“Doc stood shoulder to shoulder with everyone he met…his message of social justice echoed as a voice coming back to haunt the privileged and left up to the homeless. Peace brother, in the struggle.” -Paul Fitzgerald – President/CEO, AIDS Care Ocean State
“The first memory I have of Doc is his laugh. He had a way of projecting his joy that very few people have. His laugh gave us energy when we were down; reminding us that no matter what happened we could all still share a funny or cheerful moment. Doc’s enthusiasm and humor was matched only by his dedication and passion. He always asked the tough questions that an advocate should ask. His unrelenting commitment to ending homelessness will always be remembered, and he will surely be missed by many, including myself.”
-Matthew Silva Continue reading ‘Memoriam: David “Doc” St. Germain’
By William K. Harter
This June, 13 police officers completed a 3-day training program designed to teach them how to teach and train their fellow colleagues in dealing with people with mental issues. The goal is to have them return to their departments and set up training programs to defuse and help the person, rather than to use force and arrest.
Officers are taught how to recognize that the person is mentally ill and to use non-threatening mannerisms, rather than arrest and control techniques. Try to present a calm situation, not a chaotic one. Avoid sirens, lights and threats. Speak softly; reassuring them they will not be hurt. Continue reading ‘Police Being Trained to Handle Mentally Ill Confrontations’
By Andrew Spooner
A star in the night sky burns
They say one person can make a difference
With God’s help you can…
A flower opens in the morning
They say people are like flowers
With God’s help you can…
A whale makes a big splash
They say good character rises to the top
With God’s help you can…
An eagle can see great distances
They say we should write our goals
With God’s help you can…
A wolf is persistent
They say persistence provides
With God’s help you can…
A man is in the likeness of God
They say mankind is the most noble
With God’s help you are.
By JoAnn Dyes
Diana Freeman, a petite blonde woman with compassion bigger than she is, came into the shelter system in November of 2009.
Attending a speak out began her involvement with RIHAP Speakers Bureau-Voices of the Homeless, while she was vice chair and Secretary.
She is active with the winter shelter service at Mathewson Church 2009-2010 season. Continue reading ‘Homeless Not Helpless’
A Serialized Novel
By Francisco Colber
“Ciia, keep your eyes on me”, he urged. Unlike my previous journeys above the sky in ships, I was floating freely. My Zzolan form enshrouded within his. He said nothing for above all things, and from now on, I needed to observe and listen. Soon my home world was overtaken by the brightness of its sun: other planets joining its glowing aura — we were gaining speed. “We are traveling to Kye-terra”, he said. I knew of that world. We had never visited it as it was beyond the range of our starships. The clouds below us gave way to a beautiful scene of rocky steppes, and to the south and east, an endless sea of sandy plains and dunes. This world had no seas, only strangely beautiful ochre colored deserts and flat basins that seem to have no end. Unlike other desert worlds I knew about this planet had no life forms: no cacti, nor any kind of insect. When we landed we saw that the ground was dry, wind-scoured valleys were littered with billions of round stones of every size — perennial winds had sculpted them in-situ. Hidden in a quaint serpentine valley my father had once built a small dwelling for a special daughter’s Quest. He gave me a small leather pouch, and asked me to keep it in my pocket.
“Keep this with you at all times. I will be with you, in the shelter, but you will not be able to see or hear me.”
“What will happen to me?”
“This world will show you its harshness, at first as a whimper, later, as rage.”
“Is this world alive so it can hate me?” Continue reading ‘Into the Chrysalis’
By Jenifer Bleecker
The time for change isn’t tomorrow,
Not the next month or the next year,
But the today is the time we follow,
And to set aside our fear.
The world is changing very fast,
And the time is not stopping,
But the beauty of the world should last,
So we have to do everything.
Poverty and hunger is a major problem
And education to us is a must,
But we must promote gender, equality
And empower women so we wouldn’t turn to dust.
The increasing of child mortality
Is beginning to start an alarm,
And the risk of our mother’s pregnancy
Is more crucial than just getting harmed.
HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
Are killing most of our people, if not all;
But we must prevent the causes
That set us down to fall.
We shouldn’t care just for ourselves,
But to care for the environment
And all the problems will be solved.
If we should join, join to develop
A Global Partnership for the Development
For, THE TIME FOR CHANGE.
By William K. Harter
Roger Bryant was up in years. He had been a heavy smoker. He also had cancer. Due to the cancer, he had a lung removed and had to give up smoking. Later, he had half of his other lung removed. Cancer returned again. There was nothing they could do for him this time.
Roger was also in prison in R.I. at the ACI. It costs $38,000 a year to keep a person in prison.
Some inmates, like Roger, require hospitalization. Being a prisoner, that requires a Correctional Officer (CO) to be at his bedside every hour of the day to prevent his escaping while he is chained to the bed in a hospital. Of course, that is overtime pay, 24 hours a day.
But RI has a loophole. It is called Medical Parole. Continue reading ‘Die — Or Go To Prison’
By Francisco Luis Gonzalez
Is “homelessness” the right term to use for being without a place to live? Perhaps it should be “shelterlessness”, or “bedlessness” or “rooflessness”. Having no home implies a loss greater than a mere place to live. But let’s not tinker with the word, because, after all, it is the right word —it just needs to be understood: sometimes words, out of common usage, lose the poignancy of meaning. What is a home then? Is it the place where one feels safe, reflects on the memories of the past, and grieves its loss when it is lost? But for many, such a home never existed; it cannot be lost because it was never found. One can have a place to live and yet be internally homeless. Many search all their lives for the “dream”—while others grieve its loss when it was theirs for a short season: a happy childhood marred by tragedy or altered by a multitude of other factors which destroyed its hope.
A home then can be a tent, a cardboard box, or the inside of a culvert. What is needed is to feel safe, to have the liberty to dream, and to be surrounded by friends (sometimes friends are closer than family). Ending homelessness may be commonly associated with acquiring houses or apartments, but it really has to do with healing the emotional wounds that somehow, in the downward spiral of society, poverty and materialism afflict us. Take a lesson from the birds. They build comfortable nests, but if there is too much human interference they will abandon them! A home is much more than a place to ruffle feathers—home is where our dreams are.
In the middle of July, there were hearings in Providence, Warwick, Barrington, Newport and Narragansett as residents expressed their concerns of RIPTA increasing fares, service cuts and how it will affect their lives.
The hearing sought information on RIPTA’s plan to close the $3.7 million deficit for FY 2011, higher fare that started on September 1st, from $1.75 to $2.
FY 2011 is the beginning of the downward spiral. RIPTA is preparing a five-year projection of slowly decreasing services. Continue reading ‘Fare Increase and Service Cuts for RIPTA’
By Jim Goulet
Lift up your heart
To the grateful sky
Love the earth, do your part
Let your imagination fly…
Ponder on ways to save all life
Which radiate from the coral seas
To the rain-forest light
From the greed of termite-people, please
Do your part
People who care not of dying animals on their knees
Meanwhile in the rainforest, the bulldozer knocks down trees
To all caring people I ask you please,
To do your part.
In June, the expungement bill passed into law, without Governor Carcieri’s signature. But, what is this new law all about and who can get an expungement?
The new law allows and helps a person who pleads no contest or guilty to a crime to be able to tell future employers or landlords that they have never been convicted.
Expunged records are taken from public view, giving people the change to start over and get on their feet once again, without having to worry about their record getting in the way. Continue reading ‘Expungement Law: Who Benefits?’
By David Eisenberger and Stan Kapelewski
September’s Rainbow Award proudly goes to the Recovery All Star’s Band. They voluntarily play in many places in Rhode Island, including coffee houses, and perform at the Public Square Day at Burnside Park every 2nd Tuesday of the month from 11:30am – 1:30pm.
Over the years 100 members have performed for this band. Also they’re the cover band for a sit-com that’s on Channel 10, after Saturday Night live, called “Rhode Bytes,” and spearheaded by Doreen Collins, who used to team with Charlie Hall, years ago and she’s also associated with Channel 10. Continue reading ‘Music From the Heart’
By Louisa Smith
On Thursday, July 28, seven representatives from Street Sights left T. F. Green Airport for Chicago, where the North American Street Newspaper Association (NASNA) conference was held this year.
NASNA, whose members include 31 street papers from the United States and Canada, was formed in Chicago 14 years ago, so this conference was a coming home of sorts for the Association. Its membership continues to grow, and this year representatives from several newspapers in their first year joined the veteran papers in Chicago.
StreetWise, Chicago’s street paper, is one of those veteran papers at 18 years old. The newspaper was the generous host of this year’s conference, and all who attended were lucky enough to get a tour of the StreetWise office, which is larger and more elaborate than we at Street Sights could have dreamed. Continue reading ‘Street Sights Goes to Chicago and Wins Award’
By JoAnn Dyes
Mother Earth is crying
Her blood is spilling into the ocean
Beloved sea creatures are dying
Her pristine beaches awash in tar
Marshes destroyed for years to come
This affects You, wherever you are…
Earth’s Blood is gushing because of greed
She cannot recover, it just gets worse
As Her creatures try to nest and feed
On July 20, Paige Hicks, 21, advocate for affordable housing and rising senior at Brown University, was struck and killed by a wide-load tractor-trailer while on her bike in South Dakota. Paige had biked more than halfway across the country as a leader for Bike & Build, an organization whose mission is to raise money for affordable housing and to bring attention across the country to the cause. Last summer, Paige biked from Providence to San Francisco with the organization, stopping along the route to help build houses and teach communities about the benefits of affordable housing. Continue reading ‘Memoriam: Paige Hicks’
By Melissa Howard
On June 22, President Obama released his plan to end homelessness. As we know, with economy as it is there has been a rise in homelessness. There are more men, women and children that are expecting homelessness or are homeless since the depression.
In the last five years, public and private sectors have made remarkable difference in reducing homelessness by merging permanent housing and wrap around support services. The vision is that “no one should experience homelessness no one should be without a safe stable place to call home.” Continue reading ‘Obama’s Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness’
By Irwin Becker
Forty-three homeless persons were killed last year and many more injured in brutal attacks which has led to a movement for the FBI to list these as hate crimes, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The numbers of killings in 2008 were 27.
Those who worked on this homeless study attribute the rise in fatal attacks to several factors: the tough economy, popular videos of “bum fights,” online games that trivialize attacks, increased gang initiations involving homeless assaults and municipal crackdowns on homeless tent cities that have bred hostility, according to the report in The New York Times on August 19th.
Rhode Island and Florida were cited as joining with Maine and Maryland as the only states that now list protection of the homeless as hate crime victims. The report of the rise in homeless attacks comes as violent crime nationwide, as compiled by the FBI, declined 5.5 percent last year from the previous year.
“We’re seeing a level of hatred building to the point that it’s deadly now, said Neil Donovan, director of the homeless coalition that compiled the data.
Open Doors Housing and Crossroads recently announced major progress on their separate supportive housing developments in Providence and North Kingstown that focus on ex-inmates and the homeless.
Open Doors, with completed financing arrangements, purchased the former historic Sealtest ice cream plant at 485 Plainfield Street in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood. It will contain 19 units subsidized as Section 8 and will also eventually hold the office of the non-profit agency. Funding will come from an assortment of sources, according to Sol Rodriguez, executive director. Those sources include R.I. Housing, R.I. LISC, the state NOP housing program, tax credit subsidies, Providence Housing Authority vouchers, Environmental Protection Agency grants to remediate the industrial site, and the city’s commitment of 2011 federal Home funds.
The lengthy process to obtain the building started five years ago, Rodriguez said, and is the first housing program for the 8-year-old nonprofit, which specializes in programs for people coming out of the ACI. Some of those efforts include a drop-in center, policy and legal reforms, literacy, computer and resource training and working on legislative issues. Continue reading ‘Housing Projects Advance at Open Doors, Crossroads’
By Irwin Becker
The number of homeless in shelters and transitional housing in Rhode Island increased in one year by a record thirty percent in July.
No wonder shelter leaders and housing advocates used such phrases as “unbelievable,” “scary” and “a record” at the early August meeting of the state Emergency Shelter Task Force. And they were only reacting to the June information.
The data showed that in July 2009, there were 1,052 homeless while in July, 2010 the number climbed to a record 1,402, according to information gathered by sociology Prof. Eric Hirsch of Providence College. And the increase was across the board for all groups–adults in families, children and single adults.
In fact, going back to January, 2008, when the recession started to have an impact, the current totals are all record highs in each category. Prof. Hirsch gave the current data to Street Sights shortly after the task force session. Continue reading ‘Record RI Homeless Up 30% Since Last July’
Rodney P. Haskell passed away July 3rd at The Aroostick Medical Center in Presque Isle, Maine after a long battle with Liver Disease. He was the son of the late James R. Haskell and Pauline Haskell of Coventry, RI. He was the beloved husband of Zsuzsanna Haskell of Woodland Me. and father of their two children Daruis and Lillian Haskell. He is also leaves another son Rodney Peter Grady of Lincoln Rhode Island. He is the brother of Cathy Aiello, James R. Haskell, Paul Haskell and David Haskell all of RI. He has several nieces and nephews. He was a lifelong Rhode Island resident until the September 11th tragedy when he decided to take his family away from the city. He bought land in Woodland, Maine and he built two homes for his family. He attended school in Pawtucket, R.I. and he also attended Pine Tree Academy in Maine as a child. He studied theology at Atlantic Union College in South Lancaster, Massachusetts where he met his wife and got married. He was involved in several missionary projects that took him to places such as Venezuela and other places where he was part of a team that built churches, schools, and hospitals. He worked as a locksmith for most of his life. He also worked as an animal control officer for the State of Maine. He enjoyed hunting, fishing, and making people laugh. He was a child of God, as well as a great husband, father, brother, and friend. He was loved by many and will be greatly missed. His funeral service took place on July 10th at a Seventh Day Adventist Church in Presque Isle and he was buried in Woodland Maine on a beautiful hill. There will be a memorial service held for Rodney Haskell at the Lincoln Seventh Day Adventist Church located at 1000 Smithfield Avenue, Lincoln, R.I. that will be announced in the obituaries of the Providence Journal soon.
“Rodney Haskell was a diamond…he was the best brother that anyone could ask for and I will miss him FOREVER and TERRIBLY. He was so special and had so many wonderful qualities that I missed out….” -Cathy Aiello