By Paola L. Moore - 9 October 2020
THE IMPORTANCE OF WORLD HOMELESS DAY
Tomorrow is a very important day. Every year October 10th marks World Homeless Day, in recognition of all our fellow human beings who struggle daily to survive without a home. Just imagine, if you will, for a moment what that must feel like. To be tired and weary every night, looking at your surroundings, worried about where the safest place will be to sleep, then waking up the next day wondering if you’ll be able to get a shower in somehow and maybe a cup of coffee; and even more urgently, some food to sustain you another 24 hours. Until the process begins all over again—day after day. Please, give if you can. And please always remember that whatever you give is appreciated and equally important whether it is your time volunteering, or one can of food, or a simple hug to a homeless person who, all too often, sadly feel completely unseen.
We at Project-Costa will be observing this important day by feeding the homeless, as well as accepting donations, at @blamasfriteria (Avenida Europa 1 local 11 03710, Calpe), which also happens to be one of our newest proud sponsors! Please support this wonderful establishment and check them out at https://www.snackbarblamas.com.
If you'd like to support us with tinned foods and men's clothing, please come to our drop of point. And, as always, you are welcome to join us for coffee or some delicious Dutch/Belgium snacks at 4pm and have a chat with us.
We wanted to provide you just a little more information, and the following was taken from the official website, http://www.worldhomelessday.org/.
First of all, the idea of World Homeless Day was born out of countless online discussions between people from all over the world who tirelessly work every day to respond to homelessness. The Inaugural World Homeless Day was marked on the 10th of October 2010, and since its inception, World Homeless Day has been observed on every continent except Antarctica.
The purpose of this important day is to bring attention to those experiencing homelessness needs locally and provide opportunities for the world community to “get involved in responding to homelessness, while taking advantage of the stage an ‘international day’ provides.”
There are numerous ways to make a difference, here are a few:
Educate people about homeless issues
Emphasize homelessness issues on social media forums
Support and donate to local non-profits
Host a fundraiser
‘Hi, I’m Janet and I’m an alcoholic’. It’s a phrase that seems so simple, but it defines many aspects of my everyday life.
Now that there’s a new normal, however, this label feels very different. Not only have there been many drinks to be had during lockdown, there will be even more when it’s over. And while I’m not usually one to get invited to too many parties, currently my Facebook invites, WhatsApp group chats and even to-be Tinder dates all have the same running theme: ‘let’s get drunk’. It leaves me wondering if they remember that I’m a raging alcoholic. And that’s not to mention my social media timelines with people talking about how much they’ve been drinking and how much they intend to indulge when the world re-opens.
By Paola L. Moore – 9 September 2020
THE NEW NORMAL
We hear it all the time these days—or rather for many months now—the “new normal.” So what does that mean for the world? Well, Covid-19 has most definitely affected almost every person on the planet in one way or another, some not so much, whereas others have suffered catastrophic changes to their lives. Amongst those facing the most difficulties are the homeless and those suffering from alcohol and drug addiction (often the two go hand in hand). The stigma that is still attached to these personal plights is rather sad. Coronavirus is placing a tremendous strain on individuals and families who are already vulnerable, including those isolated, facing financial hardship, mental health, and addiction challenges. One could say that homelessness and hunger have been a world pandemic for centuries, it is nothing new. Yet, we hope that perhaps some positive change can come out of this “new normal,” such as more exposure to the plight of the homeless and more compassion from those who were perhaps unaware and are now ready to lend a helping hand. These people need our help now more than ever! Covid-19 does not need to only have negative connotations associated with it IF we are all collectively willing to show the best of our humanity and reach out to hold the hands of others and walk the path with them. So, what do you think? There are many options from donating canned goods or sleeping bags to advertising your company with us, thus bringing attention to your organization while helping pay to feed the homeless and help addicts recover in our halfway house. Plus the advantages to volunteerism are incredibly rewarding, such as meeting other wonderful, like-minded individuals, and receiving great personal satisfaction. I will introduce myself in my next post and talk more about our volunteers and specific events. The point is, if we have piqued your interest, please, get in touch with us via Facebook, email, or if you are local, even a phone call. We would love to speak with you and answer any questions you may have at all. We hope to hear from you or see you soon.
Hi everyone! First of all, I'd like to introduce myself. My name is Paola, and I am immensely proud to have recently joined the Project Costa team as Social Media Editor and Writing Contributor. That's me in the photo, and I chose that one for a reason. I currently live on the beach on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Here's the thing ... I know how lucky I am, I breathe gratitude in and out every single day for my blessings. But there are many others whose beach life is quite a different experience. They have nowhere else to go so they sleep in the sand. I see it all the time—small groups of men and women taking turns at the public showers, while the others wait on the seawall, usually drinking (as is often the case, alcoholism, drug addiction, and homelessness often go hand in hand).
It is a worldwide problem and Project Costa is doing its part in Spain.
I first met Soeten and Steven several years ago when I lived in Rome. Once those two connected there was no stopping them—their passion to help the homeless began there, and now it has expanded to Alicante, Spain. I have no doubt WE will go far if we continue with the great people already on board and those of you that have not yet joined but are ready to! Becoming a volunteer opens you up to a whole new world—aside from making new friends, expanding your network and boosting your skills, you will feel so wonderful about YOURSELF. And as we all know, it starts with US as individuals—I know that the better I feel, the better I will make those around me feel, and the more I will be able to help those who need us in the most fulfilling ways imaginable. Perhaps you want to help but are not available to volunteer, and of course we understand. If you prefer to donate, we are always in need of food, clothing, toiletries, and funding for our halfway house. So please join us at one of our upcoming events.
Every Wednesday at 7pm, you can find us feeding the homeless at the Lidl on Av de l'Albir, 84, 03580 L'Alfàs del Pi. We also accept all donations but are most in need of men’s jackets and shoes, as well as all toiletries. Everything is welcome and VERY appreciated. Most appreciated is you showing up! All of the food is prepared fresh in the kitchen of our new halfway house (more about that on a later post) and is then distributed to different locations, one of them being in the Albir zone, then Friday another area (Calpe), and so on. We currently feed approximately 40 portions per night, and that too will grow. Please, drop in and see what we’re all about! I know I can’t wait until I’m able to see it in person! Stay tuned for my next post about our Halfway House.
By Paola L. Moore – 15 September 2020
IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT GIVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT.
Social media is quite the phenomenon when you really pause to think about it, and just how much it has affected our daily lives. “How?” you may ask. Well, in a multitude of ways, from how we connect and keep in touch with loved ones, to spreading the word about upcoming events, parties, and fundraisers(ahem…like Project Costa perhaps😊), to the dissemination of news—though we all know by now that social media “news” calls for further, deeper investigation. The point is, if nothing else, it grabs peoples’ attention, it piques our curiosity, and it prompts further dialogue and action. Yes, there are negative aspects to social media as well, but here I will focus on the positive, because that’s what we are all about anyhow—positivity!
One way social media connects us is by sharing our common humanity. I’ll tell you a quick story as an example. The other day on Facebook, I read this beautiful story posted via the Facebook Page, “The Addict’s Diary.” It’s not an exciting, crazy, sensational story, but simply one about the gentler, kinder side of humanity.
This person was in a grocery store parking lot getting ready to drive off when they saw a homeless man waving at them to please roll down their car window for a moment. The man outside, a bit disheveled began by humbly saying, “My name is Jay. I’m 38 and I’m gay. I won’t hurt you, I don’t do bad things. You’re safe. I’ve been homeless for a very long time but this week I got keys to an apartment with help from a group. I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink. I’m trying to get $9 to buy eggs, milk, bread and hot dogs at the store here. Do you have anything to help?”
I cannot imagine how I would have felt at that point. I know when I read it, I felt sadness because this poor, helpless person, who has probably been invisible to the world around him for some time, felt it necessary to assure this stranger that they were not in danger. They just needed a little help. How easily we judge in this society by one’s appearance, but fortunately this kind stranger gave the homeless man some money. Then, driven by some unknown force, a yearning to do more, this person went much further; he escorted Jay into the store, helped him do some shopping, told him to double up on what he needed then went through the line with Jay to pay the cashier. During their time together Jay talked a little about himself and his recently deceased mother, and how he had fallen on hard times. Imagine having no one to talk to day after day, no one to recognize you or even give you a friendly smile, that small bit of acknowledgement, that eye contact that says, “I see you.” To be invisible to the rest of humanity. At the end Jay was in tears, overwhelmed with gratitude. And he asked for nothing more.
They parted ways, and though they may never see each other again, they will forever hold a special bond in their hearts. Because they each gave each other an important gift. The donor or Good Samaritan gave Jay hope and compassion, and most importantly he SAW Jay, he validated him, his importance, and his humanity. Jay, in turn gave our Good Samaritan a good dose of gratitude no doubt, and a lesson in the importance of giving back to those less fortunate, to remain compassionate, and hopeful even when sometimes it can be easy to forget what is truly important living in this crazy world. In this crazy, yet incredibly shrinking world. The plague of hunger and homelessness is worldwide, no country’s borders can protect humans against this problem. Here was a touching story that happened to occur in some city in the U.S. Yet, it could have happened anywhere. It could have happened in your own backyard. What would you have done?
Because, in the end, it’s the little things that give the BIGGEST impact.
By Paola Moore—24 September 2020
PAYING IT FORWARD
I don’t know about you but I have often wondered, as I’ve walked various city streets and seen the homeless sitting outside high-end stores, or under highway overpasses and bridges, or getting some shade underneath some popular landmark, “How did they get there?” Well, that is a tough question with a lot of different possible answers. I recently heard Steven’s story, and though part of it may be unique, there are more commonalities amongst us than many realize—our basic humanness and essentials needed to survive, and how any one of us can end up going from our cozy homes to living on some random city street, and become essentially invisible. This is the tragedy, and it must change. You may ask, “How?” Well, it is an even more complex question to answer than my earlier one, with many layers, but it is possible, one step at a time, and as our Project Costa founder, Soeten, likes to say, piano piano (meaning very slowly in Italian, with patience and persistence [that’s my little add-in] in other words).
So yesterday Steven sent me some cute photos of some of the other less fortunate— the dogs who sleep along their moms or dads on the streets every night (I don’t like the word owner). He had found two running around alone and wondered if they were truly homeless or not because they were in fairly good shape. Anyhow he got me thinking about the homeless and their pets. Here is a snippet of our brief conversation turned Q & A.
Me: So Steven, what do you think of the homeless having animals while living on the streets?
Steven: I've seen most homeless people treat dogs like Kings and Queens, it is the companionship, it's very lonely being homeless, you’re basically invisible under the radar from society. There were days when nobody talked to me not even to say hello, sometimes for months. I do get concerned about the dogs’ diet and their medical treatment.
My personal aside here is that he explained a lot. It is often for us to judge someone and their actions when we really do not know even that which we judge. Also, if anyone at all has any suggestions as to how we can help these animals along with their owners (and hopefully keeping them together) please make a comment. We love suggestions!
Me: How did you end up on the streets?
Steven: I ended up on the streets due to the Italian government’s tourism laws. I was trying to survive so I would hang out in the tourist areas and sell “skip the line” tickets (without the proper license) and take the cash without giving a receipt. Eventually the Guardia di Finanza caught me and gave me a 6,000 Euro fine and shut the whole operation down. After that I couldn't pay my rent and my landlord kicked me out. I started sleeping on the streets; with that lifestyle comes a lot of risks such as theft or worse. Eventually all my belongings, everything—all my luggage was stolen, including legal and identifying documents. That's when I turned to alcohol and only made it worse for myself. I never begged but I did sell tours for unlicensed guides to fuel my alcohol addiction.
Another personal note—oftentimes people end up on the streets due to alcoholism or mental illness or both (dual diagnosis), but sometimes the horror of finding oneself in that position can lead them to “self-medicate” simply as a way of dealing with life, with forgetting just to make it another day.
Me: How did you get off the streets?
Steven: One day I was in a soup kitchen next to the Vatican and was the only British homeless guy there. All of a sudden one of the sisters said to me, "you’re better than that, come tomorrow and have a shower.” From that point on I started talking to her and a wonderful relationship developed from there.
Today Steven is giving the ultimate gift, which is paying it forward. He started the program Project Rome in Italy, which feeds and clothes the homeless, and he has now united with Soeten (whom has also faced his own struggles with homelessness) to pay it forward and expand their dream on the Costa Blanca in Spain. AND it all started with the kindness of one human being, it began with that beautiful soul, that nun who saw Steven and reached out a helping hand. The possibilities are endless. We just need to start. To literally pick one foot up at a time, piano, piano, and DO IT. And we will. Stay tuned for more, and don’t forget to check us out on Social Media to see what is happening and where we will be next!