Dave Walker lives in his van in Murfreesboro, TN near Nashville. In this 10 minute he talks about some of the things he has seen or heard in the past 8 months.Read More
Animals of all sizes walk where they want to walk. From the nicer restaurants in town where you find dogs inside, to the mom and pop locations in the farmland - animals are everywhere.Read More
The late Fidel Castro banned imports of vehicles in 1959. Cuba doesn't have an auto manufacturer, so the cars that were imported in the 50's were there to stay. The communist leader also banned the import of car parts, according to the "Independent UK Newspaper."Read More
The sun falling on downtown Havana showed the true Cuban dream of success had washed away into the Caribbean years ago. An area that was alive with music, families and more in the 1940's and 50's is decaying as if it was struck by a curse in 2000's.Read More
Taxi drivers in Cuba are the most open when they talk about the dream of travel. Why? Because they meet travelers from around the world daily.Read More
Every once in a while I came across that picture perfect setting that highlighted what Havana, Cuba once looked like in the 1940's.Read More
Cuba at 9:30 PM Eastern Time: The capital of Havana is only a whisper outside on a Thursday night, other than a few passing cars. As you walk into one of the many apartment buildings you hear kids playing in one unit and as you continue down the florescent lit hallway, you hear the sound of a small yelping dog.Read More
Hours passed as he sat on the curb of a Cuban hotel in downtown Havana strumming his ukulele. As the hours went by he would get up and pour some of his water bottle on the plants directly behind him, one by one.Read More
You hear songs talking about Havana and you may watch old movies make mention of the romantic capital of Cuba - so you would think it is just that... beautiful.Read More
She shares only a bedroom with a local resident, but you would think she has a palace. When she describes that room, her eyes light up like a child inside a candy store for the first time.
Previously living on the streets of what some call “Sin City,” she has a special appreciation for clean sheets and a pillow to rest her head on at night.
It is interesting... Today we can look around while standing in a crowd of 1,000 at a large church and see smiling faces from every walk of life wearing their Sunday best. But inside, we are unable to tell what they hide.
Some of those that you see daily have a past that is more painful than your past. Some are struggling with current pain that is undeniably ugly, dark and scary… but they hide it in public to an extent that you would never know. I am not talking about their sins that they participate in outside of the church walls, I am talking about pains thrown at them.
American actor Will Smith once stated, “Never underestimate the pain of a person, because in all honesty, everyone is struggling. Some people are better at hiding it than others.” Truer words have never been spoken.
Everything looks a little more faded in the winter. The sun appears a little whiter as opposed to yellow or orange. Leaves from trees are almost a shade of gray painted with touches of brown.
Some think only third world countries live in total filth on mounds of trash… but. that would be a mistake to believe such. In fact, most third world countries are far cleaner than this homeless camp located in Nashville, Tennessee.
“Clean up your camp or leave,” the government authorities say without understanding. Who would not give such orders after seeing such a mess? Living in such scattered throw-outs does not make sense. Of course it fails to meet any logical explanation – only because there is not one.
Those with non-imaginable mental illnesses find themselves unable to muster the energy, the know how to search for a place to dump trash, so some live among the debris, the clutter and even the human waste.
"That is what madness is, isn’t it? All the wheels fly off the bus and things don’t make sense any more. Or rather, they do, but it’s not a kind of sense anyone else can understand."
—Audrey Niffenegger, Columbia College, writer
From the outside looking in: It is probably a $350,000 slice of land they live on. Too small for a high rise, but perfect for a small home a townhouse. It is walking distance to the finer dining experiences, baseball and football games.
They live in downtown Nashville, but lack running water, electricity and plumbing. It is a neat and tidy place with a third world setting.
The men who call this their home are kind, gracious towards guest and outgoing.
"The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don't have control over your situation. But you have a choice about how you view it." -Chris Pine, Hollywood Actor
She said that she moved to Tennessee to oversee the care of her brother who was hit by a car in Nashville, TN. She stayed with him at his apartment up until he was kicked out after a loss of income.
Today, he is in a wheelchair and she remains by her brothers’ side to care for him – both homeless.
“When everything goes to hell, the people who stand by you without flinching -- they are your family. ” ― Jim Butcher, American author
If sadness were a contagious disease, I would have caught it from Michael Martin.
He was asleep in a downtown Nashville McDonalds when I woke him up to ask if he needed a sleeping bag or tent. He cried as he told me that he has horrible anxiety and that his medication was stolen. He then said that the person he was sharing a campsite with stole all that he had.
Leo F. Buscaglia, a former professor in the Department of Special Education at the University of Southern California once stated, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
I listened as he poured out words he had been holding back. Some of the sentences thrown together by the soon to be 40 year old were that he misses his mother whom he once lived with. Evidently, she sold her home and is now living with a family member.
After handing him a tent and a sleeping bag, Michael shook my hand about three times. He was able to release the words that he thought no one heard.
I have noticed it sometimes rubs people the wrong way when I say that it is not our job to judge the stories we may hear from others. It is not for us to decide their twisted reality for that is how they may have interpreted their past – despite what other family members or friends witnessed. It is not for us to decide if the truth is behind their lies or if their lies lead to their truth.
American novelist Ernest Hemingway said, “When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
If you feel the urge to help someone, all you have to do is listen and not speak a word. Simply listen and it can change a life. If you decide to argue what they tell you – it will get you nowhere.
Bone Chilling Cold: “You have to know how to survive in this weather,” he told me. I asked, “What do you need besides a sleeping bag?” He looked down and then responded, “I recently got out of prison and they took my ID, Social Security Card – things get lost in there – but I need those things.”
The temperature outside was 16 degrees with a wind chill of 3 degrees that afternoon. By nightfall, the temperature had fallen to 12 degrees and expected to hit 7 degrees by morning with a morning wind chill of -1 degree by 6AM in Nashville, TN.
The lowest temperature in recorded history for Nashville occurred on January 21, 1985. It was -17 degrees. Looking back to January 12, 1918, the daily high was at 2 degrees.
“Nothing burns like the cold. But only for a while. Then it gets inside you and starts to fill you up, and after a while you don't have the strength to fight it.” ― George R.R. Martin
While mom is not always there… when she is you know it. Her sons see past her homeless appearance and go straight to her heart. Thank you to those who helped make this happen, this mother and her two boys are together at Christmas.
She joked with them on the food that was donated, “What are you guys going to eat over the next five days – this is all mine.” The kids would laugh, “Nu-uhh mom – those are my Christmas Cakes (Little Debbie Christmas Trees).” The mom would then start laughing with a smile that could light the moon followed by the boys laughter.
Again, thank you to everyone who helped to put this homeless mother in a local hotel to be with her two boys. A huge thank you to Mrs. Carol Cooper Schroer's class at Siegel Elementary and Andrea Hyde Nelson and her small group for all the gifts, food and gift cards. Needless to say, this mom pictured and her boys are set for the next week for sure!
The kids, ages 10 and 11, are some of the smartest, funniest, playful boys I have ever met. They are polite and outgoing. They live in The Good Shepard’s Home, which is a great place.
"A simplified Christmas isn't about circumstances as much as it is about focus." - Ann Voskamp, author of the New York Times Bestseller, One Thousand Gifts: "A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are"
He was born blind in his left eye, he suffered a major car wreck while a teenager, his mother and father left him when he was a kid and he was addicted to cocaine… but is now clean and working to change the course of his life.
David Potter was born in Murfreesboro, TN and grew up in neighboring Woodbury. He spent his younger days chasing cocaine, but has been clean for 10 years now. However, a sketchy past with felonies on his record keep him from obtaining a decent job to support both he and his girlfriend. Together, the two live together in the woods.
Potter suggested that a lack of both a mother and a father growing up likely helped to contribute to his problems. The 42 year old said that he was raised by his grandmother who did the best that she could.
Below is a short 4 min interview with Potter that was recorded in his camp.
“The greatest minds are like film, they take the negatives and develop themselves in darkness...” ― Brandi L. Bates, Remains To Be Seen
He sat quietly holding a sign and if anyone handed him anything, he would politely thank them. As we talked it was obvious that he was well spoken as he told me about two young ladies who stopped and gave him blankets to use for a warm night’s sleep.
“I want to get to Florida,” he told me with a stutter. “I got off the bus in Murfreesboro, but I need to get to Interstate 75,” he explained.
He then described how he has worked all of his life at day labor companies suggesting, “Because I like to travel.” A social security check is deposited into his account each month, but he does not have an ATM card or checks. “I will set all of that up when I get to Florida,” talking about how he wants to find somewhere to live where he will be warmer.
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.” - Matsuo Basho, Japanese Poet (1644-1694)
“Do not avert your eyes.
It is important
that you see this.
It is important that you feel
this.” ― Kamand Kojouri, writer
A photo of faith, humanity and mankind... living on the streets.
“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Saint Francis of Assisi