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.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Before being stranded.

For the first time in Project HOPE history, the van got stuck in the snow...permanently.

In the end, three chains, some salt, and lots of horse power pulled us from my enthusiasm.

After being stranded.
With a little luck, we were stuck in a sort of crossroads between tents and downtown, so we got to see some friends. Tommy gave us a little help and nearly got us out, but we only pushed ourselves into another icy cavity. Tommy ultimately walked his bike down the path and into the darkness. Aaron and Anita were thankful we got stuck where we did. They got some food and socks, and we laughed a little bit about our predicament. Then they walked over the gulch toward their tent in the darkness.

All the while, the kids pulled their weight and never got down. We shoveled the icy snow with crates. We pushed and rocked the van, nearly succeeding time and time again. In a sort of masochistic team-building exercise, we built closer ties and appreciation for one another.

The circumstances sucked, but in the end, smiles and memories were made. Kind of like every other Project HOPE.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

From Robots to Humans

Long Hair Dan
We spend a lot of time formulating a structure for our students. One that's organized with all the paths laid out. One that explains what needs to be done, how to succeed, what options to take into consideration.

Students move from class to class with the sound of a tone. They sit. They listen. They write. They study what needs to be studied and they pass the test. Success!

We've drained so much autonomy from them, they don't know how to adapt. We've organized such a rigid system, they wait for our instructions, then they react. We tell them how to do it, then they do it, our way.

They sit back and listen, then move.

That's not Project HOPE. When the students ask how to do it, we tell them to figure it how. "Do it however you think it should be done."

"Should I put mustard on the sandwiches?" "Would you like to put mustard on the sandwich?" "I don't know."

It takes a lot on Project HOPE to rewire the students. They wait for us to tell them what to say to our friends on the streets, but we encourage them to take the lead, make the decisions, run the show.

It's tough. It's not normal. And we like that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Thursday, February 5, 2015