I STILL HOPE

I STILL HOPE

I moved to Charlotte nine years ago and found myself adapting to homelessness. As a writer, I’ve learned to face my fears through freelancing with a pen and pad. When I came to Charlotte, it wasn’t what I expected, but it had better transportation than I was used to. For some odd reason, I felt really shaky about moving here. My old job felt like a dead end, and my life was going nowhere. I lived in a one-bedroom apartment with no transportation, so getting around was a little more difficult. I lived in Spartanburg, SC, during my high school years and graduated in 1999. My problems started after I dropped out of college. I then went to live with my father and his new wife in a three-bedroom house on the outskirts of Richmond. I was young and trying to figure out my next step. I found a job as a busboy and dishwasher. I didn’t save any money. I liked my job and the people there, but I had to walk to work. Sometimes people would scream racist remarks to me while I was walking. One afternoon, a motorist came a little too close and ran me off the road. He was also shouting racial slurs at me. When I arrived at work, I told them what happened. I quit that day. After that, I stayed at my father’s house and watched TV all day. Sometimes, I would watch my little sister. Overall, I felt alone due to dropping out of college, having no license, no transportation and no one to communicate with—just me and the TV,...
A Chat With Vendor Sheila Apperson

A Chat With Vendor Sheila Apperson

Where are you originally from? Danville, VA. What’s the best memory you have from growing up? We lived next to a farm growing up and I loved being around all of the animals and the grapevines. It was a fun way to grow up as a kid. What person has meant the most to you in your life? My daughter. How did you learn about Speak Up? I was really at a low place in my life and was battling some depression and homelessness. A SpeakUp vendor at that time sat down next to me and talked about the hope, opportunity and respect it had given him. It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. Where do you sell your magazines? Wherever I can. I mainly sell them in NODA and around small businesses. I’m looking to expand out into other areas. What’s the most positive experience that has happened while selling Speak Up? The most rewarding thing that I have experienced is bringing people in and seeing their lives change because of Speak Up. It is awesome to see their confidence grow and their circumstances brighten. Are you dealing with any personal hardships right now? I have some medical issues and am getting sick. What’s your favorite place to (eat, hangout, ext.) in Charlotte? There are a lot of nice people down by the common market. I also like the BBQ House across the street. How do you like to give back to the community and others in need? The best thing I can do is bring them in a place like this. It will help...
THE TRUTH ABOUT PRISON

THE TRUTH ABOUT PRISON

Let me tell you the truth about prison.Prison is not a place where anyone wants to go. The officers treat you like caged animals. You get your good ones and bad ones. The prison food is no good. The nurses are no good. They do not care about the inmates. They will let you die. I knew someone who was very sick, and he died on his bed. It took two hours for the nurses to get to his cell after he died. Now let me tell you about the bad officers. They bring drugs to the inmates, and female officers have sex with male inmates. Then they say that they were raped so they will not lose their jobs. The truth is that the inmates did not rape the nurses or the female officers. The inmates then feel that they have to pay them money—$100, $200, sometimes $1,000. I know this. This is the truth, and God knows that this is the truth. Now the world knows the truth. I’ve been raped in prison, and the officers did nothing about it. I tried to kill myself ten times. I went to the hospital three times and stayed seven days all three times. The sergeant, captain, lieutenant and doctor do not care about the inmates. They do not want to give medicine to inmates. They will take money from an inmate ($20) for a sick call. The FBI needs to know the truth about state prisons. Trust me, I...
Loss of Custody

Loss of Custody

One day, I found myself living as a single person instead of a single parent. I lost the custody of my son, Joshua. Joshua and I had worn out two strollers traveling here and there while enjoying each day. I potty trained him, taught him his colors, numbers, letters and helped him begin to read. I carried him on my shoulders many times. We shared a strong father-and-son bond. His mother had not been all that interested in raising him, and I felt that a child would take away her attention from our relationship. I had been her first husband, but by the time she filed for custody of Joshua, she was on her third marriage. I lost the father-and-son bond that day and desired to no longer have a home.  It has taken over 30 years to regain that desire for a home again, and I can see it in the near...
Mental Health and the Streets

Mental Health and the Streets

There are a lot of life issues on the street.  A lot of “non-homeless” people think of those of us  who are “homeless” as mere “bums” and “drunks”.  The reality is that we “homeless” deal with the same life issues as those who are not “homeless.”  We may or may not have family.  We suffer losses of loved ones.  We may be struggling with substance abuse issues.  We may be struggling with mental health issues. Myself, I am a person in recovery from alcoholism.  But before my alcoholism there was (and still is) chronic major depression, anorexia and bulimia, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) and insomnia, generalized anxiety disorder, and Obsessive Compulsive traits.  I also have bone spurs and arthritis, partly a result of aging, but exacerbated by excessive amounts of time outside in the elements and all the walking that I have to do. At present, my anxiety, depression, and PTSD are really kicking my butt, as well as bouts of insomnia and the resulting OCD tendencies, which are attempts to compensate for the others.   Challenges in my mental health status tends to increase my vulnerability to potential relapse with regards to my alcoholism.   Anyone who has ever struggled with substance abuse issues or knows someone who has struggled with substance abuse, issues can likely relate to what I am trying to say.  I must successfully manage each end of my co-occurring disorders (substance abuse and mental health diagnoses).  When my depression, PTSD, and/or anxiety heighten, my inclination to self- medicate with alcohol increases.  When use of alcohol is in play, this directly impacts and worsens...