were removed from their homes by children services because of abuse and neglect. In the past unwanted children, abused children and parentless children were placed in orphanages which had an institutionalized set up making the children feel as if they were being punished for not having parents. Now children are placed in foster homes or children’s homes.

      The idea of a foster home is to give a child a sense of family. The set up is supposed to be a caring family offers their home, love and support to a child in need so the child can grow up to lead a healthy and productive life. The problem with foster homes is not all foster parents are kind and caring. Some people take in foster children just for the perks, benefits and subsidies. Some children mainly teenagers and children with special needs are left to reside in children’s homes. A lot of people don’t want to foster a teenager due to the stereotype of “rebellious teen,” and don’t want anything to do with a special needs child.

      On the child’s 18th birthday they are no longer considered a child, they are now a legal adult. At age 18 a person ages out of the foster care system and can no longer live in a children’s home. As for children who live in foster homes many lose their homes once they graduate from high school. Some foster parents can’t afford to support an extra person once the benefits run out and others refuse to support a child they didn’t create with their own money and resources.

      In the greater Cleveland area 120 teenagers age out of foster care each year. Each month 15-20 teenagers in Cuyahoga County alone leave the system with nothing. In Ohio over 1,000 teenagers age out of foster care each year. Many of these teenagers have nowhere to go and no one to turn to. Foster children are 5 times more likely to become homeless than their peers. A lot of 18 year olds go directly from the children’s home into a homeless shelter. Too many young men who age out of foster care end up in jail or prison and only a small amount get college degrees. Many young women end up getting pregnant so they can receive government assistant. A lot of young adults self medicate themselves with alcohol or drugs to the point they become addicted. The only program really designed to help young people with comprehensive services is Job Corp.

     There is a proposal to improve conditions for foster kids.  Ohio House Bill 50 extends foster care up to the age of 21 as long as the person is completing high school, going to college, going into a vocational program, enrolled in a job program, employed at least 80 hours a month or has a medical condition. This is a good start especially for those who live in a foster home. This allows a foster parent to care for the child longer. This will also work for young adults who are mature and mentally stable. A mature and mentally stable young adult will find it easy to finish school and enter a job program, vocational program or enroll in college while they can. But what about those who can’t?

      Let’s face it, not all children are alike. Some mature faster than others. Some have more issues than others. In the past some parents gave up their children and sent them to orphanages because they didn’t want them or couldn’t care for them.  At age 18 or immediately after graduating from high school we expect all young adults in foster care to be mature enough to live on their own and fully support themselves mentally, emotionally and financially. We expect them to have that natural motivation to get up each day and go to school with their peers who still live at home with their parents. We expect the foster child to fully focus on their school work without dealing with the pain of not having a supportive family or not feeling any kind of jealousy toward their peers for having the support they wish they had in their lives. We expect a foster child to enroll in college and stay focused, never giving up until they get their degree while they watch their peers make mistakes and slack off but have their parents and family to help them.

     If society wants to make a big difference in the lives of foster children, they need to address their needs starting with childhood. Every child needs to feel a sense of belonging. Every child needs to feel cared for and every child needs to feel valued. Understand that some children were severely abused or had their needs neglected so abusive and neglectful behavior is all they know. Teach the child how to love, how to be gentle, how to be patient and whatever skill they need to be taught

     In my opinion, the most important thing we can do is to create a support group for children separated from their families.  Many children who live in children’s homes feel as if they are alone in the world and they must deal with and solve all their problems on their own. By creating a structured support group the adults who run it can teach the children how to get along and build a meaningful relationship with each other. Life is more manageable with a buddy.  It is more cost effective for 2 people to get jobs, get a 2 bedroom apartment and share the rent and utilities than it is for one person to work, get a 1 bedroom apartment and pay for everything.  Many children in foster care wish they had that family to be a part of, but if there was a way to teach these children how to become a family to each other it would make a bigger impact in their lives. Sometimes life is more about finding love, acceptance and companionship than it is about money and material things. 

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 in Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved

I Can’t Believe that I Pay Taxes to Support the Norma Herr Shelter

Commentary by Dan the Intern

     In business, the client is always right.  The goal is to ensure the customer is satisfied. That is simply business 101. When multiple clients consistently file complaints against an employee, a company seeks to remedy the situation or let the employee go. When a company receives multiple complaints about a problem, the company fixes the issue. A company is always afraid of losing their customer base. After spending over 2 months working for NEOCH as an intern, I have met many homeless individuals with complaints about the Cleveland homeless women’s shelter that, at first, I could not even believe. However, time and time again, after listening to the experiences of residents at the Norma Herr’s Women’s Shelter, the same narrative was told each time, the conditions there are awful. So, I ask, why is that the Norma Herr’s Women’s Shelter continuously has horrendous circumstances that no person should ever deal with? The conditions of the shelter are well known, yet Frontline Services, the organization operating the shelter, has done nothing.

     The food is awful, the staff is awful, the rules are awful, and, simply put, the conditions at the shelter are awful. At times, rocks are found in the food, staff ignores fights, staff often takes resources donated for the clients, those working jobs late cannot eat and often lose their beds, and these are just a few of the constant complaints at Norma Herr. The staff consistently mistreat clients, they walk in on women who are undressed, even the police officer on duty is not helpful and is often threatening the women.

     The problems at the shelter are numerous and create an environment that is not conducive to ending homelessness, but rather perpetuating the problem. The current staff is like a cancer, any new staff members are immediately introduced to a culture of despair among the staff. The worker’s union protects these horrible employees, even though their actions at any other company in America would have them immediately fired. The security at the front sets up an atmosphere similar to a prison instead of a shelter. Also, the shelter has many different populations mixed together that should not be together, such as those just released from jail, elderly, mentally ill, moms trying to get their kids back, and those that are currently using drugs/alcohol.

     These problems/complaints and many more are well known to the staff, Frontline Services, the County and City governments, and the social justice organizations in the area, yet NOTHING IS DONE. Frontline Services has done nothing to remedy the terrible conditions of the shelter. Why does Frontline Services allow this to continue? I can only think of 3 possibility. First, is it because they believe by making the conditions awful it will push people to leave? If so, they have clearly failed, the conditions at the shelter are anything but conducive to ending homelessness. Second, maybe Frontline Services believes that since the shelter was awful before they took charge that there is nothing to do? However, change can be made. 2100 Lakeside had conditions far worse than Norma Herr, but the conditions have drastically improved over time and since Lutheran Ministry took over. So, obviously Frontline can make the conditions better. The last possibility I can think of, is that they just do not care about making conditions better.

     If there is going to be a change to women’s homelessness, there needs to be a change at Norma Herr. Frontline must alter their business practices to create a shelter that will help, not harm, their clients, the homeless. I suggest that Norma Herr immediately implement three changes that will reform the culture and environment at the shelter to one that will empower homeless women to transform their circumstances. 1) They need to implement communities, similar to 2100 Lakeside, to prevent sober people from being surrounded by those under the influence, to prevent the mentally ill from having difficulties with those that do not understand their conditions, and to have those with disabilities to get bed rest. 2) Something must be done about the continuation of awful staff violating the rights of the clients. 3) Some incentives must be given to clients that give them reasons to seek jobs, drug rehab programs, and other beneficial programs.

     The current conditions at Norma Herr are appalling. This is not a secret, it is not as if these issues have suddenly been revealed. The problems with the shelter are well known and need to be inverted. No one, let alone those at Norma Herr, deserves to live in such an atrocious scene. These women are good people and should be treated as so. With these immediate changes, Norma Herr could really turn a new leaf. But, will Frontline Services do anything anytime soon? I like to think so, but history shows that they will continue to cause great harm to the homeless women’s community of Cleveland.

Copyright Cleveland Street Chronicle September 2015 Cleveland Ohio All Rights Reserved