The September 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Alarming Rise in Hate Crimes

Wave of Murders of Homeless Are A Warning Sign

Bumfights: An Incitement to Hate Crimes

Hate, Violence and Death on Main Street USA

Brazil Murders of Homeless Go Unsolved

Social Security Is NOT in Crisis

Time for Health Care for All

Cindy Sheehan's Unanswerable Question

Lawsuit Against California Hotel

Tribute to the Love Lotus Gave

A Mother's Plea for Homeless Son

Poor Leonard's Almanack: Carl G. Jung

Sept. Poetry of the Streets


August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005






Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

A Mother's Ardent Plea for Help for a Homeless Son

by Serita Coffee

"I Thank Whatever Gods May Be For My Unconquerable Soul."
-- "Invictus" by William Earnest Henley

Years ago, a friend and I talked about the reality of being but one paycheck away from becoming homeless. An income from work or some other source, such as Social Security benefits or retirement funds, was an absolute must. Living as one of scores of borderline-homeless families was too frightening to ponder. Even so, having a "roof-over" seemed taken for granted by many.

In 1992, I was diagnosed with panic/anxiety disorder with episodes of agoraphobia. In 1996, doctors diagnosed me with the genetic condition Graves Disease (hyperthyroidism). Declared disabled, I live on a fixed income. I am working on my health and healing with therapeutic activities and a positive system of thinking.

My son was diagnosed in his twenties with schizophrenia. Of course, this was a devastation and disappointment for him. He continued to work when well enough. He so loved his job with the Department of Education (almost 10 years) in Washington, D.C., where we both were born and raised. He, too, is on a fixed income and is badly in need of assistance with finding affordable housing, money management, and therapy. By the grace of God, he has survived another winter outside. I pray he does not have to wait until age 55 to get the services he so desperately needs.

No longer able to work, my dear son -- my good son, my only son -- does not deserve to be forgotten. No one should be left behind to do without the basic needs in life.

My son and I literally joined the ranks of demoralized and vulnerable human beings living outside in the Berkeley and Oakland homeless community. I was then age 55 and he would soon be 38 years old. With rent control no longer in place and many landlords unwilling to lease to Section 8 certificate holders, it seemed there was "no place to be somebody."

In April 2004, I was divinely guided to Saint Mary's Center in Oakland where I became a client in the homeless shelter. When I stepped onto the SMC grounds, it seemed I had miraculously arrived at some little piece of Heaven. Praise and Thanks! I benefit from many of the services offered -- support groups, housing assistance and help with numerous other issues of concern. The family-like connection with both staff and clients makes an enormous difference in my improvement and recovery.

I remain disturbed, however, that my son is still homeless. During cold or rainy seasons, I cry for him. I "pray without ceasing" that everyone in the whole wide world has nutritious food and comfortable lodging. I Am Knowing that more can be done for people in this condition similar to my son's.

No one should be left behind or excluded. All deserve compassion and unconditional love. May "tough love" not be an excuse for some to scorn or discard others, for no one deserves to be thrown away. We are all God's Chosen Children -- not criminals simply because we are without "a room of one's own."

The Prop. 63 Mental Health Services Act has generated funds targeted for more programs to include and service more people so much in need. As money is God in action, money is also power. Power to the homeward-bound! May God continue to Bless St. Mary's Center.

1515 Webster St,#303
Oakland, CA 94612Phone: (510) 238-8080, ext. 303

E-mail: Spirit

© 2002-2005 STREET SPIRIT. All rights reserved.

Published by American Friends Service Committee

Editor : Terry Messman

Web Design: Robert Mills, Web Weaver CyberB Solutions