Buh-Bye!

It has been over a year since we have served a meal on the street. The open heart surgery and the infections put an end to that. I finally had to admit that I am too at risk to circulate in that population. I pushed and pushed and pushed, with very little support. Now I am done.

Thank you for the handful ( and that is a literal handful) of faithful supporters who have hung in with us to the bitter end. We have continued to help with emergency rent and grocery assistance to help a few people stay off of the street. Please find more viable agencies to support and channel your support there. I highly recommend Kork Moyer in Pottstown & Stowe. He was one of my disciples in the early years. He’s one of the few who understood and have stuck with it. I have canceled all automatic, recurring, PayPal donations, and will be closing that account.

We had a good run. It’s been fun!

Peace out!

 

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.

Martin’s Ground Beef Hash

Thursday, it was unclear whether or not we were going to be able to serve anything in the city on Friday night. I had spent $400 of personal funds to make the TKJ-mobile operational again. Our personal budget was blown for the month. There was not enough money to buy any food and drink for Philadelphia, for the guys on the street. I shared the last post on Facebook with the tagline: “We are out of money and out of food for the street. The car is fixed, out of personal funds, so we are out of money for the month. But I deserve to end up homeless, so don’t send money to help the poor.”

One friend responded with a $100 donation. So I called up Tony and told him to get himself up here to help me cook and gear up for the street. Friday morning, we shopped, then Tony peeled and diced potatoes while I cooked.

Ingredients:

  • 9-1/4 lbs. 80% lean Ground Beef
  • 7 lbs. red potatoes, peeled, diced to ~1/2″ cubes and rinsed
  • 3 lbs. yellow onions, diced
  • 5 large, sweet red peppers, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 head Garlic
  • 1-1/2″ fresh Ginger
  • Black Pepper Grinder
  • Ground Red Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Ground Coriander

In the largest cast iron skillet you own, start to fry up a large handful of Ground Beef. Add a diced Onion or two and some of the Sweet Pepper. Add a bunch of the diced potatoes. Grate some ginger onto it. Crush a clove or two of Garlic onto it. Shake some Paprika, Red Pepper and Coriander on. Grind some Black Pepper on. Keep stirring and turning this until all the beef is cooked and the potatoes are looking delicious, but not crispy. Dump into large, agate roaster pan and repeat. Try not to have the skillet so full that you end up with your range full of potatoes and onions at the end of the process (voice of experience). Stir everything together in the turkey roaster pan. Cover. Place in the oven and slow roast for three to five hours at 190º.

Notes: Do not short circuit this recipe by failing to slow roast it. That is the secret to its success! The initial sauteeing released all the flavors, but the slow roasting allowed the subtleties of them to blend throughout the dish.
Coriander adds a very subtle, earthy flavor note. It is more important as a nutrient. It is helpful to the kidneys. Ginger is a bit of a surprise, but subtle in this amount. It plays a bit with the garlic. Only the more sensitive palates will notice, but they will smile.

It’s a low sodium recipe. We let people add their own salt. Very few people did. This is the first time in 30 years we served hash. The guys were enthusiastic! They told us to make it part of our regular rotation. We said we would try. Now we just need to try not to become homeless ourselves, and find some regular support.

I am tired of begging.

It took me over a week just to start this article, meanwhile our GoFundMe sits there with $20 in it, and we are another week closer to losing a lifetime’s worth of equity, and any shot at having a decent base of operations for The King’s Jubilee. We are serving a hot, nutritious meal to the homeless each Friday night on Logan Circle, now, and have nothing left in the checking account after putting gas in the tank. The people are so glad to see us! One lady kept repeating how she had missed my soups. I am a bad fundraiser, though. I don’t have many friends who are not homeless or poor.

As I am writing this, Tony is out back, working hard to finish the barn, so it can be our office, community kitchen, art studio, project area and drop off point for food, clothing, household goods, and furniture. Please give and share the GoFundMe however you can, online, or by printing the poster and taping it up on the fridge in your break room at work.

Thanks! Peace.

Pariah

"If you cannot find Christ in the beggar at the church door, you will not find Him in the chalice." - St. John Chrysostom

Sorry, I am removing any and all endorsements from the 12 Baskets group. They have told me they don’t want to be associated with me in any way shape or form, even though none of them would have gotten involved on the street had it not been for me introducing them to it and being there constantly. They say I have been cantankerous and argumentative. Of course, the person saying that to me has been extremely cantankerous and argumentative to me, and has not been on the street that much.

I have never said I am not cantankerous. I can be. I don’t know of a single person who has been at this as long as I have who isn’t at times. It is damned hard to live at below poverty standards and keep going while pastors continue to abuse you and bishops lie and abuse you and feel threatened in their lifestyle, because the pittance you want for the homeless may cut into the grandeur of their banquets and not be considered an irritant!

I am finally quitting, because I am bankrupt after 26-1/2 years serving on the street. Some of these people who are saying these nasty things, just two weeks ago were flattering me and saying how they couldn’t do this. Then, as soon as I was quitting, it was all about how they could do it easy, because of how rich they are. They despise me because of my poverty! This is exactly what makes them unsuited for this ministry!

We are about to lose our house. No one gives a shit!
I have extreme depression and CPTSD because of CLERGY ABUSE! No one gives a shit! (Perhaps this is why I am cantankerous?)
I gave up a lucrative career to serve the poor. My children and grandchildren are wonderful, happy children, largely as a result. Thousands of inmates and poor received some hope and joy and unconditional friendship. Hundreds received HS GEDs. Hundreds learned English as a second language. A couple received their Bachelor’s degree. One graduated as a nurse Cum Laude. One became a prison chaplain. Others got their families together, etc. That’s among the homeless and inmates. Then, among our volunteers; Several found their callings to be doctors and medical missionaries and counselors and priests and nurses or to serve the homeless in other cities, while they were serving with us, because I stuck by the stuff. No one gives a shit!

I went through the court case with no support from any of these people or the church, in tears for months, in order to continue serving in the parks. No one gives a shit!

I was trying to be magnanimous. I gave my cooking gear and supplies to 12 Baskets, even while I was hearing negative comments, then it went beyond the pale.

I am a throwaway. I am a difficult person. Never mind the sociopathic priests or the bishops who refuse to deal with them and just hang up on me. Never mind the pastor who threatened to kill me. He got to keep his salary. He was the right nationality. I can just go to hell. I can’t go to church without risking a stroke. But I am “playing the victim” to say this!

Yesterday, I brought a week’s rent down to a couple, only to find out today that Social Security lost our documentation for expediting back disability pay. This means, we are likely to lose our house. This is why I quit. I was just too tired of begging to people who didn’t give a damn. All they care about is their warped view of Matthew 25. Here is a news flash. If you are serving the homeless to get into heaven, it won’t work! You can’t buy your way into heaven. Everyone is surprised at the Judgment. That is the point of that story. Judge no one. Muslims or atheists may enter before you. No one can con God. If you are doing this to earn points with God, the people can smell that on you, and it stinks to high heaven of self-righteousness. You may as well stay home.

You need to serve the poor because it is the right thing to do and because you enjoy doing it. The McGraws understand this and are faithful, loving people, with more patience than me. I am really glad that 12 Baskets is taking up this work and pray that God will bless and strengthen their hands and hearts and provide them with every good thing to continue to provide for my friends for many years! I guess I am blessing them after all. God chooses the foolish things to confound the wise. If God could use me, He can certainly use them.

Pray and give to save Rashawn’s Diamond

I have known Rashawn for over 20 years. He suffers from dwarfism, yet I have rarely seen him with a negative attitude. He works hard whenever he can get work. He always has a plan for the future. I have never seen him drunk or high. He is known to be a reliable man. Life keeps knocking him down. He is trying to take care of his wife, Alice, who he calls Diamond. She is a beautiful, cheerful, African-American woman who is always thankful for every little blessing that comes their way. This has been a rough winter. There has not always been enough money to rent a room. The shelters don’t let people stay in during the days. There has not always been enough room in the shelters. We have not had enough money to make up the shortfall to provide rent for them. They had been working with a social worker and were on the verge of moving into a house last November. The social worker’s mother died. She went to France to bury her mother. The agency did not transfer their case intact to another social worker. They had to start the months long process all over.

All of this made for a bad situation, leaving Rashawn and Diamond out in the cold for some of the wettest, winter nights of the year. Diamond got walking pneumonia and TB. She spent a few days in ICU and a few days recovering with oxygen on a regular floor at Hahnemann, then they released her back onto the street, still coughing, during Code Blue weather. May God have mercy on us!

Many of the private shelters, including the one they have been staying at (because they can stay there as a couple) will be closing on April 1. That’s less than a week away.

I know we can’t save everybody we meet or intervene in every bad situation, but we can do this. At The King’s Jubilee, we have never had the institutional approach, that, if we can’t do it for everybody, we should do it for nobody. No. We have the attitude of “the starfish thrower” who when she was told that it was futile to throw the beached starfish back into the sea, because they were too numerous. How could she possibly make a difference? She replied, “It will make a difference for this starfish!” as she flung one more out, saving its life.

Rashawn and Diamond need $500 for one month’s rent to get a running start through the iffy weather of spring. This way, Diamond has a real shot at recovery. Frankly, I don’t understand why this is not covered as part of Medicaid. It is far cheaper than a return visit to the hospital. At any rate, we can do this. Rashawn and Diamond would be most grateful and they also deeply covet your prayers. (Rashawn’s Christian name is Jose’.)

P.S.  We paid for over two months of their rent, even though less than that was designated for their support. They did join us for Memorial Day picnic. When I took them back, they were very upset because they did not have rent. They did not tell us this ahead of time. I told them I did not have money. Diamond got very upset. She started to call and accuse me of all sorts of all sorts of false things. Anthony answered the phone, since I was driving. He could not believe what she was saying. He has known me for many years and was at our house for the weekend. She began texting all sorts of accusations that we had not given them all the money that had come in for rent, etc. We paid the next month’s rent despite the accusations, even though none of the money was designated for them. We decided to go the second mile. A few weeks later they asked if they could store five bags of their things in our barn. We said OK and arranged for Uncle John to pick it up from their place on his way home from work.

When John arrived at our place, I went outside and found they had come home with him, expecting to stay with us. They had just not said anything to him and climbed into his car. They had never asked me if they could stay with me. They had accused me of all sorts of awful things the last time they were here for a picnic. We had helped them in spite of their behavior with another $600 rent and $20 cash. It was close to midnight. There was no room. Bethann would have been very upset if she woke up to find them here. I was ballistic. I have never in all my years seen such gall and such deception! I gave them 10 minutes to put their bags in the barn and get off my property before I called the police for trespass. They called John. John gave them a ride to the train station to get a ride to Philadelphia.

Now they are texting me with a threat of suing me for not giving me all the money I raised for them. They are delusional and evil. Rashawn, as it turns out, has been offered housing through an agency in Phila., which he turned down in order to stay at the hotel without inspection with Alice Diamond Robinson.

Bitter Cold on the Streets of Philadelphia

On the last couple of Thursdays, volunteers have called me to see if we were still going out to serve, since it was Code Blue in the city. I explained on each occasion that, yes, we would be going. Many of the people we serve are not fully homeless. They live in rented rooms, but have no place to prepare food. Some of them have to choose between rent and food for the month or week. Many we serve are the hardcore of the homeless who refuse to go in to shelters due to fear for their own safety or fear of being picked up on an old bench warrant, or just not wanting to admit that they are that homeless and dependent. Then there is the cold, hard truth, that even with the expanded capacity and outreach of Code Blue, there isn’t enough space for everyone to come in from out of the cold.

It’s a sad state of affairs. There are lots of heated, vacant spaces, if we only had more compassion. Train conductors used to be allowed to look the other way and let homeless ride and sleep on the subway all night, maybe without collecting a fare. Now there are cameras and they’d lose their jobs. The trains are running. It costs nothing more. It hurts nobody. It saves lives. We all descended from poor and homeless people at some point. Now we are afraid of them, so we don’t let them ride.

Those of us serving were well bundled up with layers. We served about 50 people. I thank God we had blankets and new socks and some clothing to give away. We served hot, thick hamburger and cabbage soup, spicy tagine, spaghetti, and hot chocolate, along with our usual complement of fruits, eggs, sandwiches, etc. We gave just about everything away! Somebody even left a huge bag of foil wrapped chocolate coins on our front step along with a cash donation. It was a joy to share those as a special treat on such a cold night. The cash helped someone stay out of the cold in a room. We were freezing and so ready to get back into cars with heat, by the time we left, 45 minutes after we arrived. My hands are still cold and stiff more than 12 hours later, even though I was wearing gloves the whole time (since they got frostbit in 1969). But we got to go home to heat and basically unlimited hot water, coffee, microwaves, tea, etc. We left these people, our brothers and sisters, on the street to try to survive more sub-zero, windy, Code Blue days and nights in a city whose main concern is that they not be seen in public.

May God forgive us.



So Much Pain

I know I should be posting more often and being more positive. I also know I probably shouldn’t talk so much about myself. It seems so many people focus on me when they consider giving to The King’s Jubilee, which is really ridiculous, since I obviously haven’t benefited by doing this. We are in danger of foreclosure again, yet the ministry has been paying a helper’s rent. The priority is always on helping people get off and stay off of the street.

The truth of the matter is since June of 2012, I have had constant, severe pain in my lower spine. Because of my migraines and strokes, none of the doctors paid any attention to this. I thought they had looked at it and determined there was nothing to do about it, except pain control. Here they had never looked at that part of my spine. Now, I am a white man, living in the suburbs. I had good insurance at the time, yet still I ended up with this miserable oversight. Even with pain meds and a comfortable chair and bed and heated home, I have constant tears from pain. What if I were a homeless, black woman, without insurance going through this? I doubt I could have survived (or would have wanted to). I guess this is part of what keeps me going. Even at my lowest moments, I have so much more than those we serve.

This month marks the completion of the 26th year of service of The King’s Jubilee. We had always hoped to do so much more. We have spun off ministries that have gone on to be bigger and better than ours, so that is something. At this point, it is looking like it is time to either close TKJ or spin it off to younger leadership. We do not even have the resources for this week’s meal. The TKJ-mobile is two months out of inspection. I have no credit left. People don’t give because they don’t like me. So it is obvious I need to be the scapegoat and step aside or this ministry is dead. I did speak to a young lady about this a couple of years ago, but she recently was married and had a child, so I don’t know. She has the right stuff.  Please pray for us. Please give, knowing it goes to serve the homeless and poor. We serve with dignity, respect and joy, in other words, in Jesus’ Name.



Turkey Royale

On Thursday, December 18, I was moving pretty slowly. I was so tired from Wednesday. I don’t know if it’s the medications, the pain, the CPTSD, or the kidney disease that makes me so tired and sleepy, but most days it is hard to stay awake for more than two hours in a row. So I planned a fairly simple soup this week; simple to make, that is. It had very interesting and complex flavor notes. We served all of it, yet added very little hot sauce or salt and pepper to it for our customers. Here’s the recipe.

Start by baking an 18 pound turkey in a covered roasting pan with about 3 inches of water in it with about a tablespoon of ground ginger in it. I use an oven with a probe, so I set that to 170º and let it go past it to about 174°.

Once that is halfway done, get your food processor, canner, 22 quart stock pot, old hand towel, and the rest of your ingredients out:

  • 2 quarts homemade Turkey Broth
  • 1-3/4 cups Royal Purple Rice aka Black Rice aka Havasta
  • Olive Oil
  • ~ 4 sticks of Celery
  • 1 pound Carrots
  • 2 Red Onions
  • 2 Yellow Onions
  • 2 Fennel
  • 3 inches Fresh Turmeric
  • 2 inches Fresh Ginger
  • 1 pound Radishes w/o greens
  • 1 oz. fresh Parsley
  • Mixed Peppercorn grinder
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Turmeric
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Star Anise

When the turkey is about halfway done, place the homemade turkey broth in the 22 quart stock pot and begin to heat it up. Mine was frozen. That’s why I said, place. Start the rice. I use a simple rice cooker. Pour in some olive oil. Add the black rice, then a Tablespoon of turmeric, then the appropriate amount of water. It takes a little more water than brown rice.

Throw the Fresh Ginger and Fresh Turmeric into the blender and pulverize it, until they are as fine as you can get them. Cut the carrots into 3 inch lengths and throw them into the blender or Ninja chopper bowl with the ginger and Turmeric. Hit Pulse a few times, until the carrots are all bite size or smaller, but not pureed. Dump into stock pot. It may take a few loads to get all the carrots. Then do the same for the onions, including the parsley with one of the loads. Similarly chop the celery, the fennel, including the feathery tops, and, finally the radishes. Rinse out the blender or Ninja bowl with hot water and ad that to the stock pot. You should be stirring this every time you add something.

When the turkey is done, drain all the liquid into the stock pot and leave the turkey on the counter to cool until you are able to tear it up to put it into the soup. Add the Coriander and the Star Anise and ~ 1 Tablespoon fine ground, mixed Peppercorns. Stir. Get your canner and place your old hand towel, folded in half, in the bottom of it. Put about 2-1/2″ hot tap water into it. Place the stock pot into the canner and move it onto the burner. Now you have a giant double boiler, so as long as there is water in the canner, it is impossible for you to burn the soup. Take a teapot or measuring cup and fill the canner to about 2″ shy of the top for maximum heat transference without it bubbling over. Keep the cover on the stock pot as much as possible.

As soon as the turkey is barely cool enough to handle, rip it up and add it to the soup, stirring it in frequently. On the first dip under, the meat will appear green. After a few more dips, it will appear brown or purple. It is not a pretty soup. It is ideal for serving in the dark. So right around the winter solstice, outdoors, is ideal. It is very tasty! And nutritious. The wild purple royal rice has a lightly sweet flavor. It actually has been known to lower blood sugar in some people. It is so named because it was reserved for royalty in China. The earthy turmeric actually draws out this flavor and is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which improves liver function, can replace Lipitor, fight arthritis, diabetes, and 40 other ailments. Ginger is also a powerful anti-inflammatory with some of the same effects and an added benefit of preventing migraines. Anise and fennel are good for the digestion and the teeth and gums. Coriander is especially good for the kidneys and the bladder. The rice, also known as black rice, has more flavonoids  ounce for ounce than blueberries, so it is great for fighting or preventing cancer. These are all great things for people who have limited access to regular healthcare.

billTedWe realize that one meal in the week is not a solution. We publish these recipes in the hope that we can raise the bar for others serving and, perhaps set the pace. I would hope as we have learned more about diet and health, we have improved our own diets and the way we cook for ourselves. This just comes under the Golden Rule: to do for others as we would have done unto us. Or as Bill and Ted said it: “Be excellent to each other! And party on, Dudes!”

And it was a party. Bethann & I are on the verge of being foreclosed on again. When we went down there, we had nothing in our or TKJ’s bank accounts. The only money in my wallet was committed to help someone else with their rent. We gave away hundreds of sandwiches, 21 quarts of soup that was really stew, a cabbage potato side, spaghetti, loads of hard boiled eggs, oranges, bananas, Girl Scout made cupcakes, ice tea, peanuts in the shell, goodies, underwear, coats, socks, and blankets. We received word from a grinning Grigory that his son was back from the Ukraine alive! He doesn’t have to go back until March. We were rejoicing with tears of joy together. (There are worse places to be than homeless on the streets of Philadelphia.) Rashawn reminded me to buy him a cake for his birthday next week. I told him, No, I will build him one!

I am so thankful for the families that faithfully make sandwiches every week, or once a month. I am so thankful for the people who donate regularly to make what we do possible each week. I am so thankful for all the people who bailed us out this year when we were going to lose our house. I am so grateful for the people who have not given up on me, or at least, have decided not to punish the homeless on my account.

The last two Thursdays, I had people lined up who were coming, who I was pretty much counting on to drive. They clean forgot. I understand that. I have done that with fairly important appointments. These days, I miss an average of one doctor’s appt. per month. I’ve had six strokes and I never used calendars before. Both weeks, we had a driver show up, so, no problem. On Thursday morning, I felt like I didn’t want to go. I was just that tired. I had to finish making a Christmas gift to bring along to deliver, as well. I got kind of a late start to the day. Then the pace picked up, and it was so worth it! For me, it is unthinkable to miss a week going down if I can at all make it. It’s what I was made for! I understand if this is not your cup of tea, yet you are willing to fill in here and there. Not everyone can be crazy like me. I am too stupid to be afraid in just about any situation. I am comfortable around all kinds of people, in all kinds of mental states. But I don’t have the patience to faithfully make loaves of sandwiches for people I don’t even see week after week after week. That is a real gift of hospitality! I don’t have a means of earning the money to support this ministry or the work I do for it. But I enjoy giving your alms away for you.

I’ve rambled long enough. Thank you for supporting the ministry to those of you who do. We need much more if we are to continue to serve with the quality we have grown accustomed to.

Please consider a year end gift and a monthly automatic donation.

Peace.



Christmas Events 2014

socksChristmas would hardly be Christmas without new socks and underwear! It’s a guy thing. Dads expect it. What  else is there to buy them? After all, most men just buy whatever they need or want whenever they want to. Well, middle class and up men, that is. For the last few years, we have had the privilege of bringing the joy of new socks and underwear to about 200 homeless men and women at Tindley Temple United Methodist Church’s Soup Kitchen’s Christmas Party. This year it is on Wednesday, December 17, at noon. That is only 9 days away. We need to raise about $500 to make this happen. We prefer money, so we can go shopping and get all the proper range of sizes to meet the need, in an orderly fashion. Then we will help serve the meal and give away these gifts along with some toiletries from the ladies auxiliary from the church.

christmas-cookiesThe following week is Christmas. Since Christmas and New Year’s Day both fall on Thursday and Friday is under-served, we are going to serve on Friday both of those weeks. On Friday, Dec. 26, we hope to bring lots of home made cookies along to give away, as a special treat, and a touch of home. So, if you bake, please make an extra plate or two for us and get it to our house by 6:30 pm,that Friday, or call me to see who else may be able to bring them down.

This is a great opportunity for younger children to come down, since it will not be a school night. We will be serving hot chocolate those nights to add to the festive atmosphere. Come join the fun! Make it a family outing!