Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

A letter from Sherry P.

Dear Friends and Family

Unexpected happenings can take you from stability to fragility in a matter of moments.

Have you or anyone you know:

  • ended up in the hospital for an extended period of time,
  • lost his or her job and can’t find a job at his or her same pay grade,
  • graduated from college and has enormous tuition expenses and can’t find a job,
  • an elder person who is on a fixed income or health is declining?

Many years ago as a college student, it wasn’t unusual to see a woman who pushed around a grocery cart with sacks of stuff in it.  She was referred to as a “bag ladies.’  What was in the cart was everything she owned.

Men would hang around the area fast food places near the college begging for money, saying that they wanted food.  These men were referred to as “pan handlers.”

One day in Sociology class, there was a discussion on how did these people wind up on the street.  There were many perspectives to that question.  Primary, the perception was that they were either lazy, mentally ill or on drugs.  A discussion ensured that didn’t bring about much change in the negative view towards their situation except to say that they were living on the street.  Could not say with certainty that the words poverty or homelessness were even used.

The issues surrounding poverty, hunger and homelessness need to be address.  The are a leading issue of today and is not going away.

No one is immune.  The potential to the vulnerability to poverty, hunger and homelessness impacts each and every single one of us in some way be it environmentally, economically or overall health.

There is an estimated 15% of the homeless who have jobs, but do not make a living wage.  Then you have retirees who are on fixed incomes who watch their benefits get cut while the cost of living continues to rise.

Infants to the elderly are struggling to maintain their basic needs – food, clothing and shelter.  Children and the elderly have the most difficulty surviving the devastation of poverty.

In 2017, the access to healthcare is a big issue.  With the potential policy changes to Medicard and Medicare, healthcare becomes an even bigger uncertainty for those who are medically fragile—which lead to financial fragility.

We need to become advocates for our fellow man.  It is the simple things that make a BIG difference.

As an avid volunteer, I want to tell you there are so many organizations that would love your help.  Find something you enjoy and then see what you can do.

soupkitchenBeing able to interact is rewarding.  Working in a soup kitchen has been rewarding over the years for my husband and myself.

You will be amazed at the gratitude that you receive when you are serving others.  In our case it is serving times two.  We are able to serve a population in need while serving up a hot meal.

What a blessing that is for everyone.

 

Hope in a Passport

Hope in a Passport

Hope in a Passport

Written by Christopher V.

passportThis is my passport. Although worn, it is what proves that I am an American. Although torn, it shows that not only was I born in this country but this country is also my home. Many American children whose parents are undocumented are left with just a birth certificate. They are left with the uncertainty of “will my family be able to stay in this country, or will we be forced to leave.” If their family gets deported, they’d be seen as an alien in their parent’s country.

I started raising money on Friday, December 9, and given the generosity of friends, family, and people I don’t even know, I’ve been able to raise enough money for 15 Passports ($1250 to be exact). And that’s awesome! But there’s still a need, go to Christopher’s Facebook page and see how you can help.

 

Why is this more important today than ever before?

In 2015,Texas wanted to deny Birth Certificates to U.S.-born children of immigrants. Although Texas ended their attempt in July of this year, given the new administration coming in 2017, new policies remain uncertain.

 

Why is a US passport better than a birth certificate?

A passport is the most legal document to prove one’s citizenship. It also makes dual citizenship easier should an individuals family get deported. Without it, a child risks becoming an alien within their parent’s home country.

 

How will the money I give result in a passport for a child in need?

I am working with churches who hold Spanish masses. To me, this is the easiest way to get the message out that help is available. The first round of passports will be ordered this week.

 

How much does a passport cost?

For a child, it cost $80. All donations help though, and I’ll round up the final amount so know your money will result in a passport.

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed – Inspired by a difficult marital journey

Written by Ginny C.

Dear Newlywed,

As a teenage bride over 50 years ago, knowledge of the real world was lacking.  Financial difficulties, a miscarriage, isolation and depression were sitting on the doorstep. Due to a problem with the premises, we had to move from the apartment we had only been in for a few months.    Tension was mounting in the marriage.  This all happened within the 1st year.

Life’s challenges continued and seemed to become more complicated. The biggest problem facing the marriage was the lack of communication. Coping mechanisms that had been learned kept us entangled in a quagmire of gloom and doom due to multiple family issues.  Neither one of us knew how to begin to untangle the mess we were compounding due to lack of experience and resources.

I kept hearing the term coping mechanisms.  It seemed that no matter with whom I spoke, I was told that it was normal to have problems when you are young.  In the late 1960’s early ‘70’s there were not many places to turn.

Being a sporadic writer, I would keep a diary of sorts.  It would help a little since I really didn’t have anyone to talk with that I felt I could trust outside of someone that was clergy or medical.  The resources that I felt I had just made me feel that it was my problem, get over it.

needleworkI had an aunt that taught me to knit as a child. I learned to sew in Home Economics in high school.   Neither one was of much interest to me.  But, I needed something to occupy my time and utilize some form of talent I was hoping to find within myself.

Knitting seemed a better alternative to sewing.  Yarn was cheap and you could make something that could be given as a gift.  Knitting ended up not being so helpful, because, I would drop stitches and I would get pretty far along and there would be a hole in my work.

I switched to crocheting.  It was faster than knitting and if you made a mistake, you knew it pretty quickly after you made it and correct it without feeling like you had to start over.

The crocheting would go into full swing for Christmas presents and I would start right after Christmas for the next year.  Then I found
myself mixing in some knitting again.

After putting items in a small store on consignment people started placing orders.  The money that I received helped me buy materials for the gifts I was making.

When you are young there are a lot of baby showers and wedding gifts to be made.  I became pretty proficient at knitting baby sets (sweater, hat and booties) and crocheting afghans as wedding gifts.

The beautiful thing about needlework, I could keep my hands and my mind busy, which became very therapeutic and I was able to give a lasting gift made out of love.

I have come to the belief that giving of yourself and using the talents you have is both healthful and hopeful.

Luminating Letter from Kyle Mitchell

Luminating Letter from Kyle Mitchell

Kyle Mitchell

Luminating Letter—Inspiring Hopes and Dreams

Kyle knows the frustration being felt by youth today.  Kyle’s Luminating Letter is written to inspire middle and high school students to focus on what is important as they make their decisions regarding life after high school and going to college.

My name is Kyle Mitchell and I am a recent grad from Indiana University Southeast.  In high school and through college, my goal in life was to make a lot of money.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money and I am still striving to make money but my number one goal in life is to inspire others.  I realized that the feeling I get from inspiring is far greater than the feeling of receiving money.  With all this being said, I hope I can inspire kids in high school who are about to go to college with this letter.

do-your-bestThe most important thing you need in college to be successful is effort.  I have friends and colleagues that tell me all the time, “I want to go to college but I am not smart enough.”  There could not be a more false statement about college.  If you put in the effort, you will see the results.  Let me tell you what college is really like.

A lot of high school students experience fear, anxiety, and apprehension when starting college.  This is normal and happens to most (including me) but really there is nothing to worry about.  As long as you can commit yourself to putting in the effort, you will be fine.  A great speaker that I highly recommend to any student to listen to is Eric Thomas.  Even out of school, I still listen to him every day.  One of Eric’s biggest things he “encourages” having phenomenal will is greater than having phenomenal skill.

If you can work on your will power and get that to a phenomenal level then you will undoubtedly succeed not just in school but in life.  You will realize in college that you have a lot less time in the classroom and that most of your learning comes outside of the classroom.  This is where that will power has to kick in for you.

Most high school students are not used to all the freedom and a majority do not know how to handle it.  It takes practice and a mindset to control your will power.  You have to know why you are doing what you are doing.

what-motivates-youWhat is your motivator?  You need to have a reason for why you are going to school.  Going to school because your parents want you to is going to make it hard to control your will power.  You need to have a deep reason that can drive you every day to get up and put everything you have into that day because only then will you feel truly successful.  There is one more element that is important to have in college/life.

The last thing I would like to touch on is having a sense of pride and passion for what you are doing.  Whether it is school, work, sports, etc., make sure you are passionate and have pride in what you are doing.  You should be able look at yourself at the end of the day and feel proud of what you did because you know that really gave it your all that day.

live-lifeTo leave off, make sure you have that effort and phenomenal will power because you only live this life once.  Don’t go to college and waste your time.  Second, develop a sense of pride in what you are doing.  If you don’t feel that pride or you don’t have a passion for what you are doing then switch to something else.  You are at the beginning of your life and it is time to take advantage of it.

Hope during the Holidays

Hope during the Holidays

treeHope during the Holidays

Written by Todd S. 

“I was just doing some shopping last night looking for this Christmas tree that I really liked and I found it. It was left on the shelf. As I placed the tree in my cart, I found the ornaments that I wanted and was ready to check out. While I was moseying along through the aisle, I heard this little girl and her mother talking:

Little Girl: Mommy, I love this tree, can we get this one, we never had a big tree before.

Mommy: I’m sorry baby, we can’t afford that tree, how about this tree right here; it’s really pretty.

Little Girl: That is too small mommy; Santa Claus will not come see me.

Mommy: Sweetie, Santa will come see you; you’ve been a really good girl.

Little Girl: Dang mommy, we’ve never had a big tree before and I really wanted one but I understand.

As I looked on at the two standing there, the little girl was on the verge of tears and I could see the Mother standing there in sadness that she couldn’t fulfill her daughters wish. I walked away feeling overwhelmed with emotions…I don’t have kids so I couldn’t imagine what she felt like inside. But I knew in my heart what I needed to do…I went to the checkout, paid for the tree and the ornaments; I explained to the checkout lady, can you check this lady out behind me, as the lady approached, she was about to put her tree on the counter and I told her, excuse me ma’am, you won’t need that tree, this tree is for you and your daughter. NO CHARGE; MERRY CHRISTMAS. Watching the little girl smiling and feeling her hug, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I gave her and her daughter the best Christmas ever!”

Confronting Conflict with Purpose

Confronting Conflict with Purpose

Confronting Conflict with Purpose

Written by Sharon Cecil

Our youth are creative strategists.  They want their world to be a safer place to live.  The frightening statistics  affecting them today regarding vulnerability to poverty, hunger, homelessness and violence are NOT acceptable.

The answer is not easy but together we can find the right pieces.

There are no simple or easy solutions to the anguish being seen around the world. Yet, young people are eager to help bring about change by confronting conflict through art.

When working with young people, it  is imperative they are in an environment where they can feel safe.  The youth open up and are extremely honest with their feelings in a relaxed, safe, informal setting.

Recently, discussions have been geared toward how youth feel about attitudes in their world.  They are seeing a shift to a culture of violence and hatred and want to offer young people options to express their discontent, anger and fear.

Artistic outlet for health and healing

There are definite benefits between health, healing and art. James W. Pennebaker, PhD is a professor of Psychology at the University of Texas, Austin.  Dr. Pennebaker has done extensive research on Writing to Heal.  In his book Writing to Heal–A guided Journal for Recovering from Trauma & Emotional Upheaval Dr. Pennebaker states, “the simple act of expressing your thoughts and feelings about emotionally challenging experiences on paper is proven to speed your recovery and improve your mental and physical health.”

We Survive designs programming that concentrate on health and wellness from all disciplines. With the Creative Expression program, “There are so many different approaches to mental and physical healing. Writing and the arts offer many choices for you to express yourself.  By releasing your emotions through some form of medium, you can improve your health.”

Hope through creative healing, Courier Journal 12-9-2014,  “We all benefit when dreams take precedence over fears. When possibilities take precedence over probabilities. When we choose love over fear.”—Nikki Giovanni, one of the best known African American poets

All forms of art have been used throughout history.  Researchers continue to explore the benefits to health and healing. The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature—US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health.  “This review explores the relationship between engagement with the creative arts and health outcomes, specifically the health effects of music engagement, visual arts therapy, movement-based creative expression, and expressive writing.”

We Survive’s Portrayal of Hope provides a platform for voices to be heard through artistic talent.  It is an opportunity to take action NOW to show the world there is HOPE for the Future.

EDUCATION is the KEY to Understanding

Sunshine Joe Mallard – one of American’s premier Creative Embroidery craftsmen for more than 40 years

We may not comprehend that poverty can be an entanglement of multiple circumstances. As we send messages of inspiration and hope around the world, We Survive and “Sunshine” Joe Mallard (one of American’s premier Creative Embroidery craftsmen) would like to see you incorporate HOPE into your daily lives and reach out to your community, city and the world at large bringing awareness on the issues of poverty.

If you need help in developing ideas and or need support for your Portrayal of Hope project, please contact lightfest@wesurvive.org

Together we will change lives!

Portrayal of Hope

Portrayal of Hope

https://www.facebook.com/Portrayal-of-Hope-532362823620962

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2016

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2016

an Ultimate Day of Hope

 

On November 5, LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited once again brought education and awareness to the communities regarding issues faced by those vulnerable to poverty, hunger and homelessness.

Thanks to Matthew Simons and Simons Electronics, we were able to see the impact LIGHTFEST had made worldwide on November 5, as he displayed the 2016 Locator Map on a large screen for all to view at the LIGHTFEST Station held at St. Augustine.  Matthew also displayed pictures of activities on the LIGHTFEST Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/lightfestcommunity?ref=h  during the event.

There was a group of little ones (looked to be 3 to about 6 years old) standing about half way into the activity area.  They were so excited about being on TV.  Listening to them had me excited for them.  They kept pointing to the screen with their sweet giggles of excitement repeatedly saying, “Did you see that? We are on TV!”

Nurturance in Nature is a cornerstone of We Survive programming.  Courtney Ellis brought a nurturing nature lesson to LIGHTFEST as she had participants planting in a small cup and talking about how useful plants are and what they do to give us a healthy life.

One little boy held onto his freshly planted seed with two Popsicle sticks saying, “I will cherish this.”  You would have thought that he was holding a pot of gold rather than a cup full of dirt.

Along with educational information from health providers, there were health screenings, chess and checker challenges, a cakewalk, face painting, jewelry making, quilling, lanterns, lighthouses, a embroidered commemorative tapestry and other crafts.

Concluding with the Light of Hope Walk

 There was a diverse group of participants including those within the homeless community.

Katrina Bailey, LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Volunteer stated, “When we lit up our lights for the walk/observation, the happiness, willingness, enthusiasm and vigor the children had in participating was overwhelmingly speechless.  They wanted to walk, although they themselves were facing and LIVING in the very circumstance in which we were holding the vigil for: the homeless, hungry and poverty stricken.  That was, to me was the ULTIMATE show of love and sacrifice.  Deeply touching and humbling.”

A special thanks to all our sponsors and volunteers for making this a very special day for all!

Sponsor-Passport Health Plans
Host—St. Augustine Catholic Church

Volunteers- 

ATA College-Nursing Students
Burnett Ave. Baptist Church Youth Group
Courtney Ellis from the Louisville Nature Center

Girl Scout Troop 476
Jacqueline Browning
Jacqueline McMillian-Bohler

Katrina Bailey
Kentucky One Health—Our Lady of Peace
Linda Young

Louisville KY Bikers Guild
Matthew Simons Simons Electric
Marji Pilato
Michelle Dollar

Miguel Walker-The Best Bite
We Survive
Youth Checker/Chess Challengers
Zeta Amica of Louisville Ky

In case we have missed anyone, please know we appreciate your help. To read more about the event and to see pictures go here.

learning-station joe-with-child chess-time quilling making-light-holders

 

rsz_img_7345VLUU L110 / Samsung L110 20161105_172056

Journey Begins with a Journal

Journey Begins with a Journal

Journey Begins with a Journal

Written by Sharon Cecil

A Reflection of Let Hope Win

bookWe Survive, nestled on gentle rolling woodland, is a perfect setting to take a “Journey Through a Forest of Feelings.”   Although, you can journal any place.

A pen and paper will be important tools as you begin your journey through your feelings.  You don’t need a fancy journal.  It can be a notebook or composition book.  Like a painter’s paintbrush to a canvas, your pen will reflect your feelings on a canvas made of paper to learn more about the amazingly complex and fascinating person you see in the mirror.

How many of us were given diaries as children?  A diary is a form of journaling. Writing is a way to process thoughts as you pour out you feelings. Paper is sometimes the only thing that that will be at your disposal 24/7 and you get undivided attention.

Keep in mind that some people may prefer the use of their computer.  You can call me old school, but I feel that you can be more reflective with paper and pen.

It has been said that the hardest thing any person will ever have to do is be honest with him or her self.

As you write in a journal, your own inner truth will emerge.  Writing both hurtful and happy thoughts. Those free thoughts may feel uncomfortable at first.  Once you finally reach that inner truth, denial isn’t an option. This is when healing begins.  Letting go of the pain and moving towards a mental and physical release.

Writing helps with organizing your thoughts and your life. It should be a safe place to express your feelings. Remember, there aren’t any rights or wrongs in keeping a journal.

Some people may say that there isn’t enough time in a day.  But the truth is, time is all you do have.  How you spend it is up to you.

As I said in Let Hope Win, “Where and how we spend our time is the story of our life.”  Once you discover the real you.  Once you decide you need to make a few changes to improve on the already amazing story, “Only you can change the script of the story by ending the old script and creating a hopeful script for your future…Don’t miss out on your story.  Only you can change the script of the story by ending the old script and creating a hopeful script for your future.”

Tap into your strengths and explore…

A Heart that Hears Gives

A Heart that Hears Gives

A Heart that Hears Gives

Written by Sharon Cecil

Having a Heart that Hears

Having a Heart that Hears

Life is about talking and listening.  When talking with a group, many times you tend to be giving information that to some may seem like a lecture.

Working with youth programming for over 40 years, I must say that I have learned a lot about the younger generation and about the diversity in their ways of thoughts and reactions.

Doing a workshop for teens many years ago, a young man (the leader of the group) said to me, “Sharon, you are a wonderful educator, but you need to learn to shut-up and listen.”

My first thought was, “who does he think he is to disrespect an adult in this way.”  But, I didn’t say anything to him at the time.  As, his comment ran through my head repeatedly, I reflected on my style of communication as an educator and a youth provider.

Because of that young man, I truly learned the importance of listening.  I changed my style of teaching, speaking to groups and workshop formats.  By doing more listening, the session become more interactive, the audience was more receptive and we were all able to take away something from the experience.

You will find that by using silence you are doing much more than being silent.  You become an active listener, which means you are giving your audience your undivided attention which allows for more open discussion within the group you are addressing.

Once the participant feels heard, he or she feels more comfortable and gives you a much better position for using your teaching and problem solving techniques.  If you are with a group on a regular basis, you begin to build trust and make goals.

Silent Communication and Body Language

Let’s not forget that there is silent communication through body (non-verbal) language.   In other words, your body can speak!

In my opinion, one of the best non-verbal communicators is a smile.  It shows up on your face and in your eyes.  A reassuring pat on the back to let someone know that you approve doesn’t hurt either.

You may want to ask yourself the following questions when apply the principle of listening.

How does active listening:

  • convey caring
  • provide a comfortable environment
  • create a positive impression?

Because of that young man so many years ago, I learned that when you are an active listener, the lines of communication become more open and trusting.

 

Let Hope Win

Let Hope Win

Let Hope Win

Written by Sharon Cecil

Growing up in a dysfunctional environment, I would read or write when I had alone time.  Reading would take me into someone else’s reality.  By writing, I was creating my own scenarios.

Once TV became popular, I could watch the kind of show that I once read about—mostly love stories or mysteries.  Who didn’t love Perry Mason!

As an adult, painful memories became a pathway on a search for ways to heal the pain from childhood.  Writing/journaling became a healing tool.  Then, art became part of the mix.

hopepositiveexpecatationForty plus years ago, teaching an arts and crafts class became a healing avenue on which I began a very exciting journey. This is when I first realized that I could write my own life script.

Everyone has a story and he or she is the star.  Not some actor who is playing a scripted part in some imaginary scene.

How does your story read and how can it inspire others?

When you begin to write your story, there can be a connection to your inner self whereby you learn what has been a bad play, which can inspire the creation of a new script.

You may remember that dream you had as a child, or an experience that turned out to be more helpful instead of being as harmful as you thought.

Time is the most precious gift we have to give and the most valuable asset in our lives.  Where and how we spend our time is the story of our life.

Don’t miss out on your story.  Only you can change the script of the story by ending the old script and creating a hopeful script for your future.

HOPE Wins.  hopewins