I am back in Skid Row. I went to my first class. I had to go. I wanted to go, sick and all.
Genero met me at the door. He took my application when I first arrived there. I will post his picture soon however it will be before this one. The way the program is set up, posts are displayed in order of the first time you started drafting,not when you actually publish it.
I would publish it now, but I can not get to the draft. I am at the computer lab. That page is blocked. Oh, the challenges.
I actually enjoyed the class. It was comforting. I looked around the room and you can see that the people were divided into three groups. Those who did wrong and just had to get through the class, those who had wrong done to them and those who had experienced a tremendous injustice.
Those who experienced "injustice" had this deep in their whole being, not just their eyes. I noticed it immediately. I am intimately familiar with it. I have worn that feeling every day for months.
People in Progress on 8th st.., in downtown Los Angeles, is a place where I felt immediate gratitude to be there. It became clear to me that I needed to be there. I needed to see that people have experienced some horrible things- that I was not the only one going through hell. I could have stayed there for the whole evening.
I contrast that with all of the meetings for which I had to sign for most of this past year. Sure it is a business but the difference between being there and in the different places on Skid Row is that you feel that they care about you. There is this family feeling that permeates the whole room.
One man told me a while ago that Skid Row had really changed and that a certain organization had really changed. I did not know any different because I was only experiencing the organization after it had changed. " Walter, it is not like it useed to be. It is all about the money now. They used to care about you. Now they care about the dollar, only. I had to learn NOT to expect people to care anymore.
That is the hardest thing. People down here don't care. They insist that you do everything but they NEVER follow through."
When these organizations make promises to help someone, and they do not, they put another bullet into the spirit of the person they are suppose to help. The person has one more reason not to believe. They take away their hope, their faith.
They want one hundred percent commitment. However, they do not give you one hundred percent of truth. The truth is, the needs of the person that needs the help is subordinate to that of the organization. I am learning that everyday.
I talked with someone today. He tried to do something two months ago to help the people of Skid Row. Jose puts his heart into his work. Jose Egurbide has this special quality that I can not describe. He assembled these lawyers a few months ago. They agreed to do pro bono work to help the people of Skid Row.
They have another follow up clinic next week. Jose received information from the lady who is coordinating the event. He asked her how many people have been helped. How many people had the law firms agreed to represent. "That is a good question", she responded. She did not know.
If organizations or firms are going to shuffle people around like they shuffe papers, then do not bother to start. When firms do not follow through on their unsolicited declarations to be benefactors to those who need their hope, they put that bullet into the soul and spirit of the person who needs help. The faith of the person bleeds more than it did before they even met their so called saviors.
The stereotype of Skid Row people is that they do not follow up. No one can say that about me. Well, they have but they lied. It was only the people of the missions.
So it felt good to sit and listen to stories tonight. It was a change. I heard months of drug stories. I hated each minute. They did nothing for me. As I told you, I signed the sheets, they get paid. That is the new labor camp.
I told Jose once that Skid Row was a big plantation. At first he could not understand what I was saying. Now he does. You see, You dont need the labor. You only need the signature. That is the labor.
People in Progress was a place where you felt you were around people who cared