What Does Sean Want for Christmas?

What do I want for Christmas? Believe me, there is a long list of things but let’s just for the minute focus on the shelter. Don’t worry; there will be many presents I want. Anyone who has followed us over the years knows I am a person who will go to court if necessary to protect the rights of this shelter and the people we serve. We not only had to fight to stay in the city of Hollywood, but we had to go to court for the judge to finally say, Hollywood you lost and COSAC you are a homeless shelter and you don’t have to move. Then of course we have fought many cities on the right to sell our paper on the street corners. These politicians have their nerve; they send their homeless to us in Hollywood and expect us to pay the price because they made laws to outlaw us from selling our Homeless Voice to make money to pay for the homeless. Not only did they make laws and claimed it was about safety, when we all knew it was not. The same laws that outlawed us from selling the paper protected them so they could hold signs up at the same corners asking people to vote for them. That case went to court and the judge said it was unsafe to sell a paper but she said it was safe to hold a sign at the same corner. I just do not get it. We are not done with that case as of yet.
So getting back to what I want for Christmas is for me to still have the spunk to fight for the rights of the poor. I look at these faces, these are faces of homeless people who I love and who I have made part of my family. These are the same faces that I need to protect and no city is going to bring us down. If we lose every street corner it is me who will work even harder to keep us open. So now you have learned that I still need the spunk to fight so how do I get the spunk? It is simple; for this Christmas my gift from you would be that you pray for me and my staff. Some of these people have been here for 15 years and this is their home. I can’t believe there are actual elected officials that have no idea of this impact on a shelter system they have created. How do I take care of their homeless that they drop off here when they make laws that stop us from selling the Homeless Voice newspaper which then takes away our funds to serve their homeless? If you looked at the history of what has happened in the shelter system in Broward and even parts of Dade you would see that the public funded shelters won’t take in a person that is not functional. Now let’s remember there are reasons why people become homeless and the main reason is they are just not functional because of underlying issues we call barriers. Let me explain it like this. A person who suffers from seizures does not make them homeless. What makes them homeless is that because a person has seizures they can’t stay employed which causes them to be poor which then causes them to be homeless. After they have their seizures they appear to be impaired because of a post distal state of confusion and being sluggish and people, family members, bosses and even doctors sometimes misdiagnose a person and accuse them of being on drugs. Where does a person like this go for shelter? They come here to our shelter and they become the next present God has given us. It is a present to us because we say we want these types of people because no one else wants to house them.
There are two shelter systems in South Florida, the first being the funded and public system and then the system created by people who think outside the box like the Homeless Voice. If you looked at Browards’ system you would see that it was just the Salvation Army and us that did the job of the government for many years. Then the government came up with their shelter system and this system was a flop for many years. They did a great job for functional homeless people but still the chronic homeless were left in the streets. How could our leaders open up a shelter system they knew would never work for the chronic homeless when they knew the majority of the homeless were dysfunctional and could never get a job and for sure they would not be able to follow the rules of a public funded shelter? What were they thinking? For years their systems took one person to the 12 people we took in for the week. Because their rules were so strict there were times that there were hundreds in the streets and the government shelters had half their beds empty. Basically your tax dollars were paying for empty beds when there were scores of homeless still in the streets.
When we take a person who can’t work, can’t pay, can’t get disability because we can’t get them to understand they need to follow up with the social security appointments, they have become my Christmas Present because they now have become part of a family that we call Mother Theresa Population. When we take a person that the government shelters turn away they too have become an early Christmas present for me. It is like the night Mother Mary and Joseph were looking for a place to have their little baby “Jesus.” They went from place to place when finally a nice man said you can stay out there with the animals. There was no room at any of the inns and suddenly a miracle happened and they were given a place to stay. They too were homeless but this man made it his business to open up a shelter that took them in and now we have a little Baby who is the Savior of the world.
The number one reason why homeless cannot be cured is because 90 percent of the homeless shelters in America only get funding for short term beds. The county beds of Broward and Dade only offer shelter beds for short periods and when your time is done they say “get out.” There are only a handful of shelters in America that say if you will always be homeless then you can stay here. These are the same people that I consider to be part of my family. You can’t help but to fall in love with them and their little cute personalities. These are the people that the county has forgotten about, these are the people that the president has forgotten about but these are not the people that you the supporters have forgotten about. Because you did not forget about them. In fact you remembered them all year long by giving me my Christmas presents thought-out the year. Your donations have been gifts from the heart and I thank you for these gifts. Actually you have given me two gifts, the first being the actual person and the second is the funds to take care of them. So let me say right now… “THANK YOU!”
What could be a future gift? This is where you come in once again. We need you to help us come up with funds where we are short because of the cities removing our paper from the streets. I have said this over the years but I need to stress it more and more in the next 12 months. About 80,000 to 100,000 people a month buy our paper each month. There are about another 400,000 people who just give us money in the buckets and say they already got their paper. These figures have declined over the last few years because we are not on the same streets. Here we go… We need your checks once a month so we can plan our future. If just the 80,000 people made a pledge of $5 per month we would not only pay our bills but we would cover up what we are losing in the streets. Now that would be a perfect gift because then I could hire some people so I do not have to continue to work the seven days a week at those 18 to 20 hours a day. I need a rest my friends, I am getting very tired. Now if we took it one step further I would ask for this small little present that would end up being a very large present. If you took my plea to your friends and families and they also gave a little present each month, what would this amount to? More shelters, more space and more programs for the poor of our community.