You Think It's Cold Outside?
Try Being Homeless...
It's true. We grumble. We complain. We whine. And it's usually about the weather.
At the moment, it's the cold, frigid air that's descended upon us here in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. Yet, most people reading this have two things readily available: 1. a computer or hand-held device, and 2. a warm place to use it. That means they're probably not homeless.
Did you know there are people out there in the world who intentionally give up their material possessions including their homes to become homeless? Of course, there are also plenty who don't — these are the people The Upper Valley Haven cares for in myriad ways. Want to learn a bit about what it's like to be homeless? Here's an excerpt from an intentionally homeless person's blog I recently found (edited just a bit, of course):
"Raw journal entry, from a rainy night in Shelton WA, four years ago... fall 2012. I met a homeless woman last night, she asked for a ride from the library up to WalMart. She couldn't have been a day under 70. Wonderfully nice, tidy, educated, smart, fun to talk to -but it was mostly listening because she really needed to talk. A history buff who's learning about all the towns she passes through. We sat in the car for over an hour 'til some WalMart guy pointed out I was parked on the sidewalk. Then she asked me to drive her to McDonald's instead. She was clearly hoping I'd take her home for the night. She was putting up a good front for being confident, almost like she was choosing to live this way to travel & learn about history, but at the end she just got very despondent when she realized I could not take her home. She just stood there, a tiny little white-haired angel, and looked at me with those eyes... I told her the [my] landlord would not be pleased - which may be true - so I couldn't. But it was more that something indefinable was keeping me from doing so. And I DROVE AWAY and left her. I felt like total s__t. I was seriously thinking I should go back & get her anyway. Then I turned the radio back on and it was the song The A Team (Ed Sheeran - "It's too cold outside for angels to fly") and I just lost it. I pulled over & cried my eyes out. I thought the song was a clear message from the universe to go back & get her but I still couldn't bring myself to do it. I ended up driving to the police station & asking if there was anywhere I could take her but they said although there is a shelter in town, it stops taking people by early evening, so, too late." —excerpted from http://anotherstarthrower.blogspot.com/2016/11/its-too-cold-outside-for-angels-to-fly.html
Believe it. The above writer now lives out of her car, and has for four years. She gave up her other worldly possessions. She's homeless intentionally. And she grows a little each day with the knowledge that homelessness can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime. She has a car. That's more than many have. And she has the resources to fill the tank with gas. As she told me, she's been hungry, but she's never been starving like many people she's met.
And all of this has happened in Seattle where the cold, frigid days of the Upper Valley region never descend. What's it like to be homeless here in VT or NH? Imagine.
Here's a brief haiku that might approximate a description of homelessness:
homeless, 10 below,
iced, my two-wheeled cart drags low
— bleeding fingers, snow
That's as close as I can come to developing an image and a feeling that might make homelessness and being on the street in the cold more real for us. I'm not homeless, but I try to help. I hope you will, too.
Now through December 19th, The Upper Valley Haven has an effort underway called The 19 Days / 1% for The Haven. It encourages people and businesses to give 1% of some measurable income stream, or expense stream during the first 19 Days of December. Think 1% of your income for the first 19 days of December, or 1% of your rent, or 1% of your sales revenue if you have a business, or 1% of your food budget. The amount need not be large, but collectively, the total adds up if we all participate.
Right now, The Byrne Foundation will match all gifts, dollar-for-dollar, given to The 19 Days Haven program effort. That means your donation will double. It's a great time to give. And you'll feel good about doing your part to help shelter the homeless, feed the hungry, and help fund the programs The Haven offers to get people and families back on their feet and into the world anew.
Look for bright yellow signs in storefronts and in online media that look like this. Please patronize these businesses who are participating in The 19 Days effort to help The Haven help the homeless and hungry in the greater Upper Valley area of VT and NH.
Please join me, Long River Gallery & Gifts in Lyme, NH and WRJ, VT, and many, many dozens of other greater Upper Valley area businesses and families participating in this important effort. Contact Laura Gillespie at The Haven at: email@example.com for details. Or, write a check to the Upper Valley Haven and note "The 19 Days of [your town's name]" in your check's memo line to get the Byrne match. Mail it to The Haven and your gift will be matched -- and, most importantly, you'll help direct your support where it's needed most at this time of year, to our friends and neighbors in need who need our help right now.
Many families are just one paycheck away from being homeless. It can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.
Participating businesses are recognized on The Haven's 19 Days web page, with a link to their business' web site. They also get a 19 Days bright yellow poster to display in their store windows, and an online version of the poster to place on their web and social media channels. Please look for these signs and images and patronize participating 19 Days businesses all around the Upper Valley.
And, most importantly, thank you for reading this, for giving it some thought, and for helping the homeless and the hungry so close to home in whatever way is right for you and your family,
Don't ever miss another post. Click here to sign up for an email alert each time Dave Celone publishes a new piece on the dailyuv.com. And do Click here to see his previous post about White River Junction titled "What? Meat Pies in White River Junction? Yes!" that explores a wonderful new eatery with delicious sweet and savory (as in meat and veggie) pies in WRJ, Piecemeal Pies. White River, a/k/a River city, a/k/a WoJo, SoHa, and/or WiRi is coming alive. There's so much going on here it's worth the visit this weekend for shopping, food, and all kinds of art, theatre, and much more.
Dave Celone is not the above expressively warm and comfortable Dartmouth mug made by potter Amanda Anna Palmer of Thetford, VT. Instead, he's a writer who likes to share information about the homeless in The Greater Upper Valley area and at least one organization that helps them survive in harsh wintry weather.
Instead, Dave Celone is a freelance writer, poet, visual artist, art gallery curator, and consultant for the education industry. He co-manages Long River Gallery & Gifts in Lyme, NH and in a new pop-up gallery in White River Junction VT with his wife Lisa where over 175 local artists and artisans show their work. The new "pop-up" gallery is at 49 South Main Street in White River Junction, VT, right next to The Junction Frame Shop. Dave is also principal of Advancement Consulting Services offering higher education institutions and private secondary schools global best practices and unique ways to increase alumni giving and involvement through programs that develop relationships and value holistically. His "virtuous circle" model on developing fundraising programs, and his belief in "treating students like alumnae/i and alumnae/i like students" have gained favor among development industry professionals and higher education leadership on multiple continents. Dave is former director of development at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and former co-executive director of the Dartmouth College Fund. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to add your comments below. Dave will respond.