Saturday, January 29, 2011

Fighting for Positive Change

On Tuesday, January 25th many Americans sat with their eyes glued to their television sets as President Obama gave his State of the Union Address. I watched it with several dozen of my best friends at Busboys and Poets (@ 5th and K streets in NW DC), a local restaurant/bar which is frequented by activists.

Obama drew much applause as he emphasized the need for quality education. He also gained favor as he promised to create more green jobs. He even supported the "Dream Act" without calling it by name. He said things that appealed to all segments of the American populace (and avoided some hot-button issues like the Israel-Palestine conflict). But the advocate (or sycophant) in each of us quite naturally causes us to focus on the issues that interest us the most. And I'm no exception to the rule.

So, I was pleasantly surprised when Obama said toward the beginning of his speech that, "Due to the invention of robots, a hundred workers in a steel factory can now do what used to take a thousand people". The League of Revolutionaries for a New America (LRNA - www.lrna.org), of which I am a member, has built its manifesto, purpose and goals around the notion that modernization is taking jobs. We believe that those jobs aren't coming back and that this "jobless recovery" of our economy is only helping the few and leaving the many high and dry. However, the solution lies not in smashing the robots, but in moving from a "work ethic" to an "abundance ethic". that is to say that, since the robots are mass-producing goods that can't be sold due to people's poverty and robot-induced unemployment, we should develop a system that gives these goods away or sells them at a drastically lower price.

Mr. Obama also caught my attention as he discussed tax policy. He spoke of reducing government spending but emphasized that we must not do it on the backs of our poorest, most vulnerable citizens. This has been the rallying war cry of my fellow housing advocates and others who are fighting to preserve the social safety net.

However, I was less than impressed by his American jingoism. He spoke of America as having been number one in several fields and of our decline. He stated his desire to see America regain its status as number one in the world. I take issue with this attitude insomuch as it has underpinnings of one wanting to move upward by stepping on others. During the open-mic at Busboys and Poets immediately after the speech, one of the several points that I made was that we need to be certain not to get cheap products at Walmart if they came from sweatshops in south america where 10-year old kids are working for $2.00 per hour (or less) when they should be in school. We must make certain that we are not moving ahead at the expense of others.

But what impressed me most about Obama's speech was his support of the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia. I'd hardly expect a head of state to support an uprising, namely due to the fact that it might happen in his own country as well. Nonetheless, President Obama is on the record as stating his support for the rebels.

I support the rebels myself. They are just everyday people trying to make ends meet. After all, the uprising was sparked by the death a a young man who committed suicide after the government took away his food cart, thus depriving him of his livelihood. He has accomplished more with his death than with his life, though I don't suggest that anyone commit suicide. Nonetheless, one man's death has sparked a revolution that has spilled over into yet another country and which may result in the liberation of tens of millions of people before it's all over.

An interesting fact about Tunisia is that it was the home of Hannibal Barca who is considered to be the greatest general to ever live. As a matter of fact, present-day generals still study his tactics. Hannibal who came out of the city-state of Carthage (near present-day Tunis) fought Rome for 20 years (c. 220 B.C. to 200 B.C.) and is best-known for his war elephants. He was in the process of taking Rome when he received word that his home was being attacked. He ended his seige of Rome and went to defend his home, being defeated by Scipio Africanus at the Battle of Zama. His soldiers were taken as slaves; but, as a courtesy to the general, he was set free. Rome had him followed for the next 17 years or so (in an effort to keep him from reorganizing) until he, being tired of the constant harassment, committed suicide by drinking poison. If Hannibal had finished taking Rome, the Bible would have to be rewritten and Christ might not have been crucified.

Though Hannibal's War (The Second Punic War) ended more than 2,000 years ago, the People of Tunisia have rekindled his fight against oppression, won that fight and empowered the downtrodden of surrounding nations to do the same. But at the end of the day, the fight in the Arab world is for the basic necessities of life and for stability. The Tunisians (and the Egyptians) want food, housing, employment, peace and to live free from oppression. That said, We are all Tunisians.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

A Month After It All Began

As you well know, homeless advocacy is not just about raising awareness of the homeless issue. After all, it's hard not to know it exists if you live in the city and see homeless people in the storefronts begging for change or dozens of them sitting in the park. Homeless advocacy is about getting results -- improving the lives of the homeless while they are in shelters and on the streets as well as getting them housed and changing the policies that create or perpetuate homelessness. This is true of all forms of homeless advocacy, even on-line advocacy and that which plays out in the mass media.

On December 13th, 2010 I found myself at the center of what would become a 4-week long media frenzy. It began with a Washington Post profile of me. That day I was also mentioned in the DC Express (free newspaper put out by WashPo), the Huffington Post (on-line newspaper) and did an interview on BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) Radio. They all capitalized on my use of the internet to advocate for the homeless. Also on December 13th but for somewhat different reasons, I was on WAMU radio 88.5 FM and WUSA 9 News (CBS). A few days later, I was interviewed by Voice of America (twice in less than a week), MSNBC, CNN (for the 3rd time in my life) and eventually a second time by WUSA 9 (this time comparing me to TED WILLIAMS).

All of this raises the questions: "What has come out of all of this media attention?" and "Are we any closer to ending homelessness?" The answer to the latter question is "Yes, but not much". The former question takes a bit longer to answer:

A couple of my lady friends expressed discontent with the media coverage of my homeless advocacy (including the one who bought me the laptop that has been shown on a couple of the newscasts). Each one knows that I am about speaking truth to power and confronting the system with all of its injustices. However, they claim that the news coverage focused too much on me the individual and not enough on how others and I work together to combat these injustices.

One friend was so upset that I contacted NATHAN ROTT, the writer of the Washington Post article. He said what I already knew -- that the editor cut about half of his article away. (He handed in a 90" article which was cut to 47".) He also explained that political views get edited out of articles that are not actually about politics; because, many readers get turned off by politics being woven into a "feel-good" story.

That, of course, means that the media won't ever give the full story on my homeless advocacy. They'll tell of an exceptional homeless person who helps other homeless people (or one who has a "radio voice"), but won't discuss the government policies that create and perpetuate homelessness or what the "homeless homeless advocates" are doing to reverse those policies. but, for what it's worth, I'll keep talking to the media with the hope that this will change.

I called my mother on Christmas. She explained that she had been listening to the radio a few days earlier when the commentator on 97.3 FM mentioned Washington, DC. She then said, "As soon as he began to talk about Washington, DC, I said 'I know he's going to say something about Eric.'...and he did." She also explained that what he said wasn't good but it was only the commentator speaking. My mother was quite supportive of what I do to help the homeless and said that she, a public speaker, is waiting for someone to call her directly to talk about me and looks forward to the day when she might have to come to DC on my behalf and talk about the love of Christ -- like a mother/son tag team.

Though American media avoids covering the political aspects of what my associates and I do, the same is not true about foreign media. The Washington Post article was translated into numerous languages and published in many countries, including but not limited to Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Serbia, the UK, Korea and Australia. (I know this because I've gotten e-mails and/or Facebook messages from these and other countries.) And it has led to me educating other countries about American politics. People in other countries are under the false notion that the wealth of America's rich and of the government will trickle down to the poor -- that "the rising tide lifts all boats". I now have the honor and the privilege of telling them the TRUTH, thanks to the internet and the fact that I now have about 8,000 more contacts than I had on December 12th, 2010.

I was recently contacted by a man in Kenya who works with the homeless there. He needed computers on which to train them. as it turns out, I have a friend whose job takes him to Kenya every few months. He may be able to bring some computers when he goes back. It's good to know that my ability to help people doesn't stop at the border. However, I must acknowledge the fact that I work with many others and don't do it alone.

So, one month after it all began, I still have hundreds of unanswered Facebook messages. I have almost 500 friend requests on one of my two pages which I can't "confirm"; because, I'm at the maximum of 5,000 friends. I've begun a fan page (Homeless Homeless Advocate Eric Jonathan Sheptock). I'm working on the "OFF THE STREATS" campaign, because someone who saw me in the news reached out to me with a business venture. I'm spending long hours going to meetings and then getting on the computer so as to blog, e-mail and use Facebook as well as Twitter (sometimes waking at 6 AM and lying down at midnight). That said, I find myself buried in my work. At any rate, there's never a dull moment.

One might ask if all of this recent activity has had any affect on my homeless advocacy going forward. It has. I've reached my limit as to how much I can do. Large numbers of people have begun to look to me to help them. Though I've almost always worked with other advocates, it's now imperative that I put more effort into recruiting additional advocates. The harvest is plentiful; but, the laborers are few. However, I'm optimistic that we can and will take the fight for housing to new heights.

Eric Jonathan Sheptock
Cell phone: (240) 305-5255
425 2nd St. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2003

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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Missions Accomplished.....And Those Yet To Be Accomplished

We all still have etched into our minds the vision of former president George W. Bush standing on a ship under a banner that reads,"Mission Accomplished". Seven years later, he is still mocked and ostracized for that speech as the Iraq War rages on. Then there is the photo of Bush flying over New Orleans and looking so distant as people suffered below. Thus, he continues to be talked about for his failures -- both foreign and domestic. Some would argue that he actually DID accomplish his mission in New Orleans by willfully ignoring people whom he considered to be second-class citizens who were unimportant.

This raises questions about the mission of any and all modern-day U.S. presidents and members of Congress. As a self-proclaimed Theistic Marxist, I see crapitalism and its kissing cousin named corporatism as the causes of many of our nation's societal ills. that said, I firmly believe that the governments of our nation DO have an over-arching mission and that each respective government also has its specific goals. That makes it imperative for us as American citizens to stop seeing the laws and policies that are created by government as separate initiatives and to see the big picture. And you don't have to be a Marxist to see that our nation's leaders worship the almighty dollar and look down on the have-nots. I'm inclined to believe that the powers that be are willfully ignoring the poor and the homeless in this the richest nation on Earth, hoping that we'll just shut up and go away. We can't allow this mission to be accomplished.

Then there is the media. They've covered the homeless issue extensively in recent months -- partly because homelessness is becoming a grim reality for an ever-increasing number of Americans and partly because they are finding a few of the many talented and exceptional homeless people that there are. I've done many news interviews and the reporter always asks, "How is it that someone as articulate and gifted as you can be homeless?" I've also had to defend myself against accusations of being homeless by choice. They seem to be willing to ask me the types of tough questions that they SHOULD be asking the president and members of Congress. It's not that I mind answering such questions; because, I don't. Nonetheless, I'm often left to wonder whether the media's mission is to compliment the homeless advocacy of someone who is himself homeless, educate the public about the homeless issue or ostracize me for "failing to do better for myself". It's probably a mixture of all three.

Regardless of what the media intends to do, the primary mission of my homeless advocacy is to educate the general public about the homeless issue until large numbers of my "students" figure out what they are able to do in their respective locales and they begin to take action so as to end homelessness. A couple of lady friends recently told me that my message wasn't coming across very well -- that the media was editing out the most important aspects of my message and making it seem as though I just enjoyed being in the lime light. One of them said that, even though my blogs and on-line accounts like Facebook and Twitter are mentioned, I should still say something about the goal of my homeless advocacy (which I always DO say) -- and tell them not to edit it out. Otherwise I may be ostracized and disliked by viewers who received the wrong message due to the media's antics and over-editing.

I've said much about missions that have yet to be accomplished. But, as it turns out, there have been some successes. The media has told people about my success at getting DC Government to perform needed repairs on the government buildings that are used as shelters. They've also mentioned my success at stopping a particular police officer from harassing homeless women from the Open Door Shelter. These are a couple of small victories that others and myself have enjoyed. But they are only representative of a much larger pool of small successes that other local advocates and I have had.

Just over a year ago, I was also instrumental in getting people from the National Academy of Sciences to fix the dozen computers in the computer lab of the CC NV (Community for Creative Non-Violence) Shelter, where I stay. Furthermore, they go to that computer lab M-F, 11 AM-1 PM and help dozens of homeless people to type resumes and fill out on-line job applications. As a result of my more recent media exposure, I was contacted by someone who works with the homeless in Kenya. He wanted to know if I could get computers for the homeless in his country. I connected him to a friend of mine who travels to Kenya on a regular basis as part of his job. That friend is working on getting computers to bring back on his next trip there. As you can see, much of what I do is to simply connect people who are able to help each other, after which I don't need to remain an active part of their interaction.

Following my most recent wave of media exposure, I was contacted by Global Flying Hospitals and its subsidiary Global Shelter Group and asked to become their paid spokesperson. My fellow-advocates and I are presently working on a campaign to bring the "Dome Home" -- a 320 sq. ft. fiberglass igloo -- to DC as an interim solution to homelessness.

What I consider to be a more sizeable success is the increase in the public interest in the homeless issue. It has enabled me to address stereotypes about the homeless -- which other advocates I work hard to do as we speak at various high schools, colleges and churches through the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH). I sometimes find myself explaining to people from other countries how it is that a person can be homeless in the richest country in the world, yea even the capital of that country. There's reason to believe that such conversations could culminate in numerous other countries exerting tremendous pressure on the U.S. Government to house its homeless -- beginning with those in Washington, DC. That's a worthy mission, by all means.

I've referred to the successes of other homeless advocates and myself as "small" for a reason. These successes have helped to sustain people who are homeless, but has yet to end homelessness on a large scale. (I've actually assisted at least a half dozen people in acquiring housing, but remain homeless myself.) What we've done so far (and what governments in this nation have done for the homeless) amounts to putting a band-aid on a tumor. Our fight is not over. We've only just begun. our successes don't give us reason to live off of our laurels, but rather, serve as examples of the bigger things that can be done if we stay the course.

So, let us not make the same errors as former (thank God) president George W. Bush by proclaiming "Mission accomplished" or by neglecting those in need. Instead, let us take heart and take part in effectively ending homelessness. Let us draw on the many resources of this nation so as to end what is essentially a gross injustice being perpetrated on the poor and dispossessed of the U.S.

Eric Jonathan Sheptock
Cell phone: (240) 305-5255
425 2nd St. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2003

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Friday, January 7, 2011

TED WILLIAMS and ERIC SHEPTOCK: The Same, But Different

You would have to be in a coma or living in a third-world country without the benefits of electricity in order not to know who TED WILLIAMS is. The homeless man from Ohio with the radio voice is all the rage these days. But he is one of several homeless people whose talents and worth are gaining them recognition these days. I just got through doing an interview with WUSA9 NEWS in which he and I were juxtaposed and compared. I must say that we are the same but different.

Over the past couple of days, friends and fellow-advocates have told me what I already knew -- that TED WILLIAMS is a homeless man who landed a good job, whereas I am a homeless advocate who helps many homeless people. The media is focused on what has been done for him and what I do for others. To that extent our stories differ, even though we both have experienced homelessness.

We both have become media phenoms. However, in my case the media attention has increased gradually over the course of four and a half years, while he became an overnight sensation. Furthermore, the media is fascinated by my use of social media to send messages to others wherein I educate them about the homeless issue, versus TED WILLIAMS having messages that are about him sent by others. His video got 3 million hits in a day or two. I can't make that claim. (I must admit that many messages about me are sent, though they are often in the form of newspaper articles.)

The news interview which I just did spun the story as us both being talented homeless people. No argument there. He is talented with a well-trained radio voice. I am known for my ability to do social networking. His talent has begun to make bookoo dollars for him. While I remain homeless, but with talent. I should also point out that he has not only landed a good-paying job. He's been offered a house and money has been collected to help him get it together. Evidently, the people of Ohio are much more generous than those in Washington, DC. (Actually, I'm not sure that all of the donations came from Ohio.) Maybe he just has more contacts that can afford to give than I do. At any rate, I'm happy for him.

There is one thing that many people seem to be saying about the TED WILLIAMS story. I've heard it from friends and family. I've read it in a blog (that wasn't mine). It is the idea that we shouldn't get too excited about one man finding a job, but should be focused on helping others who are in his former predicament. I can't help but realize that there wasn't all of this hoopla when he was a radio DJ before his fall from grace. But, as he rises from the ashes like the phoenix, he is praised. Let's hope that he does something to help those whom he knew during his homelessness. I hope that he'll take what is being done to help him and pay it forward. One of the biggest favors that he can do for his fellow-homeless is to chronicle his rise from the ashes so as to be able to tell others what worked for him. That information could be used to help other homeless people to rise above their circumstances.

This post would be incomplete without a recap of the media's coverage of homeless people as it pertains to talents and technology. That coverage has evolved over the past 2 years from utter surprise at a homeless person's ability to use technology into fascination with how a homeless person can look beyond their own problems to help others or can be socially connected. Now there is TED WILLIAMS with his radio voice.

On march 5th, 2009 Michelle Obama visited the homeless at Miriam's Kitchen. A homeless man with a camera phone took her picture as someone else took his. His photo is all over the web with people asking why it is that he can afford a ($50/month) phone but can't pay ($1,400/month in) rent. That photo has led to media coverage of how the homeless use technology and was the impetus for DC homeless advocates entering into conversation with the U.S. Dept. of Labor about creating a job-training program for the homeless. On march 22nd, 2009 the Washington Post did an on-line article about homeless people who use computers, do e-mail, have blogs and use the internet to do other business as well. it came out in print the following day. The next month Russian T.V. interviewed several homeless advocates and myself about our use of technology. The rest is history.

While the housed are amazed that the homeless can do things that the average housed person can do, I'm amazed at their amazement. Do they actually think that, as we walk out of our houses and apartments for the last time following a foreclosure or eviction, that our intellect evaporates out of us and hovers along the ceiling, only to fall on the next resident of that dwelling? I should hope not. Nonetheless, people's fixation on the abilities of the homeless is causing the issue of homelessness to get much-needed press. And we'll take that gladly. It has presented me with the opportunity to teach more people about the homeless issue. I've recently found myself explaining to people in Europe how it is that someone can be homeless in the capital of the richest nation on Earth. It has also led to me now having a new campaign to end homelessness called "OFF THE STREATS". So, for what it's worth to you, the media attention around homeless people isn't half bad. Let's continue to make the most of it.

Eric Jonathan Sheptock
Cell phone: (240) 305-5255
425 2nd St. NW
Washington, DC 20001-2003

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Monday, January 3, 2011

The Homeless Work Ethic

I'm sure that, at some point in your life, you've heard at least one person being referred to as a "lazy bum". You might have been the one to call them that. Well, I'm here to tell you that most "bums" are not lazy at all. During a recent media frenzy that focused on my use of the internet and social media to advocate pro bono for the homeless, there were those who gave me accolades and those who essentially called me lazy and said that I should just get a job -- as if homeless advocacy isn't work. Also, a Huffington Post article erroneously said that I have not worked a full-time job since 1994. I, therefore, saw fit to inform people as to how hard other homeless people and I really do work. I apologize in advance for what promises to be a longer-than-usual blog post, as there is much to be said about the hard work of the homeless.

Before addressing the paid work done by the homeless, I must say that just BEING homeless is a lot of work. Homeless people often need to walk 2 miles from where they sleep to where they eat breakfast. (I've actually walked as many as 4 miles.) Then they trek to wherever they spend the remainder of their morning before going to lunch. They then have to walk back to the shelter or their outdoor sleeping spot for the night. In many cases, the shelters don't allow a person to leave their belongings there during the day, which explains why some of them walk the streets with 2 or 3 bags. All of this walking and carrying bags is extremely labor-intensive.

Then there is the paid work done by the homeless. Many of them get up at 4 AM in order to be at the labor hall (day labor, temp service) by 5 AM. They sign-in and wait for a job assignment. Sometimes they sit for 2, 3 even 4 hours and don't get any work. When they do get work, many do construction labor. Some of the homeless perform trades through the labor hall. They may load/unload semi-trucks manually. I've done much construction labor and truck loading/unloading myself. I've also erected European event tents as big as 80 ft. x 120 ft. and worked in many of the kitchens at Disney World in Celebration City, FL (near Orlando).

The homeless often help to build apartments and condominiums that they could never afford to live in. They cater and wash dishes at parties that they could never afford to attend. They load and unload merchandise that they could never afford to buy. The homeless are often working behind the scenes to render products and services to the well-off, only to be snubbed by the same, called a lazy bum and told to get a job. I'm left to wonder where this country would be without the work that is done by the homeless.

Housed people often wonder why it is that the capable homeless don't spend every waking hour looking for work and a way out of their predicament. Well, first of all, they must spend much of their time walking to the soup kitchen to get a meal, as indicated earlier. Then, if they don't have bus fare, they'll have to walk to the places where they intend to put in job applications. That's not to speak of the fact that they probably need to be at the shelter by a certain time in order to get a bed. That said, what a homeless person needs to do in order to acquire daily sustenance often conflicts with what they need to do in order to get a job and rise above their circumstances. They, therefore, often get stuck in the daily routine of going to the labor hall and then to the shelter. And, before you know it, they've been doing the labor hall-to-shelter routine for 2...3...5...10 years and counting. Such was the case with me (prior to me becoming a homeless advocate, of course).

As a child, I watched the T.V. movie "Angel City" starring Ralph Waite. It was about a tomato and cucumber farmer who treated his employees like slaves. He also made them buy his liquor (and deducted it from their pay anyway if they didn't). Little did I realize at the time just how realistic the movie was. As a homeless adult, I've worked in six different crops: white potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, tobacco, watermelons and cabbage. I've seen first-hand a farming contractor drive the thousand miles from Benson, NC to Orlando, FL to pick up laborers at the homeless shelter and take them to Benson. It would seem that the locals are onto him and won't work for the contractor. It's easier to get homeless people from far away, drive them into unfamiliar territory and pay them at or below minimum wage. These days, rather than forcing the laborers to buy liquor, the contractor sells crack cocaine to them -- sometimes on credit. I've seen where a person owed more than the amount of their check after getting drugs on credit from the contractor. Some who've tried to leave while they owed drug money have never been heard from again. I came to realize that the movie "Angel City" was a depiction of what happens in real life.

One of my two times being the victim of wage theft was while working on a potato farm in North Carolina. Everyone had worked 60 hours that week. But the contractor deducted 12 hours for the times during which the grader broke down. (By law he is supposed to pay us for all hours that we are present on the job site.) Out of approximate 15 workers, only myself and one other man spoke up and received our additional 12 hours of pay. I had begun to report the contractor to the Dept. of Labor anyway, but it ran into trouble and then the crew left town shortly thereafter.

Now for a quick recap of points that I've made: Being homeless is labor-intensive in and of itself. The homeless often do thankless jobs that benefit monied people, though from behind the scenes. The homeless work on many of the country's farms and get exploited by their drug-dealer bosses who also underpay them. All in all, the underpaid, exploited homeless are putting food on your table and clothes on your back while keeping the prices of what you buy down. Where would this country be without the cheap labor afforded them by the homeless?

Before I end this post, I'll give a running list of the work that I've done over the years:

At 5 years old (the year the Sheptocks took me in), it was my job to carry the small trash cans outside and dump them into the big can.

My parents moved into a mansion in Peapack, NJ the following year. For several years thereafter, it was my job to go around the house with a brother and a large trash bag and collect trash from each room.

From the age of 7 or 8 until I left home at age 18, I shared a room with my brother Martin who has Down's syndrome (is mongoloid). I would dress him every morning, brush his teeth, watch him eat breakfast and see him off to school. I've also helped with other retarded and/or handicapped children that my parents adopted (including taking them to the bathroom and bathing them).

I've had the chore of vacuuming the house (usually with one other sibling).

I've washed many a dish and done several other indoor chores.

My father (deceased) used to love to get up every Saturday morning and wave his arm as he shouted to his sons, "Men, come on outside! We have work to do!" (at least until my mother stopped him from calling us "men"). He would then have us do yard work from chopping down/trimming trees to raking leaves to digging ditches to shoveling snow. He loved a good worker.

I got a full-time, summer job in 1986 at the age of 17, after completing my junior year. (My birthday is February 15th. So, I started kindergarten at 5, turned 6 during that school year and graduated 12th grade at age 18. I never stayed back.) I worked as a maintenance man for the City of Interlachen, FL. I went part-time during my senior year and graduated in June 1987.

I worked at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL from 1988 to 1994. I was a tractor driver. The "tractor" was an indoor train with an electric motor manufactured by Taylor-Dunn. I would use it to drive trash and dirty linen out to the loading dock as well as to drive new supplies and clean linen into the building. I would also empty the trash and linen chutes and run the incinerator.

From February 1994 (when I first became homeless) until 2005, I worked at various labor halls and on various farms. During that time, I landed 3 "permanent" jobs out of the labor hall. In each instance, the boss who'd ordered workers from the labor hall liked my work so much that he asked me to stay on permanently. (Word to the wise: No job in this country is "permanent".)

In 2005, I came to Washington, DC as a peace activist and became a homeless advocate the following year. I landed a part-time job in April of 2009 and left it on September of that same year. Other than that short stint, I've been working pro bono since coming to DC. Nonetheless, homeless advocacy is indeed hard work. And, as long as you'll work for free, you'll always be in high demand.

That said, I usually get up around 7 AM and oftentimes don't get to bed until midnight. That is especially true since my recent media frenzy. I am literally weeks behind in answering the e-mails and Facebook messages that I've received as a result of my media exposure. I spend many evenings at Starbucks drinking coffee and doing e-mail until they close. That said, this media exposure and the messages that I continue to receive because of it (including the messages that call me lazy) are keeping me really busy these days.

Writing this blog post.....err article has taken much hard work. But, I am only one of many hard-working homeless people. In closing I'll ask you again: Where would this country be without the cheap labor afforded them by the homeless? The homeless DO have a strong work ethic after all. I hope that I never again hear someone being called a "lazy bum".

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