That time I had an AK-47 pointed in my face

Every once in a while, I take a day off from writing about homelessness to tell a completely unrelated story… This is one of those days… I had just crossed the border from Ghana into Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) in West Africa. I paid my fare to take a “bush taxi” to the capital city, […]

Some homeless people are six months old.

Recently, I was going through a report of people that had just moved out of the shelter where I work. One person in particular struck me: A six-month-old baby who just moved out with his mother. He became homeless AND rehoused all before he was six months old. He won’t even remember having been homeless. […]

Broken people heal broken people

There is an old saying in social work: “Hurt people hurt people.” If you have not heard it before, it means that people who are hurting often hurt other people. Unfortunately, it is true. The most vulnerable can be the most challenging. Many vulnerabilities (mental illness, traumatic brain injury, etc.) can cause problematic behavior. It […]

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 […]

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.  […]

A police chief’s take on police violence.

On Thursday I am doing a live interview with Kristen Ziman, the retired police chief of Aurora, Illinois. Last week’s email (which can be found HERE), was her account of the mass shooting that happened a few years ago in Aurora. I have always appreciated Chief Ziman’s ability to speak openly and honestly about tough […]

A police chief’s account of a mass shooting.

On February 15, 2019, Aurora, Illinois had a mass shooting that left six people dead and six injured (including five police officers). Kristen Ziman was Chief of Police at the time. What follows is a lightly edited excerpt from Chief Ziman’s newly released book, Reimagining Blue:  Thoughts on Life, Leadership, and a New Way Forward […]