I’ve met a new colleague, and his name is GW Rolle. (The G is for Gregory and W is for Warren, in case you’re curious.) GW and I are students together at Light Street Presbyterian Church in Federal Hill this week, learning skills and gaining tools to work with others, to bridge the chasm between “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be”.
It was not on GW’s radar, to be on Light Street this week. A pastor from St. Petersburg, FL, he happened to be in town, staying with his cousin on Eutaw Place, so he could attend a reception presented by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty https://www.nlchp.org/. Every year for almost 20 years now, the Center honors individuals who have led the way in their communities, taking a stand against the injustice of homelessness and poverty in our nation. This year’s honorees are Washington Redskins’ tight end Vernon Davis; U.S. Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey; Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP; and Juanita Rocha of Laredo, TX.
6 years ago GW received the same award Ms. Rocha received last Tuesday night: the McKinney-Vento Personal Achievement Award https://www.nlchp.org/mvawards, honoring an individual who has experienced homelessness and is working to improve the lives of those still suffering its injustice.
GW is on a holy mission, to end homelessness in his and other communities. In his own words:
If left to define myself, I am a soldier and a philosopher.
I am a soldier because after close to five years homeless on the streets of St Petersburg, I am in a war to defeat homelessness and snatch back the right to define myself from the powers that be.
Time and solitude create a philosopher.
Pre-homeless, I thought I had plenty of time.
When my house burned, I didn’t figure I’d be out there long. Four weeks, two paychecks. So certain was I of this I took a cab to homelessness.
In rapid succession I lost my clothes, my money, my job- I lost a novel I had been writing for three years. I lost everything that connected me to life in a house. I was left with plenty of time and solitude.
I am a philosopher …
We now have the technology where if someone gets the first four digits of your social security number, they can tell you when your mother ate her first bowl of oats.
But there are still four to six times as many animal shelters in this country as there are shelters for human beings.
Technologically, the internet has made this world a neighborhood.
But humanly, as Martin Luther King sadly noted, we still have not made this world a brotherhood.
When a telescope that can see into infinity breaks, we can send mechanics into infinity to fix it.
But we still can’t see on any given night, the 800,000 homeless men and women and children- a quarter of which are veterans … seeking shelter from that same infinity …
Involuntary homelessness can be ended tomorrow. It is just an attitude adjustment away.
As a soldier and a philosopher in closing, I’d like to quote Walt Kelly’s Pogo. “I have seen the enemy, and he is us”.
GW is recruiting powerful allies, to fight alongside him to victory.
Will you be one?