Tag Archives: Georgia

Habitat for Humanity – 2008 Dinner on the Slab

Friday night we had our traditional Dinner on the Slab with our Future Homeowner and her family.  

(If you just want to see the pictures, click any picture for a slide show and link to pictures you can copy.)

First let me explain what this is all about.  This blog is pretty much dedicated to the homeless, particularly homeless veterans and youth.  But not completely, as each year I take some time off to work on a Habitat for Humanity home and post a progress report with slideshows, tutorial and pictures of the events.   I’ll continue to add articles on homeless as I go along.   You can access the articles by category, using the links in the header or the tags and categories to find the topics you are interested in.  In general, you can find all Habitat for Humanity Articles here, all Homeless Veterans Articles here, All PSTD articles here, and all Homeless Youth Article here.  The links above and to the right allow you to also find my most popular articles.   When this is all done, you can find the 2008 Habitat Build here, or look at it on a running basis throughout the build.

This one is the first of a series of about a dozen articles on our current build.  It will carry you from the day before we start to build (todays article) all the way through the dedication ceremony and house warming.  If I do everything as planned, you will also get a “how to build a Habitat House Tutorial”.   To be taken with a grain of salt as I am certainly not an expert, but reporting what I experience and the various jobs I take on during the build.

Background

Here is a little background.  I am a member of Macland Prebyterian Church which is in return a member of the Presbyterian Coalition, Cobb Habitat for Humanity and I am their representative, a member of the board.    The Coalition is composed of  Presbyterian Churches in Cobb County, Georgia that raise money to sponsor one or two houses in our county each year.  We raise the money, about $55,000 to pay for the lot and any undonated materials.  We also build the house(s) and fund a number of houses in Kenya each year.    After Hurricane Dennis we also helped Cobb Disaster Recovery in rebuilding damaged homes in Cobb.

This year we will build one house in Cobb County, Georgia (our 22d house in Cobb so far) and seven in Kenya (total 32 in Kenya)!

Nicole Combs

Nicole Combs, Future Homeowner stands on the site of her new home

(Click on any picture to start slide show)

Elijah

This wonderful smiling face belongs to Elijah, Nicole’s son.  Some of the framing can be seen behind him

The future homeowner, Nicole Combs has a son Elijah, 7.  She will work on the house with our volunteers to get the house built.   Homeowners come up with a down payment, are required to work on other houses as well as  their own for some 200 hours of “sweat equity”.   For us, it is mission work, Christ’s command: help the needy!

The homeowner will actually sign a contract to buy the house at a greatly reduced price (compared to the appraised value)  and then make interest-free monthly payments until it is paid for.  Cobb Habitat for Humanity takes care of selecting the homeowners, purchasing the land and preparing the streets and lots prior to the volunteers (that’s us) coming in.  That includes getting either the concrete poured if it is to be built on a concrete floor,  or building a  block foundation if not.  In the latter case, a few people, men and women from our group go out and frame and deck the floor prior to the volunteers arriving.  

Schedule:  The build dates are Saturdays May 10, 17, 31 and June 14.   Then we go into blitz week where volunteers work all week to finish the house and landscaping June 16 through 21.  (We have skipped an extra weekend this year due to Memorial Day weekend.)

Location:  The site is located in the same subdivision as last year, but in the second phase of the development.  Mableton, Hillcrest Subdivision.  Take Barrett/East West Connector to Floyd Road, turn right, follow and continue as it changes to Mableton Parkway, turn right on South Gordon Road, then left on Hillcrest.  Look for a new subdivision on the left.about 8/10 mile from South Gordon Road.   About a 20 minute drive from our church.

Youth Take Notice:: The minimum age for the first four days is 16, 14 after that. (blitz week)   All young folks, guys and gals are all welcome if you meet the age requirements.   Drag your parents along!

 Dinner on the Slab

The Slab

Dinner on the Slab

Click on any picture or HERE for Slide Show

Dinner on the slab means bring a covered dish, utinsels to serve the dish and your own chair.  Anyone that wants to come are welcome.   We invite the future homeowner and their family and friends. 

Cobb Habitat has already poured the concrete and it is hardened and ready to build, so all we have to do is clear out an area big enough to set up tables and chairs.   There was chicken, bar-b-que, various salads and deserts, water, tea and soft drinks.  Also a few well chosen wines (OK by Presbyterian standards).

For most of us, this is our first opportunity to meet the new homeowner and family.   Nicole is going to be a joy to work with.  Elijah is very bright, energetic, and inquiring, wants to know everything that is going on.  

Copies of Pictures

To get copies of any picture, click on the slide show and look above the slide show and you wiil find a link to the group of pictues (“back to Habitat 2008 set”).    Or click on any picture during the slide show and it will stop and allow you to select that picture (View Main Page).   When you see a picture you like and you have it in your sights, look for a link above for a button that says all sizes.  From there you can choose vearious sizes including a very large one.   When you have the size you want, you can click download for a free copy.  Copy as many as you want.    Or here is a  direct link to the set.  Click on any picture for a larger view and copy insturctions.  Enjoy

Oldtimer

 

 

 

Our fight for the homeless, some stories

This is a long post, and  in it I will tell some interesting stories about the homeless we’ve met and love as friends.  But I need to say something up front about our city leaders.  In my last post I listed the names and email addresses of City officials.  The intent was not to harass these individuals, but to express only our outrage at the actions of a City That Doesn’t Care, or to express support if that is your desire, over the death of Dominic.

All of these City Council men and women, the City Manager, and the Mayor are good and honorable people and should be treated with dignity for the office they hold and as caring people.  Keep in mind that Mayor Dunaway has no voting power except in a tie, even though he wields enormous power in other ways within the city, as any mayor does.

Our fight is with the collective body that  makes up the whole, the Council and leadership of a city that would not listen to the cries that warned them that great harm and deaths would occur if they sent these people away from their homes in the dead of winter.  Some of our homeless did die, frozen to death.  The city leaders read our request beforehand and the Mayor phoned me that they would go forward with their evictions even though snow and freezing temperatures was forcast.  Representatives of the city attended a meeting at a local shelter and said the same thing.  And Dominic is dead, and it appears there are others.

So express outrage yes, but call them names, no, threats, no.   Express your own feelings either way on the subject, but stay calm.   It is the city itself to blame, not the individuals who might have raised a voice but was voted down or failed to raise a voice when it would have meant something, perhaps not realizing the impact on the lives of hundreds of people, perhaps thinking the warning of possible harm or death was an overstatement when it was not.      

Having said that, let me give you a few little stories on some of these men and women that we have learned how to be friends with.  Now here is a disclaimer: I am a member of this church we call Macland Presbyterian, an elder, now on  the session and a 3 year member of the Mission team.   But I don’t have any first hand, hands-on experience with the particular homeless we are talking about other than meeting them as they came to our church and sitting down to talk with them.  Whenever I say “we” I mean our team that has been working with them.

Missional team

Several families doing missional outreach have been doing all the cooking, serving, bible study and outreach for our church.  They have paid for food out of their own pockets, taken winter clothing and other things for the homeless, brought them back to church and taken them to restaurants, had coffee and broken bread with them, brought them to Church in their own cars, stored their belongings when displaced, done bible study with them.   I’ve only supplied a little support here and there.  They have been doing the work.  I’m relating what they have told me about our friends.

Having said that too, let me tell you something about what I know from Pat and Scott and Jeff, and Jason about their encounters with the friends they have been serving.  I just want you to know that this is not first hand knowledge, but it has struck my heart and I will be much more closely involved from now on.  I know some of these names are not the real names.  But the stories are real, the men are real, the hardships and problems they illustrate are real.

Perry and his gold coin offering

One of these men, a homeless veteran is Perry.  Perry has been described by Pat as “having an entourage of people swirling around him in his head always talking to him.”   Perry came to our church among the first two to accept our invitation to visit.  Pat and Scott picked him up.  During one sermon our Pastor  was talking about the woman who gave all she had, a penny, and what a wonderful thing that was. 

Perry got up in the middle of the sermon and started for the pulpit.  Scott caught up with him and asked what his intentions were.  “I’m going to make an offering”.  “But wait, there is a time for that later”, said Scott.  “But I want to give now!”  So Perry took his Chucky Cheese gold token to the alter and placed it on the corner of the choir railing, and returned to his seat just beaming!  Grinning from ear to ear.  Gave all he had, real gold to him.

I don’t know what happened to Perry when the evictions came.   I think that he had dissappeared.  We know of one death, Dominic, and we know that there is likely more – I learned today that the medical examiner sent a homeless person to a funeral home near our church who was apparently found in the same lot we were serving, but Dominic had been found somewhere else.

Mark and his mound of dirt, compassion among the homeless 

There is another victim that we have recently identified as Mark.   Mark was first found by our little missional team some weeks ago.   Mark was laying behind a large mound of dirt, flat on the ground with piles of donated clothing, blankets, tarps and other stuff on each side of him.  Much of it donated by other homeless in the camps.  

Mark clearly wanted to die but somehow was not successful.  He was on the ground with his thin shirt unbuttoned, no jacket, no shoes, no covering and was unresponsive.  Our group called 911 and an emergency van showed up, prodded his foot, asked him a couple of questions, determined he was alive and that he did not want to go with them.  The crew left with these words:  “We can’t make someone go that doesn’t want to go.” 

Other homeless were bringing Mark sack lunches and most of the time the lunches were just left there uneaten the next day.  He would take neigther food nor drink from us.   He was never seen to move from that spot by any of our team over a period of weeks, and he never changed clothes.   We have since learned that Mark survived the cold, but this past week, our homeless friend Steve told us that the police and others came back Wednesday of last week and took his bedding, blankes and other things.   See my video where Steve talks about Mark, how he became homeless and why he was staying right where he was.    He was not aware he was being subjected to eviction.  He would not have been responsive to the police or anyone that approached him.  He was unable.  (Updated on February 2, 2008 to insert new information).

The aloof man and his broken trust

There is another I’ll call “Aloof” who showed up when they first started feeding breakfast.  We noticed a man standing like a statue with his back to the breakfast line about a block away.   Although invited, he did not move while we were there.  The following week, he had turned around and was facing the other men and women enjoying a breakfast feast, but still did not approach, still a block away.    (Since MUST feeds a lunch to the unsheltered homeless 5 days a week, our team chose to go on Sunday mornings to fill in).

The   third week he moved half way to the chow line.  The fourth, half way again, always standing like a post during the entire time our team was on site.  The fifth he had moved up to where he was just outside the line but could see the food clearly. 

Finally he began joining the line.  We had gained his trust.   Then the city came the next week and destroyed the little life support that he had.  His hidden camp taken away and all trust dragged to the dump in a garbage truck with his belongings.

Some of the others 

Then there are Steve and Don who lived under a nearby bridge.  And a different Al than ours that had a girlfriend.   And “our” Al who is indeed a veteran who has been working almost from the beginning to get his life back in order to get off the streets.

What I’m trying to say is that although our Al and Steve and Dave/Don have been mentioned in earlier posts a number of times, this story is not just about them, nor is it just about veterans, nor is it any way about us! 

What this all about 

It is about a city leadership that never took the time to learn that these are real, actual human beings in their care who have issues to be sure, but most are honest, decent citizens that have fallen on the hard times that, but for the grace of God, go I.  It is about a city that paints all homeless men in one brush.  If one did a crime, then paint them all guilty.  They are faceless, nameless, scum to be run out of the city.  They are trash to be swept away.

It is about a City That Doesn’t Care that decided that, with the homeless count coming up that they just did not want the world to know that they did not have a place to put them.  The goal was to run them out of town to reduce the numbers, achieve a goal of homeless reduction.  The goal was to let the secretary that saw what looked like a homeless man down the block know that the city was protecting her.   To let the business man that had a female worker nervous because she saw a homeless man standing under a bridge on the way to her office know that she would not have to look the other way any more – he would be gone.   To let the voters know the city was removing all the homeless because 1 or 2 were thought to be part of a crime wave in another part of the city.  To let the voters know that all laws will be strictly enforced – unless it was convenient to look the other way.  But for homeless, strictly enforced.

It is about a city that chose to evict the homeless from the only home they have had for years on the eave of the two coldest nights of the year – driven out in fear, leaving even their glasses, shoes, sleeping bags and tents behind to be thrown into garbage trucks by a City That Doesn’t Care.   A city that supplies no support services other than law enforcement.  A city that relies on the county morgue to front the $400 to pay for the burial of victims of their lack of concern for the welfare of another human being.

It is about human dignity when down and out.  About trust when trust is vital but not allowed.  About compassion, love and hope in a world that seems to have none. 

It is about our Lord who told us to serve our neighbor, who said in the parable of the sheep and goats:

Matthew 25:44-46   44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’   45“He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

What did Paul say about the Apostles? 

1 Corinthians 4:11  To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.

I wonder how many angels were present among the homeless to test us?  Who is marked as a sheep and whom a goat?  Who among us will our Lord not know?

 Oldtimer

They are still out there

They Are Still Out There

Original by Jim Tabb/Oldtimer

It’s just past midnight in January, it’s well below 20 degrees and they are still out there.

Under the bridges on South Cobb at Atlanta Road,

up in the steel under the noisy tracks,

around the perimeter of Larry Bell Park,

in the woods off Manget,

along the creek south of Gramling,

all around the Elizebeth area,

in the wooded areas west of the Hospital,

across and behind the bus station on the South Loop,

in the woods between Franklin and I-85,

along rottonwood creek wherever it goes,

and in all the wooded areas along Powder Springs Road

whereever there is a secluded place out of sight,

individuals, groups, families with children and it is so very cold.

They are still out there.

Are you warm tonight? Count your blessings.

Grace and Peace,

Copyright 2007/2008 by James A. Tabb

(May be reproduced freely with credits.  The areas mentioned are in Marietta, Georgia)  

Watch the screen – its Snowing!

Merry Christmas to ALL! 

Check out the picture in my banner.  Watch a few seconds and it will actually start snowing on my baby deer!   It happens in Georgia from time to time, but this light snowfall isn’t sticking however.  Thanks to WordPress for the Christmas Gift of a snowy blog.

(UPDATE – Jan 4th 2008:  Well, the snowstorm is over.  WordPress allowed the snow only until Jan 2, so it is gone now.)  

We had 18 family members to our Christmas Eve lunch!   9 Adults and 9 grandchildren.   Everybody brought presents for everybody else.   What a mess that was as our tradition is to open family gifts on Christmas Eve and honor Christ on Christmas Day, the greatest gift of all!  (The little ones still get Santa Clause visits however).  

Oldtimer’s correction:  In actuality, gifts from children are usually combined with the parents gifts and they also don’t bring gifts for their siblings to our house.   I greatly overstated it when I said “everybody brought presents for everybody else”.   There were 4 families there and each of the kids got something from each family.   I received 6 gifts altogether and love every one of them.   ‘Twas more than enough.   Let’s see:  4 shirts, a book and a 20 questions game.

Christ was and is remembered in the midst of all the fun going on in our house.   Blessings were said in remembrance of Him and in remembrance of our troops, the homeless and our friends.  Afterward we went to our respective churches for candlelight services.

I hope you all have a happy new year and peace and grace for the remainder of your days.

Oldtimer

Thanksgiving, Wounded Marine Welcomed Home

Wounded Marine Welcomed Home

Community Renovated Home –

Gives Hero Welcome

The following story is local to me.  I live in the countryside between Marietta and Hiram Georgia.  The distances are about the same to each, although my entire family grew up inside the city of Marietta and all live there, children and grandchildren, all except for myself and wife.  My wife was born there and I lived within the city more than 50 years of my life and so it is home.  We always go to Hiram to get our barbeque and my artist’s supplies and do some shoping there.   The birthplace of some of my wife’s ancestors is in Hiram.

It is with great interest that I report this story, and I wish there were a Hiram news outlet that I could get so that I would have known about this project before I read it too late to help.

I have to applaud everyone that helped out here and add them to my good neighbor list.   I found the story on our Atlanta Channel 11 news, 11 Alive News and copied some of it here.  Go to the link to read the rest.  Great reporting on our local Hero.

Blair Meeks reports

Justin KinneeJustin Kinnee

Last Modified: 11/22/2007

He wasn’t supposed to live, but a Marine from Hiram (Georgia) gets a Thanksgiving homecoming that gives his family new life. Corporal Justin Kinnee was on foot patrol in Iraq two years ago when an IED exploded two feet away from him.

Kinee lost 90 percent of his blood, which caused a stroke and then paralysis. He fought his way out of a coma and then learned to walk again. Now, thanks to the community, he’s coming home to a completely renovated home.

The rolling thunder of American Legion Riders rumbled into Hiram. Deputies and police officers from the community joined in the escort. They called it a heroes welcome, and as former military men walk to shake the hand the man they’re calling hero, that hero makes it obvious he’s uncomfortable in the glare of this attention.

Dozens of people, businesses and church groups came together to renovate the house for Kinnee and his mother, who helps with his care.

Karen Allen, project coordinator said, “There are a lot of people that honestly appreciate our military and they appreciate the job they’re doing sense they really are fighting for our freedom.”

Two years of hospitals and surgery and he’s back on his feet. His new community is helping make sure he stays that way. It’s difficult to find the words to say thanks.

“Especially a community that I don’t even know.. would want to come and thank me. It’s like speaking Chinese to me, I don’t know what that is and I don’t know how to respond to that,” Kinnee said.

A Marine, not used to hearing thanks, hears in it a big way from an entire community.

“It’s the house that God built,” said Hazel Kinnee, his mother.

Kinnee still has a lot of recovering to do. His left arm is still paralyzed. His face is still numb, but he will probably be out of the Marines by January or February. Then it’s on to his new life.

This is the way we should treat our Heroes

Oldtimer