I can look out my 19 story apartment window and see him panhandling under the busy 610 N. freeway. Or I frequently have to stop at the red traffic light where he sits holding his ‘homeless’ sign while feeding the pigeons which come flocking to his corner hangout. I avoid looking directly into his sunken eyes buried deep on a wrinkled, weathered face.
He’s just another lost human being. Who is he? What is his background? When and how did he become homeless?
I don’t pull over to the side and get out of the car to introduce myself and maybe get to know him a bit better other than thinking another street bum. Is it that I’m afraid to listen to obvious lies from a depressed, confused and mentally disillusioned soul?
Is he a Veteran that couldn’t make the transition from military life where you are housed, barbered, clothed, fed and perform your daily assignments? Did he leave the service with a mind tormented by fighting in battle where any minute your life can be taken away or your body mangled beyond whatever was imaginable? Has he parents or loved ones which he never sees or put their arms around one another, embrace and kiss like young lovers?
Does his mind get locked in the prison of depression or is it tortured by memories too unpleasant to be forgotten…too worrisome to ever escape?
I wonder where he sleeps at night. Is it in the neighboring park, in a culvert near the Bayou, an abandoned wreck of a car or possibly in a shelter for the homeless? If so, how does he get back and forth? What does he eat, and where can he find food to buy if he has no money? His clothes are tired and tattered, but does he have others to wear in all kinds of weather and varying temperatures where the thermometer free-falls from blistering heat to freezing cold? If he gets sick who is there to nurse him, provide the medicines or remedy his sores, fever or mend his broken bones?
Is there a kind friendly face with whom he can counsel to get proper advice and needed assistance?
Does anyone really care or do more than occasionally drop some change or a folded dollar bill in his outstretched hand to hear a mumbled “Thank you. God bless.”
I know he’s been working this corner spot for what seems like years.
Can he be one of the 62,619 Veterans that are homeless on any given night? Twice as many experience homelessness at one time. When I think of that number it’s like being in a giant NFL football stadium with every seat being occupied by a down-trodden homeless veteran. Who are these nameless individual human beings?
About 12% of the adult homeless population is veterans with approximately 8% being female. I bet you didn’t know that. 51% of the individual homeless veterans have disabilities. Approximately 9% are between the ages of 18 and 30 with 41% between 31 and 50.
Though it’s not too surprising to learn that 1l3 of the 1.6 million of the returning Veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will have PTSD and/or severe depression. 50% of the homeless population has serious mental illness with 70% having substance abuse problems. The lingering effects of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.
Roughly 40% of all homeless Veterans are African American or Hispanic despite the fact that 10.4% are African Americans with 3.4% of Hispanics compose the veteran population.
Where do most of the homeless live?
68% reside in principal cities and 32% live in suburban and rural areas. Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless. Look around – no place is immune.
Enough of these facts, as startling as they may be to most of us. What is our responsibility to reduce, or possibly eliminate the homeless who live among us?
The most effective programs for homeless and at-risk Veterans are community based, nonprofit, “veterans helping veterans” groups. Programs that seem to work best feature traditional housing with the comradeship of living in structured, substance free environments with fellow veterans who are succeeding in bettering themselves. There is an urgent need to provide a safe and sober living environment for female veterans with children to receive treatment for sexual trauma and substance abuse. Why wait when this problem is staring us in the face with the ever growing number of military women?
Starting with page 256 in my book; “THE WIZARD OF COMMON CENTS” in which I offered common sense SOLUTIONS to solve the homeless situation in America. May I suggest you absorb these pages to learn how your House of Worship can take the lead in your own community to lift up the dignity of the man and woman who is your homeless neighbor?
Together we can do it!
Who else can help a former summer- job bagger, and bottle boy in Ohio, over 41 years ago, to keep beating off his retail competition?
Who else but an amazing advertising/marketing/public relations guru beating off the competition for his retail clients for over 60 years?
Who else represented the Weingarten supermarket chain with 115 stores that beat out their competitors like Henke Pilot and A&P in Houston; who else represented the Fiesta stores in Houston and Dallas to spearhead the Hispanic supermarket business; who else helped introduce the convenience store business in Houston with the U-Tote-M chain; who else helped Stop-‘N-Go (National Convenience Stores) grow from a local Houston chain to become a regional powerhouse; who else worked for the leading gasoline retailer – Texaco with 33,000 service stations including their Star Marts across the world – Earl Littman.
Who else represented a wide variety of retailers such as Foley’s to become the premier department store in Houston and Dallas and was the first retailer to enter into TV and consistently dominated their competitors; who else worked for other Houston based retailers such as Gordon’s Jewelers (the second largest national chain), Finger Furniture, Gitting’s the leading portrait photography studio in America, Palais Royal department store chain, Way Out West western apparel, Wallings ladies shoes and accessories, Off- The- Wall art retailer in shopping malls nationwide, plus in addition to Foley’s other Federated Department stores throughout Louisiana to Florida and North to Kansas City – Earl Littman.
Who else represented additional national retailers such as Pizza Hut from their early beginning out of Wichita, Kansas and Midas Mufflers throughout the mid-west; who else worked with fast food retailers such as Church’s Chicken based in San Antonio and Tinsley’s Chicken & Rolls headquartered in East Texas out of Huntsville, and national fine eating restaurants like the Rib Room in the Hotel Plaza, New York City, the Royal Sonesta and Royal Orleans in New Orleans, Time of the Tiger located in St. Louis – Earl Littman.
Who else represented Consumer Products Goods sold in food stores such as Pearl Beer, Trappey’s and Sugary Sam’s Yams, Great Western Foods – Ranch Style Beans, Iron Kettle Chili, Morrison Milling’s Bis-Kits, Shiner Beer and all Havoline brands of lubricants, the Igloo coolers and ice chests – Earl Littman.
Who else along with four ladies (including Barbara Falick the wife of the president of Weingarten’s supermarkets) started the End Hunger Network campaign, which has since morphed into one of the largest Food Banks in America feeding the poor, and the hungry? Who else can tell you Mr. Breetz of the hurdles we climbed during those early years and how through blood, sweat and tears along with lots of praying we nourished a seed into a giant sequoia tree towering into the heavens above – Earl Littman.
Who else invented and patented a new advertising 3D media for in-store marketing – Earl Littman.
Who else served as Chairman of the American Heart Association and won the Paul Dudley White Award for his twenty plus years of service; who else created the slogan and campaign “THE BADGE MEANS YOU CARE” for the Houston Police Department to help calm down the ruffled community feathers after a few errant policemen committed a heinous crime against a handcuffed prisoner; who else worked with the DRUG Enforcement Agency and created the “Drugs Kill Campaign” which he presented to three schools a day over seven years influencing multi-thousands of children and awarding college scholarships to those teens who stayed drug free; who else was awarded the prestigious 1990 Savvy Award given to the outstanding Houston community leader for helping to end hunger while also contributing to the fight against heart disease; who else was the first Houston advertising agency person to be entered into the inaugural class of the Southwest Advertising Hall of Fame – Earl Littman.
Who else was responsible for raising $1 million dollars for charity, over a ten year period, by creating the Body and Sole Fun Run sponsored by his client Transco Energy; who else served on the small but original Board of the Houston Marathon which grew into Houston’s largest one day sporting event attracting multi-thousands of participants and spectators; who else started and introduced the Run For a Reason charity fun run as part of the Houston Marathon which raises millions of important dollars to support many different local and national nonprofit charities to help make Houston proud to be a better place in which to live – Earl Littman
Who else is passionate and directed his non-stop efforts, over the past two years, to act as the united fund with a goal of raising $1+ billion annually to grant to vetted, sterling nonprofits to improve their services to our needy veterans, troops and their military families – a demographic group of 65 million Americans – one out of every five families; who else as recently as this past Christmas holiday spent a full day at the Houston Veterans Administration to sign and personally visited, and gave away 500 free books, that he authored (THE WIZARD OF COMMON CENTS) to the patients at the hospital; who else foregoes the author’s usual fees and donates the $5.00 of each paperback or e-book sale to the worthy nonprofit charities working to serve our needy veterans, their families and military members; who else founded the IRS approved nonprofit 501 (C) (3) on February 27, 2013 named BACK-OUR-VETS which he personally supports monetarily and free willingly operates daily – Earl Littman.
Who else has been blessed with myriad talents that he has employed tirelessly during his lifetime to try to make the world a better place for people of every religion, every skin color, every political persuasion, without regard to age or whatever their pursuit of happiness. Ask him and he will confirm he has a moral compass which steers him to honor his family, his country, his faith and his friends – to walk and live humbly under God, doing his blessings with the power of love for one another.
EARL IS AMERICA’ PREACHER FOR PATRIOTISM!
On January 29th Earl, with God’s blessing will celebrate his 88th birthday.
When measuring a lifetime of serving the greater community at large, with his particular devotion, as a Navy World War ll, secret combat Medic warrior to BACK-OUR-VETS, who else is more deserving than granting a no obligation visit than — Earl Littman.
Mr. Breetz please gather your troops and give him the best birthday gift of 15 to 20 minutes of time for Earl to show how to win the hearts of new and old shoppers for increased sales and profits in the southwest division of The Kroger Co. Do it before the 29th and smile all the way to the bank!