Please Know...

As I come to know these fine people, they share with me more of their personal and sensitive stories. Their collective story is what I am trying to share with you as my way of breaking the stereotypical beliefs that exist. "Blog names" have occasionally been given to me by the person whose story I am telling. Names are never their actual names and wherever I can do so, I might use the opposite pronoun (his/her, etc.) just to help increase their privacy.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Titles and Testimonies

Dr. Tony Campolo has a sermon that he calls " Titles and Testimonies."  It's a powerful message about people from the Bible who had impressive titles such as king, queen, etc and yet did not necessarily have an impressive testimony.  Dr. Campolo compares these impressively titled people with less titled individuals who made a powerful difference in the lives of those around them.

His message has come to my mind during this time of physical isolation from people in my life and has taken a blog inspiring twist.

As I've sat here alone in my apartment, I've called the people closest to me and yet not ever been called back by them.[1]  There are two non-relative exceptions to this sad reality which brought Dr. Campolo's message to mind. 

These two people have a title thrust upon them by circumstances beyond most of their control.  They would rather not have this title nor its derivatives.  It's a title that is used to entrap them within their own minds and society's beliefs of them as being "less than" or "not worthy of" and more.  It's a title most often times heard as one of shame and disgrace and sin. 

And yet, day after day during these weeks of isolation, each one calls or texts with a simple "How r u?" or a detailed story of what's happening in their lives and asks me about what's happening in mine.

My 'title' at my employment is "Driver."  Yours might be a teacher, custodian, doctor, mail carrier, pharmacist, truck driver, chef…

It's how we earn our money that is our societal 'title.'  It is not who we are. 

Each and every one of us is a human being who has been made in the image of God and who is worthy of the highest dignity, honor, respect, and love.  That's our actual and factual title AND testimony.

Due in very large part to the incompetence of the Medicaid system to provide the care that they need and deserve and want as they try to find the end of their dark tunnel of entrapment in their Substance Use Disorder, these two people who contact me multiple times throughout each day bear their societal forced title. 

On top of that societal violation, too many members of the nursing and medical community routinely violate the Hippocratic oath upon which they individually swore or affirmed their career. 

The end result for these two blog inspiring people is that they are left feeling trapped by walls of apathy and indifference, incompetence and loathing by the highly titled people who could make a positive difference in their lives.

These two people of whom I speak in this blog will read this.  (One of them has texted me "What's Up?" as I've been writing this.)  I apologize to each of you in advance for putting in print the titles that have been forced upon you by the incompetence of our society and the highly titled people therein.

Society too often titles you "prostitute" and more.  I title you "Friend" because of your testimony, that of reaching out beyond yourself. 

Far more importantly than what I title you, God, the creator of everything that has ever been, is and will be, calls you God's child:

John 1:12   
Yet to all who did receive him, 
to those who believed in his name, 
he gave the right to become children of God.

I'm thankful to God for the gift of both of you in my life.

Peace Always,


[1] With the exception of my sister

Monday, March 30, 2020

A Call To Action to All Private Insurance Detox/Rehabs to Open Your Doors to Homeless People Suffering from Substance Use Disorder

With so many aspects of this current pandemic to deal with, there's one way that private insurance detox/rehab facilities can help with the homeless and Medicaid reliant people who are dealing with Substance Use Disorder and addiction on the streets throughout our nation.

There are plenty of beds available.  There are a surprising number of homeless folks who would go to detox if they knew they would not have to wait double-digit hours for service.  This wait time is often the deal-breaker in seeking medical care for their Substance Use Disorder.

The payments for service offered by the Medicaid system prevent private insurance facilities from offering services to this population of people who are equally deserving of being healed. 

Can something be worked out with these private insurance facilities to encourage/compel them to provide services?  In so doing:

  • Men and women who are extra vulnerable to contracting coronavirus may be navigated away from that danger.
  • Stress will be taken off of the system that is trying to find basic housing for them.
  • Detoxification and healing may actually be found for people who would otherwise continue suffering.
  • Children may actually get their Mom or Dad back rather than going to their funeral and asking:  "Why is my Mommy/Daddy sleeping in that box?" - a painful thing to witness.

 Anything that can be done across our nation would be helpful in this regard.

Thanks for reading this.



PS: Stay safe!

(The preceding is a generalized version of a letter that I have recently sent to a Pennsylvania Senator.)

If you agree with this concept, please share it with your social media groups and local/regional representatives.  Thank you.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Song Sheet in a Pandemic

I started creating "Song Sheets" for distribution to the wonderful people currently living on the streets of Kensington, in June of 2018.  I chose songs that addressed through contemporary Christian wording and music answers to thoughts and agonies shared by these people as they opened their lives to me.

It's not unusual to hear someone say that they save all of these sheets or that they don't need water or a banana[1] but do want the most recent song sheet.  These moments always make me smile…

There's another aspect of these sheets that seems to be appreciated.  By sharing lyrics based on God's Word and doing so through a song, people who might not be otherwise open to the message of Christ are a bit more likely to be open.[2],[3]

With all that's going on in our world right now, people are asking questions regarding the current situation and wondering what's next. 

I don't pretend to have any insider information that isn't available to anyone else.  Earlier this morning, I found this song[4] with its lyrics that jumped out and begged to be read, pondered, prayed about and considered for action.

The King Is Coming

The marketplace is empty
No more traffic in the streets
All the builders' tools are silent
No more time to harvest wheat
Busy housewives cease their labors
In the courtroom no debate
Work on earth is all suspended[5]
As the King comes through the gate

O the King is coming
The King is coming
I just heard the trumpets sounding
And now His face I see
O the King is coming
The King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me

Happy faces line the hallways[6]
Those whose lives have been redeemed
Broken homes that He has mended[7]
Those from prison He has freed[8]
Little children and the aged
Hand in hand stand all aglow
Who were crippled, broken, ruined[9]
Clad in garments white as snow[10]

O the King is coming
The King is coming
I just heard the trumpets sounding
And now His face I see
O the King is coming
The King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me
I can hear the chariots rumble
I can see the marching throng
The flurry of God's trumpets
Spells the end of sin and wrong
Regal robes are now unfolding
Heaven's grandstand's all in place
Heaven's choir now assembled
Start to sing "Amazing Grace"

O the King is coming
The King is coming
I just heard the trumpets sounding
And now His face I see
O the King is coming
The King is coming
Praise God, He's coming for me
Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Charles Millhuff / Gloria Gaither / Willam J. Gaither
The King Is Coming lyrics © Capitol Christian Music Group

I'm not sitting here writing a blatant nor subliminal 'end times' blog.  My song sheets are presented to and shared with the readers as something to consider and to act on according to what they're sensing deep within their soul.  I invite you to do the same…

[1] The typical things that I share
[2] One man who I Narcaned before I knew him has gone from saying "No. I don't want your damn song sheet." to "I'll take your damn song sheet." to "Can I have one of your song sheets?"  J
[3] There's one side story that I've got to share with you.  Maybe a year ago, I was talking to a man on the street who I've come to know a bit.  He's very much part of the rough and tough crowd.  I asked him if he'd like a song sheet and he very firmly said  "No. I don't need your song sheet."  I immediately thought to myself that this seemingly frightening, knife-carrying, and possible occasional drug dealer is just not open to it.  He continued…  "Today is Sunday.  I'm walking to my grandmother's house right now where she and I will open up her old hymnal, sit at her piano and sing old-time hymns together."  That was the day that my stereotypical image of such a Kensington resident developed a crack.
[4] Seems to have been written about 10 years ago
[5] We are closer to these first seven lines of this song as being an absolute fact as we ever have been…  We are not there - yet.
[6] Hallways: Anyone who knows Kensington Avenue knows the resemblance that it has to a long hallway in a large building.  The stores are its walls and "the El" (elevated rail line) is the ceiling.
[7] Broken Homes: The number of 'broken home' stories on those streets is staggering.  It is often the details of those stories that led the person to kill the associated pain through  the use of 'pain killers.'
[8] This is actually happening.  People in jail for non-violent crimes are being released so as to cut down on a captive population exposed in this current pandemic.
[9] Several people come to mind…  The person so severely bent over (presumably) with scoliosis, the little one who loves vanilla ice cream and appears to be in her senior years and yet is hovering around 30 years of age, the men and women navigating those streets in wheelchairs after losing a limb to the infections of the street, the now-adult children born addicted who know no other form of life, those escorted/thrown out of emergency rooms by medical people who, in so doing, violate their Hippocratic oath, and more. 
[10] For those of us who know these people, specifically or in general, of whom I speak in the above footnote, just imagine him or her "Clad in garments white as snow." 

Thursday, March 5, 2020

So, you don't want a Safe Injection Site in your neighborhood?

Well, Okay. 

If you could arrange for the following changes[1] in how our society serves people who have Substance Use Disorder and are homeless as a result, maybe, just maybe, these sites would not be as needed. 

mergency rooms, crisis centers, walk-in clinics and drug stores that offer patient care services need to treat Substance Use Disorder patients with the same promptness, dignity, and respect that they do all other forms of illness and injury. 

The medical and nursing personnel in too many such places have forgotten or misplaced their copy of the Hippocratic Oath upon which they swore or affirmed their careers.  This oath does not allow for an exception to any category of individuals.  In those situations where a health care worker cannot provide care to a patient due to some personal/ethical belief, they are obligated to turn the care of that patient over to an equivalent health care provider who can provide the care needed and as expected by their common professional oath.

The current process for receiving detox and rehab requires Medicaid reliant patients of Substance Use Disorder who seek help to wait double-digit hours before receiving proper care.  I've written about this situation in this blog.  The end result in too many cases is that these people give up on that day - and occasionally all together - in finding the help that they desired in that brief window of opportunity for healing.

ntil there are enough shelter beds and non-slumlord apartments within which to house currently homeless patients of Substance Use Disorder, allowing them to stay in their own tented communities saves lives. 

As a condition for being in any one of these communities, it was agreed upon by all residents that no one was to consume their medicine in solitude within any tent.  The result was an amazingly low fatal overdose rate.  In a very real way, these tented communities were in actual fact grassroots self-governed Safe Injection Sites.  As such, thanks to the life-saving measures provided by other members of these tented communities all manners of human relationship with family and friends not living on the streets lived to see another day.

leaning up a city block is something that we do with trash types of debris.  When society says we are going to "clean up" the block of people dealing with Substance Use Disorder and homelessness, we are equating them with unwanted debris. 

A patient of Substance Use Disorder is equally human with that person with ABC injury or XYZ illness.  To treat persons with Substance Use Disorder as anything less than human is to add trauma to their preexisting list of traumas - the hearings of which would make any man cry. 

These three examples are three among many that need to be and can be addressed so as to create a culture of connection with these men and women.  In so creating this culture of connection, we can potentially eliminate much of the need for that Safe Injection Site[2] that you fear in your neighborhood. 

[1] Among many others that need to be made
[2] Also known as Overdose Prevention Sites (OPS) or dare I suggest it, using the same initials and in the case of a saved Mom or Dad, these can be seen as "Orphan Prevention Sites."

Monday, February 17, 2020

This is true... Yes. This is True... No.

I found this statement at
"The Addicts Diary."

This is true... Yes.

This is True... No.

The "Yes" part is sort of obvious.

The "No" the part is not.

My friends died from their use of heroin or whatever else was in that (intended) insulin syringe. How many times did each of these human beings seek treatment within their required process of receiving health care as outlined by the Medicaid system?

How many times did they go to that Medicaid required crisis center only to leave after double-digit hours of waiting in desperate dope sickness and find their own healing by way of one little blue bag?

How many times did my friend get discharged from jail with no follow-up services set up and move to an abandoned house and die in solo medicine consumption since his community under that bridge had been eliminated?

She was fortunate enough to have a judge who truly cared and did his best for her.  Why didn't the Medicaid level detox/rehab assure that patients around her were not taking their "medicine" IN the state-licensed facility?  In the name of truly wanting to find healing, she left the poison of that environment and, in the absence of support was overcome with the temptations that come with Substance Use Disorder and life on the streets and died behind a closed door in an abandoned house since she had no bridge community upon which to return.

And now you know:

Heroin and the Medicaid system of health care killed my friends.

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Always Read the Fine Print!

the City[2] 
of Brotherly Love[3],

[1] Philadelphia:

·         Philia is the type of intimate non-sexual love most people practice toward each other. This Greek term describes the powerful emotional bond seen in deep friendships.  It conveys a strong feeling of attraction.

·         Delphia: a girl's name meaning "the womb"

o   Womb: a place where something is conceived and nurtured and that offers protection and shelter.

o   Conceived: to form an idea or concept of something in your mind… to think up something such as a plan or an invention that could be put into action… to produce something from the mind such as an emotion

o   Nurtured: to give tender care and protection to a young child, animal, or plant, helping it to grow and develop… to encourage somebody or something to grow, develop, thrive, and be successful

o   Protection: the act of preventing somebody or something from being harmed or damaged, or the state of being kept safe

o   Shelter: a structure or building that provides cover from weather or protection against danger… an establishment providing temporary accommodations and food for people in need or without a home

·         Philadelphia: The birthplace within our nation conceived and intended to nurture protection and shelter and so much more in a spirit of deep friendship and attraction.

[2] City: an urban area where a large number of people live and work

[3] Brothery Love: showing feelings that a brother might be expected to have toward his sibling

[4] Evicted: to force somebody to leave a place

[5] Homeless: persons without a place or home of any kind

[6] People: human beings considered collectively or in general

Human Beings: inspirational and made in the image of God… worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love.


Monday, January 6, 2020

Determine To Try

When it comes to boxing, I'm thankful to Jerry Lewis for providing this perfect impersonation nine years before I was born of me being a boxer in a boxing ring.

This past Christmas, as she sat in my car, Rose asked me to close my eyes.  I did so.  She reached around my neck and clasped a man's boxing glove pendant necklace on me.  As she did so, she said "Thanks, 'Dad' for fighting for me."

A couple days later, a coworker at Recovery Centers of America in Devon and I were discussing Kensington as he remembered it from his childhood days and growing up there.  He reminded me of how "Rocky" was filmed in many locations around there.  As a Jerry Lewis-style boxer myself, I think I had repressed those thoughts of a Rocky-style boxer having filmed some silly inconsequential movie series[1] in my area of attempted service.

A couple days after this conversation with my co-worker, I had professional interaction with a man bearing the name of a famous boxer from somewhere in our nation's history.[2]

Why is my decade starting with a boxing theme?

I've come to love the men and women who find themselves living on the streets of Kensington due to being in their addicted phase of Substance Use Disorder.  Theirs/Yours is a boxing match like no other.  By her Savior's planned journey for Rose, she introduced this boxing theme to me.  My co-worker fine-tuned it and now I introduce it to you…

Rocky and You: an inspirational human being made in the image of God who is worthy of dignity, honor, respect and love and who carries the diagnosis of and dealing with the consequences of Substance Use Disorder.

You are in a boxing match!  The national champion of death and destruction whose name is "Substance Use Disorder" is devouring thousands of its opponents each and every year.  Thousands of people are permanently "knocked out" with Substance Use Disorder's world-famous death punch.  Other boxing opponents of Substance Use Disorder, First responders, and others step in as referees to administer Narcan and save hundreds of Substance Use Disorder's opponents. From Substance Use Disorder's perspective, you are just one more ready to be permanently knocked out by this seemingly unstoppable presence in your life.

Rocky was an insignificant bro on the streets of Kensington.  He loved little animals and he had his eye on a homely pet shop employee named Adrienne.  He tried to make a living by boxing and extracting money from people who owed others. 

One day, an odd set of circumstances rolled his direction and he found himself being offered the opportunity to box with the current national boxing champion.  Lots of self-doubts convinced him that he could not do it.  Adrienne, now his girlfriend, always stuck by him while allowing him to make the decisions for his life.  When he doubted, she didn't disagree.  She supported his thinking process. 

One day, Rocky decided it was time to train his body and prepare to box this national champion.  He wakes up early on this morning of decision, drinks six raw eggs steps out his front door, stretches and sets off on his first run in training to box the national champion.  He had no idea whether he could or could not beat this internationally known opponent but he decided to try.

As he steps out of the door of his rented home and starts to run down his home street, it's dark and dingy.  No one notices.  He just starts to run all by himself.  As he runs, light begins to shine.  In time, he makes that famous run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.

Between that first run out of his rented home and that run up the steps, he pounds on punching bags, raw meat and an occasional actual human opponent in a boxing match. 

If you so choose, in your training for taking on your opponent, the national champion of death and destruction, "Substance Use Disorder", through professional counseling, you will (metaphorically) punch the stuffing out of a punching bag as you recall the heartbreaks and violations of so many against your soul.  You will beat the tar out of raw meat as you recall your biological father refering to you as such as he had his way with you.

If you so choose, when "Substance Use Disorder," this national champion of death and destruction, tries to box you back into relapse, through the training that you've done thus far and with the support of trusted friends, you will beat your living opponent into submission as you refuse to be defeated in your conquest toward your new life.

Since the closing of Emerald City about a year ago, I've been focusing my visiting efforts in the area of Kensington Avenue and Somerset Street.  I often park on Ruth Street at Somerset Street.[3]  Whenever I park on Ruth Street, when it's time to leave, I drive to the end of the block and turn right.  I've noticed this house on the end of the block that has a large open field next to it.  I've often thought that if I ever moved to Kensington, I would like to live in that house.  It's close to the action and has enough open space to satisfy my soul.  As it turns out, this house that I've admired for the past year is Rocky's rented home.  The people who I visit, some of whom read these blogs, can be found living on the street on the opposite side of this same square block.

In this movie written by and starring Sylvester Stallone, he determines to try to defeat his opponent.  He leaves his rented home at 1818 Tusculum Street and jogs unnoticed into the darkness.  When he gets to Kensington Avenue, he turns right and then out of camera view.  This first run would have taken him right through the east coast center of what is now Substance Use Disorder's boxing ring, the intersection of Kensington and Somerset.

Rocky made his decision on Tusculum Street to try to beat his opponent as he was living in his rented home.  I encourage all of you who know this boxing ring to consider taking the challenge of setting off on your training.  Rocky did not know when he ran down Tusculum if he would succeed but he determined to try.  It will be hard and you can do it!   You can determine to try.

[2] I'm keeping that very vague for privacy reasons.  It was not the actual famous boxer.
[3] The people I've come to know and love know these streets very well as these streets have become their grass roots safe injection site. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

I Pray You A Mary Christmas

A Message from "Banana Man"
Chris Battin
Rather than handing out my song sheet during my Christmas visits, I prepared the following letter which seems to have been well received.  Here is a link to the original handout.

The Birth of Jesus

Luke 2:2-20
At that time the Roman emperor, Augustus, decreed that a census should be taken throughout the Roman Empire. (This was the first census taken when Quirinius was governor of Syria.) All returned to their own ancestral towns to register for this census. And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child. 

6 And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. 7She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger because there was no lodging available for them.

The Shepherds and Angels

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, 10 but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. 11 The Savior[1]—yes, the Messiah[2], the Lord[3]—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! 12 And you will recognize him by this sign: You will find a baby wrapped snugly in strips of cloth, lying in a manger.”
13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others-the armies of heaven—praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in highest heaven,
    and peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
15 When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”
16 They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger[4]. 17 After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. 18 All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, 19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 20 The shepherds went back to their flocks, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. It was just as the angel had told them.

Dear Friends,                                 

I see you in this Bible reading. 

Do you see the star above?  Read those bold words carefully:  And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born.    She gave birth to her firstborn son.

"The time came
for her baby to be born."

That means that her body decided it was time for the birth of her son.  Her body had done its part in creating, forming and protecting him. 

Between those two lines:

The time came… & …She gave birth

Mary endured a lot of physical pain and discomfort.  If you're a lady who has given birth, you know this first hand.  Even if it was made less intense by medical help, you didn't have a choice but to go through some pain and discomfort.  Guys, if you're a Dad, your lady endured a lot of pain and discomfort so as to give birth to that new life.  If you're not a parent, you can know that the woman who birthed you endured pain and discomfort so as to bring you into this world.  

Your body or that of your lady or Mom decided the time had come to go through the pain and discomfort and give birth to a new life.

With the birth of her Son, Mary would have all but forgotten the pain and discomfort of childbirth.  She may have forgiven the misery and been thankful that it was over.  She would have looked into the eyes of her Son, this new life in her arms, and decided that for as rough as it may have been, enduring the pain and discomfort was worth it.  

Be Mary.
There's a new life inside of you waiting to be born.  To give birth to your new life, even with medical help, you must endure some amount of pain and discomfort.  When you are ready, I encourage you to see the pain and discomfort of detox and withdrawal as the labor pains preceding the birth of your new life.  Upon the successful delivery of your new life, your pain will be all but forgotten.  Like Mary as she raised her son, you will raise your new you.

Mary's body decided it was time to give birth to this new life.  It was not her decision as to when this would happen.  It is your decision as to when to go through your pain and discomfort and give birth to your new life.

You've heard it said that you must hit "rock bottom" before your moment of decision comes.  Mary went through her pain and discomfort so as to give birth to your Rock.  You do not have to wait for the circumstances of your life to take you to that rock bottom moment of decision.  You can call out to Jesus, The Son of Mary, The Son of God, The Rock, to be your Rock to bear your pain and discomfort while you give birth to your new you. 

In the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24 “Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.

Thank you for being you!  You are very much loved in the Name of Jesus, the Son of Mary, The Son of God, Your Rock if you so choose, whose birth we celebrate!


Romans 10:9-10 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

[1] somebody who rescues somebody or something from harm or danger
[2] in Christianity, Jesus Christ regarded as the Messiah prophesied in the Hebrew Bible
[3] in Christianity, God or Jesus Christ
[4] a trough from which livestock eat