Category Archives: Must Ministries

Good News – Ask the right question!

Ask the right question. 

 Al was frustrated.  We were frustrated, even his case manager at MUST was frustrated.  The new transitional housing program was due to start April 1 but to get in, Al needed to prove his eligibility and he needed his DD-14.  The deadline was just a few days away.   It was already March 26.   He had his application in for months.  He had his request for his DD-14 copy in for months.  Nothing was happening.  His case manager had even faxed in a copy of the application papers.   No response.   It looked pretty bleak as nothing was happening at the VA.

No DD-14 on the way and no good reason why.  I don’t know the details other than this:  Al said he had been conferencing with his case manager on Wednesday and they were both lamenting that nothing seemed to be working.  Then Al happened to mention that he has a birthday coming up in a few months and he “needed to get his VA drivers license renewed”.   Just a simple off-the-wall comment to pass the time.

The case manager said something like:  “WHAT did you just say?!!!… You have a VA drivers license?… Let me see it!”  “This is all you need for proof… you are in!”.

It turns out that no one had asked the right question.  

You don’t get a veterans driver’s license without a DD-14  and it requires a certificate of eligibility from the VA to get the licence.  The existence of the driver’s license was all that has been needed all along.  Now Al is going into transitional housing on April 1.  It was an alert case manager that finally saved the day.  It would have been easy to not notice the remark.  None of us trying to help him knew.  No one at the VA asked whether he had a veterans driver’s license.   Al didn’t know it would suffice.   Only the alert case manager caught the significance.   Thank you Michael Laird of MUST ministries.  

Al once had his separation papers and has since lost them.  That happens to homeless veterans a lot.    He qualified for his veteran’s drivers license some time ago and has maintained it current.    

So much trouble and so much delay for lack of the right question.  So if any of you veterans are having trouble getting a copy of your separation papers and you have a veterans drivers license, pull it out!   You may have a shortcut!

We have something special planned for Al, but don’t go hinting, as it is a surprise.

Oldtimer

PS:  This is what the GA DMV says:

Veterans

Veterans receive a free license until they reach the age of 65. Then they must renew their licenses every five years and are required to pass a vision test each renewal period.

You’ll need to provide a copy of your separation papers, showing your honorable discharge, to your county’s Department of Veterans Service to receive your certificate of eligibility. Present this certificate to your local driver’s license office to receive your free license.”

  

Good News, Good News!

Good News Today

There was particularly good news to report today.    Our homeless friends Al J. and Steve W. have both been assigned a place to live, but we are not talking just a shelter here!  They are excited, I mean really excited.  So is the group at our church that has been working with them so very long.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Al, surprised by the flash.

Al is a homeless veteran.  He had been living in the woods for quite some time.  When our small group first met him he was resistant to the idea of moving out of the woods.   He was heavily bearded with wild long hair and looked pretty ragged.   “I like it here,” he said.    Of course, it was not true.  Later he admitted that he was resigned to living in the woods and never expected to get out.   “I like it here” was just a way of coping.

That was before several families in our Church began to develop real relationships with the homeless they were feeding breakfast to on Sunday mornings.    By relationships, I mean friendships, and true bonds.   This extended beyond just providing food and supplies, beyond inviting them to Church, Sunday School and Wednesday night dinners.   It included true friendships and love for fellow man. 

When Al complained that “I smell,” and said he was uncomfortable in church looking like a tramp, Scott and Pat took him to their home where he showered and put on newly cleaned clothes.   Scott then took him to his son’s hair salon where he was treated like royalty and given a full shampoo, shave and haircut to the astonishment of other customers.    How do you want your hair today, Sir?  Does that look ok, Sir?   

Al looked like and felt like a new man.  Transformed, ready at last to come out of the woods, ready to not be homeless any more.    Somehow he has managed to maintain his neat appearnce despite continuous living in the deep woods.   The homeless ministry team followed through and helped Al get his VA papers.  He said he did not even know he was elgible for help through the VA.   The ministry team managed to get him signed up for the new veteran’s transitional housing program at MUST.   The papers, however, were a long time coming.  Far too long.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two pictures of Steve.

 

 

 

Steve turns out to be an energetic worker, jack of all trades, experienced in all sorts of construction work.  I know.  He has worked for several families in our church and for me.  

I found that he is an excellent carpenter and never slows down.   When he runs out of a job, he picks up a broom or rake, or starts the next phase.   He is also very dependable and has an excellent outlook on life.   I found out that he is experienced in renovation of old houses and had once owned a house just two blocks from the one my wife grew up in.  He gave it up to his wife and began a long downward spiral from there to homelessness. 

When we first met Steve, he lived in a tarp in a pine thicket between two buildings.  After the police raids in the area and Dominic froze to death, he applied to MUST Ministries for entry into their resident’s progam and was eventually accepted.   He said he “did not want to end up like Dominic”.   Steve is the one in the video talking about Dominic that I posted a few weeks ago.    He and Al have attended Sunday School, Church services and Wednesday night dinners almost every week.  That is a bible he is carrying in the left picture above.

Members of our church sponsored Steve and Al to a family church retreat over a recent weekend.  Al said it was the “most fun I’ve had since I was a child”.  Steve said it was a “wonderful experience”.

 Well, the good news came from both of them today.  Al has been accepted into a veteran’s transitional housing program and Steve into a supportive housing program.  Both through MUST Ministries.    Both start April 1.    Our homeless ministry team is planning to have a dinner for them in celebration.  It will be quite a celebration and with many thanks to God for His Grace.

It has turned out to be a great day.  God is good!  

 

 

 

 

When Laws Should not be Enforced

Oldtimer’s comment, added on the 25th:  I warned the Mayor on the 21st, he called me on the 22d, I posted this article on the 23d,  and today I found out that Dominic, a homeless friend was found frozen to death huddled behind a local business on the 22d.  It means the Mayor likely already knew about the death when he said NO! to the moritorium and delay until warmer weather.  Now read the whole story and my warnings.  I predict we will find homeless people dead in various hiding places until spring.  Our Mayor and his Council are directly responsible for not heeding the numerous warnings from the community!  They cut up their tents, put their sleeping bags and clothing in garbage trucks and sent them into 19 degree weather to die.  The remainder is from Jan 23, 2008:

The Mayor of the City That Doesn’t Care (aka Marietta, Georgia) called me yesterday.  Make no mistake our Mayor does care and cares deeply!  We had a long and good discussion and he gave me full permission to report what he has said and he said all the right things.   He is sympathetic to the problem and supportive of our mission to help the homeless, including those that are being evicted from the meager existence they call home, whether cardboard box, blue tarp, or simply a sleeping bag under a bush.

He expressed appreciation for what we and and our mission team are doing and called it “good ministry”.  

The gist of it all, however, is that the unhoused homeless people have to be out by Wednesday (today) and there will be no exceptions and no delays due to the weather.  

He assured me that the city does not have any access to helicopters and no money to rent one if we did.  That a helicopter was going to be used to hunt down the homeless was just a rumor that developed among the homeless after a meeting of a police commander with the nearby MUST ministries.  MUST has been hosting some 75 residents and feeding the unhoused a meal each weekday.   (The homeless were not invited to the meeting, but thought they were.)  The city also met with the “Mad Housers” which is a group of saints that build simple structures for the homeless.  The city is graciously allowing the Mad Housers to leave the structures in place until they have time to move them. 

Essentially the Mayor said that all homeless camping in Marietta will be sent packing and if they don’t go they will be immediately arrested.  

It was my understanding that all homeless camped on private property that have the permission of the property owner can stay, but the health department will be called to determine if there are suitable sanitary facilities, and whether the campsite is safely habitable.  If not, they will be ordered out and arrested if they refuse the order.  

He suggested that some private property owners might allow them to camp, but the health department will be required to check out the property.   The Mayor seems sympathetic but admitted he has had to call the police in the past about his own property (warehouse nearby) due to homeless camping behind it resulting in concern and complaints from female staff entering and leaving the building. 

How it started:   The Mayor said that the problem started with a series of burglaries that were traced to a homeless person.  They had his picture and went to all the camps to find him, but he had absconded, already left town for parts unknown. 

However the camps on right of ways and on public and private property which they found in the heat of the hunt are illegal and the City can’t NOT enforce the law, and now that the police know where they are, they must be removed, period, no matter the consequences.  End of story.

OK, herein lies a problem for my sensibilities. 

If a law that must be enforced  will bring about, or is likely to bring about. or may bring about serious harm or death of an individual, should that law not be swiftly amended or not enforced when those situations arise? Continue reading

Marietta Georgia – No compassion for homeless – NONE

The City of Marietta is evicting homeless from within our city limits.  Al, our homeless veteran friend that our church is trying its best to help reports that he and his friends, which are mostly homeless veterans, have been given notice to move “south”, meaning out of Marietta and toward Atlanta.

We have been helping Al and some of his friends in numerous ways.  Pat (see an earlier story on Pat here and her husband Scott and a few others in our church have been serving breakfast Sunday Mornings and later bringing some to our church for bible study and services, often treating them to lunch afterward.  Scott put Al in a hotel during the cold snap and the group has been taking supplies and clothing to them. 

Al has been faithful in attending, and as a result has taken to the idea that he can get out of this.  He no longer looks homeless, is neat, trimmed and dressed in his best clothes.  However, despite the information, forms, trips to the VA, Al still has not received his papers or his VA card.  He is still homeless.  He has said he has now committed to getting off the streets but has no place to go.

Above is one of the homeless camps being evicted by the City of Marietta.  This is an old photo taken from the air, but it also the site of Als current camp.   Believe it or not, this was found by use of the Hit and Visitor Map to the right of this blog.  It has zoom and several modes, including hybrid (satellite and road labeling), airborne, and “bird’s eye”.  I used the hybrid mode in zoom to find the general area, then switched to bird’s eye and quickly found his camp and 2 other camps.   Try it in your area (bird’s eye is not available in all areas, mostly metropolitan areas around large cities like Atlanta).  Look for blue tarps in mostly wooded areas.  Let me know if you find any. 

Now comes the City of Marietta.  They have systematically attacked the homeless camps within their city and have now worked their way to Als camp.  They did give them a little prior notice.  They were told that they are trespassing (wooded right of way of city) have to be packed up and moved out by Monday.  

Guess What?  Its snowing in Georgia.  The ground is covered.  A few will accept winter shelter but the beds are full.   They are totally dependent on MUST ministries a few blocks from their camp for food which MUST serves once a day on weekdays.   Nothing on weekends.

Moving means a miles long treck instead of a block or so walk.   The plan is obvious, make the homeless either seek shelter or get out.  Unfortunatly there are not enough beds to go around.  Not nearly enough.  So the plan is equally obvious – get out of our city

The city should provide facilities for these homeless before making them move.  They don’t.  They depend on MUST Ministries and a few other shelters that they have forced into industrial zones and have for the most part squelched expansion of facilities.  

Our city has decided to take the cheaper route – run them out of our city before they cost us money!  It also has another up side for the city:  Next year the homeless count will show another “remarkable” drop and no one will have to cook the books by redefining the homeless or unfinding any.  

Al works when he can find a job.  He doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, has no noticeable mental problems.  He is a true walking hero with no place to go and our VA is not doing its duty.  Nor the VFW, nor our heartless City of Marietta.   He has fallen through the cracks and it makes me want to cry.

MUST Ministries, a block away from Al, serves Al a noon meal every week day. and  recently announced receiving grant money to set up transitional housing for veterans.   I’m sure they are hearing of the problem, but its been most of a week now since I left a message there for the program manager and sent a email inquiring about the program.  No response to the email and no returned call, and I know the guy, so he must be “out of pocket”.    MUST does do a wonderful job of helping feed and house the homeless and works tirelessly to serve them. 

Another mission, New Hope Missions reports that they are being swamped with homeless in the same desperate condition as Al.  New Hope serves about 125 breakfast and conducts services on Sunday and about half come from the area being evicted.  Some of them have to be out Wednesday.  Al has to be out Monday.

This is how not to minister to the homeless 

City of Marietta GA:  Shame!

Oldtimer