Monthly Archives: March 2012

Homelessness Myth #3

There was always a nurse on the Night Ministry Bus when I volunteered with them.  And the nurses were kept busy all night long.  We also had materials and information about shelters people could go to or agencies that could help them find temporary housing or search for jobs.  We did our part to promote safe sex as well. with a well stocked supply of condoms, advice on how to use them, and periodic testing opportunities for STDs.

If you want to see all the myths the Night Ministry is debunking click here to get to their Facebook page where you can also see the comments.

MYTH: The Night Ministry is like a mobile soup kitchen – it just gives free food and handouts to the homeless.

FACT: Often, the homeless and precariously housed are forced to choose between food, housing, and medical care. The Night Ministry relieves clients from having to choose between these basic needs. In 2011, in addition to providing 80,000 meals to clients, our Health Outreach Program provided 1,551 health assessments, 722 HIV tests, and 274 acute medical treatments.

Homelessness Myth #2

I try to reflect this fact in Painted Black.  Lexie was kicked out because her mother found the girl being molested and chose to blame the 12-year-old and not the grown  man.   Chris voluntarily left home, but his intentions were to make things easier on his single parent mother.  Even then, however, he would go home in a heartbeat if only his Mom would ask him to.

If you want to see all the myths the Night Ministry is debunking click here to get to their Facebook page where you can also see the comments.

MYTH: Youth choose to run away from home, so becoming homeless is their own fault.

FACT: Disruptive family conditions such as physical/sexual abuse and parental neglect are the primary reason that young people leave home. In one study, more than half of the youth interviewed during shelter stays reported that their parents either told them to leave or knew they were leaving and did not care(1). In another study, 46% of runaway and homeless youth had been physically abused and 17% were forced into unwanted sexual activity by a family or household member (2). Some youth may become homeless when their families suffer financial crises. These youth become homeless with their families, but are later separated from them by shelter rules, transitional housing, or child welfare policies(3). Finally, many adopted youth are forced to leave their homes when they turn 18 – this is when the benefits their adoptive parents receive stop.

Sources: (1) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (a), 1995; (2) U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (c), 1997; (3) (Shinn and Weitzman, 1996).

Helen Ross Writes About Painted Black

Helen Ross is a children’s author and blogger who is doing her part to support independent authors and small presses on her blog Helen Ross Writes.  As part of that, she interviewed me about my path to publishing which includes a few tidbits about the evolution of Painted Black and my publisher New Libri Press.  She also posted an interview with New Libri author Acacia Awai last week about her YA novel Scales.

Click the link at the end of the excerpt below to read the whole article and find out more about Painted Black’s creation.

Painted Black has gone through several major revisions and was put away in a drawer several times thinking that was it.  I belonged to a  writers’ group for eleven years during that process and their input was invaluable to me.  I honestly don’t think it would be this good without them, which is why I give them a special thanks in the book.  The book also benefited from my growth as a writer thanks to books I’ve read on writing, to conferences I attended, to the simple act of writing, writing, writing.  Finally, my publishers at New Libri had excellent suggestions for ways to improve the commerciality of it without compromising my voice or the feel of the book.


Homelessness Myth #1

So the Night Ministry is debunking myths about homelessness this week on its Facebook page that I think would be cool to share here.  I’m a day behind on this–they started Tuesday–so if you want to get the scoop directly from there click here to get to their Facebook page where you can also see the comments which are interesting as well.

I can attest to the fact below, having taught a writing workshop when I volunteered for their youth shelter.  People may think feeding them sandwiches is just making it easier for the kids to stay on the streets, but what it really does is promote trust so that you can move on to providing much more than food and services.

MYTH: Social service agencies such as The Night Ministry teach homeless individuals how to “live off the system,” not how to live independent of welfare and other state-provided funds.

FACT: Our staff works hard to connect clients to job training and educational programs, which ultimately lead to an independent life. Youth at The Night Ministry’s shelter programs participate in life skill groups that help teach them the skills necessary to live independent, successful lives. These groups include classes on cooking, parenting, resume writing and job skills, financial literacy, and healthy relationships. When youth leave our programs, our aftercare workers maintain relationships with them to help guide them to an independent life.


Debra R. Borys

Graffiti only plays a small part in Painted Black, really, but it speaks to what it is I’m trying to say.  In Painted Black, Chris creates art (aka graffiti to most people’s eyes) as therapy, to express feelings he’s trying to deal with.  It is also an ironic contrast to the invisibility of homelessness.  People don’t see the artist, they see the paint on the wall.  Maybe that’s one reason why graffiti gets such a bad rap, because it is harder to ignore than the people

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