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Read an Excerpt
A Motivational Uplifting true story
By Denorval Parks
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 Denorval Parks
All rights reserved.
Once Upon a time
The Shelter System ... where's its starting point? I don't think that is a common question! People really don't care as-long-as they have a roof over their heads for themselves and their family. As-long-as they're not closing their eyes at night and seeing stars and a black sky, who cares?
As-long-as they're not sleeping on a hard ground and in some cases, in the cold, wishing they had a nice comfortable warm bed without worries, having food in their stomach and a nice hot shower, that's the most important thing for them.
Back during the medieval times in Europe, there were poor people called "PAUPERS." Paupers were people who roamed the streets, with nowhere to go, down on their luck with no money or cash flow coming into their pockets. Forced to beg, steal, and hustle in order to survive. These types of people were forced to receive help from their rulers or government during that time period, and needed a roof over their heads. The type of shelter that was provided for Paupers was called, an "ALMSHOUSE." An Almshouse goes back to the 10th Century. The first recorded institution was in York, by King Athelstan, going back to the middle ages circa 1132. Almshouses were built for people who weren't in the position to care for themselves or their families. It was also for the mentally ill, old, children, and criminals, all fused into one.
During that time those types of institutions were started and run by charities, religious groups, the people and government. It was during the Queen Elizabeth era when she came out with the poor laws, which stated that the poor should be tended to and taken care of. Material things should be provided for them to help with their survival. Buildings should be built; they should be clothed, fed, etc.
The Almshouses were shelters, slash jails, slash mental institutions, slash hospitals, slash elderly homes and slash juvenile facilities all in one ... crazy right?
If an individual was sentenced by the courts, they would find themselves going to an Almshouse to live out their sentence. There were staff members there to deal with your individual situation. Almshouses during that time were not the greatest places to live. For one, the food was terrible; it was stuffy, cramped, overcrowded and diseased. They would divide the Paupers and inmates into groups. The women had their sections and rooms, or floors. The men and children had their separate sections as well. Depending on your situation there was a section for you.
If a child was too young (two years old and younger) they would have to stay with their mother until they were older, if she was still there. The rules and regulations [on America soil] changed as the decades passed. For instance: Children were no longer permitted to live and work amongst the adults (they went into orphanages.) The individuals who ran these harsh institutions were called overseers.
In England, once a Pauper committed himself to living in an Almshouse, they were at the mercy of the institution. They had to work extremely hard. The male Paupers and the inmates worked in the fields, by breaking and smashing boulders and picking oakum, or crushing bones, etc.
The women and girls worked in sewing shops. They washed and cleaned, as-well-as babysat the younger ones.
As time went on in these same institutions in early America, the kids did not go to school, they worked. But as time progressed, they found it wise for the kids to go to school, so they could have a positive effect on the future of the country, in the new world. The mind set was, if the children went to school (on the premises and off) they would have less of a chance of reentering these Almshouses again, and following in the footsteps of their parents.
Many immigrants had come to America from England and other parts of Europe as indentured servants (including the kids) to make a better life for themselves. The European system in the Almshouse was to separate those who acted out and had trouble with the law, and try to convert them into good law abiding citizens.
In the early 1900's in America, there were many changes within the system with the Almshouse slowly converting into what they called "the Poorhouse," which again derived from England.
Now once you enter the Poorhouse (with your family, if any) you were strictly at the mercy of the institution. They could do as they pleased with you and your family.
You gave up all your rights as an individual and handed it to the [county] government.
While residing there, you had to wear certain kinds of clothing that was provided to you and your family by the person in charge, which was the overseer or master.
Unlike the Almshouse, the Poor house was more organized; there were doctors, nurses, and teachers. Punishment was harsh for misbehavior. Paupers were beaten and then confined to their rooms or cells.
Now, the old and sick in many cases were not capable of doing the type of work that needed to be done within these asylums. These types of people were called "Enabled bodies." The people who had the strength and were capable of hard work were called "Abled bodies." The old and sick most likely spend the rest of their days being cared for by the government, or charity. Chances are they would die living in these institutions, and buried on the institutional grounds. The county would put you (and the children) in a wooden box, place you in the burial area, and think no more about you; with no tombstone or anything to identify you. There were not many records kept in the process, because to them you were nothing.
Some of the overseers or masters in charge of the process were very crooked people. They would rape the women and children (children were found missing in some institutions) and take the money that was for the food and clothing.
Most of these women were left alone with no man or husband (in many cases he died and left his family with no money or valuables.) So, she was forced to go into the system for support, like the present. The institution was deliberately run in a foul manner to discourage the people from entering, in hope that they would find a way to fend for themselves. If a woman got pregnant while in the system she was responsible for the care of the baby, not the man (married or not.)
Two famous individuals lived in theses nasty asylums, a man by the name of Charlie Chaplain and a woman by the name of Ann Sullivan (who cared for a blind and deaf young lady by the name of Helen Keller.) Some houses were run by Christians; others were run by Protestants, etc. They may have been English, French, Irish and the likes. Everyone wanted to stay within their own religion and culture. Around this time there was a lot of industrialization going on, which lead to a boom in urbanization and more immigration.
America again had advanced to a new type of institution in the countryside called, "The Poor farm." This asylum was not much different from the Poorhouse.
Here the inmates and Paupers worked on a farm where there where vegetables, hogs, beef, chickens and other animals to deal with. Again, they were all divided up according to their issues. The inmates there sentenced by the courts worked in crews on the roads. Working on these Poor farms put food in ones stomach. They did not work and sell what they produced, it was for them.
Each Poor farm was different (as all the other institutions.) Some Poor Farms had the Paupers pick cotton, which could be used for clothing. The buildings were built differently as well. Some of them were built erect (straight up) with more than one floor, and some had just one level, but long, they all varied to house the inmates and indigent people.
There were no more than 15 to 20 individuals living on these Poor farms. Some were known to have up to 30 indigents people. The format inside some of the institutions was large rooms everyone slept in, with lots of beds. Some institutions were over populated, with a kitchen, bathroom and lounge area. In some cases these buildings were built out of brick or concrete. Every county was responsible for the caring of their poor in the community. In some cases the government did nothing to help, the poor relied on the people or churches.
The overseers (or masters) did a lot of work in these establishments, as-well-as off grounds pertaining to the shelter. They made sure that everything was going accordingly. Their pay was about $300 yearly. The master hires and fires guards, laborers and managers.
In certain asylums the security is in the front as you enter the building. There's only one way out and no fire codes. If you were a mother and you decided to leave, you must take your little one(s) with you, as they do in shelters now.
Mothers then have been known to step out and leave their little ones never to come back (sad I know.)
Now, these types of shelters began to fade away in the mid 1900's, about the time the Social Security act came about in 1935; finances to aid mothers (the dates in the history of these events are not clear in a lot of instances, remember, a lot of records were not kept, or, kept poorly, so each historian or author may have a different date concerning that time.)
In those days, institutions were in great need of everything; otherwise you would have homeless people everywhere and out of control crime.
Some of these places were clean, some were filthy with roaches, flies and rodents (remember as I stated in my last book, every shelter is different, like every state is run differently, the same applies to back then.) Some of the asylums had good decent people who cared for the unfortunate, and a lot didn't.
These modern day shelters were for the unfortunate. To house them, give them work and a fighting chance to get back on their feet and rebuild their lives. As time when on, ways changed, there was slow improvement, but improvement happened.
With children being abused living there, and robbery taking place, new laws came about in order to improve care, as-well-as the direction of America.
In time, more programs were added into the equation because of unfortunate incidents and the increase in homeless people. More respect for mothers with children emerged; more help going out to families blossomed in order to keep them together and off the streets and out of poor institutions.
The government attempted to keep mothers with their children, who may have abandoned them because of the stress of caring for the family without the help of the father, or government at that particular time, as-well-as being jobless.
Note:Our shelters are here today because of the institutions of yesteryear, which is a tremendous improvement since the 17, 18, and 1900's. The psychological part of living in a shelter is tough, dealing with the rules and regulations of the system, the overcrowded conditions and the disrespect from everyone, including the workers. The stress and depression that the women back then and now go through. The shame, and the tears, of being in a place like that for the sake of the children, which can also have an impact on their schooling ... its mind boggling.
All said goes towards the mentality which still exists today, just in a different way, because of the difference in times.
Men must care for the children they help bring into this divided, unjust, greedy, racist world. They must have more financial input on helping the mother. This will take pressure off the mother, and keep families out of the shelters, then and now. Men back then got women pregnant, and left them to care for the children alone, just to move on and get another woman pregnant ... disgusting!
Yes, yes, yes, of course there will still be homelessness, but not on the level it is today if we men took on our part. Men play a major role in homelessness; if the economy is thriving they should be working, providing, with no damn excuses! If not, they should still be a part of their children's lives no matter what the situation.
If a woman finds herself in the system and there's no child involved, then that's on her (which there may be other reasons behind that.)A shelter is no place for a child, especially while in school; it interferes with the child's learning and self-esteem. Other kids will tease him/her which can interfere with them going to the next grade, keep that in mind, if you are living in the shelter system anywhere in the world.CHAPTER 2
Keepin My Sanity
First of all I want to praise the highest above and that's god. It's important that one put him first. If you put him first, he will put you first ... and deliver. But you must talk to him, and make an effort to pursue what it is you are praying for.
I will mention our father and Jesus often while you read this informative elevating book.
Now after spending two and a half years in the New York City shelter system and dealing with the misery and negativity that comes along with living there, I was forced to continue in spite of my stress level, and to a lower degree depression. Depressed because I didn't get in and out as I thought I would. Also because of the fact that my boys had to endure the bull that goes on within the system, as I was constantly working, and running around trying to make life easy for them and more.
I would sit up late at night when I would put them to bed, and contemplate, and take in what was going on in our lives. My mind was foggy. I could not think straight due to so many things going on in my brain at once. I used sex to relax me, and put me to sleep. If you didn't know, good sex and sleep together helps heal the mental and the physical, at least for me. My body at that time needed it.
Once I got enough sleep after engaging in such an act, my body felt much better. Not 100% ... in order for me to feel like that, I needed to be out of that environment, altogether! Nonetheless I felt better than before, or that prior day. Why, because the center of my body was tense like one big ball of stress built up in my chest, "literally." It came from the accumulation of different emotions and issues.
After, I no longer felt out of touch with the natural forces around me, which is the movement of the earth and the heavenly bodies. I felt at ease on the inside, in sync with the universe. My mind after this great rest was no longer mixed up with important and unimportant thoughts popping up uncontrollably.
-I was at ease-
Now once I was up, I was able to sort out my thoughts and put things in perspective. I was able to move forward with want I needed to do. I want you to know that raising three babies without a spouse or mate (outside of other problems) will take its toll on you. I am a good loving father who cares for his kids "deeply!" But running around daily, taking care of the needs babies demand and command will bug you out and have you screaming for relief and time for yourself.
I was so over the edge, I sat up in my shelter apartment and cried; it was unbearable. I often contemplated leaving, but hung in there, for the sake of my sons. Again and again I would talk to Jehovah. I choked it up, put my son's needs in front of mine and told myself constantly ... I will be out of here in due time.
It was my first year in the shelter with more months and stress to come. I kept cool and strong. I had the forces above with me and used certain techniques to get me by, in order to contain my emotions and stay calm.
In due time (with praying of course) I made it through my first and second year. Struggling while in the last couple of months, I was to a point where I was ready to destroy anyone who messed with any of my sons (they do that in the shelter ... bullies.) I would argue, and let off some steam (you can't keep holding things in, you must let it out) every now and then ... even fight. That was a must at times, or you would be picked on. That happened mostly in the first shelter and the first year.
As time progressed, I would learn how to deal with certain individuals around me who caused me pain. I began to learn how to deal with the daily hostile environment. And the stress from dealing with my job, and the fact that I had to look for an apartment, etc. (I maintain myself.)
I began to get better at handling the rude behavior from the Leaches and the Loungers (to understand these terms, buy the book "Sheltered.") I began to learn more on how to deal with people who basically had no lives, and needed to bring you down to their level in order for them to feel good about themselves. As I got closer and closer to leaving the system, my coping skills and patients got improved considerably. I began to take my newly discovered "know how" and applied it to other areas of my life (like my job for instance.)
I began to have more control of what was happening around me, and what I did and didn't allow it to affect me.
It's like learning new motor skills as a baby. I then used those skills to help me to weather and control my insides, which will hopefully help me to live longer in the long run (with God's blessings of course.) Like a baby's newly discovered motor skills. I began to learn how to control it and use it when needed. I practiced more by applying those skills to different situations and issues in my life.
Excerpted from Sheltered Again by Denorval Parks. Copyright © 2014 Denorval Parks. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 Once Upon a time, 1,
Chapter 2 Keepin My Sanity, 10,
Chapter 3 The Boogie Down, 15,
Chapter 4 One big stress ball, 22,
Chapter 5 If you believe, 33,
Chapter 6 Put your mind to it, 48,
Chapter 7 Handle it, 64,
Chapter 8 Merry-go-round, 71,
Chapter 9 Adjust, 85,
Chapter 10 Homeless, 90,