Call for submissions for Footsteps 步: A poetry anthology honoring homeless veterans

Footsteps: Poems for Homeless Veterans (due out on Cave Moon Press, 2016)

Footsteps: Poems for Homeless Veterans (due out on Cave Moon Press, 2016)

Since 2006, Cave Moon Press (CMP) – a family-owned publishing company out of Yakima, WA – has been “bridging global and local issues through the arts.” Solid Ground has been fortunate to partner with CMP over the past four years.

Editor Doug Johnson says, “The model of CMP is simple: We ask poets and artists to collaborate with the cause of their choice. Poets. Books. Community. Why such a simple model? Because complicated erases our humanity. There are so many causes it is easy to lose track of the people we are helping.”

Call for submissions for Footsteps

To celebrate 10 years of helping communities, Cave Moon Press will produce a new book to aid homeless veterans in 2016 and is requesting original poems centered around the theme of footsteps. They encourage poets to take license in interpreting whose footsteps you honor, and translations are welcome. To apply:

  • Submit poetry anytime between April to September 2015
  • Send to: cavemoonpress@gmail.com
  • Subject line of email: Footsteps for Homeless Veterans-Poet Name
  • Include your name, physical address and email as a cover letter
  • Submit 2-5 poems in one MS Word document, and name the file with your name and the date you submit (ex: FirstLastName_041515)
  • Preferred fonts: 12 pt Garamond in Latin alphabetic languages; SimSun preferred in Asian Kanji

More about the Footsteps project

Doug writes, “This is a book of witness to the invisible. As a poet holds their duty to the page, soldiers hold their duty to serve. Others hold their duty to the environment. Cars wage war on the environment. Politics change like the newspaper wrapping fish. We all know of someone setting out on their quest without ever getting the homecoming of Odysseus. When duties disillusion, people wander. The invisible still wander. Write to honor the ignored. Write a poem. Help a friend.”

This book intends to honor people, not causes. After publication it is hoped that each accepted poet will combine readings around food and music with proceeds going to the local homeless network of their choice – e.g., your local VA, YMCA/YWCA, or nonprofits with programs that serve formerly homeless vets (such as Solid Ground’s Santos Place, etc.).

Cave Moon Press & Solid Ground

In 2011, CMP published Denise Calvetti Michaels’ Rustling Wrens, and she chose to donate a portion of sales proceeds to Solid Ground and also spread the word about Solid Ground during her readings. Similarly, when poet Esther Altshul Helfgott published Dear Alzheimer’s: A Caregiver’s Diary & Poems in 2013 and Listening to Mozart: Poems of Alzheimer’s in 2014, she designated proceeds toward Solid Ground’s Penny Harvest youth philanthropy program (which her granddaughter participated in before the program sunsetted in summer of 2014).

As Doug puts it, “Poets write. Poets read. So far poets have found a home at Solid Ground, and CMP is grateful and happy to bring awareness to their great work.” He adds that, “CMP has been able to help other groups around the country. Each nonprofit and poet set up what works in their community. They know their needs. They have passions for their people.” With the publication of Footsteps 步 in 2016, CMP will continue their commitment to creating poetry and art partnerships that support social change.

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Back on the road to home

Bruce Perry with his truck

Bruce Perry with his truck

Truck driver Bruce Perry is a veteran and a resident at Santos Place on Solid Ground’s Sand Point Housing campus. He has lived in many different places – from the deep south, to California, to the Pacific Northwest – and he has worn many different career hats. From a young age, he has known exactly what he wanted to do with his life – several different things, to be exact – and one by one, he has achieved those goals.

Bruce says, “I’ve done pretty much all I wanted to do in life, career-wise. I knew when I was 10 years old that I wanted to go into the military. I’d see the convoys of military trucks and “I’d say, ‘Mom, that’s going to be me one day!’ ” And sure enough, he served in the US Army from 1975 to 1979, a Vietnam-era vet who was fortunate to enlist three months before the end of the active conflict, so he never saw combat. Also, he says, “I wanted to be a mailman – which I did for 19½ years – and at the age of 42, I retired, in the Bay Area.”

Finally, he says, “I wanted to be a truck driver.” He first got his Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) in 2005 and worked as a cross-country freight driver for several years. “I’ve been to 48 states, Mexico and Canada.” This last goal, though, had a serious hiccup: In 2009 in Louisiana, he received a ticket, which he paid with a check that didn’t go through. Unfortunately, the check was returned to an old address and he never received it, causing his license to be suspended for a year. “And each time you get a ticket,” he explains, “it’s another violation that counts for one year. Another violation, another year. So that’s how I had to do three years on suspension. That’s three years without driving at all.”

Starting over

In 2011, with his final dream job on hiatus, his funds dwindling, and very few veterans resources available to him in the south, he decided to relocate to Washington state where he could get housing through the Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH). “That’s one reason I moved here; and another reason was I’d be close to my girlfriend,” he says with a shy smile. (She lives in Vancouver, BC, and thanks to Amtrak he gets to meet her in Bellingham a few times a month.)

After a stint in VASH temporary housing, Bruce was placed in transitional housing at Santos Place. A self-described loner and very independent man, he says, “This place is for people able to take care of themselves, ‘cause nobody gonna come knock on their door and say, ‘Hey, are you ok?’ You have to be able to take care of yourself here.”

During his stay, he says, “I kept myself busy.” So while living at Santos and waiting out his suspension, he worked at Whole Foods Market and received job training through AARP – and just as soon as his suspension was up, he went straight back and got recertified as a truck driver. In June 2014, he was back on the road, and he couldn’t be happier. He drives up and down the coast, from Kent, WA to southern California and back, with weekends at home. And come December 1st, five days before his birthday, Bruce will finally move out of Santos Place and into permanent housing.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Bruce outside of Santos Place

Bruce outside of Santos Place

To others struggling to get back on their feet, he urges people to “ask for help. Solid Ground has people to help you with that! Depression, shame stops people from doing what they need to do. It’s scary. You get in this environment, it’s all you know. You stay here and you feel comfortable, and it’s hard to get up and walk out that door and go out there and get a job again, because a lot of people are scared of failure. But you got to start somewhere.”

He recommends that people “Go to training school while you’re on low income. Go to WorkSource. Go to the library. We got two brand new computers here and a whole computer room. Take advantage of that! Go to junior college. It’s up to you to decide what you want to do.”

Home for the holidays

This year, Bruce will be in his own home for Christmas for the first time in a long time. A devout Christian, he believes God played an important role in his success: “If you open your heart up to God, read your bible, pray – put your trust in God, not man – then it will start working. If you have the right attitude, things will work out for you. It may take a while, but it will happen.”

And while Bruce is technically of retirement age, he’s not at all retiring. “The only thing I want to do now is just continue working and, God willing, work to the age of 66 and collect my social security. I got a chance to retire; I know what it’s like to retire. I got a chance to be blessed to start back over again. So it’s like a big burden lifted off of your shoulders.” But, he says, when he finally does “retire” from truck driving, he still intends to drive a truck two or three days a week. “I’ve talked to older people,” he says, “and lots of people have told me, the worst thing you can do is just sit around all day and do nothing. Once you sit down and start doing nothing, your muscles and your mind, everything’s all fading away. You lose everything.”

And he has absolutely no regrets. “It’s hard to explain to people; very few people can look back and say they’ve done everything they wanted to do in life. I’m one of those few people. And how do you know that you’ve done everything in life? If the doctor said, ‘You only have two months to live?’ I’ve done everything I wanted to do!”

Santos Place improvements

When Community Action was launched through LBJ’s War on Poverty in 1964, weatherization programs were a key component of our work. For many years Fremont Public Association (now Solid Ground) offered Minor Home Repair and weatherization services. Now, we are delighted to be completing the first phase of preservation and energy updates to Santos Place, a former Navy barracks that provides transitional housing for 42 formerly homeless men and women at Magnuson Park.

The scope of work includes installation of a new roof, insulation in walls, and new windows and siding. These improvements, along with a new boiler system, will generate about $25,000 in annual energy savings for the building and create a facility that is warmer in the winter and a cooler during warm weather.

South side of Santos Place with protective plastic wrap

South side of Santos Place with protective plastic wrap

South side of Santos Place, before new siding is installed.

South side of Santos Place, before new siding is installed

The first phase of preservation is funded by the Washington State Department of Commerce, City of Seattle HomeWise Program and Solid Ground. Ally Community Development is our developer, Environmental Works is our architect, and Walsh Construction Co. is our contractor.

The New Guy

This post, written by Mitch Cameron, was originally published in the July 2012 issue of the Santos Place Q-Notes, a newsletter written by and published for the residents of Santos Place. Santos Place is Solid Ground’s transitional housing program for single adults at Sand Point Housing.

Self-portrait of Mitch, in his truck on the road to San Diego to see his mom

Self-portrait of Mitch, in his truck on the road to San Diego to see his mom

The New Guy

Today I am the New Guy, I moved into Santos Place two weeks ago.

Tomorrow I may be the Old Guy, who can say.

My past is unimportant, it is behind me; I won’t compete with anyone for the best story.

My future is before me and it may be formed by fate or destiny, I don’t know; I choose to believe I make my own future.

I try to live in the here and the now, this day, this moment; I am still learning.

I am the Slow Guy with a limp, except when I am on a bicycle where I am more free to travel in harmony and with speed.

A volcanic crater in the Pacific NW

A volcanic crater in the Pacific NW

I am no different than most people; I am an imperfect human who wishes to be a part of something to better myself and to be loved and respected.

I am the New Guy and I wish to treat all people the way I wish to be treated; with dignity and respect.

I am the New Guy, if you can, give me helpful advice, I will gladly accept and give back if I can; or a friendly greeting and I will do the same.

I am the New Guy and I have lost my way in this world and my confidence is slow to return.

I am the New Guy and I love the Great Northwest and the outdoors; including fishing and camping.

I am a Veteran of the Vietnam War and I still remember being spit upon while wearing my uniform, but still I remain “The New Guy.”

Recent image of a sunset at Golden Gardens Park where Mitch and friends had a bonfire

Recent image of a sunset at Golden Gardens Park where Mitch and friends had a bonfire

Where I am from ~Adrienne

Editor’s note: Adrienne Karls is a resident at Solid Ground’s Santos Place, transitional housing for formerly homeless single adults at Magnuson Park. She is a member of the Santos Place Residents Council and Solid Ground’s Advisory Council. Earlier this year she began editing QNotes, a newsletter written and published by Santos Place residents. This piece, entitled “Where I am from,” is taken from a recent issue with permission.

Photo by Adrienne Karls

I am from my mother’s womb, my giver of life, from an infinite bond of love made one very special night.

I am from the deepest place in my soul where my life experiences live. From my loves, my loss to my knowledge and every step walked within.

I am from every breath I take as I walk the beach by the ocean. This is where I find serenity letting flow every one of my emotions. Here my spirit runs free while my heart becomes replenished, where my mind can let go of all that was while creating something new and un-blemished.

I am from love and war, passion and pain, terrible memories of secrets kept and wonderful times that I will never forget.  Never mind what it is if it matters too much then let go of the hurt and hold on to the trust. A bond that’s never broken and a truth that’s never lost.

God and trusting him is my faith. I’ve learned it pays to always treat others as well as I’d like to be treated myself. Through God I’ve learned forgiveness so I can free my heart of anger, moving on to what’s next in this life full of wonder.

From the most passionate of love to the ugliest of resentments, I’m from becoming  renewed while learning from what life has to offer.

Despite the many tears I’ve cried I’ve smiled a million smiles more, for my experiences have made me stronger in everything I do. Every battle has made me wiser and every joy has given me life.

I am from STRENGTH.

Photo by Adrienne Karls

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