• 22Oct

    Ideas to help the homeless

    Home · Animals & Kindness · Ideas to help the homeless


    One of our fans asked for some ideas about food and drink items she could’ve purchased for a homeless gentleman she ran into the other day. She was heading into a grocery store and wasn’t sure what to buy for him. I had a few suggestions, and then I realized that there are probably a lot of other people who struggle with some ideas beyond the basic bottle of water, sandwich, or bread and a jar of peanut butter.

    Many people are against giving cash because their first fear is that it will be spent on drugs and/or alcohol. However, this is a stereotype. Most homeless people are folks who were living paycheck to paycheck when something went wrong. Either they got sick and couldn’t pay the bills, or something else that was financially catastrophic took place in their lives. I try not to automatically assume the worst. It robs people of their dignity.

    Many of us are one paycheck away from being homeless, and if it were me in their shoes, I would hope that someone would see that all I need is a little help. I’d be grateful for any help I received, and I wouldn’t turn it away, but I would hate to think that I would automatically be seen as someone who would spend cash on alcohol or drugs simply because I was homeless.

    That being said, in lieu of cash, many people still prefer to give food, and that’s certainly appreciated. However, not everyone is sure of what to give. My philosophy is to not overthink things. I try to think of things I know I’d like to have, if I were in their shoes. So I started doing a mental rundown of some things and thought I’d share them with you.

    The first and most obvious thing is bottled water. Everyone needs water to survive, so I try to keep a few extra in my car. It’s great if you can give a person a plastic bag (these can be reused for quite a while) with any number of these items, in addition to the bottles of water.

    1. Tins of meat – They’re usually small enough that a couple of sandwiches can be made and consumed, and not have the meat go bad in heat. In the winter, I try to always include a few of the Rubbermaid containers so that if there are leftovers, they can be stored in that. It gets brutally cold here, so if it’s left outside somewhere, it won’t go bad.
    2. A loaf of wheat bread – It’ll keep for several days, and it usually last a bit longer than white bread.
    3. A jar of peanut butter – great for sandwiches and even crackers.
    4. Fresh fruit – bananas, apples, oranges
    5. Tins of fruit, in their own juice (not in heavy syrups).
    6. Small packages of cookies and crackers – everyone deserves a treat, and I actually had one man tell me it had been so long since he’d had an Oreo that he couldn’t wait to eat them. I always include cookies and Cheez-its in my “goodie bags”. My two guilty pleasures.
    7. Drink mixes (the little pouches that you tear open and pour into a bottle of water)- I like including the ones that have vitamin C in them. I also include instant coffee pouches. I got hugs for that one time!
    8. Bars – Granola bars, cereal bars, etc… These are great and have a long shelf life.
    9. Pop Tarts – they’re not healthy, but if it’s between a pop tart and hunger, I’d take a pop tart.
    10. Juice Boxes/Capri Sun
    11. Trail Mix
    12. Cup A Soup (Lipton or Campbell’s, for example) – The boxed soups that have a couple individual packets are perfect for winter.
    13. Raisins
    14. Fruit Roll Ups

    The list goes on and on when it comes to non-perishable foods, but they also desperately need basic toiletries, too. Here are just a few ideas.

    1. Toothpaste
    2. Toothbrush
    3. Baby wipes – these come in handy if they’re not able to get to a shower.
    4. Deodorant
    5. A roll of toilet paper – yes, really. They can’t always find a business that will allow them to use a toilet.
    6. Shampoo
    7. A bar of soap
    8. A comb
    9. Disposable razor and some shaving cream
    10. If it’s within your budget, a sleeping bag would be a nice gift. I couldn’t afford an entire sleeping bag, but I was able to give the man some money to put towards one. He came back a week later to show me that he bought one and was so thankful that he and his pup would have a warm blanket as temperatures were starting to fall.

    We’d love to hear from you. What else can you think of?


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  • 22Oct


    Improving your gut health is important since what goes on in the inside controls nearly every aspect of your health. Eighty percent of your immune system is located in your digestive tract, which means when your gut is compromised, so is your immunity.

    A plant-based diet that’s full of clean, whole foods can improve your digestive health and immunity all in just one week. To get the best results, follow these tips:

    1. Start With Non-Starchy Veggies and Greens

    Non-starchy vegetables are a healthy mainstay of any diet, but especially important if you’re a plant-based eater. Non-starchy vegetables provide high amounts of nutrients, with low amounts of high-glycemic carbohydrates. This not only makes them friendly to your blood sugar but also easier to digest. Non-starchy vegetables are easier for the body to break down than starchy foods that cause fermentation in the gut. Some great examples include: leafy greens, celery, asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, artichokes, bok choy, cabbage,and green beans (which are more like a vegetable than a bean and low in starch and carbs.) Be sure to cook your vegetables well so you digest them even easier.  Making a gut-friendly green smoothie with fresh leafy greens is a quick and easy way to improve your digestion even further, and a delicious one at that!

    2. Go Slow With Beans and Legumes

    Beans and legumes are wonderful, healthy foods for their nutritional benefits. They contain magnesium, potassium, protein, iron, B vitamins, and are full of fiber to keep you full and to keep you regular. However, as most of us know, they aren’t the easiest thing for a plant-based newbie to eat. I’ve been plant-based for seven years now and still don’t tolerate them too well. However, since they are wonderful choices to include in the diet, I’d suggest you starting slow with beans and legumes instead of going overboard or mixing them altogether. Start with chickpeas, edamame, green peas, lentils, and black beans, all of which are a little more tolerable and easier to digest than some beans like kidney and pintos.

    3. Embrace Healthy Fats

    Healthy fats are necessary on any diet, plant-based or not. Though a low-fat vegan diet may be beneficial in many areas, some healthy fats are needed for optimal digestion and for overall health. Fat helps the body produce bile, which is critical for a healthy functioning digestive system. Bile also helps elimination and can help the body digest food properly. Healthy fats also help your body absorb the nutrients you’re consuming from other foods better, such as those from vegetables and greens. Some vitamins, such as Vitamin A, D, E, and K, are also fat soluble, which means you have to eat fat for them to be absorbed and metabolized. Include healthy fats from plant-based foods such as: avocado, coconut, hemp, chia, flax, raw nuts and nut butters. A few tablespoons a day or more is likely all you’ll need to get dramatic results in your digestion. Try making your own coconut butter if you have some time. Coconut is an anti-viral agent to ward off fungus and a highly beneficial food for your gut.

    4. Go for Ancient Whole Grains Versus Refined Grains

    Even if you’re not sensitive or allergic to gluten, opting for gluten-free, ancient whole grains in place of refined grains that contain gluten. Since highly processed sources of gluten can be a potential problem for digestion, go for gluten-free, ancient whole grains like quinoa, amaranth, millet, and teff instead. These are some of the healthiest grains you can eat and contain no potential allergens like glutinous grains such as wheat, barley, oats, and rye do.

    5. Eliminate Most All Processed Foods

    Processed foods can weaken digestion overtime, even if you seem to tolerate them well. Chemicals, methods used to produce food, and extensive exposure to a wide variety of processes make them less than optimal when it comes to making healthy food choices. Even those that seem nutritionally healthy on a label or that are gluten-free, raw, vegan, etc. will still be less optimal than whole, clean, plant-based foods will. If you do have to buy processed foods, be sure to choose those with a short ingredient list and those free of refined and added sugars. Sugar and chemicals reduce your good gut bacteria, so you’ll want to avoid purchasing items that contain them however you can.

    6. Eat Foods That Are Good for Your Gut

    Part of having a healthy gut is eliminating the bad bacteria we encounter from the environment, chemically-based foods, mold and foods containing harmful yeasts (such as cheese and bread) and replacing it with foods that can help your body produce healthy bacteria instead. This includes fermented foods like kimchi, miso, coconut yogurt, and sauerkraut, which contain plant-based probiotics, along with vegetables, leafy greens, low-glycemic fruits like berries, green apples, cucumber, tomatoes, squash, and avocados. Low-glycemic foods are optimal for gut health since reducing the sugar intake in your diet will keep your gut bacteria healthy and well-balanced. You’ll also want to consume a few other plant-based foods that improve digestive health to assist you even further.

  • 22Oct

    The poet Rumi, in his poem “Whatever Circles” writes:

    Walk to the well.
    Turn as the earth and moon turn,
    Circling what they love.
    Whatever circles comes from the center.


  • 22Oct


  • 22Oct


  • 22Oct


  • 21Oct


  • 21Oct


    Something Incredible Happened to Me Today

    by John Sweeney – (Founder of Suspended Coffees)


    Something incredible happened to me today, but I don’t know how to put it into words….I’ll try…

    I was walking down a really busy city center street in Cork, Ireland, with a friend of mine. Recently, I was to give a talk about Suspended Coffees at an amazing event over in Guernsey, which is scheduled for later this week. They have a project there which aims to make it the best place to live in the world by 2020. Suspended Coffees is obviously something they believe in and so I needed to pick up a shirt to make me look a little presentable for my talk.

    Suddenly, I saw what looked like a girl and that appeared to be homeless. I checked my pocket and found 2 Euros that I said I’d give to her. I do this as often as I can and make a point of saying thank you when I do.

    This time it was different. The woman looked at me and I instantly got a shiver down my spine. She had a vein line, going through both her eyes that just jumped out at me…. Also, she had the prettiest little face and it wasn’t covered in make up, like most girls her age, it was covered in sadness. She looked unbelievably frail and she reminded me of my wife’s sister-in-law, who passed suddenly from cancer around this time last year.

    I walked on and said to my friend, “did you see that girl, it was truly one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in a very long time.”

    Following this I simply could not get her out of my head. A moment later I said to my friend that I have to go back and I asked him to stay away a little as I was going to ask her if she was Okay.

    So, I approached, got down on my knees as she was sitting on cardboard and blankets, and I said to her, “sorry, me again, I really wanted to see was there anything I can do for you, would you like a cup of coffee or a sandwich perhaps?”

    She looked me in the eye and said “I’d really love a chicken burger.”

    “No problem”, I said and headed off to get one.

    Luckily they had a special ‘buy one get one free’ offer, so I headed back and again asked my friend to keep his distance. This time I kind of sat on my legs and I gave them to her and said” there’s two in there.”

    Even though her face was still steeped in sadness, she gave me a huge smile and said “thank you.”

    I said “is there anything I can do? Can I call someone for you? Have you somewhere to stay?”

    She said “I have my kids”

    I’m not sure where they were, and I didn’t want to ask, so I said “the world can be shite”

    I told her I too had kids, and I said “they don’t be long getting big and bold”

    She laughed, pulled a serious face and said thank you. In my 30 years on this planet no one has ever said thank you to me in the way she did, never.

    Again I asked “are you sure I can’t do anything for you?” she smiled again, her face full of sadness, and said “no, but thank you so much.”

    Finally, I wished her well and said “I do see you, and I hope you have a wonderful day”, she smiled and said “you too.”

    Since then I just haven’t been able to get her out of my head. She’s someone’s daughter, someone’s mother, someone’s sister perhaps. She’s a human being and she was almost invisible to the world. People were looking at me as if I was mad sitting next to her. She has children, 6, 4, 2 and every time she mentioned them she smiled. I didn’t give her anything special but I feel like I gave her respect, acknowledgement and perhaps a bit of hope.

    Suspended Coffees isn’t about giving a cup of coffee to any one type of person, it’s about sharing a little kindness, but also offering a little hope to anyone who might need it. You know it, we’ve all been there.

    I don’t share these stories often, and I certainly don’t do it for everyone to say “oh you’re great,” or “well done.” I share them because they matter. I share them because it’s real, and because no matter what anyone is going through in life, they need some bit of hope. Please be the hope for someone. It doesn’t have to be huge. I beg of you, spare a thought for someone else the next opportunity that you can.

    I told 3 of my 4 children who are 11, 8, 7 about what happened, two of them cried (I won’t say who) and my other said “Daddy I’m so proud of you, Daddy you did the right thing, you’ve a cool job going around being nice to people.”

    This is why I do what I do, it matters and it does make a difference. Take a breath and try it…

    If anyone in Cork city sees this, and spots that woman over the next few days, please ask her is she OK? I really wish I could have done more, but something’s better than nothing, right?

    ~ John

    john sweeneyJohn Sweeney, founder of the Suspended Coffees movement, first came up with the idea after reading a story about some friends at a coffee shop, discussing what a “suspended coffee” is.  He knew he’d always wanted to make a difference in the world, and after reading this story, he knew in his heart that he’d found what he was looking for.

    He was so deeply moved that he immediately went to work creating the Facebook page Suspended Coffees. On March 27, 2013, the Suspended Coffees movement was born.   Soon after that, something amazing happened. People loved the page and all the heartwarming stories being shared daily, as well as the simple but amazing gesture of a suspended coffee.  Even the fabulous George Takei was touched by their page, shared a post, and described them as being filled with inspiration.

    John set himself a goal of having five cafes on board within the first six months.  In its first year alone, Suspended Coffees had over 1400 supporting cafes, and over a quarter of a million Facebook followers.

    The progress since has been astounding, and the amount of people who have given of their time freely, to raise awareness, is heartwarming. We aspire to help others who may be down on their luck, having a bad day, or who just need a friend to show them that there is good in the world. To see the effect this movement is having on people, please check out our Facebook page, have a read, and you’ll see inspiration and kindness everywhere.

  • 21Oct

    Jack Mook, a detective and boxing instructor in Pittsburgh, got curious when two of his students stopped showing up. He went searching for them and found them at an abusive foster home. Then he took matters into his own hands. This is a classic tale of a by-the-books detective with a soft heart. What a […]

    Read more of this post

  • 20Oct

    10 Facts About Being Homeless in the USA by Bill Quigley | Kindness Blog

    Three True Stories…

    Renee Delisle was one of over 3500 homeless people in Santa Cruz when she found out she was pregnant.  The Santa Cruz Sentinel<http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/localnews/ci_24374949/santa-cruz-county-homelessness-skyrockets-28-percent> reported she was turned away from a shelter because they did not have space for her.  While other homeless people slept in cars or under culverts, Renee ended up living in an abandoned elevator shaft until her water broke.

    Jerome Murdough, 56, a homeless former Marine, was arrested for trespass in New York because he was found sleeping in a public housing stairwell on a cold night.  The New York Times<http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/nyregion/rikers-death-is-ruled-an-accident.html?_r=0> reported that one week later, Jerome died of hypothermia in a jail cell heated to over 100 degrees.

    Paula Corb and her two daughters lost their home and have lived in their minivan for four years.  They did laundry in a church annex, went to the bathroom at gas stations, and did their studies under street lamps, according to America Tonight<http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/10/10/mobile-homes-manyhiddenhomelessamericanslivinginvehicles.htm>.

    Fact One.  Over half a million people are homeless

    On any given night, there are over 600,000 homeless people in the US according to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)<https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/ahar-2013-part1.pdf>.  Most people are either spending the night in homeless shelters or in some sort of short term transitional housing.  Slightly more than a third are living in cars, under bridges or in some other way living unsheltered.

    Fact Two.  One quarter of homeless people are children

    [homeless people are children]<https://kindnessblogdotcom1.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/homeless-robert-ullmann.jpg>HUD reports that on any given night over 138,000 of the homeless in the US are children<https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/ahar-2013-part1.pdf> under the age of 18. Thousands of these homeless children are unaccompanied according to HUD.  Another federal program, No Child Left Behind, defines homeless children more broadly<http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/briefs/det_elig.pdf> and includes not just those living in shelters or transitional housing but also those who are sharing the housing of other persons due to economic hardship, living in cars, parks, bus or train stations, or awaiting foster care placement.  Under this definition, the National Center for Homeless Education reported in September 2014 that local school districts reported there are over one million homeless children in public schools<http://center.serve.org/nche/downloads/data-comp-1011-1213.pdf>.

    Fact Three.  Tens of thousands of veterans are homeless

    Over 57,000 veterans are homeless<https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/ahar-2013-part1.pdf> each night.  Sixty percent of them were in shelters, the rest unsheltered.  Nearly 5000 are female.

    Fact Four.  Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in women

    More than 90% of homeless women are victims of severe physical or sexual abuse<http://nlchp.org/documents/UPR_Housing_Report_2014> and escaping that abuse is a leading cause of their homelessness.

    Fact Five. Many people are homeless because they cannot afford rent

    The lack of affordable housing is a primary cause of homelessness<http://nlchp.org/documents/UPR_Housing_Report_2014> according to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty.  HUD has seen its budget slashed by over 50% in recent decades resulting in the loss of 10,000 units of subsidized low income housing each and every year.

    [Homeless in the USA]<https://kindnessblogdotcom1.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/1280-sheltr-app-homeless-philadelphia.jpg>Fact Six.  There are fewer places for poor people to rent than before

    One eighth of the nation’s supply of low income housing has been permanently lost<http://nlchp.org/documents/No_Safe_Place> since 2001.  The US needs at least 7 million more affordable apartments<http://nlchp.org/documents/UPR_Housing_Report_2014> for low income families and as a result millions of families spend more than half their monthly income on rent.

    Fact Seven.  In the last few years millions have lost their homes

    Over five million homes have been foreclosed<http://www.corelogic.com/about-us/news/corelogic-reports-47,000-completed-foreclosures-in-may.aspx> on since 2008, one out of every ten homes with a mortgage.  This has caused even more people to search for affordable rental property.

    Fact Eight.  The Government does not help as much as you think

    There is enough public rental assistance to help about one out of every four extremely low income<http://nlchp.org/documents/UPR_Housing_Report_2014> households.  Those who do not receive help are on multi-year waiting lists.  For example, Charlotte just opened up their applications for public housing assistance for the first time in 14 years and over 10,000 people applied.<http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/09/26/5202181/section-8-wait-list-will-likely.html#.VDvyBPldWSo>

    [Homeless in the USA]<https://kindnessblogdotcom1.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/dsc_1952.jpg>Fact Nine.  One in five homeless people suffer from untreated severe mental illness

    While about 6% of the general population suffers from severe mental illness, 20 to 25% of the homeless suffer from severe mental illness<http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/Mental_Illness.pdf> according to government studies.  Half of this population self-medicate and are at further risk of addiction and poor physical health.  A University of Pennsylvania study tracking nearly 5000 homeless people for two years<http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/news/housing-homeless-mentally-ill-pays-itself-according-university-pennsylvania> discovered that investing in comprehensive health support and treatment of physical and mental illnesses is less costly than incarceration, shelter and hospital services for the untreated homeless.

    Fact Ten.  Cities are increasingly making homelessness a crime

    A 2014 survey of 187 cities by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty<http://nlchp.org/documents/No_Safe_Place> found: 24% make it a city-wide crime to beg in public; 33% make it illegal to stand around or loiter anyplace in the city; 18% make it a crime to sleep anywhere in public; 43% make it illegal to sleep in your car; and 53% make it illegal to sit or lay down in particular public places.   And the number of cities criminalizing homelessness is steadily increasing.

    For more information look to the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty<http://www.nlchp.org/>, the National Center for Homeless Education<http://center.serve.org/nche/> and the National Coalition on the Homeless<http://www.nationalhomeless.org/>.

    [bill quigley]<https://kindnessblogdotcom1.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/0pz3togc.jpeg>Bill Quigley teaches law at Loyola University New Orleans. You can reach Bill at quigley77@gmail.com <mailto:quigley77@gmail.com> You can follow him on Bill’s Twitter Timeline <https://twitter.com/bqnola> and he is regularly featured on the Counterpunch.org<http://Counterpunch.org> website.