There are Many Causes that can Lead Anyone to Homelessness

Commentary by Monie

An individual can work a full –time job have a nice apartment in a suburban area, have a car , travel, attend all entertainment events, motivated, volunteer at local homeless organization homeless, attend church and Bible study every Sunday and Wednesday and not have an addiction to drugs and /or alcohol but still find themselves homeless. I guess I’m trying to say a person that faces social and economic issues can still become homeless. Perhaps one is married to someone who has a drug addiction that just takes controls both of their lives and can lead to homelessness.

I experienced being married to a man who has a physical and physiological addiction to a chemical they call crack cocaine. It was more important to hold full-time employment and hold up his obligation and duty as a husband, which forced me to be finically responsible for all our expenses.

One Tuesday hot evening in Atlanta GA, after working a 12 hour shift, I came home from work to an empty apartment. I called my husband to inquire what had happen to all the furniture. He explained to me that he needed to get as high as he could so he sold the furniture for $350.00 and he lent the car out to “the dope man”, My husband did not know this guy and he said to me, “Oh and, “I have the food stamp card and your debit card”.  I could not believe he sold my food stamps and wiped out my checking account in one day. I can only blame myself for allowing this to happen to me again. This time, I wound up homeless.

 The dope man came to my house stating my husband owes’ him money and he could have all the TV’s, computer, electronics, and game systems back if we just gave him the money my husband owed. At this time I was scared for the safety of my daughter and I called all the local shelters in the Atlanta area. They were all full to the max and I had no cash on hand to stay in a hotel or motel. I was forced to call the police because I had no friends and family member in Atlanta. The Police call local shelters in the surrounding area the closest shelter was outside of the city of Atlanta, and I had no money for public tr transportation. Once I figured out a way to get to the shelter and signed, I met with a case manager, I was told, no residents cannot leave the shelter for 30 days after being enrolled into the program, so the new resident won’t sneak in drugs. Mind you I had no money, clothes, shoes or personal items and I was stuck. All I had was God, my sanity, my daughter and a full-time job that I had to give up because I could not leave the shelter. I became stress not knowing what to do; I did not want to stay in a shelter with my daughter. My next pay day was that Friday. I could have found a hotel or motel room but I was not going to pay for a room, and I would have been worried about how my daughter was going to get to and from school in the shelter or from the hotel room.

I made up my mind to relocate home to Cleveland, Ohio where I have family and friends. Well, I’m back home with no luck finding employment and living in my cousins’ basement. But we still are homeless my daughter and I don’t have a place we can call our own; my daughter is part of the Project Act a homeless program from Cleveland Public School District working with homeless children and youth.

I refuse to turn to drugs or alcohol, however I understand that urge.  With low self-image, I fear that I may be viewed as a failure to my daughter. I feel disappointed and embarrassment for my current situation. I am 35 years old I have my own place since I been 18 years old. During all of this madness I will keep the faith, trust in My God, diligently seeking employment, working on my inner self, stay encouraged , motivated , and take advantage of all services that are provided to become self-sufficient.

This is a learning lesson and it has taught me not take life for granted. Anyone can become homeless at any time. I have learned, if your love ones have you in a situation where you feel trapped you can become homeless. Pay attention to your family bringing you down, and no matter what, always remember you need to secure your residence and keep your housing for yourself and your children in order to prevent becoming homeless. I also learned how important it is to save money the shelter for self and/or children to prevent being homeless. I also learned how important it to save money. You might want to think about letting your love ones know your PIN to your debit or credit card. Never love anyone more than yourself, and if you have a loved one with an addiction they need to find help. It is oftern the case that you cannot help them by yourself. If your spouse steals from you and spends the money for rent and utilities on drugs or entertainment, it is surely an indicator that you are in grave danger of becoming homeless at any moment

To all homeless individuals and families, stay focus, motivated, take advantage of the assistance that is available to the homeless to get back into housing. You need to obtain resources and strategize to prevent you from being homeless again.

God Bless! 

 

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

Are We Enabling Families with Rental Assistance?

Commentary by Samaylah Hardy Moore

When I was asked to write about my experiences with being homeless I said to myself, “How I feel is:  there are entirely too many people that are homeless.” Some are self-induced; others are homeless just the economy. Housing being found for those that don’t have children, or receive a monthly check is even harder. The way the housing programs seem to work is that if you have children you meet the criteria for a lot more programs and those that don’t have kids are stuck. If you get a government check, it’s way easier because it has been declared by our system that you are a special case, being disabled(mentally or physically). Our homeless shelters and housing programs coddle these individuals. I believe that they are enabling them. In my experience, most of those that have children or a disability check due to mental instability are more likely to return to the shelter, because they choose to do other things with their money.

I’ve been homeless off and on for about two years. It’s hard trying to find a job even if you have degrees. I have three degrees. Most of the jobs that I’ve applied for say that I’m over qualified for the position. And I’ve been resorted to doing temporary work through Minute Man or Labor Ready. These types of jobs don’t get you qualified for housing because it’s not a steady job, even if you have been being sent to the same site for 6 months to a year or more. It makes me upset that our city, federal, state, and even country’s politicians don’t care. The only time they show concern is when it’s time for re-election. Afterward, it was like a fart in the wind. Not every homeless person is the man outside begging for spare change or the woman pushing a grocery cart up the street. There are young adults as young as 18 in a shelter now because finances are low. There are people in shelters that have jobs and a car, but not enough money, to afford rent. No program is offering housing for those with no income except for drug rehabilitation centers. I feel as though something does have to change.

I applied for C.M.H.A. and as of June 4, 2013 it will be 4 years that I’ve been on this list. No response, no nothing. All my information is the same; when I call they say the same thing,” We haven’t gotten to you yet.” It’s very frustrating to have to go through all these hurdles while being homeless. Being in a shelter isn’t any easier. Some of the staff shouldn’t work where they are because of their attitude. A few of the residents could, and can be an issue while you’re there. Hygiene is another issue, especially when the shelter states that they can’t force a person to bathe. Some caseworkers don't do their job. Caseworkers are there for you to get answers and help you find housing or programs, not just forcing you to do all the groundwork.  And if you don’t know where to go , they have some real snide remarks for you.

I truly believe that if we had more work to housing programs the homeless epidemic wouldn’t be so bad. Even though some individuals enjoy living this way, others like me feel like the world has turned their back on us. How can we better ourselves as a community when we don’t have the resources? Homelessness has been an issue for a very long time but it’s totally out of control now. They country needs to read this story and decide to do something for the little people instead of the wealthy.

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

I Have Met Some Great People While Homeless in Cleveland

by Michael Boyd

Every time I come to work at the West Side Market something always reminds me of the days when I used to be homeless. When I look up from the hustle and bustle of the people walking around and shopping I can see downtown. And as I briefly gaze on the city, I’m filled with warmth and joy that downtown is no longer a place I have to sleep, but a place that I can visit. Having the opportunity to write and sell for the Cleveland Street Chronicle at the West Side Market has enabled me to make enough money to afford an efficiency apartment. But I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without the help of all the wonderful people I’ve met along the way. And for them I am very grateful.

            The day I met Pete and his wife, I was selling papers on a bitterly cold day at the West Side Market. Pete was curious to know more about the paper and where he could donate some of his own clothing. I told him he could donate them to St. Augustine and West Side Catholic two places I knew very well. But then Pete asked if I actually needed the clothes even though he was a couple of sizes bigger than me. That winter I was in desperate need of warm clothing as I was living at the men’s shelter in downtown Cleveland. He brought me hats, shirts, socks and hygiene products. I felt that there were some really great people here in Cleveland who really care a lot about other people. That little bit of kindness and compassion that they showed me that winter warmed my soul and gave me hope.  

            Pete and his wife’s act of kindness reminded me of my first time being homeless in the middle of a brutally cold winter. I didn’t sleep all night because there were no more mats and not enough room on the floor to even put a mat down if I had one. So I sat on the concrete floor with my head against the wall, trying to catch little bits of sleep here and there, I wondered what the next day would bring. That next morning came very quickly and I was exhausted from not sleeping much at all. The wake up call began at 5:30 with the shelter workers yelling and tearing blankets off of the people staying there. I felt like I was being treated like less than a human being and even worse than a prison inmate. When I stepped out into the bitter cold darkness of the early winter morning I stopped one of the guys who had just come out of the shelter and asked him where I could go for shelter from the cold. He suggested I go to St. Augustine because I could get food, coffee, warmth, and clothing until after lunch time. That’s when I met Sister Corita.

            That first morning I stayed in the shelter was one of the darkest and coldest mornings I’ve ever experienced. But once I met Sister Corita, that darkness turned into light and for a moment I felt loved. I was so thankful for the boots she gave me that day because mine had holes in them that would let snow and water in and my feet became so cold that I couldn’t feel them. She gave me what I needed with no hesitation and she still that way for many needy people. Her loving kindness has and always will stay with me forever. I am very thankful her.      

            I also want to take a moment to give thanks and honor those who have helped me along my journey. These are all people (in no particular order) that I’ve met at the West Side Market while selling the Cleveland Street Chronicle: Carmel and her friend, John and Anna, Gregg, Smiley, Tattoo J, Mary, St. Malachi, Gary, John Appling, Ted, and St.Patrick’s for helping me out during the holiday season. I couldn’t have made it without all of their help! Thank you!!!

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

After Being Robbed It is Hard to Feel Safe

by Raymond Jacobs

I lived on and off the streets since 1994, more on than off. Getting a job is hard for me because I am an ex-felon. Even though I haven’t committed a crime since 1968 finding a job is still difficult. At 66 years old, makes finding a job not easy. And losing sight in one of my eyes further complicates matters. It was two years ago this August. I got robbed in downtown Cleveland. I was getting ready to watch the filming of Spiderman that they were doing arround Public Square. When a guy bumped into me and said to give him my money. I said “f-you” and the next thing I know is my head is bleeding and we’re fighting. He had stabbed me in my eye socket just barely missing my eye ball. I had a hole in my eyelid and all he got away with was ten dollars and I ended up in the hospital. The police never caught the guy who stabbed and assaulted me, but I learned that if it can happen to me, a homeless man, it can happen to anybody.  

Since my robbery two years ago, there are more surveillance cameras. And downtown has become much safer, although I still don’t feel very safe when I go downtown. Public Square all the way to Chester is much safer because of all the cameras that have been installed. But no matter how many cameras there are, you always have to be aware of your surroundings because the cameras won’t protect you.  

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

Lessons that I Learned from Living on the Streets

Commentary by Kim”Supermutt”Goodman

I don’t ever regret living on the street; in fact it made me a stronger and better person. The street taught me a lot of valuable things. On the street I learned to be Christian. I didn’t have a lot, so I needed something to believe in. I started believing in God. As I grew in faith, I learned that different people have different religious beliefs and I learned to respect that. Religion is all about people building a personal relationship with the higher power that they believe in, that is why I learned to used the term “higher power” when dealing with a large audience of people so I won’t offend anyone.

I learned to treat others as I would like to be treated, but sometimes only to a certain extent. I want to be cared about, treated nicely and to be respected.  I wanted to be admired, but I learned that if I show some people I care too much, they may sometimes mistake my love for something intimate or mistake my kindness for a weakness. I also learned if I can’t get anywhere with treating others like I want to be treated, then I will treat others like they treat me so they can see how it feels.

I learned that there was only one perfect person who ever walked the Earth and he got nailed to the cross (Jesus) so there are no perfect people on Earth. This means everyone makes mistakes and is capable of making bad choices at some point in their life. Many times people make mistakes, use poor judgment, and make bad decisions in their life because they don’t know any better. I learned that people come from different walks of life and their environments affect the things they do and believe in so if someone do something that seem stupid to me, it might not seem stupid from their point of view.

I learned that people don’t just struggle physically and financially, they also struggle mentally and emotionally. People can see a person with a physical disability struggling or understand that people struggle with their physical health. People can even understand that people struggle with their finances but when it comes to mental development and mental health there is a problem. The mind and the emotions are internal so many times a person’s problems are not always visible. It is hard for a lot of people to understand that a person who is biologically 40 years old may not always function like a typical 40 year old, they may function like a 16 year old. Many people may not understand that a person may not live up to their full potential because they may be dealing with an emotional disorder.

I learned that there are a lot of people who struggle, there are a lot of people who try hard and still fail and there are some people who are unable to help themselves and it is okay to help these people. But there are some people who can’t be helped because they spend more time and effort trying to get over on others than they do to helping themselves. It is a big difference between a person who don’t want to help themselves and a person who can’t help themself.

I learned not to judge people by their outward appearance. What people wear, how people wear their hair, what people do, and what people believe in, do not always define what is in their hearts. Everyone who appears to be nice is not always nice, those who seem strange, odd or different can be the greatest people to deal with.

I learned that family is not always related. A lot of people are born into this world and their relatives are there to provide love and support for them, for them their relatives are their family. Some people have relatives who are distanced or not supportive and they are unable to depend on their relatives to meet their needs. As the person make friends and interacts with others outside of their bloodline they may build a relationship with others and those people become their family. I also learned that people’s needs are more than just physical and financial. Being there for a person mentally teaching them something new or boosting them up emotionally with some encouraging words or a smile can sometimes mean more than just buying them material things or giving them money. Building a good relationship is more about bonding emotionally and enriching a mind and can be done with people who share a common experience or interest.    

If each person learned to look past a person’s outward appearance, not to pass judgment without getting an understanding, see things from others perspective or point of view and think about others instead of just themselves, the world would be a better place. If more people understood that people’s needs are emotional and mental in addition to physical and financial they would learn to have more compassion for each other. Some people have more compassion for animals than they have for people and are more willing to help a stray animal than a homeless person who is poor in spirit. These are lessons that I’ve learned and I hope that others get to learn these lessons one day too. 

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

Losing my Mother

by Bobbette Robinson

As a formerly homeless person, my mother Erma Austin was a source of inspiration and love in my ability to get back on the right track. My mother was a hard working woman who loved her job at the Cleveland Clinic. She was a strong woman who never gave up easily on anything and she was my best friend. She inspired me to get out of being homeless and she always said that I was welcome to live with her but I wanted to be able to do it on my own. In my journey towards independence, my mother was a source of stability, comfort and respite. She was always there for me as a friend and mother through all of my hardships.

            But then six months ago my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer and for once in my life I was the person that she could lean on for support. For so many years she helped me when I needed her. She helped raise my two children and gave them a loving and safe home while I was unable to care for them and provide the support they needed. And when my mother became ill I finally had the opportunity to not only give her the support she needed, but I was able to realize a life long dream of working in the medical field as a nurse. Although not a nurse officially, I was the person that nursed and took care of her when she was unable to do it for herself. It was a dream fulfilled on many levels.

            For six months I had the opportunity to give back to my mother what she had always given to me, which was her unconditional love and support. And while she was ill, it was that love that she gave us that carried us through the hardships of the last months of her life. She passed away on March 5th, 2013.  Everyone that knew my mother will always remember her love and carry it with them throughout their life until the day they meet again.  

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

 

Cleveland Foodbank Expands Outreach to Provide a Safety Net

by Nicki Gorny

When a Feeding America study revealed that the Cleveland Foodbank would need to supply 57 million meals in the course of a year to ensure that everyone in the area had enough to eat, Foodbank officials knew it was time for a new approach.

“Charity cannot do that alone,” said Karen Pozna, director of communications and special events at the Cleveland Foodbank. “We can try and distribute more food, but we can’t count on all that food being available for donation.”

That’s why Foodbank officials decided to ramp up outreach efforts for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, Pozna said. Since outreach efforts began in earnest, she said, the number of people registered for SNAP has increased significantly. With the addition of a Help Center in October 2012 and increase in staff, SNAP applications in the area have jumped, rising from 616 to 3,000 in just one year.

The Help Center, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., is unique in that most food banks focus on distributing food, Pozna said. Callers or visitors to the Cleveland Foodbank Help Center, however, can receive assistance in applying for SNAP and other aid programs.

About nine people now work in SNAP outreach at the Foodbank, she said, a significant difference from the one staff member who had previously been committed to signing people up for the program.

Although SNAP is typically a “temporary fix,” she said, with people spending an average nine months as beneficiaries of the program, she said it can be a safety net program to avoid homelessness or not paying for medicine.

“By signing people up for food stamps, they’re able to get some money to go on their own to go to a local supermarket and purchase their own food,” she said. “I think it’s a good program to help feed people,…help alleviate some of the burden on the food pantries and help generate money back into the local economy.”

As a major part of their outreach efforts, Pozna said the Foodbank is working with local organizations to spread the word about SNAP. In particular, she said, the Foodbank is targeting suburban areas, where recent economic downturns have forced residents to take new jobs at lower wages.

“You can be working and still be eligible for food stamps,” she said. “People in the suburbs don't always have the knowledge as far as where to turn for help.”

Eligibility for SNAP is dependent on the number of people in a household and their collective monthly income.  Details can be found at the Cleveland Foodbank website.

For their successful outreach efforts, the Cleveland Foodbank received the Mary Ruth Herbers SNAP Outreach Excellence in Food Banking Award this year at the annual Feeding America Network Executive Directors’ Forum. This award distinguishes the Cleveland Foodbank among the 202 food banks across the country in the Feeding America network.

In the 2012 Presidential campaign and as part of the discussion on raising the debt ceiling, there was a great deal of criticism of the large increase in the food stamp or SNAPs program.  Ponza responded to this criticism, “I really think that the program is doing what it is meant to do in a time of crisis…It helps get food to people in need.”   She reminds people of the hardship caused by the 2008 downturn that threw many households into crisis, and the food stamp program was in place to help families with their nutrition needs. 

And outreach efforts will continue this year, Pozna said, to help bridge the meal gap in the Cleveland area.

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013 Cleveland, Ohio

Turning Point with City Mission

 by Eric

            The winter of 1987 I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol because I was young and didn’t know any better. I was 21 years old and continued to use drugs and alcohol for the next twenty years almost every day. I would drink to the point where I couldn’t walk straight and I would need a beer or two to wake up. At the same time I started smoking crack daily. I was drinking so much that I wasn’t able to keep a work schedule, and I would call off or not show up for work.  I was constantly losing jobs. My drinking and drugging continued for the next twenty years with jobs here and there until February 2006 when my life turned around.

            My brother had sent me to the store to buy some things, but I knew immediately that I was going to get drugs instead. I took the bus to where my dealer was and bought as much drugs as I could. I ended up riding the bus all night, and when I woke up I pulled the cord to get off and walked over to the City Mission to get something to eat and to take a shower. But I wound up staying for the next nine months in their men’s Crossroads Ministry Program. The program helps homeless people find jobs and also find God. Being in their program was what kept me off drugs and alcohol and I haven’t used since then.

            I’ve learned to take life one day at a time and always keep God first. My family and I have a much better relationship now that I no longer use drugs and alcohol. Now, I’m no longer the outcast of the family, but someone that they can all depend on for support. I will be forever grateful to the City Mission and their staff for helping me to turn my life around. 

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013 , Cleveland, Ohio

Why do We Need a Shelter Minimum Standards Bill?

Commentary by Brian Davis

In February 2013 in Tallahassee, Florida, a shelter director went undercover to another publicly funded shelter in her community and found that the staff were propositioning the female clients and threatening those who slept at the shelter to keep quiet. There were huge problems with bedbugs and staff taking items from clients.   The women were afraid to report these issues for fear that they would face retaliation, and they would end up living on the streets, which was viewed as the worse than reporting the harassment. Once this came to light there were many staff changes including the director being fired and the County/United Way stepping in to review the shelter, but how long did these women suffer?  This could happen anywhere and this could happen in Cleveland! This is why we need local shelter standards with proper oversight of the $25 million in public money given to the shelters. This is the opinion of the Coalition staff, the board and the members of the Homeless Congress who sleep in the shelters. 

We are not saying that all shelter staff are bad or abuse their power.  We are just saying that we do not know if this is happening unless we improve oversight of the shelters.  We cannot just put in a contract that they should operate quality shelters and hope that they abide by the rules written in the contracts.  We can’t even say that shelter staff in Cleveland ever get to see the standards written into the contracts signed with Cuyahoga County when they start working since they are not available on a public website. 

We know from the Stanford Prison experiments that if you put good people in a situation in which they have absolute power over another it is ripe environment for abuse.  We do not want to see similar accounts come to light in Cleveland in the media.   We have heard that Cuyahoga County is satisfied with the improvements that Cuyahoga County staff made in the contracts.  Homeless people are not satisfied and want the County to pass stronger regulations to involve oversight including unscheduled oversight visits and third party arbitration in which an impartial authority resolves grievances.  We heard from women at the shelter threatened every night with eviction for minor issues like talking too loud.  We heard about issues with staff dismissing complaints against subordinates, and facing assaults in the men’s shelter by staff.   On behalf of the Homeless Congress, we are asking that the County Council pass something to improve the conditions within the shelters.  

We thank Councilman Julian Rogers from listening to the concerns of homeless people at our March Homeless Congress meeting, and for visiting one of the shelters in April.  We heard from Councilman Dale Miller who said, “Thanks for sharing the information on the Tallahassee problems.  We certainly want to make sure we don't have similar problems here.”  When these candidates were running for office and soon after they were elected six declared that they would support legislation to regulate the shelters.  We are still waiting for the legislation.  Not contract improvements or an unelected body passing regulations.  We want our elected officials to live by their pledge to pass some kind of legislation.  Anything that regulates the shelters will be fulfilling this promise.  If they don’t want to pass the 12 pages of regulations we suggest what about just protections against discharges and a fair grievance procedure?

Mike McGraw, a reporter for the Street Chronicle, asked County Council President, C. Ellen Connally to comment about the regulations of the shelters.  He asked, “How do you explain the fact that no shelter standard regulation bill has come to the floor of Council for a vote since the new form of government came into being two years ago?”  C. Ellen Connally responded to his e-mail with this statement, “Once elected, Council members set about learning about all kinds of county services, including those administered by the Office of Homeless Services.   I am aware that NEOCH presented its request for shelter standards legislation at Council’s Health, Human Services & Aging (HHSA) Committee sometime during the 2011 calendar year.  Members of the HHSA committee did further research and met with representatives of NEOCH, and the Shelter Advisory Board.  These members were satisfied that the shelter standards requested had already been agreed to by the community after considerable discussion with all those involved with the shelters.   I know that the standards are a part of the RFP issued by the county when contracting for these services. Any agency receiving funding must certify their compliance with the standards.” 

Neither C. Ellen Connally nor any member of the Office of Homeless Services ever asked the Homeless Congress if they were satisfied with the shelter standards in the contracts of the shelters.  No one is asking the people who sleep in the shelters if they mind being threatened with discharge on a regular basis.  No elected official that provides 80% of the funds for the shelter ever asked if the grievance procedure is fair in Cuyahoga County.  Finally, no one in Cuyahoga County can say with any certainty whether the shelter staff are mistreating the women like they were doing in Tallahassee.

 Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

Having a Place to Stay With a Lease

by Buzzy

After more than fifteen years of living on the streets, I find myself finally having a place to stay; something that I can call my very own. I am still in the process of getting the essential things that will finally make it a “real life home”, but just knowing that when it gets cold at night I have a place to stay is a relief. I am always asked the question, “How do you like your place?” My response is always the same, “It’s a place to lay down at night without worrying about someone trying to hurt you, rob you, or abuse you in some kind of way because you are Homeless.”

I am finding out though, that having a place to stay comes with a lot of responsibilities: bills, Food, CLEANING SUPPLIES, GETTING FURNITURE, and general upkeep. These things that most people take for granted, but being homeless for so long, it takes some getting used to. I’m learning day by day. The main thing is that my family doesn’t have to worry about me as much anymore.

They don’t need to worry about where I am staying and will I live through the night. I have gotten in the habit of calling my brother every morning to tell him I am still alive and doing fine.

That has always been one of my pet peeves about living alone and having my own place to stay: dying without anyone around to know or care. I always hear these stories about famous people and people not so famous having strokes or falling and no one is around to help them until it is much too late. But as time goes by, I am becoming a lot more confident about being alone.

I have enjoyed two holidays this year already in my new place. I have gotten to know a lot of people here in the apartment complex and it has been quite a rewarding experience and I know it can be a lot more rewarding as time goes by.

Having a place to stay is going to be a BLAST and I hope to keep all of you updated as time goes on. I thank everyone for their support, concern, contributions, and continued purchasing of the Cleveland Street Chronicle. Until the next installment, I wish everyone the very Best and to KEEP THE FAITH!! 

 Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio

Life Lessons on Transitioning from a Boy to a Man

Commentary by Alexander “Dad” Hamilton

I know we have been talking about choices and their impact on your lives.  However, this time, allows me to show you how choosing to know the difference in roles can help empower you to make even better choices.  What I am about to tell you will benefit both males and females equally.  It will give you food for thought, something to look for when you are making important decisions both large and small.  Let’s begin with an example this time.

Recently, one of my tenants made a statement that people always refer to him as “Boy.”  Now, as you may have experienced and personally know, a man being called a “Boy” is an incredible blow to what he thinks about himself.  In fact, it can lead to build up anger resentment that explodes into every area of a male’s life.  Getting back to our story, I asked the tenant to tell me why he thought he was being called a boy.  He stated that people looked at him and did not respect him based on what they saw.  I could really see that the word “boy” really hurt him.  You see the one thing that man needs most is to feel empowered, to know and feel that he is respected.  What few males realize is that in order for that to happen they have to have certain traits and practices in place that they follow consistently and wholeheartedly.

There are several examples of males who have shown that they are men in my life.  My eldest son has three elements that he has displayed in his life that makes him a man.  First, he takes responsibility for his actions and those who he cares for.  My son spends as much time as he possibly can with his two sons.  I know many men who have children but do not spend quality time with them.  He reads to them, gives them baths and takes them out to activities that they can enjoy together.  This to me is the first step in going from being a boy to a man.  Even if a man does not have children he can be an influence in other children’s lives like his other family siblings or by mentoring other children, and joining volunteer programs that will help him feel fulfilled as being a man.

The second attribute of becoming a man is that my son sacrifices for others.  He cares about people’s feelings and tries to be helpful in any way he possibly can.  He does this without expecting anything in return.  The greatest sacrifice he made was enlisting in the military.  He was willing to give his life for his country.  When a man can surrender his own wants and desires,that is a sure sign of manhood but also a sign of extreme maturity.  Now I am not saying you have to join the military to show that you’re being a man, because there are other ways that man can state their manliness.  Take my son-in-law for instance.  Prior to him marrying my daughter, he stood by her side when her ex-husband left her with a young daughter, and expecting a second child at the time.  This young man who is in his early thirties took on the responsibility to care for this woman and her kids and they are still together to this day.  That took maturity.  So look for ways to display your matureness. 

Lastly, a man knows how to follow his passions.  When my eldest son was three years old he loved cars.  Most children can’t read at that age, but my son could be shown a toy car and tell you the maker of that car.  I found that to be very impressive.  As an adult he test drives race cars for professional drivers who then drive them in competition events.  In that instance his passion and commitment is saving lives.  In his spare time, he even repairs cars and does complete makeovers on cars.  Also his passion for cars is showing that you can gain positive recognition by doing something you love.

These are just three ways that a boy can become a man.  You see, being recognized as a man does not come just based on your age; it comes by choices, experiences and by learning what to do in a less than desirable situation.  It ultimately boils down to choosing to make positive choices as opposed to negative ones.   For males trying to grow up into men, find a mentor or a trusted male friend that you can confide in and who will help you become the person that you want to be.  For women, knowing some of the positive choices that real men make may help you make better choices when you choosing a lifetime partner.  In any case, I am always here to give fatherly advice if you want to know how males can go from being boys to men. 

Copyright NEOCH and Street Chronicle May 2013, Cleveland, Ohio