Other People’s Children: vignettes of joy & tears from unlikely people

I just published the first in what will hopefully be a series of books with my paintings and stories of our friends from the street, along with a few ringers, to remind us to be welcoming to strangers.

This little book is an invitation to YOU to step into a new comfort zone with your sisters and brothers in this world. We are all frightened children trying to find the silk edge of the blanket at times. Let us be kind.

Order today to share the joy and beauty in quiet moments.

The Legend of Sir Cleges

This tale is from the late 14th or early 15th century, translated from Middle English, provided freely with footnotes here. We present the same translation in more readable size and font here. It is one of a class of moral poems called Complaint Literature. It resonates with Bethann and me for obvious reasons. We thank Charli Riggle for calling it to our attention. It is long for a blog post, but well worth the read. It has been published as a children’s book, called “The Christmas Knight”. Enjoy!

Listen, lords, and you will hear of ancestors who were before us, both hardy and strong, in the time of King Arthur’s father, the handsome Uther Pendragon.  He had a knight named Sir Cleges; none at the Round Table was so doughty at need.  He was a man of high stature, fair of all features, and great might.  There was no more courteous, noble and generous a knight in the world.  He gave gold to squires who had fought in wars and had fallen into poverty.  He treated his tenants well, never quarreling or punishing them; he was as mild as a maid.  His stores were plentiful, and food was given to every man who came to him.

The knight had a noble wife named Dame Clarys; a better or more beautiful lady might not be alive, full of all goodness and of glad cheer day and night.  They were both great almsfolk to both poor men and friars. They cheered many a person, and because of them no man, rich or poor, suffered loss; they always made it right.

Every year Sir Cleges held a feast, as royal as though he were a king, in honor of Christmas.  Rich and poor were invited, and no one refused to come.  There was much mirth, and when the feast was over the minstrels received gifts of horses, robes, rich rings, gold and silver and other things.  The feasts in worship of Him who rules all and died on the Cross for us were held for ten or twelve years, and though his fortunes began to slacken off, noble Sir Cleges continued to hold the feasts.  He mortgaged his manors to defray his debt, and in this way held feasts for many years, for both nobles and commoners in the name of God almighty.

Truth to tell, at the last all his wealth was spent, but though his goods were nearly gone he still made a feast and hoped to be requited by God.  His manors were all sold except one, which was of such little value that he and his wife could barely live.  His men, so full of pride, all left him, so to that only he, his wife and two children remained, and he moaned greatly.

One Christmas eve, Sir Cleges and Dame Clarys dwelt near Cardiff.  As it drew near noon, he suddenly fell into a swoon, woefully remembering the mirth he used to bring.  Now he had sold his manors with their tenancies and wide lands, and sorrowfully wrung his hands and sorely wept over his failed pride.  As he walked up and down sighing, he heard a sound of diverse minstrelsy: trumpeters, pipers, drummers, harpers and others.  There were many carols and great dancing, and he heard singing everywhere. He wrung his hands, weeping and moaning, and sighed piteously.

“Jesus, Heaven’s King who made all things out of nothing, I thank You for Your grace. I was able to make mirth in this time for Your sake; I fed rich food and good drink to all who came in Your name, free and bondsmen.  They lacked neither wild nor domestic game, and I spared no expense.”

As he stood there mourning, his wife came and embraced him.  She kissed him with glad cheer and said, “My true wedded companion, I hear well what you mean, but you can see it doesn’t help to have such sorrowful thoughts.  I advise you to stop, let go of your sadness, and thank God for His loan of all He has sent. For Christ’s sake, I counsel you to cease your sorrow in honor of this holy day.  Now every man should be merry and glad with such goods as they have, and I pray you do so.  Let us go to our dinner and be as joyful as we can.  It is for the best; I have made our meal truly, I hope, to your liking.”

Sir Cleges assented and went with her, in a somewhat better mood.  When he fell into thought and sorrow, she comforted him all the more, and he began to grow happy and quickly wiped the tears from his cheeks.  Then they washed and went to dinner with such as they could get and made merry.  When they had eaten, they spent the day in mirth as best they could.  They played with their children, and went to bed after evensong.  They slept until the church bell rang, then arose, got ready, and went to service with their children.  Cleges knelt and prayed to Jesus Christ on his wife’s account: “Gracious Lord, for my wife and my two children, keep us out of trouble!”  The lady prayed to Him, “God, keep my lord from pain into everlasting life!”  After service they thanked God omnipotent and went home quickly.

When he came to his palace, Cleges thought his sorrow was gone, and he sent his wife and children ahead and went alone into a nearby private garden.  He knelt in prayer and thanked God with all his heart for all those who suffered poverty that He had sent to him.  He reached for a bough of the cherry tree under which he was kneeling to help himself stand, and when he caught it he found green leaves and many berries.  “Dear God in Trinity,” he exclaimed, “what kind of berries can these be, growing at this time of year?  I have never seen a tree bear fruit in this season, anywhere I have been.”  He tasted one, and it was the best cherry he had ever seen.  He cut off a small branch and brought it to his wife.

“Look, here is a novelty I found on a tree in our garden.  I fear it is a token of more grief to come because of our great complaining.”  But his wife said, “It is a sign of more goodness and plenty to come. Whether we have more or less, it is always truly best that we thank God.”  The lady said cheerfully, “Let’s fill a basket with the fruit that God has sent, and tomorrow at daybreak you shall go to Cardiff and present it to the king.  For such a gift we may fare better, I tell you truly.”

Sir Cleges agreed with her plan immediately.  At daylight, Dame Clarys prepared the basket and told her eldest son: “Gladly take up this basket and bear it on your back easily after your noble father.”  Cleges had no horse for his journey, so says the book, so he took a staff for his hackney as do the poor.  He and his noble son went right to Cardiff on Christmas day and went straight to the castle gate as though they were preparing for the noon meal. But Cleges was dressed in poor, simple clothing, and the porter scornfully told him to leave at once.  “Otherwise, by God and St Mary, I will break your head.  Go stand with the beggars.  If you come in any farther, you’ll regret it after I’ve beaten you.”

“Good sir,” replied Sir Cleges, “I pray you to let me in, for I have brought the king a gift from Him who made all things out of nothing. Look!”  The porter went to the basket and quickly lifted up the lid and saw the cherries.  He knew well that the king would give great gifts for this present.  He said, “By Him who bought me dearly, you shall not come in at this gate, by Him who made this world, unless you grant me a third part of what the king will give you, be it silver or gold.”

Sir Cleges agreed and entered without any more resistance at a rapid pace.  The officer at the door was standing with a staff, and when he saw Sir Cleges come in so boldly, he said, “Get out of my sight, churl, without delay, or I shall beat your every limb, head and body without mercy if you advance farther.”

“Good sir,” said Sir Cleges, “for His love who made man, cease your angry manner, for I have brought a present from Him that made all things out of nothing and died upon the Cross.  Last night this fruit grew, which is noble and good; look to see if I am false or true.”  The usher lifted up the lid quickly and marveled at the fairest cherries he had ever seen.

The usher said, “By sweet Mary, I tell you surely that you will not step into this hall unless you give me, without refusal, the third part of your winnings when you return to me.”  Sir Cleges said no more but immediately agreed; it could be no other way.  Then Sir Cleges, with a heavy expression, took his son and basket into the hall.

The steward started forth quickly among the richly dressed lords in the hall and went boldly to Sir Cleges and said, “Who made you so hardy to come here before you were bidden?  Churl, you are too bold.  I advise you to withdraw immediately, in your old clothing.  Cleges told him, “Sir, I have brought a present from that Lord who bought us dearly and bled on the Cross.”

The steward came forth immediately and plucked up the lid as fast as he could, and said, “By dear Mary, I have never seen this at this time of year since I was born.  You shall not come near the king unless you grant my demand, by Him that bought me dearly.  By my fortune, I will have the third part of the king’s gift, or else go throw yourself out!”

Sir Cleges stood and thought to himself, “If I should share between three men, I will have nothing for all my work, unless it is a meal.”  As he thought and sighed greatly, the steward said to him, “Harlot, have you no tongue?  Speak to me and don’t wait long to grant what I ask, or I will beat your rags into your back with a staff and shove you out headlong!”

Sir Cleges saw no other remedy than to grant the steward’s demand and said with a sigh, “Whatever the king gives in reward, you shall have the third part, be it less or more.”  With that word, the steward and Sir Cleges were in accord and nothing more was said.  Cleges went up to the king quickly and he proffered his present full fairly, kneeling before him.  He uncovered the basket and kneeling upon the ground showed the bright cherries to the king and said, “Jesus our Saviour sent you this fruit with great honor, growing this day on earth.”

The king saw the fresh, new cherries and said, “I thank you, sweet Jesus; here is a fair novelty.”  He commanded Sir Cleges to eat dinner and to have a word with him afterward, without fail.  The king made a present and sent it to a noble lady who was born in Cornwall.  She was bright and beautiful, and afterwards was his own queen.  The cherries were served throughout the hall, and the most royal king said, “I counsel you to be merry!  And I shall make him who brought me this present so content that it shall avail him well.”

When all the men were merry and glad, the king told a squire, “Bring before me the poor man who brought the cherries.”  The squire went immediately and didn’t tarry, without scorn; he brought Cleges before the king.  Cleges fell on his knees and knew his reward had been lost.  He asked the king, “Lord, what is your will?  I am your freeborn man.”

The king responded, “I thank you heartily for the great present you have given me.  You have honored all my feast, most and least, with your dainties, and honored me also.  By God, I will grant you whatever you will have, whether your heart desires landholdings, or other goods, however it goes.”

“Have mercy, liege king!” Cleges exclaimed.  “This is a high thing for someone like me.  To grant me landholdings or any goods, by God, is too much for me.  But if I shall choose for myself, I ask for nothing but twelve strokes; generously grant me now that I may pay them all with my staff to my adversaries in this hall, for St Charity.”

Uther the king answered, “I regret granting the covenant that I made. By Him that made you and me, you would be better taking gold or goods, for which you have greater need.  Cleges said without rancor, “It is your own granting; I may not be  denied.”  The king was angry and sorely grieved, but nevertheless he granted that the blows should be paid.

Sir Cleges went into the hall among all the great lords and sought the steward to pay him his reward, for he had angered him greatly.  He gave the steward such a stroke that he fell down like a block in front of everyone.  Then he gave him three strokes and the steward said, “Sir, for your courtesy, strike me no more!”

Then Sir Cleges went out of the hall, intent on paying more stokes without  delay.  He went to the usher, and when they met Cleges gave him such fierce, painful strokes that for many days afterward he would not hinder any man’s way.  Cleges said, “By my fortune, you have the third part of my gift, just as I promised you.”

He eagerly came to the porter and paid him his four stokes. For many days afterward he would hinder no man’s way, neither to ride nor to go.  The first stroke Sir Cleges laid on him broke his shoulder bone in two, and his right arm also.  Sir Cleges said, “By my fortune, you have the third part of my gift according to the covenant we made.”

The king was sitting in his chamber to hear mirth and revelry, and Sir Cleges went there.  A harper had told a tale that pleased the king well and fulfilled his desire.  The king asked this harper, “You may often hear much, since you have traveled afar.  Tell me truly, if you can, do you know this poor man who gave me the present today?”

The harper answered, “My liege, in truth men used to call him Cleges; he was a knight of yours, I think, when he was full of fortune and grace, a man of high stature.”

“This is indeed not him,” said the king, “he has been believed dead a long time, whom I loved very much.  I wish to God that he was with me; I would rather have him than three knights, he was so brave in battle.”

Sir Cleges knelt before the king and thanked him courteously for granting his request.  The king asked him especially why he had given the three men strokes.  Cleges explained, “I could not come inside unless I granted each of them the third part of what you would give me.  By that I would have nothing myself; truly, I thought it best to divide among them twelve stokes.”

The lords, both young and old, and all who were with the king had great pleasure and laughed so hard that they couldn’t sit.  They said, “It was a noble joke, we vow by Christ.”  The king sent for his steward and said, “If he grants you any reward, ask for it according to the law.”  Looking grim, the steward said, “I don’t intend to have anything to do with him; I wish I had never known him.”

The king said, “Without blame, tell me now, good man, what is your name?”  “My liege,” he said, “as this man tells you, I was once called Sir Cleges; I was your own true knight.”  “Are you my knight who served me, so noble and so gracious, both strong, hardy and manly?”  “Yes, lord,” Cleges said, “as I might thrive, until God  almighty afflicted me; thus poverty has been my destiny.”

The king immediately gave him all that belongs to a knight for arraying his body.  He also gave him the castle of Cardiff, with all its appurtenances, to hold with peace and security.  Then he made him his steward of all his lands, of water, land and forest.  He happily gave him a gold cup to take to Dame Clarys as a token of joy and mirth.  The king made Cleges’ son a squire and gave him a collar to wear, along with a hundredworth pounds of rent.  When they came home in this manner, the bright Dame Cleges thanked God truly in every way, for she had both knight and squire according to their intent.  They paid their debts as fast as they could until every man was satisfied.

Sir Cleges was held to be a noble steward by all men, young and old, who knew him, wherever he went in the land.  The courteous and gracious knight became so wealthy that he assisted all his kin, close and distant.  His lady and he lived many years with joy and cheer until God sent for them.  For the goodness they did here their souls went to shining Heaven, where there is joy without end.

Amen.



Cooking Class

Last night was “men’s night in” at our house for the guys from “Haggerty’s Home for Wayward Boys”. It was a cooking demonstration for making a manly, low-carb meal. Ed and I gathered ingredients from from Assi Chinese market, Produce Junction, and Giant. Steve is a pescatarian (a vegetarian who eats eggs and fish) so I made two slightly different dishes, one with flounder, one with pork chops. The men were very impressed. After the meal there was some speculation about kidnapping me and shackling me in the kitchen of their commune, once they strike it big, so I could prepare all of their meals. Here goes:

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of radishes sliced and slices cut in half
  • 1 pound of baby sweet red, yellow & orange peppers diced
  • 1 fennel diced, including fronds
  • 8 ounces Shitake mushrooms cut into bite sized pieces
  • 4 Hass avocados, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 small, yellow mangoes, peeled & diced
  • bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • ~ 1″ ginger root peeled and grated
  • Variations: Either about 9 or 10 pork chops or 12 to 14 flounder fillets, or some balance between to satisfy a mixed audience.
  • bacon drippings or olive oil

Directions:

enamelwareCut up the radishes and fennel and mix them in one bowl. Cut up the peppers and put them in another bowl. Do the same for the mushrooms. Cut & peel the avocados & chunk. Peel & dice the mangoes. Mix them in a small bowl with the avocados. Get all your skillets out and start them heating on high heat if you are making pork chops, medium heat if you are making flounder. Put about a tablespoon of reserved bacon drippings or lard into each skillet (preferably cast iron with sides) in which you are cooking pork chops and a generous amount of olive oil in each skillet in which you are preparing flounder. Throw the pork chops into the hot fat and keep rearranging until at least one side of every chop is browned. Throw radishes and fennel, then fennel into the fish pan(s), then the Shitakes, then the flounder. Add the radishes, fennel, shitakes to the pork chops. Grate the ginger over everything. Add the cilantro. Keep stirring and flipping. Cover skillets. Reduce heat to medium. Add avocados & mangoes as radishes soften. The flounder will get done quickly. Be vigilant. Do not overcook the pork. If the radishes are soft and the fennel is just slightly crunchy, and there is juice in the pan, it’s perfect.

This is enough to feed six manly men. I served it on proper, manly enamelware from Amish country, with matching enamelware tumblers. Of course, we spoke of manly things, like cooking and how to count carbs, and realistic ways to deal with heroin addicts.

We had a great time.

The Training of Men

usps92sta034Now the training of men is a difficult and intricate task. Its technique is a matter for educational experts, but its object is for the vision of seers. If we make money the object of man-training, we shall develop money-makers but not necessarily men; if we make technical skill the object of education, we may possess artisans but not, in nature, men. Men we shall have only as we make manhood the object of the work of the schools—intelligence, broad sympathy, knowledge of the world that was and is, and of the relation of men to it—this is the curriculum of that Higher Education which must underlie true life. On this foundation we may build bread winning, skill of hand and quickness of brain, with never a fear lest the child and man mistake the means of living for the object of life. . . .And so we come to the present—a day of cowardice and vacillation, of strident wide-voiced wrong and faint hearted compromise; of double-faced dallying with Truth and Right.
– W.E.B. DuBois

This is Not an Antiochian Ministry.

When I started this ministry, 24 years ago, I had been a Mennonite prison chaplain who was also ordained in the New Jerusalem Pentecostal Holiness Church. The King’s Jubilee actually started in State Correctional Institution at Graterford in the Saturday morning E Block Bible study. E Block was the quarantine unit at the time, where inmates first came into the state system to be sorted out to be shipped to the various institutions where they were to do their time.

Things had gotten funky with the Mennonites. One of the pastors who had founded the prison ministry I supervised threatened to kill me when I would not allow him to bring contraband, inflammatory literature into the Montgomery County Correctional Facility. We went through a conflict mediation process. Everyone there agreed that he was in the wrong, but he would not budge or admit any wrong. In the end, it was a case of if you ain’t Dutch you ain’t much, and I was fired the week before Christmas, even though I had given three months notice so they could have an orderly transition and not damage or lose ministries. They did not care. The ministry in Philadelphia with over 300 volunteers and the only tutoring for women was shut down. Chaplain Sid Barnes at Graterford let me keep the Wednesday Bible Study and the Quarantine Unit ministry, because I had been the most faithful in them. In the case of the latter, I had started it. It was in this Bible study that the vision for this ministry was formulated. It is the vision of Christ’s first message in the synagogue, which was taken from Isaiah 60, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord!”

Yes, we serve meals to homeless people in center city Philadelphia, but that is not all we do; and that is not all we have done or all we hope to do! Serving the homeless in center city was the task the men in the E Block Bible Study particularly assigned me to do. You see, I told them that no one in this organization I was starting was going to just sit on a board and Monday morning quarterback. Everyone was going to be on the front lines. Furthermore, I wanted them to tell me where I should serve. Within five minutes, 150 convicted felons came to consensus, with no input from me, that they wanted me to serve the homeless in center city Philadelphia. If any of you know this demographic, you should recognize what kind of miracle this was. I took this as my “Macedonian Call”. I started to serve one night a week and have not found a good reason to quit. During Mayor Wilson Goode’s years, we dealt with the rowdy crack heads and the prostitutes. Fast Eddie Rendell had the police harass us all the time. We were investigated by his undercover units at least three times. Each time, I managed to tell them that we would go to jail rather than stop serving, because we needed to obey God rather than men. Mayor Street’s cops tried to tell us that the parks were private property. He was about to aggressively enforce the sidewalk ordinance, when “a routine sweep for bugs” turned up FBI bugs in his office and he had bigger fish to fry. Last year, Mayor Nutter decreed that we could not give away food to poor people in the parks. We had to sue him in federal court to retain our right to do so.

While this was going on, we started a clothing ministry in East Greenville, Clothesline, that continued at Peace Mennonite Church. We also held several music festivals for the poor and homeless in Philadelphia and Pottstown. We served for several years in Pottstown and Stowe, PA. We started a similar ministry at two sites in Columbia, SC, that a local Vineyard church took ownership of. The prison ministry at Graterford continued for several years, until Gov. Tom Ridge stopped all ministry in the prison in a knee jerk reaction to an incident in the mosque there, in 1996. We did Project: Lydia in Northampton County Prison for the women until they did not allow us to include notes or New Testaments. We had a Monday Evening Bible Institute for a couple of years. We started Operation: Clean Start. We have moved countless sets of furniture for people moving into apartments. There have been various other projects.

In 1999, we were chrismated into the Orthodox Church. Our family happened to come into  an Antiochian Orthodox Church. The King’s Jubilee remains independently incorporated. I am sorry that I was so zealous, as converts often are, that almost all of our former supporters and volunteers dropped out of the ministry, as they saw this as an “Orthodox ministry.” I don’t know why this is such a problem, because my theology has not changed. When I first interviewed with Fr. Boniface, he kept asking me questions. With every answer, he just said, “You are so Orthodox!” Later, I found out that he was right. I had just read the Scriptures and the Fathers and had been Orthodox in my theology for many years and had just been longing for home. That being said, there is no reason my old friends can not join me. We have had Jews and atheists and Muslims and Methodists and Buddhists and Catholics serve with us and they have been happy as clams. We are not there to proselytize anyone. I still say what I have always said, “We do what we do in Jesus’ Name. If you don’t have a problem with that, I don’t have a problem with you joining us.” “In Jesus’ Name” does not mean that we preach at people. It means that we serve according to His will, with respect, love and dignity.

The occasion of this article is that I had a conversation this week with someone who told me that she wanted her church to support The King’s Jubilee, but wasn’t sure they would, because someone would say, “Well, they are Antiochian. Let the Antiochians do it.” I replied, “That’s stupid!”

We receive no budgeted or regular support from the Antiochian Church. My question to you is: Are you Christian?

This is ridiculous! No wonder the Orthodox Church is going nowhere as far as gospel witness is concerned. People say that it is growing fast in America, but that is only because the other churches are imploding under theological liberalism and gnosticism. There are fewer Mennonites in North America than there are Orthodox, yet they support 1,000 foreign missionaries, while we Orthodox barely support 20. We are going to punish the poor, because I was chrismated in an Antiochian church? Hey folks, I’m not Syrian. I’m not Greek. I’m not Russian. I’m not Serbian. I’m not Armenian. I’m not Ukrainian. I’m not Albanian. I’m not Georgian. I am American. Some of my ancestors have been here since 1628. I am trying to be Christian. I suggest that you try to be, too.

Jesus did not come to preserve ethnicities. He came to “build a new nation.” We have too much that needs to get done to worry about which bishop or which ethnicity or even which denomination or even which religion we belong to. Read Matthew 25. Everyone is surprised at the Judgment!

I’m going forward. I am sick of this Orthodox infighting and the jurisdictional nonsense. If this upsets you, I’m sorry. People are dying homeless on the streets. I think that is more important than whether or not we do things in the Antiochian or Greek or Russian way or not.

Lead. Follow. Or get out of the way.

We serve in Jesus’ Name.

Vote for Homes! – press release from Project Home

It’s the busy season with the Vote for Homes! Coalition and we need you to get involved with efforts to register, educate, mobilize, and empower thousands of homeless and low-income voters. (To join the coalition, visit www.voteforhomes.org/about.)

Also, please scroll down for more information about two popular events: Philadelphia Housing Authority Information Session and the Homeless Advocacy Project Birth Certificate Clinic.

Register Voters with the Vote for Homes Coalition Before the October 9th Deadline!
Register here to learn how to register voters and about voting rights for people who are homeless, living with disabilities, or ex-offenders. The trainings are designed for people working or living in social service agencies and volunteers who want to help register voters in our communities. It includes a special focus on the new Voter ID law. (Even volunteers who have been trained before are encouraged to come again because of the new information.)

Voter Registration Trainings- Pick one!
• Tuesday, August 14, 2:30 – 4:30
• Friday, August 17, 1 – 3
• Wednesday, August 22, 2:30-4:30 or 5:30 – 7:30
• Thursday, September 6, 10 – 12
• Tuesday, September 11, 2:30-4:30 or 5:30 – 7:30
• Friday, September 14, 2:30 – 4:30
• Sunday, September 16, 2:30 – 4:30

Trainings are held at 1515 Fairmount Avenue in Philadelphia.  Flyer available at www.voteforhomes.org. Snacks provided.
Please RSVP online at http://bit.ly/VFHtraining2012 or contact email advocacy@projecthome.org.

Philadelphia Housing Authority Trainings
In response to questions from community allies like yourselves, the Philadelphia Housing Authority are hosting two additional trainings on its program, policies, and procedures.

When: Tuesday, 8/21/12, 10am-12pm or Thursday, 9/6/12, 10am-12pm
Where: PHA Warnock Facility at 2850 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19133

Topics will include Overview of PHA Programs, Eligibility, Waitlist and Tenant Selection, Tenant Policies, Procedures, and Services. All are welcome, but space is limited, so signup here ASAP to reserve your spot. www.bit.ly/PHAinfoFALLSUMMER

The Homeless Advocacy Project & PECO Birth Certificate Clinic
Birth certificates are often needed to receive medical assistance, housing and other public benefits, to obtain a Pennsylvania driver’s or non-driver’s license, for access to many public buildings, for general identification and for many other purposes. This is especially critical right now because of Pennsylvania’s new voter photo ID law.

When: Wednesday, September 12, 2012, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Where: PECO EXELON 2301 Market Street, (Energy Hall A & B) Philadelphia, PA 19101
Who: Open (and free of charge) to homeless individuals and families and those at risk of  homelessness

Homeless individuals who attend this free clinic will meet with an advocate who will request birth certificates for them and their minor children free of charge. For all clinic dates and more information please visit: http://www.homelessadvocacyproject.org/legal-clinic-schedule.php

Remember – The Voter Registration Deadline is October 9th!
  Please contact Jennine Miller at 215-232-7272 if you need registration forms or assistance registering voters.  Information about trainings and resources are available at www.voteforhomes.org.

Sincerely,
Jennine Miller
On behalf of the Vote for Homes! Coalition

Food Is a Right, Not a Privilege

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 30, 2011

CONTACT:

Keith McHenry 575-770-3377

menu@foodnotbombs.net

www.foodnotbombs.net/food_is_a_right.html

Kathy Mitro 386-795-9643

kathymitro@yahoo.com

FOOD IS A RIGHT, NOT A PRIVILEGE

Sharing food with the hungry is an unregulated act of kindness.

End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry.

Rescind all laws restricting compassion.

“I wholeheartedly support the action on April 1, 2012 to protest

laws against sharing food!” Dr. Cornel West –  author and professor  at Princeton University

“THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY TO GIVE OUT FOOD, THERE IS ONLY GIVING OUT

ALL THE FOOD YOU CAN”

– Kathy Mitro who posted a petition on line after being threatened  with arrest for sharing food in Daytona Beach. Florida in January 2012

We are proposing that people all over the world consider sharing  free meals in celebration our right to food and participate in our  campaign for an end to laws restricting acts of compassion.

Celebrate our right to feed the hungry with music, theater, and the  sharing of food.

SUNDAY, APRIL 1, 2012

It has been distressing to receive so many reports in the past few  weeks of people being threatened with arrest or cities adopting new  laws limiting people’s right to share free food with the public.

People in Belarus, England, California, Texas, Pennsylvania, South  Carolina, and Florida have been contacting the Food Not Bombs global coordination office about having been threatened with arrest for sharing food. Others report that their local governments are considering laws to limit acts of compassion. Food Not Bombs volunteers in Minsk have been arrested for sharing meals an police  raided a benefit concert on March 24, 2012 charging 15 volunteers with sentenced to administrative arrests.

This new wave of threats is happening as half of all Americans are  struggling to survive. The Department of Agriculture’s February  report shows that 46,286,294 people relied on food stamps in  November of 2011. People have been arriving at Food Not Bombs meals claiming they had not eaten in four days because other food programs had exhausted their resources. The Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that 1 in 7 people or 925 million people world wide went hungry in 2010. We are announcing a global campaign to recognize that sharing food with the hungry is an unregulated activity of compassion and should not be interfered with by the authorities.

Our movement started when the “Diggers” occupied St George’s Hill in Surrey, England on April 1, 1649 in a protest for the right of landless people to feed themselves. We are announcing our global campaign for the right of all people to share food with the hungry without regulation on the anniversary of the first act of the peaceful resistance by the “Diggers” of St George’s Hill.

The public is encouraged to share meals with their community on Sunday, April 1, 2012  to celebrate our right to share food and end all efforts to restrict acts of compassion. Please email our office so we can post your event on our website.

FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry

http://www.foodnotbombs.net/food_is_a_right.html

FOOD IS A RIGHT NOT A PRIVILEGE – End all efforts to stop people from feeding the hungry on blog.foodnotbombs.net

http://blog.foodnotbombs.net/food-is-a-right-not-a-privilege-end-all-efforts-to-stop-people-from-feeding-the-hungry/

ENDORSED BY

•    Barbara Ehrenreich – author of Nickel and Dimed

•    Dr. Cornel West – author and professor Princeton University

•    Noam Chomsky – author and professor M.I.T.

•    Michael Parenti – author and lecturer

•    Raj Patel – author of Stuffed and Starved

•    Eric Holt-Giménez – Food First/Institute for Food and

Development Policy

•    Bill McKibben – author Deep Economy

•    David Barsamian – founder and director of Alternative Radio

•    David Rovics – Musician, USA

•    Kevin Devine – Musician, Brooklyn, NY

•    Dorinda Moreno – Fuerza Mundial Collaborative

•    Rev. Brian Burch – President, St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society

•    Francisca James Hernández, Ph.D. – Southwest Institute for Research on Women

•    Kathy Kelly – Co-coordinator, Voices for Creative Nonviolence

•    Max Ventura – Musician, Activist, Mom, USA

•    Michele Burke – St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada

•    Rabbi. Auri V. Ish – Musician, Nederland Colorado

•    Christina Persaud – Halifax Nova Scotia

•    Can Baskent – Practical Anarchy, New York City

•    Planting Justice – Oakland, CA

•    KT Terry – Founder Homeless Not Hopeless Poets For Change

•    Marian Wagner – The North Country Coalition for Justice and Peace, East Ryegate, Vermont

•    Tessza Udvarhelyi – The City is for All, Budapest, Hungary

•    Tristram Stuart – organized “Feeding the 5000″in London’s Trafalgar Square UK

•    Kathy Mitro – Daytona Beach, Florida USA

•    Agustina Vidal – Myrtle Beach Food Not Bombs

•    Birmingham Food Not Bombs – Birmingham, UK

•    Keith McHenry – Co-founder of the Food Not Bombs Movement

•    Lauren Melodia – Founder & Co-organizer Milk Not Jails USA

•    Tom Ferguson – Author, Atlanta, Georgia USA

•    Comida, no bombas – Monterrey, Mexico

•    Tampa Food Not Bombs – Tampa, Florida USA

•    Grand Rapids Food Not Bombs – Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA

•    The Civil Liberties Defense Center – Eugene, Oregon, USA

•    Durango Food Not Bombs – Durango, Colorado, USA

•    Houston Food Not Bombs – Houston, Texas, USA

•    Budapest Food Not Bombs – Budapest, Hungary

•    Randall Amster – Chair of the Master’s Program in Humanities at Prescott College, and also serves as the Executive Director of  the Peace & Justice Studies Association. USA

•    Ellen Murphy – Bellingham, WA, USA

•    Cincinnati Food Not Bombs – Cincinnati, OH, USA

•    Miakoda (jyll taylor) – founder & director of Fierce Allies

•    Washington D.C. Food Not Bombs – Washington D.C. USA

•    Christy Prahl, New Communities Program Director – Humboldt  Park, Chicago, IL

We added our name to the list as well.

Feeding The Homeless BANNED In Major Cities All Over America

http://world.hawaiinewsdaily.com/2012/03/feeding-the-homeless-banned-in-major-cities-all-over-america/

Philadelphia decides to stop outdoor feeding of homeless

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=6X6HDnXufQk&fb_source=message%E2%80%AAPhiladelphi%E2%80%ACa

Parker retools, delays homeless feeding plan

http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Parker-retools-delays-homeless-feeding-plan-3422252.php

Food not Bombs activists to stand trial after riot police`s raid on charity concert in Minsk

http://naviny.by/rubrics/english/2012/03/25/ic_articles_259_177292

Freedom Day, Arbitrary Detentions and Travel Bans – Belarus Politics  Digest

http://belarusdigest.com/story/freedom-day-arbitrary-detentions-and-travel-bans-belarus-politics-digest-8553

The Donate Button is on the Right

I did the math, and over the last 23 years, The King’s Jubilee has served or provided about half a million meals to homeless people or to needy children or seniors on fixed incomes. We have distributed tons of clothing and blankets to families in need. We have moved dozens of houses full of furniture from those who needed to get rid of it to those who needed it but could not afford it. We have redistributed dozens of used computers to people who needed them to learn basic skills or school children in the inner city. We have purchased vehicles for other ministries who serve in Jesus’ Name, even once acquiring an electric golf cart to help a tutor get around Richard Allen Homes project with all her books and teaching tools.

We have done all this and more on a frayed shoestring, with no building other than my home and no salaried staff. I say all this to say we are tired and we need your help to do greater things in the next generation. Please dig deep and give generously.