Leo Rhodes is a truly amazing man. Most people, when they become homeless, they are so depressed that they can’t do anything but survive. And in homelessness the depression and immobility just deepens.
But not Leo. After years of homelessness in Seattle, he and some friends decided to do something about it. They developed Nickelsville, a homeless community where people could build their own homes and live in security. Leo also became active in the city council in both of his homes, Seattle and Portland. Lately, he and others helped develop the Right to Dream 2 (R2D2) camp in downtown Portland.
To make ends meet, he would sell Street Roots at a local Portland store.
Don’t tell me that the homeless are lazy. That they can’t make a difference. That they are useless. Leo proves that wrong.
Recently, Leo was interviewed for the high school student magazine that my kids go to, Grant High School.
Here is a portion of it:
Every night, Leo Rhodes can go home to a place of his own. He can sleep through the night without waking up in fear. He no longer worries about finding his next meal, hiding things from his boss or racing around to find a place to sleep.
Six months ago, this would not have been possible. Rhodes was homeless and had lived on the streets for 19 years. And like the more than 3.5 million others who wind up on the streets on any given night, Rhodes was in crisis.
“People don’t understand how hard it is and what you have to go through on the streets,” says Rhodes, who is known in the Grant community for perching outside of Whole Foods on Northeast Sandy Boulevard and selling Street Roots newspapers to passersby.
Today, with the help of a Portland City Commissioner, social service agencies and the Street Roots newspaper, Rhodes has managed to get back on his feet. He’s free of the drugs and alcohol that had previously wracked his life. And he wants to make a difference for others.
“Leo is hard to miss because of his involvement in advocacy,” says City Commissioner Nick Fish. “He is very social and personable. He does not hold back.”
If you’d like to read more, check out the Grant Magazine: http://thegrantmag.com/giving-a-voice-to-the-voiceless
“Tonight I was in a meeting in which I heard a lot of fear coupled with accusations.
“Some justified, but most were repeats from old debates on PBS or NPR.
“Aside from having to listen to this broken record over and over was to have to watch it being directed not at me but toward someone whom I care about. I did let loose a little but was silenced.
“However there was this one event that took place that was of Divine Origin. I watched the Holy Spirit envelope the one whom they were firing their fiery darts at and His Peace wash over him…”
“Today has been really restorative.
“I was driving out to a nursery that is owned by a dear brother in the Lord to purchase some blueberries for his garden. As I drove into the country side the radio Station was starting the noon day Mass and first there was this loan priest singing in Latin several verses and then there was this very brief moment of silence and then there was this eruption of a Gregorian style chant in Latin that lasted for a full 20 minutes and this peace and joy filled my heart just as I pulled up to the nursery and then surrounded by trees and shrubs in bloom and all the scents blended with the scent of a passing shower and I was experiencing the Thy Kingdom Come Thy Will Be Done on earth moment…
It was what we Celts call a time between times experience.”
This is the beginning of a new feature called “Strong Stories” where Jeff Strong, one of the pastors at Anawim, tells a strong, inspiring, or sometimes funny story.
Jeff has had a number of different experiences in his life and he finds himself in really unique situations at times. Rather than talk about his stories, let me just share one:
“Boy today is my day to get blessed and to do some blessing.“So was about 7:30 pm and I had just come out of Tom’s a restaurant on 39th and Division when I hear this voice pleading saying ‘Please mister I am starving I haven’t eaten in two days can’t you please help me ppppppleeeeeeeeeease!’“I come around to the parking lot to find this guy on his knees begging, this old man who tosses him a quarter and gets into his car and the guy on his knees crawls over and picks up the quarter and thanks the giver who is now driving away.“So I helped him up took him inside gave him a menu and said pick what ever you want I am paying for it. He orders, I pay and I gave him my card and told him to come to the address for a shower some clothes and food. Also to come down to the Pizza cart tomorrow and I will feed you pizza and drink…….“Tears are away of saying thank you, isn’t it…….?.”Post Script:
Jeff later told me that the owner of the cafe, Tom (which is only appropriate) approached him the next week and said, “So I understand that you are inviting the homeless to hang out in my restaurant?”
Jeff, who had known Tom for many years, just shrugged and said, “Well, would you rather have me bring him in and feed him or to have him stay in the parking lot begging?” Tom also shrugged and walked away.
To see more of his stories, click the tag “Strong Story” below.
All above items can be dropped off at 19626 NE Glisan, Gresham on Tuesdays from 11 to 5pm, Wednesdays from 1 to 8pm and Saturdays from 11am to 3pm. Or they can be dropped off by appointment at 3733 N Williams, Portland (call Steve at 503-888-4453)Financial donations for rent, utilities and vehicle expensesFinancial donations for special projects:
- Athletic socks
- Clothes—all sizes, all kinds, especially men’s clothes
- Canned food, all kinds, especially meals in a can (beans, soup, meats, ravioli, chili, etc)
- Toilet paper
- Coffee, coffee creamer, sugar
- Cup o Noodles, Ramen, sliced lunch meat, hot dogs, fresh fruit
- Large quantities of meat, cheese, noodles, rice, spaghetti sauce, canned beans for meals
- Shampoo, soap, razors, deodorant, feminine hygiene items for showers
- Paper plates and cups for special meals
- Art supplies for our free art studio
Checks can be sent to 3733 N Williams, Portland, OR 97227 or click on this link to pay online.If you’d like to pay toward a special project, please indicate it with a note.Tax deductible receipts are available upon request.
- Paying for the homeless to obtain lost ID and birth certificates
- Providing paid labor for the homeless (we have the work, but not the cash!)
- Providing for supplies so the homeless can create and sell crafts
- Providing for tutoring at our free art studio
- Providing stipends for volunteers at our day shelters