I try not to be grateful

NOTE This newsletter has some religious references in it. If religion isn’t your thing, please skip this week and tune back in next week! Oh, it is also about Thanksgiving in the United States. If you aren’t in the U.S. you also are free to skip it if you so choose… × Dismiss alert I […]

Airplanes and frightened customers/volunteers.

I’m writing this email on an airplane from Chicago to Nashville. A few minutes ago, we hit some “rough air.” I fly a lot, so turbulence doesn’t bother me. This wasn’t mere turbulence. It felt like the plane was dropping out of the sky. Here is what happened inside me: My Amygdala, the part of […]

Are you and your staff equipped to work with vulnerable individuals?

I was recently in Australia doing live trainings (and looking for kangaroos/koalas). FYI, koalas are VERY hard to find. They hide in the trees which is kinda rude to tourists. A researcher in Australia (Dr. Jane Garner from Charles Sturt University) is doing a study on libraries and homelessness. HER FINDINGS ARE EXCITING!! She asked […]

You’re not wrong. Right now IS harder than ever.

I get several emails per week from people who say that they—and their organizations—are at a breaking point. They cite the same things: Increased numbers of individuals experiencing homelessness. More mental illness (and more severe mental illness). Overwhelmed staff quitting for better pay and less conflict at Chipotle. More physically frail elderly homeless individuals. More […]

I went to see Yoda.

My mentor is the nun who founded the homeless shelter I have worked at more than half of my life. Sister Rose Marie recently moved to Iowa. A few months ago, I went out there to get the next installment of her wisdom.  I felt a bit like Luke Skywalker flying to the Dagobah System […]

Kangaroo pizza and increasing homelessness

A pub with outdoor seating, facing a busy street. A warm evening. A light breeze. The pizzas arrived.  One had big chunks of meat on the top that looked like beef. It wasn’t. I said my apologies to Winnie the Pooh for eating one of his friends (Kanga or Roo? How could I know?) and […]

He brought Vietnam with him to the shelter.

I didn’t know that Gary fought in Vietnam—he was very quiet and private.  He was a big man with a bushy mustache, mostly gray now. It was a Thursday night in 2010, probably around 11:00 pm. It was this time of year—fall—during one of the few fall nights that is beautiful in the Chicago area.  […]

Homelessness and libraries survey results.

Howdy! There are two interesting surveys that I wanted to share with all the library staff out there. 1) Survey of Homelessness in Public Libraries In June we sent a survey developed by David Conforti, a master’s student at Maastricht University. Thanks to your awesomeness, David received over 3,600 responses! His report includes his findings […]

The raccoons were messing with me all night!

8:00 am. A beautiful spring day in Aurora, Illinois with full sun and a slight breeze. I got out of my car and headed for the front door of the homeless shelter, eager to start the workday. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw someone running in my direction. I turned to see […]

Suddenly I understood why Bridgette was freaking out.

Note: This email is about trauma.  It covers incidents that may be hard to read. It also includes a swear word. It was the first month of the pandemic. Our shelter had already lost three residents to Covid and had seven more confirmed cases. The State of Illinois gave us a hotel to use for […]