The Intermittent Volunteer’s Weblog

Befriending People in Dallas Who Are Homeless

Arrested & Jailed: Sherry Parker, Poet January 28, 2009

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

 

Arrested & Jailed

 

Three days after the Bridge closed its courtyard for sleeping and the subsequent police sweeps began, Sherry Parker and her boyfriend, Sarge, were arrested for ‘criminal trespass’, which in this case meant sleeping in public on private property, and spent ten days in jail.  I had heard about this through the ‘grapevine’ when I went looking for them in early December and couldn’t find them.

 

The police report of their arrest says they were ‘warned.’  They say not.  Sherry had a clean record;  Sarge had just worked off some tickets through community service.  They were told by the arresting officer that this offense would put a Class B Misdemeanor on their records.

 

Both Sherry and Sarge work full time, but their hours prevent them getting into shelters to sleep, including the Bridge, as they often work evenings. 

 

Sherry, like many women on the street I’ve spoken with, used to sometimes seek shelter and safety on the Bridge campus.

 

I ran into them in late December and sat with them on some steps to get caught up, at which time Sherry handed me the following new poem from her journal.  It was cold on the concrete steps, and they had just been robbed.  As luck would have it, an Anonymous Angel had just filled my car with coats and blankets.

 

Does adding a Class B Misdemeanor to people’s records help them get out of homelessness?  What do you think?

 

KS

 

Always Returning


Always returning

     to some lost place

Where the winds moan softly —

Surrounding me in the emptiness…


Always returning

     in the same swift race

Speeding up gradually;

Enjoying the chase —


Always returning

     to some promised light — 

That beacons out brightly —

Saving souls in the darkness —


Always returning —

     Eternal — to me —

A lost soul —  seeking solace —

Thoughts left bound in their brightness.


copyright Sherry Parker, 12/28/09

 

You may see some of Sherry’s other poetry by clicking on the category “Street Voices” at right.

 

… ‘And Now We’re In the Woods’ January 15, 2009

Thursday, January 15, 2009

 

I’ve known Scott for years, and, sometimes when I see him, he doesn’t feel like talking.  Sometimes when he talks, his words are so big and he is so erudite that I have to seek out a dictionary in order to understand him. Today, though, his words were simple and to the point.

 

“Where did they all go?” Scott asked me.  Although he himself is homeless, he was referring to the scores of people who used to sleep on the Bridge courtyard at night and have been unable to find shelter elsewhere.  

 

“I think they’re hiding in the woods,” I told him.

 

“This city has a horrible gut in it, and it digests people,” he said.  “And now we’re in the woods.”

 

KS

 

Reggie’s Story October 6, 2008

Monday, October 6, 2008

       Reggie Crawford, with whom I’m privileged to work when I volunteer at The Bridge homeless assistance center,  is one of the most inspiring and compassionate individuals I’ve met in a while.  I appreciate that Reggie and Street Zine have given me permission to reprint his story here.  KS

 

STEP Transformed Plan A & B Into G For Me

By Reggie Crawford

 

Like most people, I just wanted to live a normal life expecting nothing flashy, extravagant or extraordinary. 

 

My life started out very simple; I guess you could call me a military brat. My father was in the military for over thirty years, and my mother taught high school and did most of the kid raising of myself and six siblings. My mom was a very determined and strong woman who I think was my greatest influence because she always believed in me.

 

I went to college majoring in music education and business marketing. Upon graduation I quickly found a job as a music teacher which I hated. I was not mentally prepared for this work and I had no patience which is something you really need when you teach middle school kids. The bad notes were killing me! 

 

I quickly found that I needed another plan so I resorted to plan B, which was to join the military. There have been times in my life when I made some brilliant decisions and this was one of them.  While in college, I was in ROTC and already had a four year commitment. At that time, the Army had a one year delay entry program and I looked forward to and could not wait to enter the military.

 

I loved the Army, as a brand new second lieutenant; I was on my way up. Both of my parents were very proud; I had a new car, new house, lots of new friends, and a new attitude that spelled super arrogant. Some called it cocky, conceited, or even egotistic; but I will call it for what it really was, bone head.  In my mind, I really thought I was an icon, my family thought I was crazy, which was not far from the truth. 

 

My drive helped me get promotions and medals but after several years in the service I decided to give civilian life another try.  You have to remember that up to this point all I had known was military life. I was scared to death, but I still had plan B so if things did not work out in civilian life I could always return back to military life.

 

I went to work as a sales representative with a major company and continued to move up to a management position. After several years in sales I changed careers again and went to work as a loan manager at a major bank. I loved my civilian jobs and I loved my life. I guess you could say that I had the American dream; married with two great kids, a nice house and a dog named Human who I suspected hated me. 

 

I remember an unknown author who said “the only sure thing we know about life is that change will happen, be it good or bad.” Needless to say my change was really, really bad. My eighteen year marriage fell apart, I had several bad investments, and finally a job lay off.

 

The good life as I had known it was gone and I had helped the process by abusing drugs and alcohol which pretty much guarantees a meltdown in life. Here I was, without a wife, kids and job which presented me with the abnormal life of homelessness.  The self-centered, smug, and stuck up self was replaced by shame, embarrassment and guilt. Here I was sleeping on the streets, standing in line for meals, and hoping I could get myself out of this situation before I got myself killed.  Oh yeah, remember plan B? Now, I am too old to return to the military.

 

After one year and five months of living a homeless life, I realized that I really needed help. I’ll call it a ‘lifeline’ because I was drowning mentally and spiritually.  I decided to enter a program at The Stewpot called STEP (Stewpot Transitional Employment Program). This program was God sent for me; the people actually cared about my well being. Some of the people I met while in the STEP program have become true friends.  It is also while participating in this program that I learned about another plan.  I will call it plan G, God’s plan. 

 

Plan G is the reason I decided to write my story. I truly believe that God orchestrated this path for me, not because I am a bad person, but because I needed to be humbled.  I now understand that life is full of ups and downs, twist and turns and things that don’t always go as planned, but through God’s grace and faith nothing is too big to overcome. This journey has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.

 

Today, I am working as the dining room coordinator at the Second Chance Café, located at The Bridge. This gives me the opportunity to work with some of the best volunteers in the City of Dallas. My job is to make sure that the dining room runs smoothly while the meals are being served to the homeless population accessing services at The Bridge.

 

I thank everyone who has helped me along the way, but first and foremost, I thank God for his/her grace and understanding.

 

Reprinted from the October 2008 issue of Street Zine [http://thestewpot.org/streetzine.asp].

 

Street Voices: Sherry Parker, Poet June 27, 2008

Friday, June 27, 2008                                                                                                                                

Tonight at the Bridge while helping out with dinner, I was handed a privilege I never expected.  Poet Sherry Parker (see post on this blog April 4) put her poetry journal in my hands as she came through the food line, let me bring it home, and told me I could publish anything I wish from it.

The book she loaned me is a beautiful, red leather-bound journal given to her by Reagan, who has worked with Our Calling Ministries at the Day Resource Center for years and who befriended Sherry and discovered her talent. So, once again, the honor of putting Sherry’s words on this blog…

 

Between Blisters and Falling Stars                                                                                               

by Sherry Parker

 

Between blisters — and falling stars —

     I will outlast the rain:

Another calling

     from somewhere far —

I’m not playing,

     yet, again…

 

Sunrises do come —

     Promises disclosed…

A brand new day —

    All is silent.

A beautiful picture

     transposed…

 

The blister will heal;

     The rain will end.

The sun will rise again.

 

Still, there will be silence.

 

[copyright Sherry Parker, 2008]

 

Street Voices: Sherry Parker, Poet April 4, 2008

Filed under: homelessness,hunger,inspiration,Street Voices,Vocation — Karen Shafer @ 9:53 pm

Tonight, I sat on the parking lot of the Day Resource Center and took dictation of this poem from gifted poet, Sherry Parker. Sherry, much like myself, doesn’t really ‘do’ technology. With her permission, I publish it here. Many thanks to our friend, Reagan, for arranging my meeting with Sherry tonight and for recognizing her talent.

Sherry has lived on the street for twenty years. What she wishes me to say about her is that she’s “not running on empty.”

KS

Always and Forever
by Sherry Parker
April 13, 1981

I.
Expecting to arrive,
I got there — never,
Not remembering back
Or looking forward either.
And now that I’m here,
I wonder whether
I expect to be here forever.

II.
I had a good time,
Waiting to turn twenty.
Having passed my purity,
Still, I learned plenty.
Passing by my hopes and dreams,
Somehow left me empty,
Searching for security.

Expecting forevers,
I’m enjoying the ride,
Biding my time,
Expecting to hide.
Walking thin lines
And laughing inside.
To live and accept
Is so much better.

Expecting forevers,
I’ll get there somehow.
I don’t know where or when,
But I surely do know how.
I’m biding my time
And laughing inside.
To live and accept
Is always better.

[copyright Sherry Parker]