I don’t think my wife, Rocky, is going to like me telling this story. But she believes she killed Marty.
Marty is the cat in the picture of this article.
She believes she didn’t take him to the vet soon enough (but she did). Then she believed she didn’t go back to the vet, even though they thought Marty was going to be fine.
This is actually a sensitive topic in our family.
The fact of the matter is: we moved from one house to another house. We got a GIANT Christmas tree that we put in a tiny apartment. It was too much for Marty. Marty didn’t adapt well to the change and Marty passed away.
It wasn’t personal. Rocky didn’t kill Marty. Marty died because of circumstances.
I am hearing messages from a variety of people that are upset with me.
Newspaper people, homeless service providers and most likely city workers. I’ve actually had someone call me and say she was “butt hurt.”
I have one message to all of you: This is not about you. This is about the system. It is about the circumstances and the machine in which we currently function.
I’m not angry at the mayor, the CoC, City Council, The Akron Beacon Journal. And most certainly I’m not mad at homeless service providers.
I’m not angry at anyone. This is the picture I keep in front of my computer monitors:
And this is the bracelet I wear everyday:
If you read everything I say I am talking about systems and the machines of society.
I not talking about individual people. But some of you are reading into this as an attack on you personally.
You are surprised and shocked that anyone is questioning the system. It is not a common occurrence for you. So I think you just assume I’m attacking you the person.
The system is always the problem in history.
It’s not typically individual people that are the problem.
The only individual enemy that comes to mind from history is Bull Connor. He hated the civil rights movement and took extreme actions to stop it. Hitler is another guy.
But in these kinds of things it is rarely about moving against a person. It is pushing against a system. Even Bull Connor and Hitler just made systems that needed corrected.
I suppose if you identify with the system you can make a connection in your mind that I, therefore, am against you.
The only name I ever bring up with any regularity is Terri Heckman. I only quote her simply because she puts herself out there as the voice of the Continuum of Care. But I love Terri probably most of all.
Terri Heckman is a strong person who has a heart of gold.
I have nothing but the greatest respect for her.
While I have a special place in my heart for Terri, I have a tremendous amount of respect for all the homeless workers in Akron.
Do you know why this tent city thing is good to have in Akron? Because the homeless services are already SO good.
Cleveland sends their homeless to Akron. Medina sends its homeless to Akron. All the counties around us know that we are great homeless service providers.
But that’s why we need to keep pushing.
We can’t stop and rest on our laurels. We need to do better.
The bar we have to meet isn’t with others. The bar has to be with ourselves.
The way we can move the bar up is by expanding the legal playing field in which we work.
Politicians are simply working in a lane that is the law. They aren’t evil people. If the law changes and expands the lane then we can all work in that bigger lane.
You should know, if you haven’t figured it out yet, that I am transparent and I don’t lay down.
If you come at me I’m going to push back. It’s just what I do. I am a person who refuses to sit down and shut up.
And now I feel like I’m on a spiritual mission. I feel like this no longer has anything to do with me. I am just a tool that God is using to help the homeless. Like I’m a nonviolent Joan of Arc for the homeless.
For what it’s worth, here is what I tend to hear from supporters and the public:
- The homeless need more help.
- Private people should be able to help them.
- People living on the street in a country like America is absurd and a tragedy that needs fixed.
That is the entire premise of everything we are doing.
It’s not that there is some evil empire conspiring to hurt homeless people. That’s never been part of the narrative.
And I also know that people want happy stories. They want to hear good news. They are tired of negative stories.
So, when people say things like we increased homelessness by 71% and we aren’t being grateful for all the kindness the city has bestowed on us: It doesn’t play well to the public.
If I was your PR person I would say something like:
We, the homeless service providers of Akron, house hundreds of people every year. In fact, so far this year we have housed XXX number of people. We provide food, showers, shelter, laundry, mental health and physical health services… just to name a few.
We are revered by all the surrounding counties.
But, as is the case in anything, we know we can do better. We know people are living in the woods. We know we must continue to reach these people and engage them in creative ways to bring them back into society. Many of these people have valuable skills and life experiences that would make them great community members if we could reach them.
We are thankful that people like the people at The Homeless Charity, and Sage, want to be part of this system. We are working very closely with them. In fact, we come to The Homeless Charity day center multiple times a week to work with homeless individuals there.
Tents are not the level of service we want to provide. But if these folks have found something in their village that appeals to them we want to understand that and figure out how we can incorporate that in our overall services.
Funds are limited so if private individuals want to participate in the homeless process we want to take them up on their offer and work with them to keep helping the homeless population.
We are thankful for what Sage and The Homeless Charity is doing. And we are excited to work more with them and others to solve homelessness in Akron.
Look for the common ground. You don’t need to be scared of me. I am not a threat. I am merely fixing a hole that happens to exist in the system.
Would I prefer if people weren’t in tents: HELL YES!!
But you don’t have the money to build something better and neither do we. So we are doing the thing we can do for a system that needs to continue to be worked on.
It’s the system I’m pushing against. It is not you.
I want you to understand that. I love you. I respect you. And I am incredibly thankful for the services that you do.