Out Of The Shadows Benefit Concert For Akron's Homeless

We have our very first Benefit Concert coming up!

Out Of The Shadows Benefit Concert For Akron’s Homeless

June 14, 2017
8:00pm – 11:00pm
15 Broad St.
Akron, Ohio 44305
This is turning into a really amazing event you aren’t going to want to miss.
Plus! All money goes to The Homeless Charity. So you are directly helping the homeless in your town.

Go here to check out the bands that are playing and get tickets:


People Don't Want To Be Warehoused

I’m not sure if America lacks vision in this or we are simply stuck in our ways.
But we seem to have one answer for the throwaway people in America: Warehouse them!
I’m pretty sure this says it all:

  • US: 2,193,798 prisoners
  • CHINA: 1,548,498 prisoners
  • RUSSIA: 874,161 prisoners

The United States has 5% of the world’s population but contains 25% of all the world’s prisoners. 
It’s like the old adage: “If you’re a hammer then everything looks like a nail.”
We are a lock ’em up society.
While prisoners are the most glaring example of warehousing people in America, we can see it very clearly in homelessness as well.
Whether you call it “housing first” or you call it a shelter, we are extremely focused on getting the homeless off the streets.
In no stretch of the imagination am I trying to look down on people that are doing work in any way with the homeless. I’m glad and thankful for any help people are willing to do.
I simply would like to raise the idea that a “roof over your head” is great for a quick fix. But it doesn’t deal with a larger, more long-term need that most people crave.

Deaths Of Despair

NPR has a great article highlighting some new research that shows white males aged 45 to 54 are dying at a higher rate in 2014 than they did in 2000.
They are calling these “deaths of despair.”
The researchers found a sharp increase in deaths by drugs, alcohol and suicide.
This is shocking because there’s been a huge increase in life expectancy and reduction in mortality over 100 years or more. But it is suddenly reversing for these people.
You can see the trend quite clearly in comparison to German, France, Sweden, Canada, U.K. and Australia. These stats are for men and women ages 50-54.

The general belief is that these people have lost a sense of status and belonging.
They are killing themselves because they feel like they don’t have a meaningful place in society.
We have a man, John, in our facility that left his subsidized apartment and is staying with us. The reason: he would just sit at home and drink all day.

At The Homeless Charity he uses his previous certified electrician roots to help make the place better. He:

  • rewires old machinery.
  • ran new wiring to our clothes dryer that need a 220 outlet.
  • makes sure the old wiring in our 100 year old building is safe.

Here’s Brandon. He’s homeless. But he built this fence to give privacy to our people that choose to live in tents. He does a ton of stuff around here including fixing our leaking roof.

And our director, Paul. He’s homeless. Just a few of the things he does are:

  • He runs the Monday and Friday meetings for all members. My favorite part of the meeting is where we all go around and say what we did today. It’s always an impressive list.
  • He finds and repairs computers for our growing computer lab.
  • He is currently sifting dirt (with a super cool dirt sifting machine they built) to get glass and junk out of the way for the new organic raised bed gardens that are being built (all by the homeless).

Oh… and here is our clothing room. Completely run by “Little Paul”. They give clothing away to anyone that needs it.

Here’s a picture of “Little Paul.” (Also homeless in case you were wondering.)

Little Paul also is in charge of the day center.
And that’s just scratching the surface. There are many, many more people doing amazing things. I will share their stories in future posts.
But the point of me telling you this story is:
Paul will often tell me that during his 7 years of being on the street homeless he would often feel like no one cared.
We are now seeing very clear scientific proof that this lack of belonging is killing people.

Loneliness as bad as obesity and heavy smoking.

“They found the link between loneliness and a premature death was as great as that of obesity while the effect on health was the equivalent of being an alcoholic or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.”
It is becoming very clear that putting a roof over someone’s head is not the end of the problem. In fact, in some cases it might be adding to depression, isolation and loneliness.
Adding to this is the fact that we are already dealing with a population with a high level of mental illness.
From here: Homeless Mentally Ill Facts and Figures – Mental Illness Policy Org

  • 25 percent of the American homeless were seriously mentally ill
  • 45 percent of the homeless had any mental illness.

In comparison, only 6% of Americans are severely mentally ill. (I can’t believe they say “only”. But that’s a different article.)
Both of these resources point out that mental illness is the third largest cause of homelessness.
So here we have people that are mentally suffering to begin with. And then we stick them alone in a house or put them in a shelter that just gives them a place to sleep. (Again. Please understand that I’m not ridiculing any of this. I’m just suggesting that we think about what more could be done to help address this despair.)

Less Money Works Better

We are finding that having less money has been a real benefit for us.
It is AMAZING that Haven of Rest brought in $8.6 million for the 2015-2016 year.
But our goal is to get $48,000 a year to make our place completely self-sustaining.
As it stands I’m self-funding the facility through other businesses I run. We haven’t gotten any grants or other funding for our facility yet.
But because we are run by the homeless for the homeless we have very low overhead.
$48,000 for our 16,000 square foot facility will:

  • Pay the rent
  • Pay the gas bill
  • Pay the electric bill
  • Pay the internet bill

And it still has some money to buy materials for repairs and upkeep.
We are then bringing in money through our Second Chance Store.
We sell a wide variety of items in that store and we’re going to be expanding more online.
We also made over $130 at an auction run by my auction firm: Rubber City Auctions yesterday. We auctioned donated items to the charity.
We are also organizing a silent auction and concert in June.
We are finding that by having the homeless that come here be part of the community it is giving their lives purpose and meaning.
Yes. We do have some people that mostly keep to themselves. They are staying in the tents outside. As long as they follow our Code of Conduct then we basically follow the “live and let live” system.
What’s interesting about those folks is that we’re starting to see them come in to the group more and more.  Some are quitting drinking. Some are getting involved in the various projects that are going on. We’re seeing them slowly come out of their shell and be part of the group.
We don’t pressure them. But when they’re ready for us we’re ready for them.
America is the most innovative, creative country in the world. We must use that creativity and innovation in the homeless population of the country. This is even more true as our government is currently run by a party that wants to cut as many “welfare” programs as they possibly can. We live in a go it alone country. That’s fine. But if we are going to do anything about homelessness in America that just means we have to be even more creative and even more innovative.
tl;dr – It is scientifically proven that people are dying in America because they are isolated and don’t feel like they belong. Nowhere is this more true than the American homeless community. Offer them the opportunity to be part of a community that is working together to make a difference. It is very feasible that given the opportunity the homeless can help the homeless for very little money.

American Mobile Ads and Bill Wise – Our First Porta Potty Sponsor

This, believe it or not, has been a dream of mine for a long time.
There is not a more basic need. There is not a more basic form of human dignity than having a place to go to the bathroom.
Our outdoors has had several buckets that men and women have been using. No privacy. No toilet paper. Just buckets in a yard.
Today that problem has been solved thanks to Bill Wise and American Mobile Ads.
They are our first official sponsor for The Homeless Charity Porta Potty.
Bill Wise is an all around really great guy. He’s a great believer and supporter of American democracy.

I first met Bill when I tried to run for mayor of Akron. He is an amazing wealth of information in the political process. I’ve always been very thankful for the help he gave me.
And his company, American Mobile Ads, is known nationwide for their mobile advertising capabilities. If you need a mobile ad then you need to call American Mobile Ads.
You can learn more about their services by going here: American Mobile Ads.
Or give them a call or email at:

Supporting people and companies who are doing great work in the world is how we can all help make the world a better place.
Thank you SO SO much Bill and American Mobile Ads. Giving the homeless a place to go to the bathroom in dignity is an amazingly powerful gift.
Thank you again!
I’m very excited to say that we already have our May sponsor of the porta potty lined up. But if you would like to sponsor the porta potty in coming months please learn more by going here: Get Naming Rights To Our Port-a-Potty – The Homeless Charity.
You will get a lot of good press while helping people in a really powerful way. (as a marketer I will make sure the world knows about the good work you are doing)
Thank you again again!

The Case For NOT Advocating Housing First

I’ve always believed in the housing first principle. If you aren’t familiar, it’s the idea that you get the homeless a home first and then work on addiction, mental health and so forth.
This makes a lot of sense. Just ask Maslow:

Physiological, the foundation level, includes:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Shelter

It makes a lot of sense. How can you possibly focus on anything else if you don’t have those needs met first?
I’m suggesting that IN SOME CASES putting a person in an apartment or house might not be in the best interest of that person.
I think there are cases where a house or apartment above everything else makes really good sense.

  • Families with kids
  • Some woman
  • Some physically disabled people
  • Some mentally disabled people

When I use the word “some” I don’t know what percentage I’m talking about there. A better word might be “most”. I’m not sure.
While housing certainly solves certain problems, it also creates other problems.
The three problems I’ve observed are:

  • Isolation
  • Money worries
  • Paperwork

I’ll break each of those down:


This is the largest issue, in my opinion.
When you are in a shelter, in a camp or just generally on the street, you have friends. You have people that you resonate with and work together.
This certainly can be bad. Heroin addicts tend to hang out with other heroin addicts. Meth addicts tend to hang out with other meth addicts. And so on.
But I’ve also seen it work in a positive way.
Sober people tend to hang out with other sober people. Or people that want to be sober hang out with sober people.
Christians tend to hang out with other Christians.
People clump up with their fellow in-group community.
We have 3 communities here at The Homeless Charity of Akron.

  • Group 1: People that want to give back and be part of a community
  • Group 2: People that want to give back but also have alcohol issues that get in the way.
  • Group 3: People that are still fighting alcohol issues almost entirely.

We don’t have the support for active drug addicts and people with significant mental health issues.
They come to us. But they don’t stay long simply because we don’t have a fit for them at this time.
All the people at our facility are homeless. They are either chronically homeless or are on a list waiting for a home.

The Impact Of Social Isolation | Social Wellness
Social, psychological and medical research has now demonstrated conclusively that there is a direct correlation between the degree to which a person feels connected to others and their physical and mental health.

The biggest risk of putting a single person in a home is this isolation. From the same article above, here are the consequences of being isolated:

  • Generally decreased feeling of vitality, less energy and feeling tired more often.
  • Greater likelihood of chronic illness such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, etc.
  • More frequent bouts of sickness, such as colds or flu, and longer recovery times.
  • Longer recovery times from injury.
  • Regular feelings of loneliness.
  • Increased likelihood of depression.
  • Decreased level of happiness and satisfaction with life in general.

We are finding that the people, particularly in Group 1 and partially in Group 2, at The Homeless Charity are working towards a common goal. They are:

  • Building raised bed gardens
  • Building a wood workshop
  • Cleaning areas inside and outside the facility
  • Removing trash
  • Running the Second Chance Store
  • Running the clothes closet for other homeless
  • Helping newly housed homeless with items for their new house

The positive effects of community simply can’t be overstated.
There is a common feeling, right or wrong, among the homeless that no one cares and people are just trying to hide them away or push them away.
Housing has the effect of getting people off the street and out of the eyes of the rest of the community.
In some cases, I’ve seen this cause more psychological damage for the homeless person than simply letting them stay on the street.
Isolation increases which increases depression which increases alcoholism or drug use.
Some people are simply not ready to be in a home. They have no place else to go during the day. They have no job and they have no community.
The homed people often lose their community.

Money Worries

Most people I work with are given the minimum rent available: $50/month.
This is because they have no income whatsoever.
This is less than a single day’s work at pretty much any job.
On the surface this seems like a very doable amount. But so often it’s completely beyond the ability of some of these people.

  • They are still heavily using drugs
  • They are still heavily drinking alcohol
  • They still have significant mental health issues
  • They are still physically disabled
  • They are still felons and no one wants to hire them.

The list goes on and on.
$50 might as well be $500 or $5000.
On top of that many homeless find the stress of society extremely intense. The pressure of that $50 bill just adds to all the pressure which adds to the depression and the drug and alcohol use.
In some cases, they simply aren’t ready for the responsibility of coming up with $50 a month.
I believe, again, in some cases, the endless drum of a rent payment may outweigh the positives of a home.


We all know the kind of paperwork that goes into living.
As soon as you enter into the constructs of society you enter into the “system”.
Keeping up with that is another pressure that some of these people might not be ready for.

Let me be very clear: There are amazing organizations that are doing amazing work getting people into housing.
Akron is a widely known city for the impressive services offered to the homeless.
In no way am I trying to discount that or suggest that they are doing anything other than great work.
I’m simply raising the idea that some people might not actually be ready for housing.
There seems to be a need for community and how a person fits into that. This community need may actually be more foundational than is given credit.
The deeper I get into the homeless world the more I lose sight of how others feel about the homeless. I’m trying not to lose that connection. I believe it’s important to continue to understand how the rest of the community thinks and feels about the homeless.
A sentiment I’ve heard on several occasions is that people are surprised the homeless have any space in their lives to be a contributing member of society. Some people believe the homeless are struggling so much with day to day survival that they couldn’t possibly have desires and the ability to contribute to society.
Sure. That can sometimes be true. But in my observation that is a minority of the people I am working with.
I’ve never met people that are more giving than some of the homeless I work with. Their primary focus is helping other homeless.

  • Helping with their addictions
  • Helping with their psychological hurdles
  • Helping with their food needs
  • Helping with their shelter needs
  • Helping them get into their new homes

In some ways some homeless are so free and so unburdened by traditional society that they have more space and time and resources to give to the homless community than any of us do.
Additionally, every single homeless person I have met has a strong desire for community.
Akron has an amazingly strong food support system. It still has a few holes. But for the most part you can find a place to eat every day of the week.
That food drive is strong and primary. But after that I find people go in different directions.
Almost without a single variance, the homeless look for communities.
The community they choose then directs them on a path towards their next pursuit.
In the case of The Homeless Charity we are building communities where people can contribute and give back in ways they are ready for at this point in time.
Once their community gets built then they are ready for the next stage of their journey.


A Note To Those Who Visit This Page:


And by posting your story here others will hear you too.
If you are homeless or near homeless, please know that we are all thinking of you here at The Homeless Charity.
We are a very small, (currently self-funded) organization. But if there is something we can do to help please let us know.
You can post your story in the comments below or you can email me at: sage@thehomelesscharity.org. We’ll try to help in any way we can.
Please know this: you aren’t alone. There are many people who care very deeply about you.  We’re trying to help. Stay strong in knowing that we are thinking about you and wishing you all the best.
This page is seen nationwide by many people. Please put your city and state in the comments so people can know where you are from and how people can help you.

If you are a service provider for the homeless PLEASE comment here so people can know where to go for help.

Please take care,
We’d love for you to stay connected with us. Please consider signing up for our newsletter:

Fill out my online form.

On to the actual post…
I’ll keep this short and sweet here on the blog.
Our city has a desperate need to help homeless come up with a deposit and first month rent. They have the home. They just need this money to get into the home. No money. No home.


Get Naming Rights To Our Port-a-Potty

I can’t tell you how thrilling and fast everything is moving here at The Homeless Charity. Hoban donated an amazing, beautiful refrigerator, another business I haven’t even gotten the name of yet is bringing in piles of wood. The people here have cleared a beautiful space for our raised bed gardens.
It’s blowing my mind!
But we have a bit of another problem… more people is requiring more toilet usage. We have more and more people around the property.
I’ll save you the details of the problem. But the long and short of it is: WE NEED AN OUTSIDE TOILET ASAP.
I called 3 local people. Here are their prices for a long-term monthly toilet:
Miller and Company
2400 Shepler Church Avenue S.W. Canton, OH 44706
$106 every 4 weeks
$20 delivery charge
They clean it out weekly.
Superior-Speedie Portable Toilets
$95 billed every 4 weeks.
$25/delivery fee.
Once a week clean.
Mesa Waste
$179.98 billed every 4 weeks.
No delivery fee.
Cleaned weekly

They all seemed really nice. But Superior won the price battle.
So, I’m looking to see if anyone would like to sponsor our port-a-potty.

This is what you’ll get:

  • Your name proudly displayed on top of the door so everyone who uses it will know what an awesome organization you are.
  • You will get a page and link on our Website describing your company and, again, how awesome you are. It will also link to your site and any other places you’d like to link to.
  • You also will get advertising in Google promoting your company and linking to your page on our site letting people know how awesome you are. We get in-kind advertising from Google.
  • We’ll tweet, Facebook and Youtube your awesomeness.

Basically, it will be you and your awesomeness all the time, everywhere. Everyone one will know how truly awesome you are.
If you are interested in this “awesome” opportunity call me, Sage, at: 330-416-7519 or email me at: sage@thehomelesscharity.org
Again, this is a rather urgent need. Some things wait for no man. You’d be a real hero for us here at The Homeless Charity.
And if you know of anyone who would love this “unique” and “awesome” opportunity to be awesome, PLEASE send this link to them.
Thank all for your support.

Who Homeless People Really Are

One of the great parts of working with the homeless is that I get a glimpse into a section of American society that most people don’t.
We all know there are homeless people. If you live or work in a city you see homeless people. But for most of us that’s pretty much where it ends.
That’s not my life. I hang out with homeless people pretty much every day.
I suspect some of the things you know about the homeless are correct. But there are likely other things that aren’t correct.
You probably could guess that people become homeless from things like:

  • Mental illness
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug use
  • Physical and mental disabilities

But did you know that people also become homeless in America because of:

  • Divorce
  • A home fire
  • Lawful eviction
  • Negative cash flow
  • Foreclosure
  • Natural disasters
  • No earned income like social security
  • Gambling
  • No family
  • Low paying jobs
  • Unemployment

The list of ways people become homeless is long and diverse. That list comes from here: Homelessness in the United States – Wikipedia.
You might be surprised how close to homeless we all are.
“Approximately 63% of Americans have no emergency savings for things such as a $1,000 emergency room visit or a $500 car repair…” from here: Most Americans are one paycheck away from the street – MarketWatch
Fortunately, many of us have friends and family as a backup. You can always move back in with mom and dad.
Rocky recently found letters to my mom from her wealthy sister in California. It turns out my aunt would regularly send my mom money to cover the gas bill, the electric bill, the water bill when I was growing up. And even with that it was not uncommon for our utilities to be turned off. Many of us are living by a thread paycheck to paycheck.
The stories of how these people get to where they are is something you might find interesting.
If there is one nearly universal aspect to the homeless it is a lack of identification. No drivers license. No birth certificate. Nothing.
Those documents are critical to getting any kind of support. There is no Medicaid, no food stamps, no Obama phones (if that’s even a thing any more). You can’t get on a list for housing. Nothing. You become non-existent in society.
These documents are often taken in police raids of camps or stolen at a shelter or simply lost along the way.
If you ever find yourself homeless, try not to lose your identification. It will change your life.
From there the stories diverge.
There is a lot of alcoholism. A lot of homeless people love to drink. In a way they are choosing to drink over everything else. But then again, do any of us really “choose” an addiction that takes over our entire existence?
As a one time heavy drinker, I totally can understand the feeling of giving up everything just so I could focus on drinking more. That’s not a rational way of thinking, even though it seems to make sense when you are down in it.
If they could stop drinking they probably would stop being homeless. But that’s a long road that many people cannot follow. If you’ve never had a drug or alcohol addiction you can’t really appreciate the seductive power of that drug. It’s all consuming.
Then there are a lot of people who just can’t handle the daily grind of life.

  • Be at work at 7am sharp every single day.
  • No sick time.
  • No time off for sick kids.
  • You work for a total asshole.
  • Pay your electric bill
  • Pay your gas bill
  • Pay your rent
  • If you’re late by one day the phone starts ringing and the pressure just keeps piling on.

These are things that stable, mentally healthy people can do (if you are one of them you probably can relate to how oppressive daily life is). But if you are depressed or have a mental illness of another sort, this endless grind becomes too much.
If you are physically disabled that’s a whole other pile of suck.
When one thing slips, another thing slips. And then another. And then another. And your family is either in just as bad shape or doesn’t exist.
Life is hard in the best of situations.
Homelessness is not a difficult place to find yourself.
I work with people that:

  • were once certified electricians
  • plumbers
  • home owners
  • farm owners
  • house builders
  • computer technicians
  • contractors
  • Marines with multiple tours of duty

I think a lot of times people believe the homeless are helpless souls that can’t fend for themselves. I’ve actually never seen anyone even remotely like that.
Every homeless person I’ve ever met or worked with has a history of having jobs, having family, having skills.
When you help a homeless person it’s not like you are helping some useless rag doll. These are people with abilities, desires and dreams. They just, for one reason or another, fell out of the traditional construct of society.
You can judge them all you want about the situations in which they have found themselves. But chances are you are doing that just to make yourself feel better that “it won’t happen to me.”
Don’t kid yourself that there is some magical line in the sand of “us versus them”. That there are the homeless and then there are the rest of us.
That’s not the case at all. The homeless are:

  • Your brother
  • Your uncle
  • Your sister
  • They are you
  • They are us

I believe we need to meet the homeless where they are now and not where we think they should be. I think that’s the fastest path to coming up with a better solution than we have right now.
We have the ingenuity, creativity and capability to develop innovative solutions to the homeless epidemic in the United States. We just have to want to do it. That’s all.

What Our Building Costs To Operate

I sometimes feel like I am from the Great Depression era.
If you ask me what my greatest fear is, without hesitation, it’s money.
I have spent countless sleepless nights worrying about money. (Some of you probably know the feeling.)
Fortunately, I have moments of bravery. And I act in spite of my fear. So far, it seems to have worked out. I try not to let my fears define me. It doesn’t always work. But at least I try.
I was curious what our building costs to run. It’s been a long time since I’ve put all of these numbers in one place. (Probably because I might as well be walking into Nightmare on Elm Street, for the fear it produces in me.) But facing your fears, at least occasionally, is a good idea.
Well, these numbers are pretty insane, at least for my level of comfort.
I’ll just get them all out of the way right now. Here are the building costs for 2016:

  • Repairs and Maintenance: $10,456.82
  • Internet: $2245.71
  • Electric: $8,087.44
  • Gas: $4,998.88
  • Water: $805.74
  • Mortgage:  $22,971.24
  • Property Taxes: $8378.24

That comes to a lump-in-my-throat total of:
Or to look at it another way: $4,828.47 per month.
That’s the amount of money our building needs to run.
Basically, $5,000/month
So, how do we pay that now?
As it stands, SageRock pays for it all. We then sublet spaces to other tenants to help cover some of the costs.
We have 4 tenants that probably pay a total of a little under $2,000/month.
But, as we focus more on the charity the more we’ll have to figure out how to cover these building expenses through that.
For now, that’s where the story stops. I don’t yet have a clear idea as how to get that money. I’m putting ideas together. But nothing is solid in my mind.
If you have experience with operating expenses for a non-profit I’d love to hear them.
My vision is to turn this entire building into a community  center for the homeless.
Instead of just warehousing them, we can help them become contributing members of the community.

  • We’re currently building a woodworking shop
  • We are going to have a bead making workshop
  • We’re building raised bed gardens
  • There was recently even talk of maybe doing some honey bees.

So, we’ve got a lot of ideas coming together. We’ve just got to figure out how to make it all happen financially.
All ideas are welcome.