Praise Featured Video

I was sleeping in a home that a friend claimed was his, which was a lie – it was a squat. Just off the Tioga Frankford El train station. One day, many months after moving in, the owners of the house showed up to tell us – to tell me since I was the only one there that day – to leave. I should have known better – there was just electricity (rigged from a neighbor) and cold water. No fridge. Mis-matched dirty furniture. Windows blown out and covered with trash bags. And my friend had a heroin problem. I remember the twist in my stomach watching him shoot up. I remember avoiding his madness after each time.

I had a mattress, which stunk, two milk crates of belongings, an old boom box, and some clothes to my name. There was no place to keep my private things, if I had any that is. My step father had thrown me out. And this was the only place I knew to go. I was 16 turning 17.

A month or so earlier, I had walked into school feeling I had to act. The fights with my step father were getting worst. My mom needed him. So I figured I had to get a job and my own place. Someone else might have spoke to a counselor, a teacher, someone. But I didn’t know who and I didn’t ask. I simply walked to the school office, mentioned I needed to quit school, and without inquiring, they put a piece of paper in front of me and said “sign”. That was it. Shortly later, I was thrown out before I could move out.

I had worked hard during the months leading up to the owners showing up – as a bus boy working under the table, but my friend collected weekly board that so I couldn’t save. I was lucky and caught a break in getting my first apartment – a friend of my family convinced his landlord to waive the deposit and add a fraction of it to my monthly rent. After meeting and talking with the landlord, he agreed. I was 17 and had my own place on South Broad Street. During the time at the squat, and in this first apartment, there were many struggles faced and many stories to tell, including meeting Richelle, who would one day be my wife.

It wouldn’t be my only experience with homelessness. There would be a more severe, shorter period a couple years later, when I lost this apartment while trying to help someone who wasn’t up to meeting me half way. I ended up sleeping on the Frankford El. Riding back and forth thru the night.

Like I said, there are many stories. It was hard sharing this one with you. The important thing is here I am – middle class – with a great family – and a great career. I’m blessed. It wasn’t easy. You could say that I “pulled myself up by my bootstraps” – but that would miss the the terrific lift I was given by folks who expressed how my life could be, and what I could do to get there. Who accepted me for who I was. Who dared me to dream. Who believed in me. One thing to remember – this was during a time of great opportunity. This was during a time where multitudes moved from poverty into the working class.

Many face the same hardships each day. Folks who thru circumstances unpredictable, suddenly must do all they can to simply survive. For their next meal. For their next chance. And today, instead of great opportunity, we have lessProject HOME helps people with that next chance. It provides tools to individuals and families to keep homelessness and poverty from being chronic issues in their lives and in the community.

The Young Friends of Project HOME are holding an important event, thisThursday, October 27, 5:30pm to 8:00pm. It’s an opportunity for young professionals in Philadelphia to learn about its efforts and to network with one another. It’s a chance to connect and to help.

Harry B. Cook of is helping spead the word and raise awareness. This Thursday he gave an informative video interview with Project H.O.M.E.’s Amanda S. Aronoff, Esq., Director of Development & Public Relations. Please take the time to watch it.

I’d like to ask you – the Philadelphia blogging community – to get behind this event. Here’s how:

1. Spread word of it on your blogs.

2. Discuss homelessness and poverty and how you feel about it. Discuss solutions you feel would help, solutions you feel are not working and solutions you feel are helping.

3. If you have a Blogad account, send your offer code to Harry to host a free advertisement for the event – like the one in our right hand rail.

4. Share word of your involvement in this thread or by posting in the Breaking the Cycle category here at Philly Future.

5. Most important – come to the event! Members of the Philly Future volunteer team (we are sponsors) will be there. If you are coming – share it here and on your blogs. Details here.

6. For those without a Blogads account, we have an alternate HTML version of the ad (Thanks to Howard and Matt):

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