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Friday, April 30, 2010

"HomeFree: Homeless In America"

An article written by Rod Woods and published today. It will also be published shortly in The Independent, a local Santa Barbara, California newspaper. Look for my next article- "Horizons: A Day In My Life"- at next week.

Homeless in Santa Barbara at

Thursday, April 29, 2010

HomeFree: Homeless In America


Rod Woods

Copyright 2010

I sat staring out the windshield of my car. I could hear the words coming out of my mouth, “this isn’t happening to me, this isn’t happening to me…”, as I sat there immersed in over whelming fear, shock, and disbelief. I was homeless. Everything that I had worked for and valued in life was lost- my job, house, car, savings, fiancĂ©, friends, and family. All gone. I was 59 years old.

I had no previous experience with “homelessness”. I remember seeing the occasional person holding a sign asking for help on a freeway off ramp or pushing a shopping cart down the sidewalk in Orange County, California as I grew up. I would think to myself, “How sad. I wonder what happened to them to get there”. On the occasions that I drove into L.A., I remember driving through “skid row” and I knew alcohol was the cause of their plight. However, these were never more than fleeting thoughts. I never gave it much thought until it happened to me

I’ve been homeless now for 15 months. During that time I learned as much as I could about homelessness in America. The causes of homelessness a various and the solutions are complex. I am well educated, articulate, mentally and emotionally sound, and have no history of drug or alcohol addiction. I represent the “new homeless” that have appeared over the last 2 years in America. Most of us are “baby boomers” that have been employed for decades, saved our money, raised our children, and looked forward to a reasonably well-funded retirement. None of us saw what was coming even while it was happening- “The Great Recession”.

We had made it through several recessions in the past but they were not comparable to what has become known as the worst economic collapse since the “Great Depression”. We became victims of a phenomenon that was totally out side of our control. We were laid off our jobs and no one was hiring. Millions of us lost our jobs. We went through our savings trying to hang on to everything we had worked for over the last 35 years. Many of those had family and friends that would help them get through until things got better. I did not.

I arrived in Santa Barbara on April 13th, 2009 with a promise of a job. It never materialized. I had slept in the front seat of my compact station wagon for eight nights, just as I have for the last eight months, when I decided to seek shelter. A number of people on the street told me that Casa Esperanza was the best shelter in town. I became a resident of Casa Esperanza on April 22nd, 2009. It was here that I would painfully learn about the “chronically homeless”.

The lights came on at 6am in the men’s dorm every morning. It was required that you make your bed and go down to the “courtyard” by 7am. It was there in that courtyard that I learned about the chronically homeless. I endeavored to get my bearings that first week. I remember at the end of that week while sitting in the courtyard suddenly thinking- I might have said it out loud. I don’t know- “This isn’t a homeless shelter, it’s a mental institution!” Some of the residents were constantly talking to imaginary people or to themselves. Many of them just sat there waiting for Godot. The scene reminded me of my earliest childhood in Oklahoma. Cattle were corralled in “holding pens” and they had no hopes, dreams, or ambitions. In that courtyard I felt their pain, suffering, meaninglessness, hopelessness, and despair. It was overwhelming. I was determined not to end up like that!

Two months later I landed a job through the senior’s resource coach. It was only 20 hours a week at $8 an hour, but it was a job. I was placed at Catholic Charities of Santa Barbara as an administrative assistant where I am still employed today. Five days a week I could escape the courtyard! I spent a great deal of my time at work researching new career choices. I narrowed those down to four- wind turbine technology, solar energy technology, nursing, or entrepreneurship. I will enter the Scheinfeld Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation program at Santa Barbara City College in the fall. I have plans to start-up a business consulting service- SilverBack BCS- and a clothing store- Riviera SB- in the near future here in Santa Barbara. I lived at Casa Esperanza for four and a half months. I left of my own accord on September 4th, 2009.

It would be easy for me to be harshly critical of the management and staff of Casa Esperanza. It would not be fruitful. Instead, I will point to a new and innovative model that I’m convinced will eventually solve most of the problems related to homelessness in America- The San Antonio Model. This month in San Antonio, Texas a new and innovative facility has been opened. It occupies a 37-acre site outside of San Antonio. It is completely self contained and is comprised of apartment-like dorms for men, women, and children, modern medical and mental health facilities, a college campus, drug and alcohol recovery facilities, dinning facilities, laundry rooms, day care centers, and marriage and family counselors. All of the staff are credentialed and certified professionals in their respective fields. The underlying philosophy there is: “Sensitivity, Respect, and Compassion”. That’s a good start.

Fifth teen months ago I had lost my faith and all hope. Today I have faith in myself and hope for my future. I hope. I hope. I hope.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

"Lord, save us from your followers!"

Rod Woods-  "LORD, SAVE US FROM YOUR FOLLOWERS"! After walking with Christ for fifty-three years all I can say is Amen! I have received more love, compassion, emotional support, and acceptance from the "un-churched" than I ever have from my own church family or fellow brothers & sisters in Christ. What's that say about the church and it's members today?

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"If you were to meet ten average Americans on the street, nine of them would say they believe in God. So why is the Gospel of Love dividing America? Dan Merchant put on his bumper-sticker-clad jumpsu..."

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blog Talk Radio

The Woods Manifesto

The Woods Manifesto

1. Tax Reform: Implementation of a 16% Federal Flat Tax on any and all gross income from any source by anyone.
2. Immigration Reform: Anyone who is in the United States illegally is deported back to his or her country of origin. Secure our borders exactly as the Israeli’s have done with the West Bank wall.
3. Lobby Reform: Outlaw all professional lobbyists.
4. Campaign Finance Reform: Forbidding any corporation and PAC groups from donating money to any political candidate.
5. Tort Reform: Implementing caps on the amount of money a lawyer or law firm may ask for as damages for a client or in a class action.
6. Health Care Reform: Fund universal health care by implementing taxes on alcohol and tobacco exactly as the Canadians do to fund our health care.
7. Finance Reform: Outlaw banks from speculating with depositor’s money in The Market’s. Regulate the fees that any bank can charge a client. Regulate the level of interest and fees a credit card company can charge a client.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Compassionate Ministry: Theology With Hands & Feet

When we come to the end of our selves and have a direct encounter with The Compassionate One and are radically transformed to the core of our beings through such an encounter with Jesus, then we will do what comes naturally in a supernatural way. Carl Rahner said, "for those of us from the Judeo-Christian Tradition, theology and anthropology are the same thing." The ministry of compassion is theology with hands and feet. I highly recommend Richard Rohr's book "Jesus' Plan For A New World: The Sermon On The Mount". Cincinnati, Ohio: St Anthony Messenger Press, Copyright 1996. We must be ever cautious that our talking about what Jesus said and did does not hinder us from our doing what He said and did. Does a true litmus test for being saved manifest itself in our loving words and actions to the poor? Faith is a three dimensional "action" verb- Pistis. All true theology will point us to Christ and His faith in action.


Rodney Alan Woods

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

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Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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Always remember you're unique, just like everyone else. via Funny HelloTxt

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