community Service means Business!
5 March 2010
4 March 2010
When it comes to the street photography seen on so much of this site, I generally have no qualms in quite often surreptitiously snapping people as they busily go about their business, but in regards to Tokyo’s increasingly visible homeless, picture taking seems somehow exploitative, or at the very least invasively voyeuristic.
And yet at the same time, with the number of those living on the streets rapidly growing, combined with very little support or assistance — and sometimes even a hindering of what help there actually is — it feels like to not photograph them, and therefore their plight, is to be equally culpable in what could easily be classed as a cruel and uncaring cover up.
So here, for what they are worth, are a few,
of the unfortunately not so very,
It is days like this I really wish I had paid more attention in English class. So much happened I want to share with you, yet I just don't know how to express it in written word.
We started the day at the Anchorage Rescue Mission. See a photo gallery of the place here. Lots of great improvements. I still wish I could check in multiple times for same story. I interviewed program director Dave Williams and you can watch that here. I really enjoyed my tour and getting to meet Dave.
Ed O'Neill then picked us up to visit camps. But first stop was a meeting with Assembly Member Debbie Ossiander. If I had known I wouldn't have worn my "Animal" muppet shirt. It was very interesting seeing
the political process in the works and I was honored to be included.
Ed is one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He once owned 20 liquor stores and now runs a nonprofit called Anchorage Responsible Beverage Retailers Association that is funded by the liquor stores he sold. Basically it goes to homeless camps and cleans up the mess while also trying to help people get out of homelessness. ARBRA is a really amazing and unique nonprofit community support model. Here is a short interview with Ed at one of the nearly two dozen camps around Anchorage.
Ed drove us around trying to visit camps. During the day no one is home so we didn't meet anyone at the two camps we visited. I did have the honor of meeting Bernice on the side of a busy road. She has severe mental illness and was extremely grateful for the gift of socks and gloves. Thanks to all of you that helped support this trip for making that happen. Special thanks to sponsor Hertz.
Luke we met panhandling. I still cannot wrap my mind around living outside in this weather. But I saw an example of that story, the main reason I am here, play out in real life. We stopped at a park and I met a nice older man with a female confined to a wheelchair. They are also sleeping outside and have been homeless 11 years. They were very nice but did not want to go on video. I always respect people and my first priority is to make a friend. I really wish you could have seen the woman put on the new gloves. She was so happy. While talking, another homeless man pointed out a "native" trying to walk down the street. Alcohol is a huge issue here and this man could hardly walk. He went behind a van so I could not see him fall, but I noticed he wasn’t coming into view so I walked over. He was collapsed in a snow bank.
I ran over to see if he was ok and Ed followed. The man was barely conscious and mumbled something about his back. Ed called 911, which is the right thing to do. Left alone in the snow this man probably would have died. The police arrived quickly, but by this time the man had gotten up and had stumbled around the corner only to fall down in another snow bank. The officer loaded the man into a police car and I am told this is called a "sleep over" where drunks are given an overnight stay.
As I type this I cannot get the image of this man out of my mind. What if we were not there? How many other drunks are falling into snow banks tonight? My heart is broken from what I experienced today. Sadly, there is no easy or quick solution for Anchorage's complex homelessness problem! More people will continue to die unless real action is taken.
They went to war as soldiers, and returned home as prisoners. But now, as Matt's previously blogged, there's a growing movement for specialized courts that specifically reach out to veterans who break U.S. law. and risk of landing in jail.
It's a little-remarked-on fact, but here in the United States -- site of the world's largest prison system -- fully one out of 10 people incarcerated are also military veterans, over half of whom served during wartime. While such veterans have long gone ignored, Buffalo, NY and other cities are bucking the trend.
Yesterday, Philadelphia became the latest city to join that wave. The city inaugurated its Veterans Court (Pennsylvania's third), a forum designed to help veterans whose previous experiences may have impacted their life choices.
In many ways, the court doesn't look so different from any other, as an account in the Philadelphia Inquirer makes clear. The usual medley of DUI arrests, marital disturbances and cases of public drunkeness are considered, and there's a prosecutor and public defender.
But there's also a representative of the Department of Veterans Affairs there to ask defendants about their service, and about whether they qualify for government-given medical or mental benefits -- or are even aware of them. (Which many veterans are not.) Veterans who are accepted into the program receive referrals to Veterans Affairs care and are paired with a volunteer veteran mentor, who can help them through their criminal case and gain a more productive place in the civilian world.
Drugs and addiction account for a significant percentage of veterans' crimes: nearly half of vets in federal prison, for example, are locked up on drug charges. Fully 61% of veteran prisoners are dependent on or abuse alcohol or drugs. Meanwhile, cases of post-traumatic stress disorder -- many left untreated -- only compound the problem.
Veterans are not only well-represented in the U.S. prison system -- in fact, in some ways, they're over-represented. According to Bureau of Justice statistics, veterans who are incarcerated on drug offenses receive sentences that are, on average, one year longer than those of non-veterans incarcerated on the same charges.
By the time a veteran ends up behind bars, they've arrived there as the product of many failed systems, from Congress to the Department of Veterans' Affairs. (For a discussion of how the VA can better help veterans fight addiction and stay out of prison, check out the Drug Policy Alliance's recent -- and excellent -- report here.) But at least at one end of the chain, there are innovators like Philadelphia who are trying to help bring former soldiers home.
Photo Credit: US Army Africa
2 March 2010
Partners and Supporters -
Dress for Success Worldwide chose Pittsburgh as one of their sites for a BNYMellon grant to fund an 8 week seminar on Financial Literacy!
We’ve gotten TERRIFIC speakers – some of Pittsburgh’s finest finance professionals –and great topics such as “Emotions and Money”.
Women who complete all of the classes will receive a Coach hat valued at $148 and Lia Sophia Jewelry, compliments of Dress for Success Worldwide. All participants will receive Lia Sophia Jewelry as well.
WHERE: BNY Mellon conference room (light refreshments provided)
WHEN: April and May, Tuesday evenings from 5:30 to 6:30 PM for 8 weeks
Please email or call if you know of anyone interested – this is open to ALL women!
Programs & Operations
Dress for Success Pittsburgh
412-201-4204 x 225
332 Fifth Ave, floor 5
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
want more information? see a fabulous video with Iman and others!
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