Tuesday, February 23, 2010


It has been a little while since I posted, but we went to the UHC for the first time on Friday and it went really well. Sarah, Jenny, and I met the receptionists, Mike, Linda, and some ladies that were volunteering with us. We spent the majority of our time there helping price and wrap items for the silent auction at the Bridesmaid's Ball. It was good to get a feel for the atmosphere around the office, and to get to hang out with Linda some more. She seems very excited about us cleaning out her closet and helping with things around the office. She also tipped us off about a girl who will be speaking at the Ball who escaped from homelessness and now lives independently. We are going to tell the media and film groups in case they are interested in hearing her story. I am still a little bit unsure what our role at the UHC is ultimately going to look like, but I think that as time goes on we will find more things to do and will continue to develop relationships with people around the office which could lead to more opportunities.

The other thing I am excited about is to see how the groups incorporate "One Away" into their projects. I really connect with the slogan and I hope that it gives the UHC some momentum with the younger crowd.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

This morning I came to campus really early before the sun came up. I only live about a half mile from campus but by the time I got to the library I felt like my nose and ears were going to fall off! Days like today remind me how incredibly difficult it must be to be homeless. I literally cannot wrap my mind around what it would be like to face the freezing cold wind all night, knowing that you had nowhere to find shelter. It really brings the issue of homelessness home a little bit and makes me even more inspired to do my best for the UHC so they can get help to those who need it most. I am so glad that this course exists, because I think we all realize that it is more than just another class we need to take to graduate. We all bring unique talents and passions to the table, and I know that what we produce collectively is going to help the UHC and the homeless of the upstate in a big way.

this song pretty much sums up my last semester and my attitude toward serving this semester. For the longest time I have thought about justice and reaching out to those who need it. I always prayed for them and genuinely hoped that things would get better. But my thoughts aren't enough. I have been given so many opportunities and gifts, it's time for me to start acting on my beliefs. I know that God has big plans and I want to GO serve, whatever that looks like.

Today in class we're going to present our ideas for a slogan or campaign for the UHC. I think our group has a great idea with the "One _________ away" campaign. I know that the other groups will have come up with awesome ideas too so I think that at the end of today we will have something really good. I will write more once we figure it all out...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


We just had another organizational-type meeting. I think things are finally starting to take shape. Close call with the volunteer group. We almost got axed but we scraped it out and I think we figured out a way to reconcile our vision for the group with the overall mission of the class. Sarah, Jenny, and I are going to be spending every Friday morning going to the UHC as needed and volunteering our time doing chores around the office or running errands. I am really excited to see what our role at the UHC ends up looking like. I hope that we can really serve their needs so that they can get on track for all of the new resources they will soon be getting. I think that our group can do a lot of the grunt work at the UHC. That way, at the end of the semester they can utilize all the new projects that the other groups create and our campaign will actually be effective.

I think that for the most part we have done pretty well as a class of not being overly critical of each other's ideas. There has been constructive criticism but nobody seems to have gotten too emotionally involved, which is a good thing. Like I said, how this whole thing plays out is still yet to be seen but I believe we are going to produce work that we can be proud of and that will ultimately benefit the UHC and their clients.

Sunday, January 31, 2010


On Thursday we were asked to reflect on our purpose as a class. I think we all agree that the Upstate Homeless Coalition is an organization whose mission is worthwhile, and we want to offer any help we can this semester. This is probably going to take the form of helping them with social networking, newletters, documentary movies, and other creative ideas that will increase their visibility and ultimately enhance their ability to reach out to the homeless in the upstate.

All of those things are awesome, and I am sure that the UHC will greatly appreciate our talents. But when you get right down to it, most of those things are a one-shot deal that will help in the short-term but need to be replaced or revised in the future. So we need to look at what our purpose is for the semester not in terms of what we are necessarily going to "do" but more like what is the greater purpose being served through us.

I believe that we are serving a higher purpose than just putting band-aids on the problem of homelessness. More than anything we can physically do, I think that our attitudes and treatment of the homeless can start to make a real difference in the broader culture. I know that this is a class and I don't mean to get too preachy on this blog but I am reminded of the story from Mark 1:40-45 when Jesus touched the leper. In that culture, lepers were total outcasts from the time the disease showed itself until death. While the leper had to deal with sores and pains, his biggest hurt probably came from the lack of community with anyone around him. Jesus could have healed the leper with the snap of his fingers, but he didn't. He reached out his hand and touched the man... something that might have never happened to the man before in his life. Sure, his illness was cured, but later that week he probably stubbed his toe or got robbed or lost a loved one. The point I'm trying to make is that it wasn't the immediate cure that meant so much to the leper, but it was the fact that Jesus was willing to reach out and touch him when nobody else would.

In the same way, I think that we can have a much more lasting impact if we change the way we think about the homeless and show the Upstate Homeless Coalition that we are a generation that refuses to just throw money and other resources at the problem. Hopefully we will have the opportunity and the privelege of being a part of real change this semester as we offer the UHC our services.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Chapter 8, which we discussed in class today, stirred up some memories from experiences I have had with the homeless in Greenville. One time over break I was working the door at the Project Host soup kitchen and a guy sat down to play some piano after he finished his meal. He was playing well and everybody enjoyed it but another guy thought it was too loud and told the piano man to stop playing. The piano man did not and it quickly escalated into a loud shouting match with everyone in the dining hall staring at the two. At this point it was not about the piano anymore (I honestly don't think either of them was genuinely mad at the other) but it was pretty much a pissing contest to see which one would come out looking stronger. To back down would mean admitting defeat and when they left the soup kitchen that day it would be back to the streets, where weakness can put you in serious danger. The two men ended up being separated and it never actually got physical, but it was interesting and sad to see how the culture of homelessness causes individuals to feel like they must harden themselves in order to survive in a dog eat dog world.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Talked to my mom this weekend and she is going to write her article for the Greenville News about the Bridesmaid's Ball and put pictures from the event in TALK magazine. I talked to Linda via email and she seemed excited to have the publicity.

In class today we discussed the interesting distinction between being "homeless" and "houseless". It is funny to think that two words which mean something so similar on the surface can be so different in the eyes of those who use them. If I were to be without a home, I think I would prefer to be houseless rather than homeless. The word homeless has so much baggage attached that to be homeless implies being lazy, alcoholic, violent, and a dozen other stereotypes. I also thought it was interesting to consider the attitude of some "homeless" as just "killin time". When I look at most of our lives in the class, I feel like we are all motivated by goals that we hope to achieve in the future. We do well in school to go to college to get a good job to raise a family to retire to die rich. It seems pretty lame when you put it into a single (possibly run-on) sentence, but at least it gives us something to work towards. The author talked about how when you have no money and no connections those goals can get lost and it leads to a very simple and unmotivated existence.

The more I learn about the condition of being homeless, the more I am beginning to see how so many people fall into the cycle of homelessness and never escape.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This post will be a summary of the two classes from this week. First, thoughts from Tuesdays class. Mike and Linda came and addressed a lot of the issues that we have been wondering about. I was really impressed by Mike's sincerity. Helping out the homeless doesn't exactly lend itself to self glorification, but Mike's humble desire to help those around him struck a chord with me. He challenged us as a class and as a generation to be the change that his generation had failed to be. It is a challenge that I believe we welcome as a class and I look forward to using our skills for the good of something so real and tangible. I cannot help but realize how blessed I am to be in this class, doing real, hands-on service. For three years I have had to write mindless lit. reviews about things I cared nothing about. The opportunity to apply what I've learned for the good of others is truly a blessing.
Now, on to class today. Whenever we address an issue of homelessness, it seems there might be an easy solution. Then, after a few moments of ignorant bliss, reality sets in as we start to realize that each issue is actually a complex set of circumstances that can't just magically be "solved". One of my tendencies is to see a problem and try to "fix" it. This makes things a little tricky when homelessness is the problem I so desperately want to fix. I've caught myself in class getting overwhelmed with how big of a problem we are up against. Even if all of us in the class dedicated our whole lives to the cause of homelessness, we would not likely see a solution in our lifetimes. The thing that gives me hope is my belief that God is in the mix. We don't see a solution to the problem, but He does. I believe with all my heart that God is bigger than the problem of homelessness. Habakkuk 1:5 says " 5 "Look at the nations and watch—and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told." As long as I cling to that, there will always be hope. As such, I think that our responsibility as a class is to do all we can to fight for justice and trust that he will provide in ways we can't yet imagine.