Special/Signature Issues » The Music Issue

Thoughts from the Street

Journal entries from some of the day's participants.


Art Raymond
Principal, Moody Middle School

Flip Maslow

We start at the bottom of Maslow's Hierarchy
(realization is that we are starting at the top)

What do you need to have to get an i.d.?

What do you do with your stuff if you're working a day job?

Where's the free stuff?

Where's the food?

Where am I sleeping tonight?


Vital stats

Found out what it takes to get a birth cert. in light of my profile
Perceptions of others
We see the physical geography of Richmond differently

Trash/cig butts

How far can $5 go?

#6 Bus down Broad to 9th

CVS 8:45
45 min to Willow Lawn

Bus #6 to 9th street (got off @ 10:10
Line up for lunch @ St. Paul's
Get #, have a seat
People taking naps, playing cards, reading, playing the piano, drinking coffee


Riding the bus has many different forms of etiquette, ways of behaving
You have to know about the system.
• Ran into a former student at my lunch table. He is now 24.

Conrad Ctr.
CVS @ Blvd.+Broad
Up Broad
Willow Lawn
Bus #6 down Broad
Got in line
Sat in fellowship hall (11:10 am)

[What if you were physically handicapped?]

Daily Planet
Monroe Park
Bus #11 back to Conrad Center

- sitting in Monroe Park near fountain
- spent .37 on a pack of gum

Daily Planet (donated my clothes bag)
- learned about how to take a shower and do laundry.
- Did reflection on video @ Times-Dispatch building
- Noted irritability and a building sense of fatigue
- Becoming possessive
- Thinking about next meal.

Great people at each agency
All agencies are relatively near each other, however we did an incredible amount of walking today.

Getting an id card is a rather circuitous process, however we learned how it can be done.  It takes time and money.

Time + money — the same two biggest factors in most peoples' lives.

I wish I had brought my sunglasses.

Everyone we met seemed willing to serve us.

Where do we go to the bathroom? ï?S

We felt the need for quiet and solitude, so at the end of the day we ducked into the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.
- Language — we speak English. What if you didn't?
- Planning — we plan @ our jobs — that is a skill
- Knowledge of the city, not all people have this

- vital statistics, customer service rep. — extremely kind

- you become very focused on basic needs

- There is a safety net

- You have to learn it

- Listen to others

- The staff @ all places were ready, accepting, knowledgeable.

- Fatigue and irritability rising

- Lack of solitude

- In a way we were like “secret shoppers” — our system gets a good grade.

- There is a need for more coordination. (It comes down to funding sources and government accountability.)

There is a quota for food stamps.
Must have a permanent address to get a library card.
No bags in the library.
Bus system is fairly complex.
Birth certificates cost $12
For many, lunch was the biggest accomplishment.
You have to be able to prioritize and organize their day.


Very little info on local GRTC routes

No maps

No info on GRTC sign

No info desk @ Greyhound

Cab to McGuire $19.50

Lots of bugs @ bus stop

8:45 — started waiting
Only other person waiting says bus @ 9:05 (thank God for her)

9:10 bus comes

No change for transfer
Paid .25, lost .10

Unfriendly bus driver

Had to ask a lot of questions; got very short answers.


Ads for legal aid — good!
Debt svc, clinical trials — bad

All minorities on bus

Broad route has mix of services:  BHC, payday loans, pawn

9:30 dropped off for transfer

Guy w/cane also going to McGuire but doesn't know where doctors is

9:45 still waiting
Getting thirst, but don't want to spend $

9:50 — pick up
This bus much more crowded. All black people; ad for trial “trying to get pregnant?” ugh!

No one is talking
Blank eyes
Couple of kids…
A few vets…

Signs. Tons of predatory lenders.

We got invited to a BBQ on Hull St. Yay!

Bus announcement and sign says to report suspicious activity.

McGuire:  very friendly staff, helpful info, pointed us to doctors

Bus partners says they offer good svcs (sub. abuse , shelter), nice docs

“it's free and I'm broke”

10:30 getting hungry.

Still waiting for bus…

10:45 — bus!

Back to St. Paul's
Gave out over 280 tix

HomeAgain (agency)

Nice rooms — very clean

Seemed to have fairly lenient rule structure

3 Biggest Barriers
Mental health

St. Paul's
Great lunch!
Very organized
Lots of bread/carbs

Social Security Admin.
50 people waiting
More being helped!
Security guard w/bullet-proof glass!!  What?

Sheila Sheppard
Partnership for Smarter Growth

Here we are on a bench behind City Hall.

4 hour wait at social services!

I felt awkward and like I shouldn't be there.

The poster for “Colonial Herbs Seminar” looked ridiculous next to the posters giving convoluted information about food stamp programs, and their myriad restrictions.  You have to prove your unqualifications. Are you in need?  Prove how needy you are.

We were among 10 or so white folks among 100 or so black folks. No privacy.  They ask what you are there for.

Rhonda Beckner
Patient First

It's interesting that my case name is Brittany and I have a daughter named Brittany and this situation is so real.  I definitely don't want this to happen to either one of us.

No garbage bags in the library. Can't put your bag on the front steps or help has to throw it away.

We hid ours behind the library in the bushes.

Can't use the computers unless you have a library card + pin # for access.

Help doesn't check backpacks or throw them away or ask that they are left outside.

OAR — Offender Aid + Restoration

1. Motivation is a issue that Calvin sees as a crutch for homeless/jobless candidates.
2. The person's perception of themselves
3. Relationships — doing well, helping myself, healthy perception.  Old behaviors coming back when a unhealthy relationship begins.

Expectations of OAR services from clients point of view lacks.

If change (OAR's) were to take place, start educational process while incarcerated. 

Clients sometimes think life will magically change.  It can't change without a plan and motivation from the client to put the plan in place.

Encouragement along the way.

This is a good program. Case manager is always there and once a client always a client.

Employment training class has a client who came out of prison — changed his mind, wanted to go straight, has a great chef job, comes to OAR to give his testimony and share his accomplishments.
Imad Damaj
Virginia Muslim Coalition

Stop 1 — Central Intake
Just out of jail
Little confused what to do next

Waiting and waiting

Meeting for interviews

Waiting and waiting. It's 9:30 a.m.

You feel that you have no aim in life.

They only take the first five for the mental disorders at the Daily Planet.  If you miss it, well too bad! Come back tomorrow.

Took a # at St. Paul's. #135.  all sitting in one hall.  Piano is playing.

First time seen a transgender so close

Waiting and waiting till they call my # for lunch

The involvement of the faith community is amazing.

Lot of paper work. Keep filling form after form

Smell things

Carry your belongings with you.
Jamie Thomas
First Market Bank

Guard at library says she hates that she has to throw away bags, sensitive to the fact this is everyone's belongings. She thinks the city should do more to help out.

We talked with a woman on the steps at library. She has no money, stays in a group home.

OAR — asked simple questions, told him I am offender out of jail with needs.

The place is full, way over heated and smoky!

Calvin spoke with us. Said he had a light day so far today. 30 or more are waiting each day at opening.

Intake interview, asked to tell something good about myself. Then we filled out release of information form.

The DSS intake is open at 8 am, but can only take 50 per day to complete food stamp, TANF.  I arrived 1:30 and the quota had been reached for the day.  If I had known the demand and quota at the beginning of the day I would have made this my first stop.  Very frustrating.

At lunch I spoke with a lady who told me she is not homeless, but recently got out of jail and is staying with father.  She is working with OAR to find work, does not want to be at home.  She said she is thankful for the meals and support she receives. 

Joyful lunch conversation.  Person has lost house to foreclosure, mother recently died, but she was upbeat and happy that she had recently gotten a second interview at McDonald's.

One man I ate with was sharing his food with people.

I was very stricken with how kind and very nice everyone eating at the church was.  Very kind people.