Day One

Today, there were a lot of “firsts” …

It was my first day standing on a street corner. I got off to a later start than I’d meant to—it was about 10:30 when I actually walked to the street corner with my sign, feeling a lot of emotions all at the same time. I found out that one of the hardest things to do is stand on a street corner with a sign, with everybody looking at you and judging you, some laughing at you, most not knowing what to think of you, and some wondering what great sin you’ve committed to get you there. But the children are great; they don’t judge, they just smile and wave. One little boy in the backseat of his mom’s car gave me a thumbs-up and then mouthed, “I care!” while his mom wasn’t looking. That made my day. photo 3

Some people gave me money, so even though it wasn’t my intent to panhandle, I guess for the for the first time in my life I did; I made $25 standing there for 7 ½ hours in the hot sun and the rain. I can see why some people do this instead of working … Not!

One guy asked me what my sign meant. As I was explaining it, he interrupted me and hollered, “Most of them just need to go get a job!” to which I replied, “The ones I know would if they could.” He just rolled his eyes and drove off. What I wanted to say was, “What, did you read that somewhere?—because I’ll bet you’ve never taken the time to talk with a homeless man to see why he’s on the street.” You know, a lot of people have heard or read someone else’s opinion, and all of a sudden they have the answer for homelessness, without even talking to one person who has actually been homeless.

All in all, it was a really good day. I’d been praying a lot about standing on that corner this morning, and when I stepped up to it, I actually started crying because the presence of God was so strong. I was definitely not alone, and as I stood there and prayed for our city, our homeless Clarksvillians and our churches, Jesus, His angels and I had a really good time.

Riding the city bus was a new experience for me too. I was shocked as to how much time it took me to get across town to my camp. By the time I found a bus stop, got on a bus, and made the trip, it added an hour and a half to my day’s work. And then when I got to my camp—the one I’d planned out so carefully—I experienced a homeless person’s worst fear: all my stuff was gone. My tent, my water, my clothes—everything was gone. It’s a story I hear over and over again from my friends who live on the streets: that they’ve lost everything and have to start all over again because someone has stolen their stuff. I my case, I found my stuff; the property managers from whom I’d gotten permission had changed their minds about me staying there, so they took it upon themselves to throw my stuff into boxes and evict me. I was lucky I guess—I’ve known a lot of homeless people who’ve been evicted by a match because someone burns their tent with all their belongings inside as a way of running them off.

I know of another place to camp, and I’ll set it up tomorrow. Tonight, it’s too dark to try, so I’ll just have to make do until daylight.

This is a shot of a camp that "housed" several people in Nashville's Tent City that my wife and I visited one Christmas. Every month or two, someone's camp was burnt to the ground for one reason or another.

This is a shot of a camp that housed several people in Nashville’s Tent City that my wife and I visited one Christmas. Every month or two, someone’s camp was burnt to the ground for one reason or another.

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20 thoughts on “Day One

  1. Reblogged this on Just Carlo and commented:
    “A lot of people have heard or read someone else’s opinion, and all a sudden they have the answer for homelessness, without even talking to one person who has actually been homeless.”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Praying for you Kenny… I know, that by your fruit, God is with you. You ARE making a difference! Don’t listen to the liar. Keep the faith, my friend. God rewards those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I pray for the homeless everyday and if I see someone with nothing to eat. I usually go and but them something to eat and give it to them. I try to help, but most of all I pray for them.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. God knows your heart Kenny and hopefully the people of Clarksville will by the time your done with your two weeks of Homelessness. Its said that people have to go to these extremes to wake a town up to give a care about their homeless people…it could be them or me tomorrow…God knows we all struggle and fall on hard times. I praise your heart…I pray that you are not harmed while you are out there. Life it to short and we all need to wake up and see that it can be anyone out there your mother,father,sister,brother, kids anyone…homelessness has not age,race,gender,or ethnic boundaries…it can be any of us. Wake up people and let those that wanna help, help and stop trying to block all their efforts to open another homeless shelter, its needed.

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  5. NO ONE WANTS TO BE HOMELESS AND NO ONE WANTS TO BE HUNGRY! I had a job but I was homeless for three months due to an ugly divorce. My children and I were spread across three different homes of relatives and friends who could not take all of us in together until my mother in law stepped up. So a job doesn’t always prevent homelessness. Sometimes you need time to get up on your feet to get the money for all the deposits and such. Thank you so much for all the good works you do for the homeless. I wish people had more compassion and were less assumptive about why people are homeless. Once again thank you, Mr. York.

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  6. Kenny, the Bible says we are known by our works, but our works won’t save us. We know you as a true servant of God, and I know that God is watching over you as you embark on this mission. Know that our family does care, and anyone who wants to help can go to http://www.friendsofmanna.com and you can donate as little as $10 a month. That is one fast food meal. It can be done automatically, and you will never miss it, or you can give one time for the whole year. Clarksville, let’s really show ourselves and the world , but most of all God , that WE REALLY DO CARE!!! Love you Kenny York !!!!!

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  7. When I saw you at the corner of Sango Kmart I was upset by your shirt, thinking that you were in fact homeless and went to pay for that shirt and sign with money that people had given you. And the message (I thought) was a little ballsy to say “PROVE IT”. I took a pic and posted on Facebook that this guy needs to get a job and quit harassing people thinking he is entitled to their hard earned money. I’ve had bad experiences with people asking for money and then go buy alcohol and cigarette’s, I’ve even been the guy that said let me get you some McDonalds and then being rudely turned down. I stopped handing out $5s and $10s because its hard to tell who is really in need of help and who you are enabling to go feed their addiction when I have my own wife and child to take care of. But now learning about what you are standing for I’m sorry for being the first to put you on Facebook on day 1. But I have a belief that being born in america, as an american you create your world around you. Whether you are lazy or hard working or well educated or less educated. There are opportunities in every aspect of your situation that you in fact do have control over and have the power to improve.

    I have never been homeless and don’t plan on it at all. But maybe if I was it would broaden my perspective of someone who is legitimately homeless for a period of time due to unexpected events. But most people get their most solid foundation from hitting rock bottom.

    All in all people will say just about anything about anybody and being in this country its not a crime.

    I used to serve people all the time when I was a bit younger but being careered in the corporate world of business I lose my drive to help others, you are helping me get back.

    Thank you for being the adventurous trooper and doing this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • “that being born in america, as an american you create your world around you. Whether you are lazy or hard working or well educated or less educated. There are opportunities in every aspect of your situation that you in fact do have control over and have the power to improve.” You obviously haven’t spoken to any. When I lived in the California Bay Area, I used to always see this one guy.Would actually seek him out to help him. Long story short, his hands had been injured and would never heal. People would buy him dressings so he could try to keep the wounds as clean as possible. Take him to the pharmacy to get some medicine. What job was he going to get without use of his hands? What job application was he going to fill out without an address or a phone? What job interview could he go to because he smelled? Not just no baths but the infection of his hands. I used to get him food or buy him a Starbucks on a cold winter night, and yes, some money for gauze for his hands.

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  8. May God be with you and protect you on this journey. My church has had people leaving for Tanzania and China, Australia, Israel, etc., which is great because they are spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, but there is a lot of work to do right here at home. Thank you for doing that work.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I applaud your heart, but my ex is an addict. If it wasn’t for his family, he would be a homeless man. He left a wife and young child for cocaine. He deserves the streets. If my family hadn’t stepped in, we would be close to the streets ourselves. We didn’t do the drugs, but we suffered every bit of their ill effects. Yes I do judge the homeless. My first question is, “who did they drag down with them?”.

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  10. Thank you for doing this!!! My husband and I have had many conversations about the homeless. We have decided it is not our place to judge the homeless but to help them. It is not our business what they do with the donations they are given. We are told to care, give and love others the way Jesus loves us. We will be held accountable one day for how we have treated people. I commend you for doing what you are doing. My husband always says, homeless people do work. Who would like to stand at the corner holding up a sign for 7-8 hours? It is hard work.
    Be blessed!!

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  11. I saw you yesterday and I think what you are doing is admirable. This morning I saw a homeless man at the same corner and while I didn’t have any cash on me, I did give him the granola bar I had for a snack.

    I feel bad that I don’t trust the homeless man with a sign because twice we have given them money for “gas” and then they have ran off and hopped into another car (not the one they pointed to and told us was stranded). I’m certainly happy to help and when a friend suggested carrying around packed meals, I started doing that instead and my 5 year old daughter was so happy to connect with the person we handed them to. And as someone of somewhat limited means, it’s more affordable for me to do this (as I buy stuff in bulk for my daughter’s lunches and it’s not that much trouble/expense to pack a few extra).

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  12. Kenny you are doing the right thing. I’ll never forget how manna helped me when I couldn’t get to a doctor for my meds.
    Praying for you brother

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  13. I am a city employee who has witnessed and overheard some of these so called homeless folks talking among themselves about how much money they had made and it absolutely drives me crazy that they are out here panhandling when I know. For a fact these 5 people are not homeless . I even heard them talking among themselves and on cell phones coordinating where everyone should be and how much they have collected , in this particular case it is simply a ploy to get money without earning it for either drinking or drug use , so hearing some of these comments about being hesitant to give I. Understand and don’t blame them for not giving and at the same time it makes it difficult for a ACTUAL homeless person to receive help , but there are agencies and other Ways people can get help. I will make my own sign one day and dedicate a day off to point out to the public who is not homeless

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  14. I commend you for doing this work. God puts things on your heart fro a reason. Sometimes we do not listen to what he is telling us to do. There are people that are naysayers on here but if everyone changed their heart and know if you help someone on the street….the ones that aren’t really homeless and have ill intent will be dealt with, they are not for us to judge. I do wish that the homeless here were able to do what the homeless in Nashville do, they sell the “homeless paper” , the homeless have to buy them and they” sell” them for donations. And the paper may help those who do not understand the trials and tribulations of the homeless in Clarksville. Thanks Kenny for your service for God

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