Thursday, April 23, 2015


Mike informs of us more camp sites along the access road.
Last night we were joined by some members of the Glorious Bastards -- a biker chapter of Marine vets, and a great group of guys.

We started early and saw a lot of different friends and ventured further into the woods than ever before.

Over the years, as the authorities have scrapped people's tents who live along the tracks, the people have had to move farther and farther from the city center and all of the amenities there.

Oh, and it started snowing last night. It's April. April 22. Let me say that again: it snowed.

Trestle bridge leading to many camp sites.
Aaron and Anita's awesome stove and patio.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Friendly exchange
We've made many friends over the years doing Project HOPE. Horinger and I worried about many of them and their lifestyles and decisions. Some of our buddies have ended up in the hospital or strung out, left to waste on the streets. We've feared some one might die, that we might hear one day that this guy didn't make it or that this girl was found dead.

This year Bobby died. He lived a hard life. He spent time in the service and had learned many survival techniques that helped him live in a tent in the woods. But he also looked for trouble, nearly thrived on it. When we found out he had been killed, it was sad, but it was almost as if it was expected. "Well, that's kind of how I figured he'd go," I said.

This morning when Horinger told me that Kari died, I wasn't expecting it. She overdosed. I didnt' figure that would happen.

I knew she was stuck in a world of drugs. Sometimes she even seemed strung out to me when we'd see her, but we'd smile and hug just the same.

She fell a little too far into that world and never made it out.

We were the same age. She once joked that I had my life together and she didn't. I didn't let her get away with that and responded, "I have no idea what I'm doing, Kari. I definitely don't have it all together."

Kari's gone, but Braiden isn't. He's Kari's son, and he's 10. He already had it rough, getting in trouble at school when he fought back against kids who made fun of him, usually for his weight.

Braiden eats a crap diet, His home life is unstable. His family is nonexistent.

I always feared the poor little kid who loves to play football and basketball with us stands no chance. Now, I know he doesn't.

His mom, the one person who loved him, the one person he loved, couldn't navigate life and has left him alone.

He has no control of his life now. Where will he go. How will he stay afloat and not drown, victim of the relentless evils that surround him.

My guess is he won't.

Many in Braiden's life look at him and see a bad kid.

We look at him and see a fun, loving kid, a slave of his circumstances. Unfortunately, we are few. Most will dismiss him, and I'm sure that will be his fate.

He will be forgotten like many children in his situation.

Even though he is just a kid. Innocent, with only the want to play, but society will have its way with him. It won't let him get away with such innocence. He'll be labeled, packaged, and shelved.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Slashing Misfortune

Kids 'n' Tents
Joe tells us about his three kids he doesn't get to see. CSB has the kids now apparently.

He just moved back into the woods. He lives a stressful existence, unable to find work, unable to see his kids, unable to find relief, unable to put two days together for some positive momentum. He's doomed at the bottom.

Everytime he takes a step out, he's fallen back. I see nothing positive here. I feel helpless and sad.

Tents are popping up now that the weather has broken, but the authorities are also on the move to move the squatters.

Nothing is in their favor.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

JD and Mike in the Woods

Dave, found

Last night was one of the best nights at Project Hope. Maybe because Adam always remembers my name. We had a pretty long conversation with him and his friend. We mostly talked about Kosovo and Albania. I told them about the war. And then we talked about religion. In general, last night was fun. --exchange student Alba Bicurri, Kosova

Thursday, March 26, 2015


Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Allusive Magic Bus Ticket Ride

Mr. Dzik wows audiences in the alley.
Mr. Dzik joined us and impressed each stop with some magic. Although he couldn't cure Mama's lungs or Lucas' toes or Monty's loneliness, he could make people laugh and wonder. It's always interesting to see Project HOPE through the eyes of people who come out for the first time. I love watching peoples reactions to the stops we make and the people we meet and the diversity of each. Mr. Lucas sat idle and in pain, minus three toes, while Stacey gregarious laughing was contageous. It can also be very intimidating or awkward to help a stranger. I'm not sure when this became the norm. I definitely feel it, and I know others do. How do I stop and talk casually to the guy flying the sign on the corner? What's stopping us? Are we afraid he will yell at us? Are we afraid he's a poor conversationalist and we'll be bored? Are we afraid he will hassle us? We're just plain afraid of what might happen, so we do nothing, and this makes us feel uncomfortable. It's not necessarily the poor dude hoping for a hand out that makes us want him to disappear. It's our own fear and discomfort of not knowing what to do. But if we took this same mindset into every situation, we'd never win.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ice Melt

Anita and her hair.

Aaron and Anita's

The climb to the top.

With the cold finally subsiding and the snow giving way some, we managed our way to Aaron and Anita's site. A rope tied to a tree helped with the decent toward the tracks. Aaron wasn't feeling well apparently, so he stayed in the tent. Anita said she's trying to go through AMHA to get a place, but they've denied her twice. Her hope is that Aaron gets accepted. With the sun shining and temperatures in the 40s, many more people were out tonight. We found Jesse on the corner flying a sign, and we stopped to hang for a bit. David joined us a bit later, and they said they were staying in a buddies place, so they were safe from the weather this winter. Fred flew his sign off South Street, but didn't want to bring attention to himself. He doesn't have a license to be holding his very large sign. Tonight was adult night. Miss Buzzelli, Miss Stone, and Mr. T joined us and brought their welcoming smiles.