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Friday, February 14, 2014

Check the Bulletins

Blog fail this week, but check the bulletins page for breaking news & events

Sunday, February 2, 2014


So today is Superbowl™ LXVIII. So what. It’s also Groundhog Day. Double so what. 

An obscene amount of money is spent on this debacle every year. Just one football game, never mind the NFL (which pays no taxes) and professional sports as a whole. You and I cannot imagine the dollar amount, but you can get a good idea of the mind-boggling spending and waste by going to this search link and reading a few articles:

I will probably be accused of being un-American for this, or discompassionate toward others’ suffering by what else I’m about to say: We send way too much money on trivial concerns in this country, and send way too much money to help other countries when we have our own serious problems to solve here in The United States of America. 

This slide show  shows the top recipients of U.S. Foreign Aid and the amount they received:

1. Israel ($3,075 million)
Israel's special relationship with the United States pays off when it comes to foreign aid. The Jewish state has long been a top recipient of foreign aid, receiving nearly $3.1 billion in 2012.
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images) 

Approximately $50 billion of our money goes to foreign aid annually. The list of countries that receive that money is baffling, including dictatorships and nations with deplorable human rights histories.
So I ask you, couldn’t this money help homeless people and starving children in our own country, right across the street from the mall we shop at, mere blocks from our sports arena, right down our street and in our own back yard? Shouldn’t it? 


In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “That’s all I got to say about that.”
Enjoy the game.
Your editor.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Team Work.

One week before the biggest football game in the United States, I want to talk about something that’s on all the players’ and fans’ minds. I promise to keep it short.

 Let me first say that I have never been a huge sports fan. Perhaps that’s because I was never a very coordinated child, and always got picked
last for teams. I tried my hardest to be a good athlete, but it just isn’t in my make up. I don’t have a competitive bone in my body. I do not comprehend violence. Also, I abhor pain. 

So early on I became the kind of person who enjoyed solo activities over those involving a group.

As life went on, however, I discovered that there are just some things one cannot accomplish alone.

A perfect example is my victory over homelessness. It took several people to accomplish that. I could not have done it on my won. I tried for several years, and failed in frustration. I am thankful every day for those who recognized my sincerity and effort and did their part to get me housed and safe.

Still, these fine folks were from several different, separate agencies. In some cases it took several years to accomplish each singular goal necessary to provide me with the help I needed.

I often wonder if the processes required to accomplish my reintegration might have been expedited by the consolidation, co-communication, and better cooperation between these individuals, and the their respective teams.

We eschew Big Government bureaucracy. We revile the loners in society. We regale our professional sports teams. Yet we often fail to work together, although our goals are closely related or identical. In recent months, I have reached out in my advocacy role to team up with other people and organizations, only to be met with suspicion or silence.

However, recently I have been blessed to be involved in some mutual efforts that are making a great difference. together, we are achieving our common goals of helping people. That feels great.

It is often hard to set aside our personal agenda and ego. Some of us have different ideas about how to reach the same finish line. We are human individuals and that is to be expected. With the various cultures, beliefs, opinions, and languages in our world it often amazes me that anyone can agree on anything whatsoever.

But we can. and when we do, we accomplish more. We help more people. We make a bigger, better change.

Hope your team wins.

Your Editor

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

A Unique Channel

I volunteer a lot. I volunteer a lot because I care. I care because I have been there. On the street, homeless, in shelters and missions, eating at soup kitchens and parks and under overpasses, sleeping in those same parks and under those same overpasses, or in abandoned buildings, parking garages, under bridges next to rivers, in dark alleys behind dumpsters, or in hotels with seedy characters whose main concern was not, shall we just say solely confined to my general welfare. 

Anything I can do for anyone to ease the pain and torment of such an existence I will do. I don’t want anyone to suffer one day more the agony and destitution of homelessness.
So, like I said, I volunteer a lot. Lacking any impressive letters after my name it’s about the only thing I can do. It’s very important to me, and I take it very seriously, just as I would any paying job. 

My major volunteer gig is with a local free clinic for homeless people. I am the Vice Chair of their Consumer Advisory Board. This is our Mission Statement.

“The ___ Clinic Consumer Advisory Board (CAB)  is a community-based team which communicates the concerns of the homeless population to the _____ Clinic Board of Directors and clinic management. Our purpose is to improve the quality of healthcare for the homeless population in the Greater______ City area.” 

All of us on this board are formerly homeless men and women. We have to answer to some pretty important folks with an incredible vision for what they want this clinic to be. Let me tell you, they have done an incredible job. We have added several wellness, self-help, and mental health programs to give our clients a more rounded style of care. We just remodeled, doubled in size and added a four-chair dental clinic. We have a mobile outreach team that visit those sleeping rough at their campsites. 

There is also a pharmacy in our facility to provide crucial medications on site for no cost. 

More importantly, we are tasked with providing accurate information to those homeless people to whom we reach out concerning healthcare services at our clinic, and must properly handle any concerns and complaints of those who have been served by our clinic. This is rarely easy.

We set up outreach tables at community events and in community buildings, such as libraries. We hand out snacks and socks and hats and gloves and pamphlets and smiles.

The most important thing we do is listen. We listen to people’s stories. we listen to their woes and complaints. We listen to their pain. we listen to them tell us how we can better help them.We share our stories and woes and pain with them. We pray this gives them hope and helps them realize that a lot of people want to help them.

Our similar shared experience gives us a unique channel through which to reach homeless people.

We do this at the request of, and with the blessings from, the medical professionals and administrators and staff—many of whom are also volunteers—that have to try and make a great number of sick folks feel better every day in a very frantic, frequently frustrating, and occasionally even hostile, environment.

But rarely as frantic, frustrating, or hostile as what our homeless friends deal with day in and day out.

Widespread rejection, harassment, and violence by the public, the police, and at the hands of fellow homeless people, exposure to harsh elements, struggles with addiction and severe mental illness, hunger, unemployment, and poverty are part of the everyday struggles of homeless people.

Every compassionate individual that makes up this Consumer Advisory Board on which I have the privilege to serve have experienced, confronted, and overcome one or more of these obstacles and survived to a better life.

We hope that message reaches as many as we are able to share it with and that it gives them enough hope to never surrender.

Hope is what homeless people need more than almost anything else. We are proud to have the opportunity to try to give it to them.

Stay safe; Stay alive; Stay hopeful, my friends.
We survived and so can you.
Let us know how we can help you.

Your editor


Shelter in Salt lake City:
The Road Home 
Rescue Mission of Salt Lake City


National Consumer Advisory Board

The Rio Grande Report ™ on Facebook 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Triumphant Return?

You may have noticed—or not—the absence of any new posts here for quite some time. 

Well, stop fretting, as your original editor has decided to resurrect The Rio Grande Report, with a new look, the same good writing and information, added pages for pictures and events and breaking bulletins.

As always, I welcome your comments on the weekly posts, as well as the bulletins, and any questions on events or other matters.

Over the years, I have striven to improve the look, layout and content of this blog. Your suggestions and criticisms are welcome as well. 

So let's continue our journey of information, education, and dedication to advocacy for homeless men, women, children, and families in the Salt Lake City region. I ask all of you for your own unique contributions to make The Rio Grande Report one of the most read, shared, and all-round well-received blogs on the internet.

Thank You

Your editor

The Rio Grande Report Facebook Page

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Political Responsibility, Salt Lake Street News, Police Harrasment

Greetings readers and homeless friends:

Had a great time volunteering at the Salt Lake City Farmer's Market for the Democratic Party. Registered some people to vote, distributed a lot of lawn signs and bumper stickers and literature. I never pass up a chance to do my civic duty, and neither should you. After all, we get the government we support and vote for. I want to encourage every one to get involved this year at any level you can. Most important of all, register and vote.

Volunteering is also a great opportunity to bend the ears of the candidates toward your pet issues. Click the links at the end of the blog to see who you'd like to support.

One disturbing incident: as I was leaving and walking through the market, I encountered a couple of police officers (Officers Lovell and Sitwell, namely) harassing a man in a wheel chair who had no shoes and was carrying a sign claiming to be a veteran. I guess things haven't changed much, unfortunately, since I was homeless down in  the Rio Grande neighborhood. Homeless people are the sole targets of the police down there, and can do nothing right. They are harassed and vilified simply because they exist.

Come to find out, these officers are not even on duty, they are paid privately for market security.

Chief Burbank, what gives? Are people who are homeless or perceived to be homeless unwelcome at public events? 

If this type of activity concerns and disturbs you as much as it does me, contact  Salt Lake City Police here and tell them.

Here is an important and informative event being put on by KCPW and 4th Street Clinic:

Lastly, thanks to the vendor of Salt Lake Street News who was on the corner informing the public and making some pocket money. It's good to see this publication is still around, helping homeless people become more self-sufficient. When you see a vendor on the street, give up a buck to help them out.

Just a few issues and items I wanted to bring to attention. Until next time, enjoy the cooler weather, support and stand up for your rights, speak out and be visible, and try to avoid the predatory cops in the 'hood. 

-your editor

If you would like your issues, efforts, and organizations to help the homeless featured here, e-mail to

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Veterans and the Fourth

The people who brought us to July 4, 1776 were like you and I. They had families and homes to protect. They were farmers, blacksmiths, shop keepers. They were every day working people who were being oppressed and taxed to death.

Today's military is a little different. Seems our government has forgotten what it's like to have one's country occupied by a foreign force. Still basically, it's the same every day people who fight for what they believe in, and one can't fault that. Unfortunately, they don't always receive the support and respect they deserve. Tens of thousands of veterans (a low estimate by my experience) are homeless on any given night in the United States. These are people whose lives were disrupted, by choice or not, to go to war. Unfortunately, their lives were not returned to them, and our government often hasn't helped and supported like it should.

No one who has fought for the principles of our nation should be bereft of home and family. When you see a homeless vet today, thank them, and help them if you can. Many veterans live with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and the constant barrage of explosions we will experience today is especially frightening and stressful for them. That's something I'd never considered before. You?

This Independence Day, remember those citizen warriors who freed of from tyranny, hope for peace and be safe.

-your editor