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.

Throughout this blog you are now seeing advertising. I need to provide this so as to keep going financially with this ministry. If you see something that is inappropriate to this site, please let me know - maybe get a screen shot of it for me. I do get credit for any "click" that you might make on any of the ads. If you're bored some night and want to help me raise some needed cash, visit my site and click away to your heart's content....


Friday, December 31, 2021

Money Makes the World Go Round.

About 3 years ago I sat down with the COO of a private insurance detox/rehab facility. I asked him why it was not possible for that facility to accept Medicaid-reliant patients who carry the same diagnosis. He helped me understand the basic issue involved. 

It boils down to money:

Private insurance pays (in round numbers) $800 to  $1,000 per day for professional services. Medicaid pays $150 to $200 per day for the same. That is a staggering difference in reimbursement. There is no way for a private insurance facility to provide proper services as per its philosophy on what those services should be at the Medicaid rate of reimbursement.

Money Makes the World Go Round.

**********

As I shared with you in a previous blog, one Medicaid reliant couple who I've been getting to know in recent weeks shared with me how much money it takes to purchase the drugs that they feel they need.  They must spend $500 in a 24-hour cycle.  That's $250.00 for each of them 24 hours each day, 365 days each year including all holidays.

For every 24 hours that this young couple is in active substance use, she as the female in this deeply committed heterosexual relationship must earn $500 by doing ‘dates’ with random men who pick her up.[1]

Think about that and now think about this…

At the Medicaid rate of reimbursement, these two individuals[2] are earning more money in any 24-hour cycle through prostitution[3] to support their addiction than is being paid through Medicaid to provide healing to them from their addiction. 

Money Makes the World Go Round.

**********

The males who provide the funding for sexual 'services' are often referred to a 'Jawns.'

Collectively, Jawn[4] reimburses for sexual 'services' women in addiction on the streets of Kensington at a substantially higher rate than does Medicaid provide for professional healing services to this same population.

If Medicaid paid more than 'Jawn' we just might see more healing.

Money Makes the World Go Round.



[1] Additional perspective: If each 'date' earns her an average of $50.00, that is ten 'dates' that she must perform in every 24 hour period.  It's not 9-5 or 3-11 or 11-7.  It's every 24 hours around the clock.

[2] who very much would like to be healed from the active use phase of their substance use disorder

[3] and all the hazards thereof

[4] Sometimes used as a first name of sorts when referring to one.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

The Christmas Eve Steady Beat of the Little Drummer Boy at the Corner of 'This and That'…

As I sat at the street intersection of "This and That" on this Christmas Eve, the steady beat of the Little Drummer Boy continued with its all too well-known rhythm of life on the streets of Kensington.

There was an increase in the desire for connection through conversation on this night in which the world of the healthy celebrates the Birth of the Lord.  

This is the world of patients with Substance Use Disorder who are forced into prostitution by a Medicaid reliant medical system that knows not or cares not how to bring healing to its patients. 

One woman of mid-twenty years whose appearance is that of an 11th-grade girl waiting for her school bus sat on the back bumper of my opened trunk car with me as if it were a park bench at her bus stop or in McPherson Square.  She shared with me the resentment that she feels in being the sole income provider for her and her long-time boyfriend.  As the woman in their heterosexual deeply committed relationship, it is her systematically understood role to make herself available to random jawns[1] for their own selfish sexual purposes for a price so as to provide funds for her and her lover's medicinal needs.

A very short time later in this evening, this evening otherwise awaiting the Birth of the Christ, I watched as she entered two cars within one hour on this Holy Night.  She can't take a break for this night or any night, afternoon or morning because she must raise about $500 per twenty-four-hour cycle so as to support the untreated addiction that she and her lover would rather not have that lives on and thrives on within them both.

It is her long-time lover's systematically understood role in this ongoing rhythm to allow her to be rented for her sexual 'services' to unknown jawns.  In a separate conversation with him on a different night not long ago near the same intersection, I told him as his back was deliberately turned away from her so as not to see her leave on her rented rounds that "She just got into a dark-colored Ford pickup truck with a New Jersey tag."  His response with a noticeable sense of sad relief was "Oh good.  He's a regular."

At the same intersection, as she and I sat and chatted, another woman paced and paced with the goal of renting herself.  Jawns are slower to pick her up for reasons that go beyond the point of this blog.  As she paced and paced, I asked her at one point if she would like my typical handouts of a banana and water.  She said 'Yes.' 

On this Night of Holy Anticipation, I asked her if she would like to read about the Birth of Jesus from the atypical 'song sheet' that I was sharing on this night.  Her response while she was pacing in the 'Rent me.' lane at the intersection of "This and That" was a surprisingly sparkle-filled "Oh.  Yes.  Please." 

She gladly took the sheet of paper to be read later.  For now, however, she needed to negotiate a price for service with the driver of the car who had just pulled over to check her out as if she were a piece of meat on display at Outback Steak House.  She got in and off she went with a random 'jawn' to her left in his driver's seat and a deliberate chapter 2 of the Gospel of Luke to her right in her pocket.

The Christmas Eve Steady Beat of the Little Drummer Boy at the Corner of 'This and That'…






[1] The term used by these women when discussing these males

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Isn't there a better approach?

Over 5 years ago, I truly believe that God led me to the streets of Kensington.  Two totally unrelated storylines in my life got me there.

In this time I've come to know and love so many people who call the streets home.

Some have found healing and moved on in amazing, new, and revitalized lives of their own.

Others have died by overdose or medical situations secondary to their drug use.

And then there is a third category of loved ones who rips my heart to shreds…

These are the men and women who are growing increasingly physically debilitated and emaciated.  Whatever degree of healthy weight they may have had at one point has reduced itself to a living and breathing skeleton of their former self.  Some are riddled with abscesses while others are on the verge of losing one or more extremities.  Teeth are falling out or totally gone.  

And I'm supposed to just sit back and not say anything directly to them because people tell me that would be rude.

It's extremely painful to watch a loved one or multiple loved ones seemingly run and run hard toward their own casket.

Isn't there a better approach for loved ones than to just sit back and wait for that phone call informing me that the run is done?

Monday, November 15, 2021

Steven's Bags at the Corner of "This and That"

This past Sunday, Steven of Steven's Bags gave me 15 bags for distribution to the people of Kensington.  I went to the corner of "This and That" Streets[1], a location known for being one of the primary areas in Kensington where women with Substance Use Disorder stand with the goal of being picked up to 'do a date' with some random previously unknown to them guy so as to fund an addiction they'd rather not have. 

As I pulled to the curb at the corner, I saw 'Nadia' sitting on a window ledge crying and being comforted by another of the ladies.  I approached them with two of Steven's Bags.  Nadia told me that she'd been beaten up earlier in the day by her spouse who she'd thought to be one of the few safe people in her world.  

With dope sickness overtaking her very quickly, she thanked me with a hug for the bag, wiped her tears, and walked to the corner of "This and That."  I stepped back to my car.  Within a few minutes, a random guy saw her sexiness and pulled over.  She hopped in and off they went.  

A few minutes later, she was back, still clutching Steven's Bag as the gift she knew it to be.  Back at the corner of "This and That" she stood again, was picked up again, and was off again to 'do a date' with a second random previously unknown to her guy in one hour.  Maybe half an hour later, I saw her again, this time from a bit of a distance.  Steven's Bag was still in her hand but looking smaller as if some of the enclosed gifted items had been consumed. 

What two random guys saw in that one hour was a hot _______ to use for their own selfish purposes.  

If you knew Nadia at all, you'd know that she was 'sold to a pimp'[2] by her parent when she was a young teen and a life of sex for money and drugs is all that she knows.  

If you knew Nadia at all, you'd know that she wants to heal and can't with all of the barriers that exist between her and healing.  

If you knew Nadia at all, you'd know that she likes Cocoa Puffs and Brownies. 

If you knew Nadia at all, you'd know that she really appreciated the gift of a bag decorated and filled by Steven and his team about an hour away from the corner of "This and That."



[1] Keeping the exact location as anonymous as possible

[2] somebody, usually a man, who finds customers for a prostitute in return for a portion of the prostitute's earnings

Friday, November 5, 2021

Dear "Your Helpful Neighbor" Prayer and Financial Supporters,

I wish I could summarize for you the joys and blessings that I experience each and every time I visit[1] the people of Kensington.  But I can't.

How does one who has experienced such a moment summarize a mountain hike, a deep-sea dive, the birth of their child?  You can't.

It must be experienced to be understood and even then, understanding takes time - a lifetime to fully comprehend the God Blessed majesty of what's happening in your presence.

This is my summary of Kensington = God Blessed Majesty in the midst of a mountain of unnecessary suffering.

The best I can do to help you know these blessings that exist 30 minutes from where I'm sitting at my home desk in Glen Mills, Pa. is to continue writing my blogs, invite you to join me, and ask for your continued prayers and financial support.

I greatly appreciate the individual people who and the one church that regularly financially supports this ministry.  I could not continue this without you.

To keep this going at its current level of three visits each week, I do need to have a larger pool of contributors.  To that end, if you're a regular or occasional contributor, could you share with your circle of friends what I'm doing and encourage them to provide some funding?  If you've not yet become a regular contributor, could you consider becoming so?

My bank balance of available funds is $35.41.  That will cover one more trip.  While I know other donations will be coming in shortly, they will not meet the financial requirements to continue on a three visits per week basis.

You might be asking why I visit three times each week…  In a word: "Consistency"

The people living on the streets and the people living in their local homes have come to know that I do care in the midst of my own fallibilities.  Consistency of visits creates conversation as to why I do what I do.  They ask why I care and I tell them that they are loved - yes, by me - but far more importantly - by God.

My fingers want to keep typing out stories of blessings that I've experienced over these five years but that's not practical to do so at this time.  I simply ask that you prayerfully pray and faithfully find ways to financially foster keeping this going.

Sincerely In Him,

Chris

https://behealedfromemotionaltrauma.blogspot.com/p/ministry-funding-options.html



[1] "Visit" is not even the correct word at this point as these people and this area have become such a part of who I am.

Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Stars Burned Bright at the Party in the Park

As the clouds of a rare late fall nor-easter drift overhead dumping rain on Route One right outside my third-floor apartment living room window, I'm catching myself feeling very down about a couple of Kensington-based relationships that I hold dear and don't seem to be going well.  I'd appreciate your prayers.

In the midst of that very real sadness, I'm filled with joy as I reflect on this past Saturday and the people who came to the party in the park

On Saturday, three women from Steven's Bags, an incredible organization in the Philadelphia westerly suburbs, merged efforts with three previously unknown-to-them men from Angels in Motion an incredible organization located in the Philadelphia northerly suburbs.  They were joined by one of my most excellent coworkers from RCA and her favorite man.  These eight suburbanites merged efforts with three members of Urban Hope Church an incredible community of Christians located in North Kensington.  

The star of all of this merging was Steven himself and his caregivers as he distributed 20 of his bags to the people of the streets of Kensington.

But wait…

The actual 'stars' were not the hosts of the party.  The actual factual stars were the invited guests who in the days leading up to this party seemed shocked that they, they who carry labels such as

Homeless

Addict

Panhandler

Prostitute

would actually be invited to a party.

It was a joy to share this party and consume cupcakes with Bob, Allison, and Pastor Martin among so many others who have not yet been emblogged.[1]

At one point, Rob, Urban Hope's most excellent Bible Study leader, stepped back from the crowd to estimate how many people were gathered around the various tables that were set up for cupcakes and clothing circulation for this party in the park.  He estimated 70 at that particular moment.

There were many other people who participated in this party's preparation.  As described on the Steven's Bags Facebook page:

Huge shout out to Wegmans in Downingtown for donating 150 cupcakes for a Girl Scout service project and....  Another HUGE shout out to the Cadettes, (6th to 8th grade) from GS troops 4029 and 4393 for decorating those cupcakes for our outreach yesterday. They were so popular and brought smiles to so many faces, it was such a joy to be able to offer them.

Another very much appreciated cupcake contributor is Ryan Holder, an amazing man and a Philadelphia-based gourmet cupcake baker.

An Unexpected Blessing…

The following day, Sunday, I was visiting the people on the streets a few blocks south of McPherson Square.[2]  Many of these people could not get to the party for their own understandable reasons.  The level of regret from these people who our LORD labels as

Inspirational human beings

made in the image of God worthy of

dignity,

honor,

respect

and love

was obvious and apparent.

 

Many thanks to EVERYONE who made this party such a joy - the STARS and the hosts…



[1] Dakota so much wanted to be there but the responsibilities of maintaining her addiction in the absence of prompt and dignified health care didn't allow her to be there.  You were missed and yet I understand.

[2] the location of this party in the park

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Dear Friends, You're Invited to a PARTY!!!!!

 Dear Friends,

This coming Saturday, October 23, 2021, Steven of Steven's Bags, Urban Hope Church, and I along with other groups are hosting a birthday party at McPherson Square

I'm using my birthday as an excuse to do this but I'm NOT wanting this event to be ABOUT ME

This is a party for the amazing misplaced people of Kensington who are dealing with Substance Use Disorder and who never get invited to anything referred to as a 'party.' 

These amazing people are never invited to a 'party.' 

They do experience unannounced pop-up outreach events where clothes, food, medical supplies, and/or evangelistic efforts are shared.

This is intended to be a party - a bit low-key due to a low budget - but a party nonetheless.  We will have some clothes, food, medical supplies, and maybe a medical person on hand to tend to street-related wounds. 

We will be emphasizing conversation, connection, and cupcakes.  Oh yes… water and bananas and song sheets - my trademarks.

One treasured friend who is still living with their Substance Use Disorder has said that they will be forfeiting some of their drug money to buy and bring helium balloons!  Want to see me cry?  That moment will do it - guaranteed!

If you would like to experience this event as a contributing co-host

I invite you to bring birthday-themed food items to share.  If you represent a particular group that provides services, please join us under your group name and maybe bring some cupcakes, other party foods, or party games.

If you'd like to help financially support this event, attached is a list of ways to do so.

Above all else, please pray for this event and these future party-going 'guests.' 

In my heart, they are not actually 'guests', nor 'lost souls' nor any other term often inappropriately applied.   After five+ years of coming to Kensington about three days each week, these patients with Substance Use Disorder have become a central part of my life AND treasured friends.  "They" are no longer 'they' but rather a natural part of me as any genuine friend would be.   

Please do consider joining us with your presence, prayers, and/or wallet to make this party a party for people who would never ever be invited to one as they live with and do what they do due to their Substance Use Disorder.

Sincerely,

Chris




Thursday, October 14, 2021

Sam's Saving Faith

My Church, Urban Hope, is between pastors these days…  Well, as far as officially appointed positions go, that's true but not real in reality.

Rob has been leading weekly Bible Studies since the beginning of Covid-19, first completely online and then in person in the social hall of our church once we could start gathering again.  

Rob's knowledge of our Christian Faith is an amazing and rare combination of heartfelt Faith and intellectual well-read knowledge.  And why wouldn't it be?  He met Jesus first hand as he read a Bible undisturbed while living in a hole in upstate Pennsylvania.  There are a couple 'code words' in that last sentence that some readers here will clearly understand.

Rob's approach to our Faith and found very clearly in his approach to Biblical interpretation and teaching is that we are saved by God's Grace.  If we, individually have accepted Christ, even if our behaviors have not yet caught up to the status of wholesome living, we're covered by God's Grace.

This past Sunday, Rob (Real Name) and Sam (Blog Name), and I were standing in the gym of our church where we had just watched the movie "I Still Believe." 

Sam was telling us of his Faith and how he wants to find total release from his opioid usage but isn't there yet.  Sam had found that moment and maintained it for a considerable time some time ago.  The call of the wild shouted loudly one day and Sam was back at it.  Sam wanted healing.

Rob assured Sam that even with his current drug usage, his eternal salvation was absolutely unequivocally guaranteed by God's Grace and Sam's commitment to Christ.  

"Keep coming to church, Bro." Rob told Sam.  Rob was clear to add:  "You'll find healing one day and you're covered by God's Grace."

48 hours later,[1] Sam's eternal healing unexpectedly arrived through God's Grace, his commitment to Christ, and a blue packet of five-dollar 'dope' that did him in.  Overdose overtook his body while God's Grace overtook his soul.

Sam's final conversation in a church from a pastoral person was that he is saved in the here and now and for all of eternity by God's Grace and his personal commitment to Christ. 

Little did the three of us standing there realize that two days later, Sam would enter the Presence of the Trinity for the remainder of time itself…

From Today's Reading in
Grace For the Moment
by Max Lucado



[1] Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Monday, September 27, 2021

ONE and only ONE Afternoon In Kensington

I was arriving in Kensington and I saw a woman I've known for maybe a year as she was standing on a street corner hoping to be picked up to 'do a date' AKA provide sexual services to a total stranger so as to earn some money to buy the drugs that she needs to get her day started.

I pulled over and parked and gave her my typical water and banana and song sheet and the first of 12 bags from Steven's Bags.

She explained to me how she had just woken up and really needed her 'get well' which is a reference to needing her first hit of heroin for the day. She did not have any money to go buy it and so she had to 'do a date' so as to raise that money that's needed. After doing the date she would then go to her preferred drug dealer and buy her drug and inject her drug and then feel better (or possibly overdose and die).

She, like the thousand or so other women on the streets of Kensington, deserve so much better than this when it comes to their health care and getting past this dreadful situation.

Anytime that we can connect in a healthy way to the men and women of the streets of Kensington, we are building community.  When each individual decides the time is right, they know that they will have loved ones on the street who might not be blood-related to them but do care about them and want the best for them and will walk with them in their time of medical healing.

When that time comes that they -  as a patient of substance use disorder - are ready for the care, it is an absolute mandatory Hippocratically Oathed requirement that the medical establishment is ready to provide that care in a prompt and dignity, and respect-filled manner. This is where the system falls apart. The current system is anything but that for Medicaid-reliant patients and must change.

In the meantime, women such as she who represents another thousand women and men who are reliant on those women to provide the funding will continue to suffer and die needlessly.

*****

A man who I've known for maybe 4 years rode up to me on a mini bike in his lifelong residential area of Kensington.

He told me with personal pride how he's gone from being addicted to his substances of choice and making ridiculously large amounts of money as a drug dealer to working in a manufacturing plant in the suburbs of Philadelphia making $19 an hour as a shift supervisor.

He made reference again to the stunning amount of money that went through his hands as a drug dealer and how he had absolutely nothing to show for it. Now that he is gainfully and legally employed, he has something to show for it.

Even in his days as a drug dealer, for as much as I am disgusted by that line of work, he was always polite and he almost always walked up to me and slipped some money into my cooler of bottled water. He would thank me for caring for the people of Emerald City.

He has no pride in doing what he did and great pride in doing what he does.

*****

It was time to go home…  I started to drive south on Kensington Avenue and felt that I should pull over and park in front of Martin's Deli.  I parked and sat…  …and sat some more…

And that's when it happened, the reason I was to park to sit and sit some more…

Kassidy walked up to my car…  

This was the first time I'd seen her in about three or more months.  Those months for her were mostly on her death bed.  Her lover and her loved ones were told that she would not be leaving alive.  Medical issues secondary to her drug use as a patient with Substance Use Disorder would be ending her life at some point in the near future and it would happen in a hospital bed at a place called Temple.

God had and has other plans for Kassidy…

She walked toward me appearing more healthy than I have ever seen her.  Her eyes framed in her natural red-headed hair sparkled with life, nearly but not completely free of street drug use…  She shared with me the events of these past months and her and Destiny's goals for life moving forward.

A bit of back story…

Kassidy and Destiny (their blog names) have a special place in my heart and they should for you if you, a reader of this blog, are one of my actual neighbors in or near Glen Mills, Pa.  If you are my literal neighbor, then you are a literal neighbor of the currently misplaced Kassidy and Destiny. 

The moral of this story dear suburban neighbor is this…  

The "Kensington Issue" is not an issue of Kensington.  

This miss phrased issue is YOUR issue involving YOUR actual, factual, and in all realms of reality very real literal neighbors! 

Please get involved accordingly.

***** 

These true accounts are three of several other actual experiences that I had in one visit on Sunday, September 26, 2021, with the awesome people of Kensington, many of whom are patients with Substance Use Disorder and others who are not and simply know Kensington as their multigenerational home.

If you had told me 6 years ago that I would be involved in such an experience, I would say you're nuts. But here I am. 

I would encourage you, no, I would urge you, no, I wish I could demand of you to become fully involved in some aspects of what is happening in Kensington. 

I can guarantee you your life will never ever be the same and I mean this in the most positive way.

Friday, September 24, 2021

Abused and Sitting on a Sidewalk

This past weekend, I was walking south on Kensington Ave, past Martin's Deli.  A few yards in front of me, I saw a human form balled up on that sidewalk somewhat propped against the wall. [1] 

Male?  Female?  Did not matter…

Breathing?  Not Breathing?  That did matter…

Walking closer, I determined that which did not matter.  She's a woman…

Breathing?  Hhmmm…  Not sure…

"Hello!”  Tap on her knee then shoulder…

Shake her shoulder…

No reaction and definitely not breathing…

A rugged man of Hispanic descent who I'd never met saw the situation, came over and assisted…

We sat this apparently unknown woman up and she flopped back in near deadness onto the sidewalk behind her.  Her eyes rolled back in true near-death style. 

"Cricket!"  I shouted!  I'd not seen her in several months…

The motion was enough to reawaken her.  With disorientation in her countenance, she looked at me as she sat there in a deep high. 

I sat down on that sidewalk with her and the man started to cry…

"I was scared for you Miss.  I'm glad you're ok…  Your friend (me) obviously cares about you." 

He looked more specifically at me and continued...

"You've got me crying as you're sitting on the sidewalk with her.  People who do what you do don't do that."

Kassidy said that same sort of thing a few months ago. 

*****

Why am I so comfortable sitting on a sidewalk with a person in their state of being 'high' or just back from 'doing a date'?  Why can I sit down with an addicted man, woman, or person in transition and just chat about the random stuff of life?

It's out of my brokenness, my years of being the receiver of verbal abuse by classmates and 'professionals' who should have known better, that I can relate to these people.  

These human beings are Medicaid neglected and far too often verbally abused patients with Substance Use Disorder who live on the streets and deserve so much better than that which our society serves.  

I tell them each and every day that they are an inspirational human being made in the image of God and worthy of dignity, honor, respect, and love. 

Sunday, September 19, 2021

All Roads Lead to Kensington.

As I was parked at my typical location at the intersections of Ruth and Somerset[1], people came and people went to and fro from their self appointed rounds of 'doing a date'[2] to buying their drugs of 'choice' to consuming those drugs through inhalation and/or injection.

One of those people stopped to actually share with me the pain she's feeling about the relationship she's in these days.  "He's miserable to live with."

She went on the tell me how sick she is with 'doing dates' how she's dead inside for having done so for so long and doing so only to financially support the heroin addiction she'd rather not have.

*****

I wanted to back off for a moment from the heaviness of the conversation and that's when the path of that chat took me home - literally….

Where are you from?  I asked.

"I lived for a few years in Glen Mills."

"Glen Mills!?"  So did I!  I grew up in Glen Mills and live there now.." 

I lived in a house with my husband at (exact address) very near the 322 overpass on Smithbridge Road.."

I grew up at Saint John's Church at the corner of Concord and Cheyney Roads.  My Dad was the priest there.

Is that the big church with the really big cross in the front yard?

Yes.  It is.

Did they build an addition recently?

Yes.  They did.

My husband and I would sit in our car in their parking lot and use their open free wifi…….

 *****

Dear Saint John's Reader of this blog…

From your parking lot where you and she have parked, you drive down the driveway and turn right onto Concord Road.  You proceed to Matson Road and turn right onto it and then left onto Route 322.

From there, you merge onto I-95 and then get off at exit #23.  You turn right onto Delaware Ave and right onto Aramingo Ave and left onto Lehigh Ave and right onto Kensington Ave.  Go up two blocks and turn right onto Somerset Ave.  Ruth Street will be your next block. 

At the end of your 35-minute drive, you will meet the young lady who lives on those streets and used your open internet connection in her days when opioids were beginning to take hold of her soul.

All Roads Lead to Kensington.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

How do I explain to you the depth of misery that exists on the streets of Kensington?

Do I tell you about the mice and rats that occasionally share beds with our misplaced suburban neighbors? 

No…That's way too disgusting…

Should I tell you about the otherwise adorable and now newly emaciated woman in her upper twenties who walks the streets trying to look sexy so as to attract  a 'date' who will pay her for some degree of sexual service in the back seat of the same car that he daily shares with his wife and children? 

Yea…  Let's start there…

*****

For several years, she didn't need to 'walk the streets.'  Walking the streets is a behavior reserved for women who are new to Kensington and have not yet developed their list of 'regular' 'dates' or - for health reasons - have lost their regulars due to their declining appearance.

Her natural adorableness with an incredible combination of cute and sexy had allowed her to build up quite a clientele of 'regulars,' 'men' who 'hired' her on a regular basis so as to fulfill their natural needs of release (may the reader understand…).

Her list included men of all professional and trade backgrounds and others, perhaps not so highly educated but hardworking nonetheless.

*****

And then came that day when a new 'regular' suspiciously and spontaneously entered her world which was drowning in the unkempt swamp of Medicaid underfunded treatment for her Substance Use Disorder.

She was absolutely ready for detox, rehab, and reclaiming life.  She emphatically told me so as we were talking on the phone.  At that moment, she was waiting for a bus to take her back from a 'date' with one of her many regulars and from his marriage bed on the 'Main Line' to her government-subsidized apartment.  In the background, I could clearly hear…

"Hey, Babe…Want to make some money?"

With no available support to say "No I've decided to go to detox."  she began meeting with this 'man' who paid her $300 to $400 dollars about every other day for his own pleasures. 

With a ridiculous level of funds at her disposal for inhaling and injecting, within a few weeks, healthy and appropriate weight shriveled into emaciation.  Her 'regulars' quickly caught on to her lack of health and cute sexiness and stopped calling.  And now she walks the streets hoping some random guy will pull over in his family car, make a request of her and pay her the funds she needs to support the addiction she'd rather not have.

Without realizing it at the time of this writing, her story continued on in this blog series with an entry on December 17, 2021:  The Sprint to the Finish

*****

There is no end to this story because, as you read it, this story is in all actuality and reality playing itself out with various players in the here and now on the streets of Kensington, a section of Philadelphia 30 minutes from the home of most of the people who are reading this blog.

How do I explain to you the depth of misery that exists on the streets of Kensington? 

I have just done so by serving you one of the Pringles in the can…

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Why do I do what I do in Kensington?

I had the privilege today of witnessing the most incredible Christ spirit-filled well-read and intellectually knowledgeable Bible study leader and Christian whose roots of all of the above were founded in a jail cell within a jail (AKA "The Hole") in upstate Pennsylvania when Christ came knocking on his heart.

What did I witness?
He embraced a brokenhearted woman who unexpectedly had to say goodbye to her son until the day they meet again in heaven. Her son was not lost to drug use but to the random happenings of life.
This extraordinary Christian Bible study leader embraced her and she embraced him.

Big deal you say?
Backstory...
Years ago he was her drug dealer and she was his customer.
Why do I do what I do in Kensington?
Maybe now you have a small understanding.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

I am an inspirational human being made in the image of God and I am worthy of dignity, honor, respect and love.

Yesterday, as I was visiting the wonderful people on the streets of Kensington, within an hour and a half of my 2.5-hour visit,[1] I had distributed 60[2] 'song sheets' and was starting to tap into the next batch originally printed for my next visit.  These 8.5"x5.5" pieces of paper are at the core of why I do what I do in Kensington.

These song sheets have evolved over the three or so years that I've been sharing them.  Somewhere at the beginning of their development, I started to include a text block as follows: 

When I first started doing so, a few people smiled and agreed with the statement.  Others cried and said that this is 'not true at all.'  I simply asked each person to memorize this simple phrase and tell themselves this every hour of every day. 

I've also told them that it's true even on days when they don't believe it.  And I've added that even though I'm the guy who is handing out these song sheets, there are days when I don't believe it of myself and yet it remains true.

 **********

About a month ago, one of the ladies who live on the street told me as I was handing her my most recent song sheet the following:

"I memorized this to the point where I could say it very easily.  I was 'doing a date'[3] that was going bad very quickly.[4]  I stopped the guy, told him that 'I am an inspirational human being made in the image of God and I am worthy of dignity, honor, respect and love.' He stopped what he was doing and I got out of his car."[5]

I've shared this short story with nearly every woman[6] who has accepted a song sheet since that day.  The response has been incredible for a couple of reasons that have been pointed out to me.

  • It honestly acknowledges, without judgment, that this woman funds her medicinal needs by 'doing dates.'
  • It lifts her up as the child of God who she in absolute fact is.  That 'Child of God' status is far bigger and far more blessing filled than her role[7] as 'doer of dates', a role that she is in ONLY to financially support an addiction that she would rather not have.

 I am an inspirational human being 

made in the image of God 

and I am worthy of 

dignity, honor, respect and love.



[1] Before needing to leave for my 3-11 shift as a driver at Recovery Centers of America

[2] The typical number that I've prepared since the beginning of doing this…

[3] This is the phrase used in place of the words 'engaged in prostitution' and similar phrases.

[4] The guy was assaulting her in some way beyond whatever agreement of sexual service that had been determined to at the beginning of the 'date.'

[5] In so doing, she was walking away from her immediate source of income that would provide her with the money to buy her next dose of 'medicine.'  She was risking the onset of dope sickness and she was making it a requirement of herself to stand, once again, on her preferred street corner in hopes that some guy who she does not yet know exists will invite her into his car so as to perform an agreed-to level of sexual 'service' with at least a slight hint of 'dignity, honor, respect and love.'

[6] I've asked without judgment lots of ladies this basic question:  "What percentage of the women out here are totally reliant on doing dates to support the funding of their 'medicine.'  The typical answer is "about 90%."

[7] Hopefully temporary

Friday, August 27, 2021

A Story Demanding to Be Told…

Some time ago on a block in Kensington, a man who I'd never met walked up to me and asked for a bottle of water, a banana, and a song sheet.  He spoke of his Christian Faith with humble boldness and growing up in a Christian home there in Kensington. 

Our conversation kept being put on pause as other people were coming up to me.  That wasn't deterring him from telling me his story.  On one occasion, someone came up to him and the two stepped away.  As he was leaving, he looked back at me and said he'd be right back because there was something he wanted to talk about.  A few minutes later, he was back and his story progressed…

He told me about the man on the corner "just over there" who overdosed earlier that day.  When this man standing before me saw him, he told me that he rushed over to the dying man, prayed and sought help from an "out of town outreach worker who was obviously scared of me being that I look like a gangsta from the hood."  The outreach worker and he did what they could to help the man.  "We prayed over him."

Something within me told me not to ask any clarifying questions.  Just let this man tell the story completely in his own words.  There was no mention of providing Narcan or calling an ambulance.  These are elements of a story such as this that you would expect to hear.

The man went on saying how concerned he was for the life of this man laying and dying on the sidewalk.  Obviously disturbed by what had happened, this man was noticeably shaken by the experience.  

"I felt really bad." He said as he seemed to be near tears.  This moment in itself was unique for me in that this man truly did fit the 'gangsta from the hood to be feared' stereotype. 

He continued and took the story further down a path I'd never traveled in any conversation with anyone in these past five years of visiting the streets of Kensington…

"I felt really bad… because I'm the corner dealer who sold him the dope that killed him."


My words were clumsy in this unexpected moment.  I tried to encourage him to look into his Faith and pray for guidance as to what he should do in light of how he was feeling about what happened…

He needed someone to know and he chose me.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

 A Story Demanding to Be Told…