Update on upcoming dates to help the homeless in Chicago #homeless #Chicago

On December 21 my favorites Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless will once again be in downtown Chicago distributing care packages, winter clothing and whatever else John may be able to come up with to make this cold a little bit easier.

On December 22 Kristy Williamson is organizing a similar event.

If anyone would like to help or donate any items to be distributed feel free to click on the links or contact me to make arrangements. The last trip was an eye opener for me so come on Chicagoland let’s help these people make a difference.

So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

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Giving back while being homeless, an eye opening experience #homeless #Chicago #giving back #charity

My afternoon started yesterday around 3:30 meeting John Shafer and the other volunteers from Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless. We gathered and picked up quite a few bags they had prepared with some essential items and hit the streets. We stopped everywhere that we saw a person on the corner, sitting in a cubby hole and let them know that here’s a little bit of help. Also that we would be setting up a little later if they needed some winter clothing. Towards the end of our walking around the theme of the day started. This goes to show how little I actually know but the start of so you have any socks began.

As 5 o’clock approached we headed back to the park on State and Van Buren next to the Harold Washington Library. We met up with Raymond Lopez, the Democratic Committeeman from the 15th ward in Chicago. More on Ray later, but in addition to everything the Chicago and Michiana crew brought with them Ray also had a truckload of winter coats donated by people from his day job with Southwest Airlines.

After setting up three truckloads of clothing it didn’t take long for the people who needed it to start coming up. This was about the time that Ray said to a couple of us let’s go drive around for a few minutes looking for more people. At this point he has no clue who I am, thinking I’m just another volunteer. This is where the experience really started as we entered Lower Wacker Drive. While I’ve driven through there before I never really noticed the people living there. We pulled over and talked to everyone we came in contact with. I was astonished to see the people with all of their meager belongings who called it home. The biggest surprise came when Ray asked, “Where did everybody go?” Apparently the city has begun rounding people up and kicking them out or arresting them. The look of disgust that I saw on Ray’s face told me he isn’t your typical politician.

We weren’t gone that long, but when we returned to the park I was amazed to see there already wasn’t much left. By far the most often asked for item was socks followed by thermal underwear.

Then the time came that I had a moment to talk to Ray and some of the people still coming up for the items that were still left. Apparently there has been a huge crackdown on the homeless getting harassed and arrested by the city. I guess with the holidays among is if they get swept up and put in jail that no one will realize that the problem is still there. That and how bad the social services that so many tax dollars get spent on how ineffective they really are.

After we cleaned up I was invited to go eat with the other volunteers. It was definitely nice to get to be normal for a meal. Something I haven’t been able to experience for awhile. Also thanks to Ray for picking up the tab!

After dinner I was getting ready to walk back to the truck when Ray said I have to go that way anyway I’ll give you a ride. That turned in to sitting at Dunkin Donuts for a coffee and really talking about how I ended up in this situation and what I’m doing about it. I also brought up after seeing everything earlier how fortunate I am compared to some of the people we saw earlier.

We will be doing this again on December 21, if anyone would like to donate any items for distribution, make a monetary donation to Chicago and Michiana 5 for the homeless or just want to come help feel free to contact me through one of the various methods I post here and will get you in touch with the appropriate people.

Now for my typical self serving portion of the post:
So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

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I’m going to be helping this weekend and some thank you notes #homeless #Chicago #giving back @HEPHNERJEFF

I feel the need to help spread the word. I’ve spoken about them before but Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless will be in Chicago on Saturday at 5:00 pm at Pritzker Park on State Street next to the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library. John and his entire crew have been so wonderful to me throughout my ordeal the least I can do is come and help distribute the items they are bringing up.

I also have some thank you notes to share here. For starters John Hephner one of the actors on Chicago Fire saw a tweet from when I was walking by their set one day. He went on to retweet my blog and I can attribute a few new followers to him.

The support on my gofundme page this week was also overwhelming. There was one individual that wants to remain anonymous that helped substantially twice, I owe them a debt of gratitude. Now, not to forget everyone else every dollar will help in the long term. I’m getting a bit overwhelmed with the generosity no matter how small it may be. You are taking away from yourself to help me. That is something I will never forget.

I also had the pleasure of meeting the Menendez family last night. Ivette had stumbled across my blog and sent me a message on Facebook yesterday. I had the honor of meeting her, her husband and two children last night. They were more than generous in putting gas in my tank and we talked for a bit. Her heart is so big it is a moment I will never forget.

Last but not least an update on the work front. I’ll be finishing up the week tonight. It is going well. It’s pretty tedious and boring work, but I’m grateful to be there. Without going into too many details I am doing warranty repairs and refurbishing returned computers for a major computer manufacturer. The job is only supposed to last through the end of the month. I was able to get a referral for a hiring event where they take you into a simulated environment and you fix the problems they create. This came from my supervisor at the temp job! It is going to involve me taking a half day off to attend and it also happens to be on my birthday. Coincidence? Maybe, but I’m calling it a sign of better times on the horizon.

It wouldn’t be my blog if I didn’t shamelessly promote myself. So here it goes:

So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it. Also with Christmas time upon us if you want that Ultimate gaming computer built or that multimedia machine for your tv I can do that too! We can meet at the parts store, design the perfect machine for you and your budget. Then I’ll build it with you and have it running in a few hours.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

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Answering some questions on how to help the homeless #Homeless #Chicago #helping

I should probably start out by saying I am probably not the best person to ask this question. Obviously I’m a little more versed in social media than most in my situation. And while I’ve taken that route I’m also lucky enough to have a vehicle to store most of my things in. But I have been asked what do people need and where do we help. I’ll address these along with what things are bad ideas as well.

Good ideas. It’s getting cold out so gloves and scarves. But something else to consider is cold medication. However when selecting it take a look to see it’s not one of the ingredients to make crystal meth from. Same goes for cough syrup. Most have a good amount of alcohol in them and the people I’ve run into here would use it to get drunk.

Big items such as coats and sleeping bags are great. I was fortunate enough to get a pretty nice sleeping bag and on that night it hit 10 degrees I was nice and warm. Without it I would’ve had to go into the shelter as a last resort.

Food items. Things to eat are always appreciated. But please no canned goods. How many homeless people walk around with a can opener to take advantage of it? Things that don’t spoil and are prepackaged are best. Gift cards for places such as McDonalds, Subway and Dunkin Donuts are good choices because they are all over the place and you don’t have to eat it right then but when you need it. Starbucks cards are also a good choice. While this could be considered frivolous look at it from this perspective. A large drip coffee is about $2.50. However Starbucks is used to people sitting in there for hours on end. So a cup of coffee in Starbucks will not only warm someone up, but also give them a warm place to hang out for a little while.

Now, where to go? There are a few key places. Lower Wacker Drive has a high homeless population. You can always see people around the Taylor St exit off of 90/94 as well. Next to the Harold Washington branch of the Chicago Public Library on State Street is a park where a lot of homeless hang around as well.

I would also suggest looking for an established group as well. Smaller more grass roots groups that get into the trenches that you can hook up with to either augment what they are already doing or something completely different as well. Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless is a fantastic organization that I’ve been in contact with and they have helped me tremendously throughout my ordeal. They can be contacted through Facebook here. John Shafer is an amazing individual that I’m sure will be able to guide anyone who wants to help in the city. I will be with him and his group to help them pass things out this Saturday. Just because I’m homeless doesn’t mean I can’t do my part to help as well!

Lastly a bit of self promotion.

So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

Working your way out of homelessness, Giving Tuesaday #homeless #Chicago, #Giving Tuesday

I’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about life in the shelter, my day to day trials of living in my vehicle, the cost of being homeless. I found out something I never heard of before and that is Giving Tuesday. I figured it was time to take my previous post of the economics of being homeless and expand it to what it will actually take to get out of this situation.

In the previous post I broke down that to barely survive it costs $10.75 a day or roughly $350.00 per month just to barely squeak out life in this city. I’ve mentioned to some people that I was able to obtain a temporary position that is going to run through the end of the year. Congratulations, right? Definitely, but that is just the tip of the iceberg to getting out of the truck. A few people have stepped up in helping me with funds for gas to help with the first week or so. The tough part was finding out today how pay works. I am going to work almost 3 weeks before I see a check. The agency gets the hours on a weekly basis, they hold a week back and pay every two weeks. Basically I’ll almost be done with the contract before I see a check for it. How I’m going to make it work I’m not sure, but I don’t have a choice. I will be making less than I feel I am worth, but beggars can’t be choosers. So $15 hour is $600 per week. After taxes that will work out to roughly $420. My gas use will increase to roughly $20 day. Why not go closer to where the job is? That is simple, you aren’t allowed to sleep in a vehicle and I need to be able to park where it will be overlooked. I’m going to have to change the oil in the truck soon. It hasn’t been done in quite awhile and with it being the only major asset I have it needs to be taken care of. I also may need to come up with some more appropriate clothing for work. But for this post I’m not even going to delve into that.

So let’s break down numbers. I’ll take home about $1680 for the month. Subtract $350 in living expenses and $400 for increased gas costs for work you are down to $930. In Chicago if you are lucky you can find a studio apartment in a neighborhood you won’t get shot in for $600 month. So $600 first month, plus security deposit $1200. Next is utilities, coming from no address, or using the shelters address they require a security deposit as well. Most apartments water is included so gas and electric are the two that are a concern. I’ve already checked into it and gas is a $250 deposit and electric is $175. So the cost to get into an apartment with no furniture is $1625.

So ideal scenario it will take two months to put away enough money to move into an apartment and that is provided finding one at reasonable terms.

So I’ve seen on the internet that today is “Giving Tuesday” something I’ve never heard of before. I’ve also been determined not to ask for help, but now is definitely the time that I need it the most. Not when I didn’t know what tomorrow held but now that I know I need to keep gas in the truck to generate a paycheck. The info is below.

So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

Just when things look to be improving another wrench gets thrown into the situation #homeless #chicago #panhandling

Things took a definite turn for the better the other day. I have been submitting resumes like you give out candy on Halloween. I received a call from one of them. Even though I was overqualified it seems as though everyone else was very underqualified. It was only for a temporary position running through the end of the year and pretty menial, doing warranty repairs on computers. However something is better than nothing. I went through the background screening. I went and took the drug test no problems. Now here is the wrench.

Some of you that have been reading know that I’ve been living a very frugal life. Out of total necessity. I’m scheduled to start on Tuesday and my biggest concern has been having enough gas to make it to the Y for showers and to work and back. I had a very small amount of money I’ve hoarded, less than $40. I also know that at the minimum it was going to take close to a tank of gas for the week. I knew I had to panhandle to get my tank full.

Panhandling for starters is the most embarrassing and humiliating thing that I have ever had to do in my life. But I have to push through for the ultimate goal. Getting back into the workforce and out of the back of my truck. Actually getting a life back as opposed the the mere existence that I’ve been living the past few months. To fill up the truck is about $75. I panhandled with a sign that said exactly the truth. Homeless, just got a temp job, need gas to get there. It took a few hours, but I got enough to fill the tank. Just as I’m walking back an undercover police car pulls up. Well from what I was told they could have just given me a ticket, or even a warning. No, they cuffed me and took me to the station. Now there are four corners relatively close but separate. There was someone at every corner, yet I’m the one that got picked on. The part that gets me too is that I was done on the sidewalk and walking back to where I parked and the other people were still there. Matter of fact we drove past two of them! They officers didn’t do as much as say a word. It irritates me that the one individual has said he’s been doing it for 20 years. I’ve seen him panhandling. He gets enough for his drug dealer to meet him at the corner, gets his fix and comes back later to start the process again. I’m actually trying to improve my situation and have no choice now but to pray for others generosity and then this happens. Also, they left the sign, my hat, gloves and the cup with about $15 in change on the sidewalk. 8 hours later and they let me go with a warning. To my surprise all the cash that was in my wallet is gone and nowhere on the paperwork that I was given. What started as a relief, that I would have the gas for the week is now a nightmare. It’s all gone and now I have to start over. On the bright side when I went back my hat and gloves were still there. Someone did get lucky and took all the change. One of these days I’ll get a break. Now instead of being done with it I have no choice to get back out there. Not long after posting this I’ll be heading to a corner somewhere around Roosevelt and State because I can’t let this upcoming opportunity slip away.

So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

Special thanks to Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless #homeless #Chicago

It was my distinct pleasure to meet John Shafer last night. John is the founder of Chicago and Michiana 5 for the Homeless.

While I have spoken to him on the phone before it was truly great to get to see and hear about his work in person. I’ll get a little more into that in a few, but please visit and like his page.

One of my biggest needs was a sleeping bag to ward off the cold at night. I had seen the other day on Facebook that he had a few donated. I was very appreciative on receiving it, but when I actually opened it up and put it to use I was blown away. What John gave me was a Coleman North Rim mummy style sleeping bag. Let me say that in the low 20’s that it got down to last night I was still warm and toasty. I’ve been sleeping with a sweater, jacket, hat, two pairs of socks and still have been cold at night. Not anymore! Tshirt and sweatpants in this bag!

I can’t thank John and the entire Chicago and Michiana 5 crew enough.

So I may as well use this to start promoting myself. If anyone has any computer problems they need solved feel free to leave a comment here,
email chihomelessguy@gmail.com,
dm @chihomelessguy on twitter or
message on Facebook Chi Homelessguy. I guarantee the work and if you aren’t satisfied when I’m done you don’t pay. I’m also willing to work for much less than I should charge because of the circumstances I am in. Do you have an old laptop you aren’t using? I’ll barter my services for it.

If anyone reading this finds it in their heart they would like to help me, it can be done by http://www.gofundme.com/58fd60

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