I am coming back to this blog,

i promise :) There will be progress!

What Good Came of It?

There is so much truth to this that I have already seen—-it scares and excites me all at once that what she describes will be something so familiar to me by the time this year is over.  PLEASE take the time to read this, the author is tremendous.
Being homeless was an extremely dark time for me. But I would have to say that if I could change the past, I wouldn’t. Every bit of terror, pain, and indignity shaped the person I am. Not only that, but the experience of dragging myself up from less than nothing - I guess I’m pretty proud of that.

I also saw uncompromising goodness during the bleakest points - people little better off than myself who helped and nurtured and saved lives including my own. I grew to see all of the good people as family.

Let me explain about that. When I say the good people I’m not talking about who society would call good people. I’m talking about people who, even when broken and discarded, beaten and abused, maintain a spark of love and decency in their spirits. I’m referring to the prostitute who “ordered too many burgers” all the time and sought me out to “get rid of the extra ones” on her way home. I’m referring to the crack head who stood up to the well-dressed young man who decided to knock me around a little. I’m referring to the discarded old man who bathed me like a child and pushed me in a shopping cart to the ER after I was raped and stabbed. I’m referring to everyone who is like them, or would be like them under the cruel pressures and birth pains they’ve suffered.

I wouldn’t change my knowledge of their existence for anything in the world. Underneath it all, even in the worst of worst times human beings are good at heart.

You’d think having seen some of the most evil things a man can do to another, and seeing its imprint written on the faces of those I came to see as family - you’d think I’d have learned to see the evil in mankind more clearly than the good. But I do. I see evil more clearly than ever before. But I see where it comes from. I see how sometimes, the breaking of a man snuffs out that spark of love and decency in his heart. Sometimes, there’s not even tinder left should someone decide to try re-lighting it. It’s not something chosen, it’s a spiritual injury.

Since I escaped the streets, I’ve done what I can to help others do the same. Mostly, it has been personal and direct - taking in discarded teens, teens who were too gay, too pagan, or just too much effort for their parents. When I was too poor to buy extra food, or was already pushing the limit on the number of occupants in my apartment I gave literacy and companionship. But I’ve also tried to wake people up to my understanding, to wake them up to the value of every human being. None of this is charity, none of this is “good works” - this is my family and it’s my responsibility to care for them. It’s yours, too, whether you know it or not.

It’s not one big thing,

it’s a lot of little ones.

When I have the priviledge to interact with my patients the stories are all different, but they’re comprised of a number of little things.

The way they have landed either in unstable housing, without a home, or even in Camden for that matter isn’t due to one catastrophic event—-although in most cases there is a trigger.

I have a lot more research to do, a lot more listening and building relationships but I want to pair all the bad stories that come out of Camden with the good ones.  No, this city isn’t full of bright, sparkly happy moments that are simply untold but there are moments of brilliance that I encounter weekly that deserve to be heard.  Moments of triumph despite desolate circumstances and the times where laughter fills the office I am sitting in—-if only for a brief moment all the bad things are lost, tossed to the side.

I’m also thinking of beginning some kind of book. I am NOT a writer but there is a side to all this I desperately want to share and give voice to, but I just don’t know what that is exactly or how to say it.

Encouragement is appreciated beyond words (in regards to the writing or just in general, sometimes this is all a bit heavy).

The KFF made an easy-to-follow video outlining the new healthcare reform.  Such a great resource because well, I honestly was finding it difficult to understand it and then tell other people what it meant for the future of our country.

Share with anyone and everyone—-definitely worth watching!


I thought I’d keep track of the ‘compliments’ I receive from some of our patients not only to have a record, but also to provide a little comic relief (hopefully for you and for me on long work days)…

  • "I like dem feet."
  • "You look remind me of Samantha from Bewitched." —-I am a brunette.

Camden healthcare fact #1

(I will never actually keep up with the number of facts I’ve presented on here… but here’s to high hopes!)

# of ED (emergency department) visits in one year: 50, 947

# of Camden residents according to census: approximately 77,000

"what we’re doing here isn’t heroic…access to healthcare is a basic human right and that’s our job. to give people what they need to survive, with the end goal being to empower individuals to take action in their own well-being and health."

a quote from training at my AmeriCorps program this week…it’s not heroic, it’s basic needs being met in a way that works for the high utilizers of Camden.

"There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in"

Leonard Cohen (via lunardruse)

because well, this aligns with everything i believe without fault,

A bit of history…

Once upon a time Camden was a hotspot of innovation and manufacturing whose citizens and leaders envisioned future suburbs that would lie outside of a bustling waterfront city across the river from Philadelphia.

for example: the Victor Talking Machine grammaphone was created and mass produced here, the drive-in movie was created by a man residing in Camden who tested it out on his neighbors, RCA began in Camden, the city was well known for building HUGE Naval ships, helped to process huge amounts of lumber in order to build Philadelphia, Walt Whitman lived and is buried in Camden, Campbell’s soup was created and still has administrative offices in Camden (for now)….

Camden is the city that never quite BOOMED, that sits outside the city of Philadelphia, which just so happens to be a relatively poor big city (in comparison).  If you’re familiar with NYC at all, you’ll know the cities that lie a few miles outside of the city limits (i.e.: Hoboken, NJ) have tremendously grown in size and prosperity—-as do most smaller towns that are located near a large BOOMING city.

A question that stuck to me from today was, “What do we need from Camden?  What do we have in Camden that other people will want to come see?”

And honestly, that’s what will determine the future of this city—-we need to give it a purpose and we need to create an infrastructure so resources become accessible.

Healthcare is a basic human right and the innermost part of me cringes when I see people who struggle (and sometimes die) from preventable diseases whose cure has been accessible by the upper echelon of the world for a century.

I don’t even give it a second thought I get the ‘common cold’ in the winter…and I honestly take that for granted.