The Alley Newspaper

These articles originally appeared in “The Alley,” the newspaper for the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis.

Finding Peace

With one day before the deadline for this article, I can’t think of anything to write about. So, I ask one of Peace House Community’s members what topic I should tackle. “How do you find peace?” he responds. Philosophers, sages, mystics, and self-help gurus have been pondering that question for centuries, and I’m supposed to …

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Silence Please

I’ve recently been reminded of the value of silence, or at least having a break from all the noise that assaults us each day. With so much negativity in the air, it can be difficult not to get infected, not to become judgmental, not to lash out or over-react, not to get overwhelmed, and not …

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To the Unsung Heroes

Today I attended the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits’ annual conference, and I got to see four people receive Unsung Heroes awards for work they have done to improve their communities. As you would guess, these individuals go about their volunteering quietly, but their dedication and concern has inspired others. I love the idea of unsung …

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A Special Thank-you

From last November until mid-August, a homeless encampment occupied the vacant lots behind Peace House Community. Over the months various people came and went from the camp, bringing with them tents, bicycles, generators, and a host of other items. Many others stopped by during the day and the night, sometimes to say hi to friends …

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What’s in a Word?

Over the last few years, there has been a movement to stop using the word “homeless” to describe those who don’t have permanent housing. Phrases like “those with lived experience of homelessness” or “the unstably housed” have popped up to fill the void. Those advocating for the change intend to reduce the stigma attached to …

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Working Instead of Staying Busy

Someone recently sent me an article that, among other things, lamented the busyness that people experience at their jobs and the amount of time and energy that this busyness wastes. The author’s goal was to get his readers to move from busyness to action, from working a job that may or may not pay the …

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The Sacredness of Used Clothing

Like many nonprofits, Peace House Community relies on donations of both money and items to offer services to its community. Sometimes the items we receive are essential to our work, but often we receive donations that cause more problems than they solve. I used to work at a housing agency that had to deal with …

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A Penguin Walks Through the Door…

A few years ago I came across a list of questions employers could ask potential employees to test their creativity and their ability to adjust quickly to unexpected circumstances. My favorite question was “A penguin walks through the door wearing a sombrero. What’s the first thing it says?” I actually used this during a few …

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You May Know More Than You Know

I’ve learned a few things in the last year about fundraising, like You can never say thank-you enough and Tell donors what you are doing with their money, because it isn’t your money that you are spending.” I’ve also learned that I need to ask Peace House Community’s donors a lot of questions, like How …

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Do Whatever You Want

When people find out that I worked with the homeless, they sometimes ask me if they should give money to panhandlers. I used to give the standard social work answer: “If you give them money, it could be used for drugs or alcohol. It’s better to give them a snack, or to donate money to …

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