Real Change For Real People

“It’s gonna be a journey where we’re gonna pour in to you, but you’re also going to pour in to your kids and you’re going to change the course of your life forever”Chris Megison, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Solutions For Change

Please take 4 minutes to watch the video below before continuing. I promise it will be worth the added context and understanding you’ll get from it.

Homelessness is a complex problem and I certainly don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are some things though that can be said with confidence, because they speak to underlying objective truths about how the world works.

The first would be that making poor choices plays a large role behind many people living on the streets. Yes, I know there are exceptions, such as a woman fleeing an abusive spouse with her kids, or the family breadwinner being suddenly struck down with illness, but I’m talking about chronic homelessness here, not temporary, emergency situations.

The second would be that addiction, mental illness, abuse, generational poverty and familial dysfunction all affect decision-making capabilities, so it’s not just a function of telling someone to stop doing self destructive things. A mind rotted by substance abuse, or struggling with PTSD, or that’s been beaten down by years of emotional manipulation (or suffering from all of the above) will not generally make rational lifestyle choices.

Wouldn’t it make sense then to target the decision-making influencers so people can begin to see their situations clearly and make better choices for themselves? To go after the root cause of why people end up homeless in the first place?

A non-profit organization called Solutions for Change  (SFC) thinks so and they operate off the radical idea that being homeless is merely a symptom of much deeper and more complex issues that need to and can be addressed.

Cue its Co-Founder and Executive Director Chris Megison,

“We’ve become a nation of symptom relievers thereby unintentionally escalating the very problems that we claim we care about. Most of the people who lose it all and wind up homeless have very serious problems yet for decades we’ve responded to those problems with soup bowls, shelter beds and even hugs. Those responses might make the person giving the food, shelter or compassion feel good but they do very little to solve the underlying source of the grief and loss that the person is experiencing.”

The Solutions For Change answer is to not just give someone shelter and food, but to also change their thinking process by requiring accountability in return. To live in housing provided by SFC, a person must remain sober and enroll in mandatory job training and life skills classes via their Solutions University program.

From the SFC website:

“Solutions University is focused on transforming lives permanently. From counseling services, to parenting classes, employment training and work experience, the programs at Solutions University create solid foundations that support meaningful futures for families in our program.”

Lots of common sense there, yes? Well no, not according to our government, whose Housing First policy prohibits federal funds for homeless prevention organizations that require abstaining from booze/drugs and participation in job and life skills training.  The thinking behind this, if you can call it that, is to stabilize a person’s living situation first and then work on the other stuff.

Are there cases where providing housing without sobriety mandates makes sense? Probably, but this population is limited, or it should be if the goal is to lead people away from the enslavement of addiction. Shouldn’t it be?  Plus it discounts the strong negatives that come with allowing addicts to maintain destructive behavior while living in close proximity to others struggling to remain sober. Add kids in to the equation and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Regardless, the local entities combatting homelessness in their communities should be the ones to decide what they think will work best, not the pointy-headed bureaucrats in Washington. This type of “help” from the federal government too often results in doubling down on processes that do little to move the dial towards self sufficiency and too much towards dependency on government.

SFC views this dependency as just as big a problem  as the other underlying issues that contribute to being homeless. It fosters a learned helplessness for those stuck in the cycle of poverty and addiction, where mental barriers to freedom become more daunting than physical ones

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 3.03.17 PM

Taken from the Solutions For Change website- a visual of the churn cycle that occurs when the root causes  of homelessness are not addressed.

The way SFC graduate Amber puts it on her blog post about her trip to Washington to lobby for change,

“The system keeps the poor, poor and no one’s life is better by getting things for free. We need to lift the poor and homeless up by investing in people and that just getting by is no longer acceptable.”

Exactly.  The homeless problem in this country is a national disgrace.  Living on the streets is now just another “lifestyle choice” and compassion means either letting people remain that way or providing housing with no expectations of behavioral change. That’s a societal fail in my view and a complete let down for the people that need accountability and a strong sense of moral direction in their lives the most.

Organizations like Solutions For Change are on the right track and we should be doing all we can to encourage them and similar entities to thrive.  The quotes below from survivors who have gone through their program speak to this.

“I’m workin’ on my self esteem, I’m workin’ on not feeling worthy”– Louise

“This is why I view the world like this and made the choices that I made.” –Amber

“Just being a productive member of society feels really good.” –Shannon

“I’m slowly gaining some purpose for my life.” – Lenny

“You do it (remain sober) because you have to, then you do it because you ought to, then you do it because you want to.” – Jared

“You can change, you can be better and you can do things different and it’s completely up to you to say that this is not how the story is gonna end.” – Jennifer

These are the words of victory, of minds chartered on a new course of empowerment and change. Want more? Go here and watch a few of their videos. I challenge you not to smile and cry while doing so.

Solutions For Change is a pioneer in combatting homelessness and healing families from the brokenness of street life and addiction. A nice side benefit has been a reduction in welfare rolls as participants transition from dependent wards of the state to healthy, functional and productive members of society.

In return, the federal government has shut off funding grants due to their program requirements on sobriety and job training, forcing the closure of its intake and access center shelter, which directly affected 14 homeless families and 24 children.

Aside from this, they are still fully operational and dedicated as ever in solving chronic homelessness and leading people to empowerment over their own lives.  They need money though, so if your heart has been touched by any of this, please go here to make a donation

To a view a letter from Solutions For Change founders Chris and Tammy Megison go here.

 

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Anti-Anti-Huh?

The news  is just dumb. Every day it seems some unimaginably bizarre event pops up that reminds me why I’ve reformed my former media junkie ways and have all but tuned out.  It’s like background noise to me now, it all sounds the same and just makes me sleepy.  Stupefied maybe is a better word.

The head of the FBI willingly leaked intelligence? You don’t say.  College students rioting over scary opinions?  Yawn.  Mass hysteria over withdrawing from a poorly designed and pointless climate accord?  Yeah, whatever.  My immune system response to the ridiculous just doesn’t allow me to get worked up over these things any more.  I still care mind you, but not enough to devour the 24/7 news cycle for the latest piece of information. Continue reading

Posted in Free speech, Political, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 27 Comments

A Deserved Remembrance

Normandy Crosses

There is a military base I frequent often in California’s gorgeous central coast area where you can drive for miles after entering its main gate without seeing another soul.  The scenery is always nice and the mood peaceful, yet every few hundred yards or so, a roadside sign with just one or two words will appear that demands attention.

Loyalty.  Duty.  Respect.  Selfless Service.  Honor.  Integrity.  Personal Courage. Continue reading

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Blowin’ in the Wind

ColorStorm has a great post up called Random Goodness about the domino effect doing kind things can have on others who witness them. The video he has is just awesome too; really take 5 minutes to check it out.

This concept of how we can influence others happens to blend nicely with things I’ve been pondering lately now that it’s been a year since I lost my father. He taught me a lot throughout my life of course, but what’s been interesting to discover is how much I am still learning from him after his death. Continue reading

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The Limiting World of Stereotypes

Citizen Tom has a thoughtful post up on the unpleasant habit many of us fall in to of denigrating our fellow Americans.  There’s a lot of good stuff there, but I particularly liked this:

“Why do we want to say such negative things about our own countrymen (Admittedly, I have done it. So I think I know)? When there are all sorts of Americans, who exactly are we talking about? When we denigrate our fellow Americans, what I think we are doing is denigrating a caricature, that thing of legend we call The Ugly American. And I think we do it in pride. We do it to prove our own outstanding tolerance by denigrating the intolerance of the stereotypical Ugly American. Yet is this not in fact a form of bias? Against our fellow Americans?”

It got me thinking about our political world and how saturated in stereotypes it is. The Right is racist and evil, the Left dumb and naïve. Bigot, Commie, Fascist, Democrap, Repugnican, Libtard, Wingnut, the list goes on and on. Continue reading

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Feeling Blessed

Bike

Just the other day I was thinking I needed a cheap used beach cruiser to ride around town and voila this showed up for free on the curb near my house. Just my size too!

Now I’m thinking I need a million dollars….

 

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United Nonsense

SG with H.E. Mr. Adel Ahmed Al-Jubeir, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia                        Photo Credit: unwatch.org

Women in Saudi Arabia are required by law to have male legal guardians to make decisions for them on issues like healthcare, marriage and travel.  Women also aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, must obtain permission  from their husbands to open a bank account and are forced to live under strict dress codes designed to “not show off their beauty.”  In other words, Saudia Arabia oppresses their women.

Last week, Saudi Arabia was elected to the United Nations Women’s Commission whose principle mission is to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment around the world.

Can someone remind me again, why the UN holds any sort of credibility?

A quote from Hillel Neuer, Executive Director of UN Watch sums it up best, “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist the town fire chief.”

 

 

 

Posted in Political, Uncategorized, Women's Empowerment | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

A Hero For Our Times

“Blisteringly sexy, she killed Nazis with her bare hands and had a 5 million-franc bounty on her head”

The above quote is from a DailyMail.com article describing Nancy Wake, whose larger than life exploits as a member of the French Resistance during World War II  earned her France’s highest order of merit, the Legion d’Honneur and the well deserved designation of heroine to the French people and her allies around the world. Continue reading

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Apathy is Not an Option

It is so easy to get lost in busyness, where constantly playing catch up is the norm and you frequently ask yourself, “what the heck happened today?” while collapsing in to bed.  For an organizationally challenged person like myself, it’s almost a lifestyle.  Then there’s the nonsense factor that saturates our culture; where up is down and down is up and saying the “wrong” thing can bring instant condemnation or worse.  Suddenly, sticking your head in the sand while calling it a day looks awfully appealing. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized, Women's Empowerment | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments

The Burial Cloth of Christ-Fact or Fiction?

What better time to ponder the burial cloth of Jesus than the day before Easter?

Freedom Through Empowerment

As the evening hours approach on this day before Easter, I happened on this fascinating article on the shroud of Turin, which is thought by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus. Will this ever be definitively proved?  No, and neither will a 100% slam dunk piece of evidence proving God’s existence ever surface, for what a mockery that would make of the amazing gift of choice He gives us.  The ability to live life as one pleases is a necessary factor for us humans to reach our highest potential and a God that forces our belief of Him through paint by the numbers evidence would greatly dishonor this.

Regardless, it’s a very interesting piece that touches on the more technical aspects of the Shroud, like the “distance information”  that enables it to be read as a 3D map.  It plainly shows a beaten, crucified Middle Eastern man with…

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