Joe’s Place: A Home For The Homeless

We have come dangerously close to accepting the homeless situation as a problem that we just can’t solve.Linda Lingle

Seeing a boy or a girl with a broken family struggling to get through high school is not a surprising sight, especially in America where at least one in every five children is homeless. The reason could be anything; addict mom or an abusive dad; it could be anything.

Several survey reports indicate an increasing rate of homeless children in America, children who have not yet cleared high school; teenagers. It is these children from broken families who often fail to get through high school, let alone go to college. It is because these children do not have a stable home, their living conditions are not stable which affects their studies too. Most of the high school dropouts turn out to be these very homeless children with no home to go to.

Problems Faced By Homeless Kids

Imagine being a kid merely 14 years old with who spends more time in drinking and sleeping, eating or talking all at the same time or a mom who left you a long time ago or try being a 10 year old girl with an abusive father who doesn’t even need an excuse to get started with the beating. What is the life of such children? They hardly get enough money to try to get through one day at a time. These are the children who are supposed to have time only to play and study; the children who are supposed to have big dreams about their future and huge smiles on their faces; but, are forced into living under the shadows of misery instead.

Homeless, especially youth homelessness; the homelessness of children is a curse for America and a hurdle in its way to progress and prosperity.

According to a campaign launched to End Child Homelessness,

“Approximately 1.6 million American children go to sleep without a home of their own each year.”

While, the National Alliance to End Homelessness states,

“On a given night, just over 636,000 people are homeless in the United States.”

It is observed that most of the teenaged children with unstable and broken family circumstances hardly make it through high school because of either lack of necessities or mental instability caused by the stressful atmosphere of their homes. It is because of these circumstances that such children end up being criminals or thieves in the future when they fail to get proper jobs due to their lack of academic qualifications.

 Dennis Kucinich rightly says,

We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty is a weapon of mass destruction. Homelessness is a weapon of mass destruction. Unemployment is a weapon of mass destruction.

Children who grow up in unstable circumstances are like ticking time bombs that can go off any moment. That is because life gets so tough on them even from the start that chances are they could give up on all the good things they thought existed.


Joe’s Place: A Home for the Homeless

However, no matter how tough it gets, there will always be good people, the knights in shining armors who will always be there to help you out; people who cry at the miseries of others. Joe’s place is a solid proof of the existence of such guardian angels; a proof that someone in the world, somewhere in the world cares.

In 2006, a school district in Missouri, Maplewood Richmond Heights took the first step to provide a home to the homeless called “Joe’s Place”. It was a home owned by the school district that provides a comfortable and homely atmosphere to homeless children struggling to graduate high school. Even though the house cannot accommodate all of the students but it is a first step to the final solution to youth homelessness. Children are provided with free food and shelter during their education period at school. They are allowed to spend weekends with their families. The house parents act as fosters parents and help the children in homework and arrange other family activities like movie nights, picnics etc.

Presten Pinnel, a freshman at the University of Central Missouri studying Occupational Therapy, was once a homeless kid with no one to look after him after his dad was sent to prison. He was in the sophomore year of High School at that time. After his dad went to jail, he hardly had any money to get through the day, no one was there to get him food; he had to prepare it on his own.

Life was so tough; he had no place to study at home and he’d sleep at his friend’s place, sleeping on the couch. He was never so sure if he’d ever be able to make it through high school; wondering if he would even be able to afford basic school supplies for the next year or not.

The school authorities knew about his domestic issues. Had it been some other school district, they wouldn’t have been able to provide him with anything other than donations for school supplies or after-school tutoring. But what the Maplewood Richmond Heights school district did for him was exceptional; he was given a chance to live in a healthy environment; a stable home.

He moved into Joe’s place right after his junior year started and life started to seem more like a blessing than a curse. He says,

“One thing I know for sure is if it wasn’t for Joe’s, I wouldn’t be at the university I’m at now.”

Joe’s Place was the first step to providing a stable and homely atmosphere to children who were either homeless or struggling with their domestic issues.

This year, around Thanksgiving, following the footsteps of the Maplewood Richmond Heights School District, another school district in Jennings, Missouri has also built a home for the homeless named “ Hope House” which, as the names suggests, is specified for girls.

Joe’s Place and Hope House aim at providing these homeless children with a healthy homelike atmosphere to grow in; a place where they won’t have to be worried if they’ll be able to get another meal or not. Their aim is to provide comfort, love and security to these children so that they can focus on their studies and enjoy life as they should.

It has been observed that the grades and efficiency of the students improved after they moved into Joe’s Place and these students are expected to graduate high school without any problem.

Joe’s place and Hope House are the proof that there are people in the world who know what it means to be a human. This is just the beginning. With time, other school districts might also start some projects like the Joe’s Place or the Hope House. Youth is the backbone of any nation and this backbone deserves proper care if we want our nation to stand erect among the other nations of the world.


Donald Trump – The Seriousness of Taking Trump Seriously

Donald J. Trump, the man who wants to “Make America Great Again” and claims he can do it, does not like politicians since in his opinion, “All they do is politics.” Trump is a big name in the corporate world especially in the areas of real estate, marketing, and reality TV. Donald Trump was born to Fred Trump and Mary Ann MacLeod on June 14th, 1946. Mary Anne was a Scottish immigrant while Fred Trump was the son of German Immigrants. For a long time, he denied this fact since he had many Jewish clients in his real Estate business and claimed to have a Swedish ancestry. After graduating from the Wharton School of Pennsylvania University, Donald J. Trump joined his father’s company “Elizabeth, Trump and Son” which he later re-named as “The Trump Organization” in 1970. After making a prominent name in the Real Estate industry, Donald Trump focused on other areas and interestingly chose digital media and reality TV shows to gain even more fame. Today, Trump is known as a business magnate, investor, a prominent socialite, and famous TV personality thanks to the success of his various ventures such as The Apprentice, Miss Universe, and Miss America. In 2016, Donald Trump is looking to add one more trophy amongst his titles: President of the United States of America. Why is he doing that? From the looks of it, it appears he is going to the post merely because he thinks it would be cool to become president now.


However, this is not his first entrée into politics. The first time Trump considered being a presidential candidate was in 1998 with the Republican Party, but he changed his mind. Then in the year 2000, Donald Trump finally ran an exploratory presidential campaign with the Reform Party. This Party was achieving high ballot success but was still fracturing due to their Presidential Campaign for Ross Perot in 1996. Trump was convinced by the Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura since he was well known for his regular commentary on the state of public affairs in the country and also because he was the head of The Trump Organization. This Campaign was announced on the popular CNN show Larry King Live on 7th October 1999. His campaign mainly focused on issues such as fair trade, the ways, and means of eliminating the national debt, making universal healthcare a reality and calling his competitor, Pat Buchanan ‘Hitler-lover’ a lot. Also, he mentioned Oprah Winfrey as his ideal running mate and claimed that when he won the election, he would immediately marry his girlfriend, Melania Knauss to make her First Lady of the United States.


Trump’s seriousness for these elections was widely questioned in the light of such claims was and it popular opinion was that he was only doing this to sell his books and market his brand. Trump hotly denied these allegations and said he had a very real chance to win this election. He carried out his campaign with gusto and events were scheduled in Minnesota, California and Florida with veteran campaign strategist Roger Stone directing them. By this time, however, internal conflicts had started arising within the party and Ventura left. He was the most vocal man when it came to supporting Trump, so it was no big surprise when Donald Trump declared that he was officially ending his campaign on The Today Show on February 14th, 2000. He blamed the party would not be able to run an effective presidential campaign for him and enable his victory in the general election. Pat Buchanan eventually won the nomination from the Reform Party.


After this election, the famous reality TV show The Apprentice aired which made Trump, even more, noted. As a result of this, he seriously considered running in the 2012 elections on a Republican Party ticket but eventually decided against it. After waiting another four years, Trump has finally launched a full-scale presidential campaign and managed to become the front runner for the Republican Party presidential candidate in the 2016 elections. To date, he has been running a very successful albeit a very controversial campaign.


Controversy, however, is not something new to the Trump Organization nor is Donald Trump daunted by it. If we look down into history, The New York Times reported on 1st June 1927 about a certain incident where about 1000 members of the Klu Klux Klan got into an altercation with the Queens Police. The Klansmen outnumbered the policemen one to ten, and the brawl turned ugly. Seven Klansmen were arrested. One of these was called ‘Fred Trump.’ He must have been approximately 21 years of age at the time, and it is possible that he may only have been an innocent bystander. But when this incident is combined with another event in 1973, one does not feel like the Trumps deserve to be given the benefit of the doubt.


In 1973, when Donald Trump had been working in his father’s business for three years, the US Justice Department filed a case against the Trump organization. The case had been filed by The Civil Rights Division and stated that Black people were discriminated against in the apartment complexes that were owned by The Trump Organization. White people were given the apartments for rent quite easily while the blacks were turned down. This accusation was based on widespread complaints of racial discrimination carried out by Trump agents.The Urban League had sent some Black and White applicants undercover to apply for apartments in Trump complexes. The results came out as expected; the whites got the apartment, the blacks got a refusal. A newspaper in 1979 quoted one of Trump’s agents saying that applications coming into the office were sorted on the basis of race. These were later accepted or rejected on the same grounds. A decree was issued which required the Trump Organization to advertise vacancies in minority papers and also list vacancies with the Urban League.


Trying to find flaws with Donald Trump or doubting that he is a patriot, a true conservative isn’t the point. The things that are wrong with him are not his party policies, his positions on immigration, health care, social security nor his bigotry or hate speech. The problem with this man is that we are even considering his opinions and his positions on these important issues. We are taking him seriously. Even though Jeb Bush and other candidates refuse to recognize him unable to uphold the standards of the Conservative Party, this is not the main dispute on the table. The real cause for concern is that Donald J. Trump is completely unfit to become the president of the United States. He is a shrewd businessman, a clever marketer, a rich man. All these things may make him a good boss, but he is not a good leader. Donald J. Trump is not a good diplomat. In just a short span of a few months, he has managed to anger half the people whom he interacts and works with. How is he to lead a nation of 319 Million?!


If he is elected, what he will bring with him would be a lot of money and a knack for publicity. Nice to have in a politician. In addition to that, a little wit, charm and since he has nothing to lose, the clownish tendency of saying whatever he wants without the fear of consequences. That is also good to have in a politician. He can afford to do that because he is financing himself. There is no sponsor to oblige, no seriousness to be shown to get people to invest in you. No compromises and no commitment which raising campaign money entails. He says things that a more serious, more responsible person will not utter. This is unquestionably not good to have in a politician. He is no longer satisfied by playing the fool; he wants to be the King now!


Trump defines his future plans as “We’re going to have a lot of fun” while giving a major interview. In his speeches, he throws childish insults at his opponents. Jeb Bush is “low energy” whereas Ben Carson is “Pathological”. Marco Rubio is “Lightweight” and the world is either black or white. America can either win or lose; things are either good or wholly bad, and people are smart or stupid and morals either strong or weak. While pointing to the journalists who are covering his rallies, he has the audacity to say “Look at these bloodsuckers” and tells them, “Be ashamed of yourselves.” He is a buffoon! But how does he do it? How does he gain popularity and keeps rising in the polls? He understands people. He knows what motivates them. Anger is a motivator. Fear is a motivator. Hope is a motivator. Branding illegal immigrants as the problem, calling thousands of innocent Muslims as terrorists and giving unrealistic solutions like building a giant wall to keep people out are the solutions he has. And yet, they work. People listen and get brainwashed.


Do his speeches get through to the public? Yes, they do. But do they have the desired effects? Two young men beat up a middle-aged sleeping homeless Latino man. Upon being arrested and inquiry, they said, “Trump is right. These illegal immigrants need to go home.” Upon confrontation, Donald Trump released a statement that violence should not be the way. He didn’t say anything about injustice or fairness. Protesters (and there are a lot of them) at Trump rallies get physically beaten up, humiliated and if Mr. Trump happens to notice the disturbance he just tells them to “Get the hell out of here. Get out!” This is exactly what happened to some Immigration activists in Miami when the crowd was kicking, punching and dragging them on the floor and Mr. Trump noticed the disturbance.


A young Latino man came to a Trump rally to protest along with his wife; he was surrounded and spit upon. He left silently even though the couple had as much right to be there as anyone else at the rally. They were living in the USA on a work permit, not as illegal immigrants. Mercutio Southall, a large black man, and a well-known Birmingham civil rights activist began shouting protests in a trump rally from the middle of an entirely white crowd in a city where 73% of the population is black. Trump supporters notice this disturbance and start kicking and punching him. He fell to the floor and tried to fight back. He was outnumbered, missed and got chocked. The police notice the disturbance and came to his rescue. Even as a policeman held him, a blonde woman came, kicked him hard in the stomach and moved off. When Donald Trump was confronted about the incident, all he had to say was, “Maybe he should have been roughed up.”


Did Trump do anything to make things right? Promote tolerance and reinforce the Republican Party’s favorable position on immigration and equal rights? No, he gave a detailed description of the vicious crimes committed by the Mexicans and provided the ridiculous solution of building a wall along the Mexican border which would (of course) be paid for by Mexico. He spoke for the internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War 2 and proposed something similar to “get rid” of the illegal immigrants again. He did promise to “be humane” but seeing how minorities are treated in his rallies, one is justified to be skeptical.


Then there is his stance on the Muslims. Did he mention that Muslim doctors make up 10% of the entire American medical community? No. Here’s what he had to say, “When you see certain people walking in and out all day carrying things, inform your local police.” Then referring to World Trade Center collapse on 9th September 2011 he says, “I watched in Jersey City where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down,” he says. “So something is going on.” His solution: Ban entry to all Muslims in the USA until, “We figure out what is going on.” Incidentally, Mr. Trump seems to have been the only man to have seen the thousands and thousands of people who were cheering. Does America need a man like this to lead them? The choice is up to the Americans to make now, and we hope they will be smart enough to get them a President worthy of going down in history, not a reality TV show host famous for the saying “You’re fired.”


L.A. Teacher: Anyone can Create a Better World


Recent gun shootings have been a frequent headliner. The society seemed to forget what and how it is to make a better and greater society. However, a 53-year-old Los Angeles teacher shows that the formula to a better society is “Kindness creates kindness, generosity creates generosity and love creates love.”

Recently, Tony Tolbert, a Harvard alumnus and a law professor from UCLA, handed the keys to his own home to a struggling single mother of four young children with the hope that his act will help them achieve a more secure and stable life.

Felicia Dukes and her family, the recipient of Tolbert’s generosity, will take ownership of everything inside Tolbert’s house including all of its modest furnishings. Tolbert plans to move back to his parent’s home and stay at the same bedroom where he grew up learning several virtuous acts.

In his interview with CBS News, Tolbert explained,”You don’t have to be a billionaire to do something good for someone else.” He added, “You don’t have to be Bill Gates or Warren Buffett or Oprah. We can do it wherever we are, with whatever we have and for me, I have a home that I can make available.”

Tolbert credits his beliefs and principles to his equally generous father, a former entertainment lawyer, who he recalls has always allowed any needy stranger to temporarily occupy their family’s spare bedroom. He remembers that their spare bedroom has always been occupied by someone totally unrelated to their family.

“It planted the seed that that’s something you do,” he still reflects. “You take care of other people who are in a position where help is needed. If I say I’m generous… then I should be generous.”

Then enter Felicia Dukes’ family, whom Tolbert never met before but knew there was something he could give them and that is his own home. Before their meeting, Felicia Dukes’ family stays in a single occupancy residence at Alexandria House, a shelter that cares for women and children. However, Felicia is having a tough time since her eldest son could no longer stay with them at the shelter.

One day, she received some wonderful news. “I got a call they (Alexandria) had a young man that wanted to donate his house for a year,” Dukes recalls. “I’m looking like, what? Are you serious?”

The news was as real as the rising sun. Tony Tolbert, whom the family now considers as a grace from heaven, was serious in giving the family a new lease on life.

“My heart just fills up and stuff,” said teary-eyed Dukes, who welcomed the New Year with her family inside their very own home.  “Um … I’m just really happy.”

Tolbert has been in search of a deserving non-profit organization and its dependents through which he could endow his home. He finally settled with Alexandria House after learning about its mission and being impressed with some of the added services its counselors provide for their clients.

“I think if we can share more stories about people doing nice things for other people, and fewer stories about people doing horrible things to other people, that’s a better world,” said Tolbert, who also recently began studying Tibetan Buddhism.

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Clinton Fears Black Vote Will be Doomed

Hillary Rodham Clinton was at the 100th Anniversary of the Delta Sigma Theta, a historically black women’s organization. In her speech, she told the members of the future of the Voting Rights Act. She called the Supreme Court’s decision to kill part of the law a “real jeopardy.” She said the Congress must act to preserve “fairness and equality” in the electoral system.

At the conclusion of her 30-minute speech, 14,000 members gave her celebratory chants of “Run, Hillary, Run.”

Clinton, who may well be the next presidential candidate in 2016, said that the SC decision “struck at the heart” of the landmark law and it threatens the right of any Americans to cast their vote.

“Unless Congress acts, you know and I know, more obstacles are on their way,” Clinton said, walking freely on stage instead of confining herself at the podium. “They’re going to make it difficult for poor people, elderly people, working people, minority people to be able to do what we should take for granted.”

In June, the Supreme Court trashed a key component of the Voting Rights Act. It killed the federal government’s ability to secure a fair election in all or parts of the 15 states with a history of discrimination. The stipulations that were removed required those states to seek approval before electoral changes are implemented.

Civil rights groups have been displeased with the decision claiming that it could disenfranchise groups of voters in the next election.

“Now the law’s future is in real jeopardy and so are the rights of millions of Americans,” Clinton said.

She didn’t express or hinted any plans to run for any political post. She said she will dedicate her time on campaigns that focus on early childhood development, women’s rights and economic development in her new role in her family’s presidential foundation.

In her speech, she highlighted the importance of the black vote. Such has made it possible for her husband to win the election and Barack Obama twice. The same could be true if she would also run for the presidency in 2016.

“I want to make sure that in the next election and the next election and the next and every one after that, people line up to vote and they vote regardless of those who may not want to count their vote or acknowledge their right to vote,” she said.

More Black Male Teachers – Please

Black Male Teachers Needed for Urban and District Schools in the U.S.

Teachers and education are universal; no obligation of caste and creed is associated with them. This widespread notion moves around the world, but when it comes to the USA, it appears to be a weaker one. There is a dire need for increasing the number of black male teachers in urban schools and districts of the country. As far as practical teaching is concerned in the classroom, black male teachers are found to have a tremendous impact. But the brutality is a huge flock of black men is present in schools in the form of custodians, or as food-service employees, or in the form of transportation workers. Even if they are found in the capacity of educators, most of them are employed in the form of physical education teachers or as a coach. Black teachers are in the minority in the classrooms and at estimation, they represent only 2% of the entire teacher population.

Recently, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is working towards black teacher recruitments. Among the several initiatives, TEACH.org, a public-private initiative is starting up a mission to aid applicants in finding appropriate places in the classrooms. However, this is not a speedy process and sometimes it is also felt that all the efforts are gone in vain. Why? Well here are the reasons with possible solutions to this problem.

As per the current data from the National Center for Education Statistics, it is found out that about 82% of public schools teachers trained in 2011-12 were whites. If a black teacher is given a classroom, there is a high likelihood that he might be only the one from two to three black appointees from the whole staff and that too in a black school. Mostly, hiring is done on ‘fit’ which just means will this person be able to meet in the school? If yes, then how much? The addition of a black man to the workforce can alter the school functionalities according to them.

The deficiency of black teachers is not limited to the classroom. It exaggerates further when the leadership roles in the schools are concerned. There is quite less possibility of finding a black teacher in the role of principal and assistant principal.

Mentoring is not a new trend with the inclusion of new educators; the expectation is that the black teachers will have someone as a mentor who considers them as their best interests and takes their professional development at heart. However, the situation is again a challenge for black teachers because now they have to find a black educator who is exceptionally willing to pair up with them and work honestly. There are many cases of young teachers taken off the track by their mentors, those who allow them to drown into the professional chasms.

On the other hand, the situation can be changed if black teachers are included in the nation’s classrooms. It could help to adapt the aspirations of the students. Diversity in the teaching force is the need of the time, and it is high time to make a commitment to it.