The Labor Pool: People helping People Work

By Ernest Marshall

To Whom it May Concern:

My name is Ernest Marshall and I have been with the Labor Pool from the day it started, April 1, 1992. But we didn’t officially open until June 22nd. There are a lot of reasons that helping the Labor Pool stay open are important to me: When we first opened up, the shape that most of our lives were in was pretty bad, but since then I have had an opportunity to see people working with me and around me make a tremendous change in the course of their lives. Along with them, it inspired me and gave me strength to make a better look at my own life and to turn to my higher Power, whom I choose to call GOD, “The Captain”. I want to let him Guide me to a place where I have respect, dignity, and pride once again.

With this, he has blessed me in seeing other people change by helping them find work. It but a smile on my face and I don’t believe there are words to explain how it made me feel, because these were people that were in the same situation I was. Now we have a light of hope that it won’t be long before we will be able to stand on our feet once again as men and women.

It feels awfully good to be able to see your life come back into order once again with a little hard work and someone believing in you.

All we are asking for is a hand up, not a hand out. I believe that this(the Labor Pool) is the first thing I have seen that everyone in this city can be involved in on one end or another. An employer or an employee- it’s a melting pot for those who want to do something about the shape their lives are in. by pulling together and faith I GOD, maybe here in Cleveland, Ohio can show the nation and other place away of bringing a stop to the direction our country is heading.

Thank you very much for your time and even considering the Labor Pool for some help.

They say there are three kinds of people in this world, “One who makes tings happen.” “One who watches things happen.” And one who say’s “What happened?”

With GOD, and your help, we might be able to be the first one to make something happen in people’s lives.

Copyright the Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH Issue 4 December 1993- January 1994

Rewards of Sobriety: Family Reunited

My name is Jamie Fann. I’m 30 years old of age. I have two sons back in my life. They were taken from me. That was one of the consequences that I had to pay for using alcohol and drugs. Now I have my sons Jamien, 10 and Antwaun 5, back. I’m so very grateful for the Alcoholics Anonymous program. I’m an alcoholic and many other labels. This program is so very dear to my family. AA saved me and also saved my children. I am young black woman who was raised with morals and values. I was brought up by my grandparents in a home in Shaker Heights. Somewhere down that dark road of drinking and using harmful things, I began harming people. I accepted my problems- dealing with the wrong road of life. Alcohol was my reward in the middle of my using. Then it began to haunt me. Alcohol took me away from God, which I was very much aware of. Alcohol took me places I would not have gone- in many shelters. One shelter helped me get honest with myself. This shelter saved my life. They directed me to Hitchcock for women’s treatment center, where I learned about AA and looked deep inside my soul. I am so very grateful to God, and many prayers, that saved my life. God gave me grace. This is a blessing because I did many bad things when I was using. My mother got her life in order before her passing. She prayed for my life. God toke her home; in order for me to live. My mother died when I was in treatment. We made made amends to each other. I did not have to drink or use drugs because of her death. AA prepared her to die. That is one of the best feelings I have today. I know my is in heaven, and I will see her if I stay in AA for the rest of my life. I have to work the steps. There are rules I have to follow for each every day I live.

                                    GRATITUDE – ONE DAY AT A TIME

                                    Alcoholics Anonymous saved my life

                                    And It can save yours too.

                                     So very grateful,

                                      Jamie Fann

Life in Site F

By “Homeless”

I came into Cleveland from Akron 14 months ago to go into a shelter which was F site. That was on Lakeside at a country building. There was a mat and a blanket waiting for me. I just was divorced form my wife, so there was a lot that was on my mind. Project: HEAT gave the homeless a warm place and a mat and a blanket to sleep. Life in a site is hell and no privacy is the first order. Up at 5:30am and out the door not to return until 9:30pm. It’s a long day out there and every day is the same.

Project: HEAT is limited with help. I would like to work 5 days a week. It’s a good feeling when you get paid! I would like for those days to return. The system does not think about a person’s well being, so you have to have a lot of heart to live it through.

Eating every day at a different church is a drag; Lots of pasta is the order of they day; making sure we are back by 9:30pm. The people see us line up every night to go into the site and they don’t want us there. We are the odd ones out.

Copyright the Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH Issue 4 December 1993- January 1994

Homeless Have a Voice

By Melody Bueler

We did a second annual homeless conference in Cleveland on September 18th, 1993 at Our Lady of Angels St. Joseph Center. The conference was entitled, the “Poor People’s Conference”. In preparation we did a survey where we asked the homeless individuals to vote for the top four issues that were the most important to them. These issues were: 1) jobs 2) housing 3) education and 4) accessible health care.

Although there was a lower than average age turnout, those who attended said that they gained some necessary skills to empower themselves to make some changes in their particular situation.

The local conference was designed to lead to the state homeless conference, entitled “Poor No More”.  Approximately one hundred people from around the state of Ohio participated. The cities represented were Cleveland, Columbus, Ravenna, Toledo, Dayton, and Cincinnati. It was held on October 4-5 at the Radisson Hotel Columbus North. Mr. Michael Stoops from the National Coalition for the Homeless gave the welcome address on October 4th.

The issues we addressed here were : 1) welfare 2) housing/homelessness 3) health care 4) education 5) child care 6) utilities 7) transportation and 8) employment.

The conference concluded on the 5th with a rally to the statehouse, where individuals could meet with legislators for personal appointments. In conclusion I would like to thank all the community member who helped to organize and make the conference a huge success.

Copyright the Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH Issue 4 December 1993- January 1994

Home For the Holidays

Everyone has a different picture of home and a different reason to hope. For many thr holidays are that time of year to share abundantly and recognize what we have to be thankful for. Many people go shopping, decorate the house and tree, bake cookies and plan to gather family and friends and open presents.

Homeless people must take another view. People resort to the street because they have no family, or they cannot return. They are friends usually only to each other, and the last thing they can afford is to go shopping. Their home is a vision. Their hope is all they’ve got.

You may encounter homeless people among all the hustle and bustle of busy downtown streets, often asking for money or to work for food. In crowded malls we hear the bells ringing out another cry for help.

And in this season charity is taken seriously, but is charity enough? How long will that dime, or cup of coffee, coat or bed in a shelter last?

Lasting hope must involve more than just charity. The holiday vision must be made real all year. As well as your pocket change, could you spare a little social change?

Homeless people need your long-term commitment to affordable housing and opportunities for employment.

Copyright the Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH Issue 4 December 1993- January 1994

Grapevine Vendor Broadens His Horizons

In thinking about material for each issue of the grapevine, we like to include information about any recent events relating to homelessness, especially if homeless people participate in them. Walter Ogletree, a homeless Cleveland man, participated in the Washington DC march in celebration of the 30 year anniversary of the 1963 Martin Luther King Jr. march and in the state –wide  Poor People’s Conference in Columbus OH. He wanted to share his experiences with our readers so I sat down, had a conversation with him, and wrote the following article to help him express his thoughts and ideas on paper.  

Lorna Dilley

1993 March on Washington

Ogletree had quite an experience in Washington DC- more of an experience than he ever expected. Thanks to a local church who chartered several buses, he and twenty or so other homeless people were able travel to Washington DC at no cost.

His whole purpose of going deemed very fruitful. That is, Ogletree truly felt that he took part in a “celebration of something significant in history” .  In looking at the big picture, the event was intended to bring to the attention of the nation that Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream is still alive for many people- the dream of bringing unity, power and respect to underprivileged individuals. The march of ’63 no doubt raised awareness of these issues and brought about great social change. Ogletree feels, however, that although the event shaped written progression to move forward, many of the social problems which led the force behind Martin Luther King’s inspirational message are still real and continue today. Ogletree says that he, among many others, is living proof of this, for his basic human rights have been denied. Yet he is able to look at the positive side. He felt the celebration was also designed to “encourage people to educate themselves, be productive, and carry on Martin Luther King’s dream of living together in peace and harmony”.  And that is the message he spreads to all those he encounters.

Probably the most adventurous part of his trip was the following week in DC after he missed the chartered bus back to Cleveland!   Since it was Friday,  Ogletree figured he had to wait until Monday to work out some kind of transportation. Fortunately for him, he was familiar with having to ‘make due’. It wasn’t difficult to locate the nearest shelters- there are homeless people all over the streets of DC. Ogletree said that people in general were very nice to him. He wanted to commend a native Cleveland woman from an organization called So others may Eat (SOME), who was especially helpful to him. That Monday, he talked with travel agent who was able to make contact with the local sponsoring Cleveland church, who graciously provided funds to purchase a Greyhound Bus ticket for Ogletree to get back to Cleveland. In the mean time, the travel agent provided him a place to stay for the night, with clean linens and hot breakfast in the morning! Though that transaction only took a day, Ogletree decided to hang on to his ticket and stay in DC the rest of the week to explore a city with a different scene. He appreciated this chance to explore, but was surprised at how visible and how great in number the homeless people were, as they slept in parks, washed in fountains, ect. After such and adventurous but long vacation, Ogletree was glad to be home! 

Poor People’s Conference

A few weeks later, Ogletree was one of about twenty-five folks from Cleveland to participate in a state- wide Poor People’s Conference , held in Columbus on October 4-5. Ogletree felt the conference was very enlightening and educational. “When times get tough for folks, and they find themselves homeless, it’s hard to get motivated” , says Ogletree. “It was good to see so many people concerned about themselves and their situation”. This conference gave individuals the chance to voice their concerns and opinions as a group in a peaceful, non-violent way. Ogletree thinks that when individuals get together, they can iron out their differences, come to some agreement and make some positive decisions in their lives.

He attended the education, housing and employment workshops. Ogletree found the workshops to be very helpful and was able to apply some of what he learned to his own situation.  The education workshop added to his already strong belief that we (as a state and a nation) need to get children off the street and “show them something different than what they already know”. They are locked in.  We need to show them positive view of society and give them opportunity”. If they are better educated, Ogletree feels, they can add to society, take better care of themselves and in turn, take better care of their children. In addition, Ogletree  personally, feels that he is more educated since attending this conference, especially in understanding where people need to channel their voices legislatively in order to encourage change.

In terms of housing, the workshop helped him understand his rights in dealing with public housing, namely bill 552 in the U.S Housing Code.  He has since written a personal letter to the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority and is waiting for response.

The conference participants came up with a draft document of resolutions to continue working on in their own communities. Ogletree has made copies of that document and distributed them at a few places such as the downtown drop-in center and some churches, in hopes of spreading the word and gathering the interest of homeless people who did not attend the conference.

Ogletree distributes The Homeless Grapevine and lives in motel rooms and site F of project:HEAT, the area overflow shelter.

A Visit with Homeless Children

 A very warm welcome was given to my friend and me as we entered the Salvation Army Shelter for the Homeless on E 22nd.

 The purpose of our visit was to talk with homeless children to get an idea of what they may be going through. I had anticipated seeing youthful sad and weary faces, however, this was not the case. Smiling children buzzing around a brightly painted playroom set a pleasant atmosphere that night. Not one child seemed disturbed by the fact that he or she was currently without a home of his or her own.

 As a result of their family's situation, the children are forced to reside with several others.  This can foster havoc in a youngster’s life.  Getting along with others in a skill these children must develop at a young age.

 In the instance of being homeless and more or less living in a commune way of life, the result for children is a lack of routine. Some kind of routine or something that will stay the same - is an important element for children. It's one of the things that helps them realize a sense of security.

Unfortunately, homeless children are missing this stability. So although the children themselves may not be aware of how homelessness is affecting them and their behavior, all those adults who come into contact with them should be.

 This can't always be easy! We were only there for a few hours and the amount of energy in the room was so great it could not be measured! But they seemed excited by the idea of coloring for us - and that we wanted to keep the finished product!

 Well, here are some of the finished products. It was amazing to watch their imaginations come to life through their crayons. The way kids express their thoughts and ideas can be very powerful. And homeless kids, just like all the rest, only need a little encouragement and positive support to help bring out the best in them. May you enjoy these as much as we do!

 Copyright Homeless Grapevine and NEOCH Issue 4 December 1993- January 1994


Food for Thought

by Stacy Putnam

 "Honey, how do you feel about pizza tonight?"

"No, I don't think so. We just had that. How about Chinese?"

             For most of us, the preceding exchange is commonplace when dinner time draws near. But for many of our fellow Americans, the decision of what to have for their next meal or where to obtain it is far from trivial. While several programs exist which are designed to alleviate this problem, it will take a concerted effort by all to eradicate this situation.

             "But can I help?," one may ask. There are many ways to pitch in and help your fellow human beings. The obvious choice is to donate money, but in these tight times, this is not always possible. Do not lose heart though, there are other ways to lend aid to those who are in need. Donating a small portion of your spare time to help with organization, coordination, or transportation of food and other needful commodities can make a significant difference in someone's life.

             Yes, it's true that everyone needs food to live, but humans require much more than food to exist. Many of us walk the busy streets of downtown Cleveland on our lunch hour and witness the many faces of the needy. These people hunger not only for food, but also acceptance, a smile, or just a friendly hello. They are not so different from you or me. Some are happy, some sad, some friendly, some not so friendly, however, one thing remains constant, they all have feelings.

             By now some of you may believe this article is the standard plea for both money and volunteers. This is not the point. America needs a wake up call - one which is long overdue. The time for useless rhetoric is past; the need for action is present. We, the people of this nation all have one thing in common; we are Americans. We share the same soil, the same air, and the same flag. Throughout our history, if there is only one lesson to be learned, it is this: united we stand, divided we fall.

 Copyright Homeless Grapevine and Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless Issue 4 December-January 1993

In This Season of Thanksgiving, I Have Much to Be Thankful For

by Karen Knipe

 First of all I am truly thankful for my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God today, for allowing me another chance in life. I'm truly thankful for the police who busted me last year on November 19, 1992. If it weren't for them, I believe I wouldn't be here today. Because of the bust, I became homeless. I used to snub my nose at homeless people, but today I don't do that. I now know how it feels to be homeless, hungry, hopeless, and lonely.

 I am also truly thankful to all my children, especially my oldest son Ed, for not enabling me. If he would have given me a place, I would still be drinking and doing drugs today. I want to take this chance to say thank you and I love all my children from the bottom of my heart. I want to give thanks to the following for giving me back my life:

 My God, Rosary Hall, my children, the Upstairs program and their staff (old and new), The staff of West Side Catholic Center, Alcoholics Anonymous program, McDonald's - for allowing me to come back after I quit, Anita, my sponsor, and my home group.

 Because of all these people and my God, I am sober and drug free today. I am also thankful for Heilda and Jamie for being my friends. I love each and every one of you.

 May each and every one of you have a very happy and safe holiday season and may your God Bless you!

 P.S. To my grandchildren; you now have your grandmother back. I now know how to love you three and your parents, thanks to all those who took the time and patience with me. Believe me, I was a big job!!

Copyright Homeless Grapevine and the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless in Cleveland Ohio December-January 1994