The June 2005 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Court Upholds Legal Rights of Homeless People

Hunger Rises, Food Stamps Cut

National Hunger Survey

Union Busting in El Salvador

CEO Pay Rises, Worker Pay Shrinks

CEOs Scheme to Privatize Social Security

Dee's Story: The Stigma of Being Homeless

Bush's Chronic Homeless Plan

Pepperspray and Torture

How Earth Day Was Co-opted

St. Mary's Center

Life Stories of Homeless Seniors

Hodges Jones

Jose Querdo

Jeannette Hundley

James Jermany

Ken Minor

Lynn Hoberg

Social Justice in the East Bay

100 Teachings of Gandhi

June Poetry of the Streets

Students Poetry


May 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.

Life Stories of Homeless Seniors

Oral History by Trena Cleland

James Jermany

I started doing things for other people, and it made me feel good. You can get enjoyment out of helping someone else when they're in distress.

I used to be as mean as a snake in mating time. You did something wrong to me, I beat you up bad, simple as that, especially when I was drunk. That's changed a whole lot since I came to St. Mary's. They've made me look at aspects of myself. Now, I'm much more calm. If somebody do me wrong, I push it aside.

The sisters and the staff here, they're all so friendly, always wanting to help. So I confiscated some of those feelings and kept them for myself. I started doing things for other people, and it made me feel good.

You can get enjoyment out of helping someone else when they're in distress. And the staff likes me for that. They like me quite a bit! They say, "Look at all you've done for us." I feel good, just to know that people care that much for me.

I put that out in front now. I wave it like a banner. I want everybody to see it, and check it out for yourself. C'mon and get some of this!

Best recovery group around

This recovery group we have is a combination of drug addicts, alcoholics, and people that's got pressure on 'em from different things goin' on in life. There's a lot of people we have helped. They have come back and said, "I've been to a whole lot of recovery groups, and St. Mary's is the best one there is."

We tell 'em, Hey, we accept you. People make mistakes. We're not goin' to chase you away because you went out and got on your bender last weekend. Just get a grip on yourself, and come back Monday. Eventually, you'll quit.

And they do quit. Then they're so glad, and they're proud they found a place like this. And I'm proud to be a member of it. That's right.

A very integrated group

We have a nice time at the meals. We have a very integrated group. Last week, we had Black History Month. We had a program and everybody participated. We have Filipino celebrations, too. We just have a nice time. We get along pretty good here. And we be trying to make things better in the neighborhood and in the community. We workin' on that.

I'm involved in a whole lot of things -- helping out in the drop-in center, political advocacy, all kinds of things. We're always trying to help somebody. We have so many programs going I can't do 'em all [laughs]. I make what I can.

I'm still growing, still getting better. I find I can leave more and more derogatory stuff alone. At night, I sleep in peace, get up in the morning, and feel good and rested.

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

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