Posts Tagged God

Work Program

According to the DOL, an employee is in a learning position if she/he receives training similar to that which would be received in a vocational school. The employer cannot receive immediate benefit from the employee’s training and her/his presence cannot displace regular employees. She/he is under the watchful eye of a regular employee or trainer. In addition, the employee and the employer both understand the terms of the arrangement and the employee understands she/he is not entitled to wages for her time in training. Her/his training may lead to a job, but it does not necessarily have to lead to a guaranteed position.

“The Keep” has the homeless do everything, from checking the homeless in, cleaning, cooking, sorting donations, to office work and more for a stipend of $80 or $100 every two weeks. There is no training!  The shelter definitely benefits as they don’t have to hire employees to fill these positions. These work program participants are considered staff and most believe they are employed by “The Keep”, even request employment verification forms to be filled out at times,  only  to learn then that they are and never have been employees.

The work program is an abstract concept on paper to solicit foundation money and to avoid paying wages.

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Take it in the teeth

Here is a public statement from the current executive director of  “The Keep”.

 “The biggest public perception is that these people are lazy and don’t want to work. With mental illness, somebody has to look after them with more compassion, more nurturing and more love.”

The following is a handout from “The Keep’s” executive staff to clients, expressing  “more compassion, more nurturing and more love”.  Since this communication is public domain, I see no need to remove the name of the organization.

To ALL Austin Street Clients:

“A letter full of lies, and unsigned, was sent to the State of Texas Parole Board and our Board of Directors about supposed terrible things being done at our shelter. I know this was not done by one person alone. Whoever wrote it had help. I don’t care who did it now. 

But I have said enough times, you will all take it in the teeth when someone does destructive things. I suggest you talk to the person that did it and tell them thanks for making your lives a little harder. 

No one is told they have to stay with us. Go somewhere else if you don’t like it. 

Start acting like adults and stand up for what you think is right. Men and women of character do this. Otherwise, complaining as no purpose. And people with guts don’t hide. Kids do. 

You are all adults; start acting like it. No one owes you anything. This shelter exists to help and care for you better than any other. Is this how to say thanks? 

No childlike behavior will be tolerated at all to any degree. Acting like adults is one part of moving forward.”

The executive director then “punished” all clients by not permitting admission to the shelter until 5 p.m. and left town. Upon his return the following Monday the “ban” was lifted.

“The Keep”  makes public promises to solicit money and I do believe it owes what it promises since supporters contributions are based upon those promises made.

And if the executive staff of  “The Keep” expects “Thank you”, they have no place working at “The Keep”. Nothing they do is a contribution, they get paid for their time and work, everything else comes from donors who deserve thanks and gratitude. And what does it say about a person’s character expecting “thank you” working in this field anyway? Is that a solid Christian way of thinking?

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Human Rights

In 1948 the United States signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states under Article 25:

“(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

Housing as a human right has been reaffirmed in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which the United States also signed in 1966.

Has anyone taken inventory lately?

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“Merchandising”

Visitors permitted into the shelter only saw and heard what the “Trident” had carefully orchestrated, some homeless people were “asked” to leave for a few hours out of fear they would cause problems, or simply because they did not “look” the part, and others were instructed on what to do and say, even had to change clothe so it would look like in-kind donations were used appropriate. The daughter would grab some women and set them up to give the impression classes were being taught. Afterwards these women would be paid for their participation.

Should a representative of a grant foundation come to visit, homeless would be paired up with employees in order to give the impression of a functional work rehab program, women would be set up again to look like a class, and a computer room was “all of a sudden functional” to teach resume skills. Again, payment was made to encourage the homeless to participate in the perception and to encourage “desirable” behavior.

There always was and still is the implication of dire consequences should one not comply, intentionally or accidentally.

Through the years practicum students from mayor universities would come to the shelter, not so much to make a difference, but to “practice” what they have learned thus far. Not that the homeless would gain anything, but the association with that university looks very good on paper when asking foundations for money. Of course, people were carefully selected and paid by the shelter director to participate in these courses.

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Nepotism at work

“The Keep” is presided over by a board of directors that pretty much is oblivious to the plight of the homeless, so much, that the previous director was able to convince most people in the shelter that she owned the shelter and it was hers to with what she wanted. This claim was supported by the fact that her husband was second in command and her daughter third. So, imagine you had a grievance, who would you approach?

Her husband was addicted to painkillers and psych medication and when he ran out of pills he got from several doctors, he would buy from within the shelter. His wife had him on a very short leash and he never had money, so he pawned his jewelry to those who out of fear would sell him their own prescribed medication. In his ill mind paying for the pills was the right thing to do, never mind if someone refused he would give his wife a reason to bar that person, telling her that person had been to another shelter would be enough reason. She did not like it when people sought resources from other agencies in an effort to improve their circumstances.

I remember once his wife had bought him 1 ct diamond studs and within a month he had “lost” them. Of course she knew, would tell everyone in how much pain he was all the time, how sick he was and how grateful everyone should be that he still would come to work and take care of the homeless. After a while when he ran out of ways to pay for his habit, mysteriously a few people were accused of stealing, their belongings searched, jewelry found and of course they had to leave the shelter. But that did not end the cycle, he just targeted different people.

Her daughter would date homeless men from within the shelter and when the “relationship” did not “work-out” the director would run around the shelter and scream and holler how “that guy took advantage of her daughter, got caught stealing, was the devil, and you all better not betray me like that or I make sure you have to leave town”.

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Homeless people are needed

Homeless people are “homeless”, not coatless or sandwichless!  Sure, they do need temporarily help with clothing and food, but beyond that I have not seen one donor coming back “hey, I got a place for you to stay”. Why is that?

Those in need and those wanting to help have entered into a symbiotic relationship. On one side the needy have their short-term need answered by receiving a free coat and a sandwich and on the other the person providing the coat and sandwich feels good about handing out donations.

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Why nobody speaks out

Homeless  people are well aware that their well-being and safety depend on other people and contrary to common believe, most are  not “looking” for free handouts, but for a little help in getting back on their feet. Being aware that your fate is at the mercy of another person, having observed people being put down and thrown out of a shelter for no reason at all, you learn fast not to bring attention to yourself. After all, the only place you can go after being expelled from a shelter is the street. And you heard stories about life on the street. You also know that once you are put out by one shelter, you are going to be labeled a trouble maker by the next, word travels fast within the homeless community and rumors travel even faster.

Lets say Mrs. A has been banned by shelter 1 because she dared to ask for an umbrella while having to leave the shelter on a rainy morning because the shelter closes its doors at 6 a.m. every day until intake later in the afternoon. Mrs. A was told there are no umbrellas so she asked for a garbage bag. “We have no money to give you all garbage bags for free, this is a homeless shelter. Do you know what is costs to keep the lights on and the TV running all day? Don’t you enjoy your shower every day? Do you have any idea how hard I work to make sure you are loved and eat every day? Isn’t that enough for you? Now you want a garbage bag, you ungrateful woman! Why don’t you try to get one from shelter 2 and see how they treat you. Don’t you ever come back here!”

Everyone standing around and witnessing the event would not dare to tell the truth, everyone would agree Mrs. A had it coming and deserved to be barred. Self-preservation – because you never know who would hear what you say and whom they would tell. By the time Mrs. A got to shelter 2 or shelter 3 the news of her “ungrateful attack” on the director of shelter 1 was common knowledge.

Of course, this event never took place, the director was never at the shelter before 9 a.m., long after the homeless had left for the day, but the elements used are not fictional at all.

When you are desperate the lines between wrong and right easily become fuzzy and you are willing to do whatever it takes to survive.

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