Day 34 & 35: Detained & Jesus: 40 Days of Haven: Reflection

The first night under the bridge was an intense one. (You can recap Part 1 & 2 here.) But just when I thought a cigarette kept me from getting beat up…things got even worse. As I wrote yesterday, I remember each minute of this evening and night.

After we got to sleep under the bridge by Interstate 10, we thought we were good and could relax. The woman abused was cared for at the hospital, we avoided a fight, and found our friends! Now off to sleep. However, we were not expecting what was in store early the next morning.

That next morning all the homeless sleeping by I-10 were detained by police. We were aggressively woken by police and treated very rudely. Some were arrested and some let go. I learned later from Haven for Hope outreach workers that Haven would work with police to show them encampments so they could force attendance to their shelter. I hope this practice has stopped but it was disappointing to learn. Haven, at the time, made money from grants for each client served so it was financially beneficial for outreach workers to scout, work with police to detain the homeless, and then offer Haven verses going to jail.

Again, I know Haven has made great changes and has done more than most to help the unhoused community. I really believe their current leadership are great people with amazing attention. However, if I am honest, I too have been guilty of misunderstanding our own mission and taken advantage of a good cause. I have wrongly believed that grants and fundraising are more important than our clients. I have been that guy and work to learn, listen and repent.

During this Holy Week it’s important to remember that Jesus was homeless the last three years of his life and ministry. He too was arrested on trumped up charges that were financially beneficial to some.

Please reflect on these posts from 2012 this Holy Thursday night:

Detained: Posted on : (Bridge Night #1, Part 3)

Small Change!

It’s amazing how something as simple as a smoke…can change someone’s attitude from rage and aggressive to calm and relaxed.

The night continued….

After meeting my new friends, we searched for Georgia and Jesse. We went under the bridge and could not find them. Cowboy told me that they were most likely sleeping between the two highways (in the center median) where many plants and bushes have been planted along Interstate 10. If the weather is nice…many homeless citizens sleep in between the highways in the bushes.

I called out for Georgia and Jesse and eventually found Jesse in a patch of bushes laying in his sleeping bag. (Georgia was out with his wife….who lives in a shelter near by…) Jesse allowed me to lay my bag in this area…and fall asleep. But first, I had to find something to lay on. After searching the area….I found a piece of flat styrofoam and torn tent material to lay my sleeping bag on so it would remain fairly clean and dry during the night.

I laid down in the bushes, between the highways…about 5 feet from the westbound traffic and a bridge wall. Cars and trucks were passing by constantly. It was loud…but not nearly as painful as the train horns…I could get used to the sound of the cars passing by…it was soothing in a strange way. Despite the location, it was very private. Hopefully, I would be safe from the traffic!

After laying down for a while, Jesse told me he could not sleep…so we walked around together and talked about life. I gave him a smoke. He showed me more places to stay near or under the city bridges….and after a while…we got tired, returned to our spot, and went to sleep.

The ground was hard. I had very little padding. Throughout the night my side or arm would go numb due to the hardness of the ground beneath my body. But for the most part, it was a good night sleep compared to the outdoor shelter. I could sleep as late as I wanted…and not be disturbed by an authority in the morning telling me what to do…

I was wrong.
I would get to know another type of authority that is not the staff at the outdoor shelter.

Around 7:50am…I was awakened by a boot nudging my sleeping bag and a man yelling… “Wake up…everyone up…Wake up…everyone up.”

At first, I thought is was Georgia playing a joke on us. He is known to pull pranks on his friends…but as I looked up…it was not Georgia…but 3 police officers in uniform, shorts, and boots. They were not happy to see us…

“Get up…stand up…let me see some ID,” they asked.

I was tired…and moving slowly. It was slightly confusing…but the cops didn’t care. They wanted us up and moving. I thought it might be a dream….but the cold air made it a reality. He kept telling me to move faster….and I told him “I’m moving as fast as I can…”

I got up…showed my ID to my officer, and he pulled me aside and searched my bag. He did not have a warrant…but all he found was a flashlight, underwear, toothbrush, Bible, and a pack of cigarettes. The bag was “clean.” (except the underwear) But the cop found one more thing….

My iPhone.

The cop asked me why I had an iPhone as I unlocked it and told him I owned it. He was confused. He asked me, “You can afford an iPhone?…..how?”

“I have a job” I said.

“Where do you work?” he questioned me more…

“I work at a local church near downtown…” I responded.

He was shocked and asked me if I was doing this as ministry….I said to him…”I guess you could say that.” Then the cop took my ID and got my SS# and took it to the make shift command under the bridge where the other cop cars were. The cops were a mixture of bicycle cops (the one’s who grabbed us out of the area along the highway) and patrol cars (the one’s gathering info).

Another cop escorted us out of the bushes and made us stand along the wall….in a line….and wait to be called over to the police car (or interviewed by the main officer).

Here is the strange thing that I did not notice the night before….there were more homeless people sleeping in the bushes (near or under the bridge) than I thought— about 30 in my area. (The police raided the entire I-10 stretch that morning…along with some other smaller bridges…many of my friends got detained by the police that morning.) At my spot, it was like the baseball players coming out of the corn fields in the movie Field of Dreams. (Check out the photo.)

We waited by the wall for quite sometime. One by one we were questioned and given a warning for trespassing. Some people in the bushes were in more trouble than others…(drug use, etc.) …although I saw no one arrested and taken away to jail.

Most of my friends gave the cops fake names and SS#’s because they refused to be searched without a warrant. I gave the cops my ID because they saw my wallet in the sleeping bag…and I had little fear of my police record. The cops took your information and placed you on a city list that shows you have been detained and been given a warning for trespassing. (Although there are no signs and information stating this.)

Trespassing is the crime. It does not hold much water in court. However, many of the homeless cannot afford good lawyers to help them fight the vagueness of the ordinance.

I asked an officer “Who owns the bridge?”….and the cop told me….”The State of Texas.”
I thought that was a funny response. I even chuckled at their reasoning of ownership. They also told me “vagrants, the homeless, and bums” cause many problems in this community. It seems so simple….but it’s not. I wanted to tell the cops that their names were actually Georgia, Jesse, Blake, William, Robert, Jackson, Bolton, and Samantha….but I use the same language too. We all do. Dang you, hypocrisy!

Nevertheless, it begs us to question this idea: When we talk about “issues of the streets”….we are talking about problems beyond just homelessness…there are gangs, basic criminals, mailmen, and teenagers on that list too. Most of these citizens have actual homes. They are not always homeless…But who takes most of the heat?

Most of these homeless are just trying to find a place to sleep…with freedom.

They pulled me aside and asked me more about where I lived….(They saw on my ID that I lived only a few blocks away). I don’t know if they believed it…but I was not too concerned about what they thought. I was telling the truth.

After they put me on the “black list,” I was told to pack my things and walk back to the outdoor shelter that is run by the city. I began to wonder…”Was that the main reason for the raid….to get us back in the shelter? Where they can control our actions?

It’s a complex issue.

The cops were tough…but they had grace. Nobody got into too much trouble. (Nevertheless, many of my homeless friends have a much stronger opinion about the matter.) They have good points…but I am still discerning the event that took place Tuesday morning by the I-10 bridge.

If there is a next time…I will be arrested or given a ticket and made to go to court.

Now, off to church…as a pastor working in the same neighborhood where the bridge exists.
End of first night under the bridge.

(This issue has been hard to write about…and has taken me a week to put down on paper. And I will most likely make adaptations to it throughout the next few days. This problem of homelessness in cities is multifaceted… Both sides of the argument have good points.

Position A. Homelessness is annoying, unclean, and possibly dangerous. It leads to other civil problems and creates issues for local businesses and tourism. It is not a good “image” for the city. It also is attached to drugs, alcohol, and sex….(but so is High School…but we still have that!)

Position B. Making homelessness a crime on public land goes against basic freedom and liberty. It can be unlawfully inforced and people can be prosecuted with no means to hire good lawyers.

Position C. Is there a more creative way to use the Gospel to handle both A & B?

Questions….please don’t be afraid to post your opinion…. I won’t get my feelings hurt!

I want to hear from YOU! So comment now!!!!!

Main Qurstion ***Why do you think many of the homeless choose to live under bridges or in other places around the city streets?***

1. What do you think of the trespassing law….and how Texas is the “owner” of the land?
2. Why do you think the police are enforcing the “law?” Should they in this way?
3. Why do the police wait until the morning to detain the homeless vs the night before?
4. How has homelessness affected your neighborhood, place of business, and church?
5. Can the police search my bag without a warrent?
6. How do we often direct and control “vagrancy” in our cities?
7. Do you believe the city creates stricter laws if there are non-profits in the city (that reach out to homeless) so they can advance their agenda of redirecting homeless behavior?

Ezekiel 22:29-31: Posted on 

The people of the land have used oppression, and exercised robbery, and have vexed the poor and needy: yea, they have oppressed the stranger wrongfully. And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none. Therefore have I poured out mine indignation upon them; I have consumed them with the fire of my wrath: their own way have I recompensed upon their heads, saith the Lord God.”

Jesus: Posted on 

Matthew 8:20–“But Jesus said to him: “Foxes have dens and birds of heaven have roosts, but the Son of man has nowhere to lay down his head.’”

Jesus was homeless. At least for three years he had no “home” to speak of… He traveled a lot. Gleaned food from farms and spoke kindly of the poor.

Jesus was homeless.

It was not because he was lazy, mentally ill, crazy, or criminal… He had a calling. To give it all up! To become a man. To experience life with us, who are the lowest of the low compared to his own divinity. Born not in a home…or inn…but a stable.

God became homeless.

Jesus had 12 guys follow him around the land with no real place to lay their heads. These 12 were not the best students in town…but more like the worst. They were Fisherman who could not even cast nets properly….A Tax Collector nobody liked…a zealot…common workers…and a traitor.

They all gave up their jobs (and families) to follow Jesus. They became homeless to follow our Lord… To experience life together… they remained homeless until death. There was no earthly end to their lent. Most, if not all, died as Martyrs.

They should have written a book about it.

Seriously, how would we treat Jesus today? Where would he sleep? Where would he glean? How would he be arrested? Who would get mad at him? Who would come to his aid?

Matthew 25:34-35 “Then the King will say to those at His right, ‘Come, my Father’s blessed ones, receive your inheritance of the Kingdom which has been divinely intended for you ever since the creation of the world. For when I was hungry, you gave me food; when I was thirsty, you gave me drink; when I was homeless, you gave me a welcome.’”

He reminded us to be doers of the Word and not hearers only. There is a church who allow people to live in it… now that is hearing and then doing.

My church leaders always say our large building “sits begging” for use most nights. How about allowing people to sleep there who are in need?

There’s tons of space…That goes begging.

Leviticus 19:9-10 “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the LORD your God.”

Matthew 12:1 “At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them…”

How do we, like the farmers, as blessed people recognize what is enough and give back the remainder?

We need to make more room.
Not create less space.

It’s all God’s anyway.

We need to follow Christ.
Not just know about Him.

We need to experience life together…
Even if that means becoming homeless.

Abuse, Lucky Strike, and a Phone: Days 31-33: 40 Days of Haven: Reflection:

The below reflections from 2012 come from a stretch of nights that were very intense. I remember like it was yesterday. People who are experiencing homeless and living on the streets are extremely vulnerable and face constant abuse, violence and intimidation. The post “Abuse” from 2012 is one of a two part series that ecompasses some of my first days transitioning from life in the shelter and more on the streets of San Antonio.

As a wrote earlier, I am spending the nights of Holy Week 2022 away from my home and reconnecting with the unhoused and marginalized communities. On the third night, I spent some time reconnecting with my good friends Neville and Joe.

Last night, we all met up at Corazon’s weekly recovery circle at Travis Park Church and had dinner. After dinner, I hung out with Neville to catch up and watch a movie we been planning to watch together. Neville has been a client who has seen great transformation with the help from outreach workers from CAM, Corazon, and SAMM. Our original hope was to help Neville return to his home country of Zimbabwe, but his plans were altered after COVID-19 changes in Africa and Neville’s ability to find shelter at a SAMM shelter. Now, Neville is off the street and living safely inside a comfortable room. I will write more about Neville in the weeks to come.

After spending some time with Neville, I walked over to the Riverwalk and found my friend Joe. Joe currently lives on the streets of San Antonio. He is an active member of our Alamo City Street Choir that meets at Corazon and plays a mean trumpet! He is also an active client in our recovery circle and small groups. Joe is a very loyal man who has a big heart but struggles with addiction. His addictions, like many of our clients, keeps him from proper services and programs. Joe has been on the streets since 2012 (the same year as my 2012 lenten journey – ten years ago). He was 34 when he landed on the streets and has been stuck in a repetitive cycle ever since.

Last night he showed me all the places he stays downtown and we eventually found a spot to sleep near the River. After laying our stuff down, we spent many hours talking about life, addiction, faith, and our families. He told me jokes and made me laugh all night. More seriously, we also spoke about the gaps in the homeless response system and how the system is often set up to fail clients like Joe due to the lack of funding for proper treatment, detox, and recovery. As a non-proft provider, I must do a better job finding the care that will work for people like Joe. He a treasurer in our community and we should cherish his presence and gifts. He is a divine image of God. I have full confidence that he can be transformed if the system was set up in the right way. We have lots of work to do!

Please reflect on these posts from 2012 and remember the difficulties our friends face living on the streets: The old post below may trigger some. It still triggers me to read. I often wonder about Christi and where she is right now. Is she in danger? Is she alive? Is she still on the streets? Im afraid one if not all those things can still be true.

We must get better.


Abuse: Posted on : (Bridge Night #1, Part 1)

Since returning back from my youth retreat, and during the second part of my journey, I have slept more “on the streets” rather than staying at the outdoor shelter. After weeks at the shelter, I have made really good friends around town…learning from their experiences has made me more educated about the street life and they taught me how to manage my time and decisions.

Life away from the shelter has been a nice change…but also a challenge. The streets are much more difficult to manage and personally control, but the increased freedom is nice. (Although there are limitations to that freedom and liberty depending on city ordinances.)

I have stayed in sheds, barns, and campsites, but until last Monday, I have not fully slept under a city bridge. I needed to experience this for multiple reasons.

After I finished Edison Young Life Club on the South Side of San Antonio, I planned on finding some of my friends who sleep under a bridge near a city park. Sleeping with friends is much safer and informative…

My plan was to walk through the park (near the bridges) around 9:15pm, find my friends, and learn where to stay. In the end, if I could not find them…I would keep walking to the outdoor shelter and make it in before curfew at 10pm.

A full proof plan. Now I had to enact that plan.

I arrived at the park at 9:30pm after checking out a few bridges around the area. No sign of Georgia and my friends.

I had a choice… Go through the park to get to the outdoor shelter or take the main road. (Both ways were paths my friends took before…it was a 50/50 chance to find them.)

Something told me to go into the park…and turn left…so I did.

100 yards into the park, I saw two shadowy figures, who could have been my friends, sitting on a park bench. As I got closer, I realized it was a random boyfriend talking with his girlfriend…but they were not talking…they were arguing.

In fact, they were arguing a lot.

The arguing increased to verbal fighting and right before I could move any closer…the boyfriend spat in the face of his girlfriend and walked away yelling and screaming.

I was frozen. (This all happened within seconds) I said to her silently, “Please don’t chase him or provoke him even more,” but immediately she ran to him, pushed him from behind, and he fell to the ground. Just as I started to get closer to step in…he got up and started punching her multiple times and hitting her over the head with a bottle.

It happened that quickly.

My mind was racing…but all of the sudden I found myself charging the dude and getting ready to take him out.  I kept yelling… “Back off!”

Mind you, I never have been in a fight.
Not even growing up.  When I was a kids, I always hated play fighting or wrestling….I was the kid who always got hurt.
But tonight, I was ready to go!

Come what may.

Before I could reach him and take him down…he ran away.

I was surprised. Even impressed.
I am not that intimidating.

However, I should not be flattered.
Most abusive men are cowards.
He was a coward. No room to take on another man…just the woman.

When I approached her, she was crying and badly beaten. I said to her, “you are safe now, you can trust me…I am safe.”

Now, my statement made sense to me…I knew I would not hurt her. Nevertheless, as you might guess, she was not too sure about me…and I don’t blame her.

After some time talking…I told her I was a pastor. “You are?” she asked back.

“Yep, I know it’s crazy…but I really am….and I can help you.”

“That means you were suppose to be right here at this very moment.” she replied.

“That’s what I am afraid of,” I said back in totally honesty, “let’s get you some help.”

She was bleeding from the head quite badly. There was a lot of blood. She was also getting dizzy. So I helped her to the main street and had her sit by a tree.

She debated going to the hospital or to a women’s shelter. It was her choice. I told her I would do exactly want she wanted and sought to find the safest option.  But she was hesitant to receive any official help from a shelter or a hospital.  She was afraid they would ask more questions at the hospital and get her boyfriend in trouble, but I said they will ask questions anywhere… ( I really didn’t know this…but I was assuming as much without knowing all the facts…)

She eventually chose the hospital. I called my friend Emily to pick us up and take us to the hospital. Emily was gracious and kind to help.  I had to pull out my iPhone to call her…and locate exactly where I was standing.   Randomly enough, my friends pulled up to me on their bikes to check out all the commotion.  They knew who the woman was…and her boyfriend….(actually common law husband they said)… They were gracious to help for a minute, comfort her, and help her get situated in my friends car.

(I was afraid they would be confused about my iPhone…but they have never mentioned it since….I guess it didn’t bother them I had a smartphone or a friend to call who has a nice car…)

Emily and I drove her to the closet hospital in downtown San Antonio.  As I checked her in at the ER…I realized the nurses had to assume I might be the abuser…it was an awkward feeling… I have never been treated like an abuser before…it was a strange feeling.  It made me think about the men who really treat women in such awful ways….

After a few minutes of observation, the nurses realized I was helping her and assisted her to the ER…so they became more accommodating to my presence.

As we were waiting for her doctor, she told me her life story.

Her name was Christi. She was born in Abilene, Texas. Her father beat her as a child and her mom taught her to sell, cook, and do meth as a teenager.  By 16, she had already been raped multiple times, grew accustomed to abusive boyfriends and family members, and learned how to live life on the streets to survive.  At 17, Christi left Abilene and began living on and off the streets in South Texas. The drug use intensified, the violence got worse, and she went to jail for cooking and selling Meth—-the trade her mother taught her back in Abilene.

My heart was breaking as she told me her story.
All I could do was listen and pray.

My mom was raised in Abilene, TX.  Christi and my mom went to the same high school. (Obviously years apart….)   My grandfather worked as a pastor and taught in the Bible Department at Abilene Christian University for decades.  I went to Abilene almost every year at Christmas and Summer breaks (staying at the Embassy Suites near the mall she would sell most of her drugs) to visit my mom’s parents.  I don’t know why I was surprised to hear she was from Abilene…but all I kept thinking about was my mom.  She is a woman too…

Also, it was not comforting to know that Christi would most likely go back to the same guy after all of this was over.   This broke my heart even more.  I wanted to control her decisions for her…. Sure, I was helping for now…but I could not change the entire situation.

The nurses checked her vitals, cleaned her wounds, and a few hours later discharged her back into the streets.  The Hospital cared for Christi well…but they have no authority over the abuse… so after the care was completed Emily took her to the indoor shelter where Christi stays most nights.

The time was 11:45pm.

Bad News.  I was way past my curfew…so I needed to get back and find my friends.  (They were nice enough to point out the general area where they would be sleeping under the bridge when they ran into me and Christi before we went to the hospital.)  I was glad Emily was there to take Christi back so I could find my place before the night got even later.

As I walked back to the park…I realized there was a good chance I could run into Christi’s boyfriend or common law husband.  So, I prepared for the worst.  I didn’t want to see him…but kicking his tail was an emotion that was real inside my soul.  It gets ugly out there.  Even for a passive pastor.

As I entered the park again (trying to get to the bridge where my friends sleep), I saw a man at the same park bench.  I hesitated, backtracked, and tried to discreetly take a different route…but before I could find another way….

The man screamed, “Hey you…yeah you…where the hell do you think your going!”

My heart stopped and I was preparing to get my butt kicked by this man.

Come to find out….my first night under the bridge was just getting started…..

I was in the thick of it now!

Lucky Strike: Posted on : (Bridge Night #1, Part 2)

The man screamed, “Hey you…yeah you…where the hell do you think your going!”

My heart stopped and I was preparing to get my butt kicked by this man.

Come to find out….my first night under the bridge was just getting started…..

I was in the thick of it now!

The man kept yelling at me to stop walking away from him.  At this point, I really was scared for my safety…so I kept walking away.  As I kept walking, he started to run…and for some reason…I didn’t run.   When I looked back, I realized there were more people there than just this man…four to be exact, 3 men, 1 woman.  They were all intent on talking to me…So, I turned around to face their questions.

As the man approached me, he said, “What were you doing coming into this area and sneaking around all suspicious-like…I have never seen you around here before.”  It was then I was almost certain it was not Christi’s boyfriend…but I was not 100% positive…

“Just looking for my friends, Georgia and Jesse” I said back calmly but certain. “They told me to meet them around here for the night…”

The man paused and believed me…”They sleep around here most nights…yes…but why were you looking into our area?”

“I thought you might be them just hanging at the park…and when I realized you were not them…I walked away…no worries man…I am not here to interrupt your night.” I responded while trying to stay cool and collected.

“My name is Cowboy” he aggressively stated. “I can be your best friend…or your worst nightmare…If you don’t cross me….I won’t cross you…I will even give you the shirt off my own back…I can be that good to you…but don’t you ever cross me…got that?  This is Jackson, Bolton, and Samantha…they are always here with me…making sure nobody causes trouble or interferes with our business…”

It felt like I was in a bad movie scene…but this conversation was real as can be…

Despite his lecture and my response, Cowboy still didn’t trust me…and was very forceful.  So, I resorted to my go to “trick of the trade” when I want to talk to someone I don’t know or calm someone down.

Cigarettes.

I have learned that if you offer someone on the streets a cigarette…they always accept and friendship can develop…and most of the time calm the person down.  It has worked many times for me over the past 38 days.

I know…it’s crazy.  I don’t even smoke…

A youth pastor passing out tobacco.  I might get fired!   Well…

I’m not that worried about what my church will think.  I work at a church that still allows it’s staff to smoke outside on campus.  There is even a large plastic cigarette container outside our youth ministry entrance for employees to take a smoke break.  I even went to a University and Divinity School that was funded by the largest tobacco estate in the nation.  Duke….who owned American Tobacco…  Mr. Duke and I helped fund one of the largest church movements in the nation!

Cigarettes cause major problems…and I find it disgusting.  They are also very expensive.  Most people on the street don’t buy Marlboro Reds…but they buy the cheap brands at the bottom of the gas station shelf.

After I passed out my cigarettes…small changes took place in our conversation.  The talk became calm and friendly.  After the break,  they helped me find my friends…and even said they would take me to Church Under the Bridge the next night to get some good food.

Small Change!

It’s amazing how something as simple as a smoke…can change someone’s attitude from rage to relaxed and calm.

The night continued….

Matthew 11:28-30: Posted on 

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”(The Message)

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (NIV)

iPhone: Posted on 

For the first three weeks of my Lenten journey of homelessness, I gave up my iPhone for a simple Go Phone. No data plan. No Internet. No google maps. No ESPN updates. No Facebook. No tweets.

The main reason I gave up my smartphone was for safety. I did not want to get jumped over a phone…. (However its amazing how many homeless people have Go Phones…even prepaid Smartphones.)

Giving up this idol was a much harder thing to do than I anticipated. I could not check Duke games. I could not find the VIA bus schedule online. I could not check my email away from work. It was like going to drug rehab…I was away from my usual fix!

I was very disconnected from my usual plug of information.

It amazing how our society is addicted to connectivity..To massive information…To data…To instant communication.

At first, I thought not having my phone would be less stressful…but not having it made me more stressed?

Why?

When I went on our youth groups Spring retreat to St. Louis, I needed my iPhone back so I could communicate properly with my church and parents. I even used it to drive around St. Louis.

I had my drug back. It felt amazing!
But…also sad. I was getting used to not emailing my work after working hours. It was beginning to become peaceful. That feeling was gone now. I had my iPhone back…back to the life of information overload.

When I returned to my journey 4 days later, I kept my phone. I needed to take photos and document some of my journey through live blogging. It has been really helpful. I got some amazing pictures and stories.

However, during Holy Week after Maundy Thursday I am limiting my iPhone use for the last days of my journey. I need to take a step back and fully reenter the disconnected life.

I don’t know…but Easter is just around the corner.


Back to 2022:
Here is a fun video of the Alamo Street Choir:

“Women” Day 14: 40 Days of Haven Reflection

For this reflection I have asked Claudia Delfin to write the reflection today. I felt it would be good to have one of the most amazing women I know write her own thoughts about my post in 2012.

Claudia Delfin, a transgender woman who’s an outreach worker at Corazon San Antonio has made it her mission to speak out against inequality, promote harm reduction, and support the unhoused. She’s been on major local news outlets and has a wonderful article about her El Paso/Jaurez work in American Oxford. In 2013, she was state outreach worker of the year for her work helping addicts find healing through harm reduction tactics, street outreach, peer support and treatment.

Learn more about her current work in San Antonio in a great article in the SA Report: “Claudia has been in recovery for more than a decade, has received numerous awards for her social work. ‘We use our motivational interview skills [that] we learn in recovery coach training, how to engage and encourage them to come out,” Delfin said, “because they … have a lot of trauma.”

Here is her reflection:


As I read the article “Women” written by Gavin Rogers, I related to the article in many ways. As a young trans woman, I had succumbed to violence by males in many settings. I also was physically abused by several men when I was in shelters.

My addiction led me to be homeless and I also prostituted to support myself financially and spent time in prison. I can fully empathize with the woman Gavin wrote about who covered the man with a blanket. I was very codependent and had unresolved trauma. The woman might have been hurt in many ways but she still had a lot of compassion to offer others. We can learn from her.

Claudia at her home in El Paso, with her two dogs, Duchess and Princess.
By: Reed Young, American Oxford “Humanity on the Street:

The article was written very realistically because women go through this abuse from men either verbal, physical, or mental. This can happen in shelters, in fancy homes, and on the streets. Violence against women happens in all social and economical levels.

At first read, the blog post may have words that seem to be stigmatizing such as “slut”, but the word gives me a clearer picture of the scenario and is used to show how most people treated her at the shelter. It’s not easy to live in that reality but one we must understand if we want to connect with her and her powerful story.

The statistics on women’s abuse by men was important to include!!! Even though this article was written ten tears ago, but the abuse of women is still ongoing.

Please reflect on Gavin’s 2012 reflection about his experience in the San Antonio shelter and try to stand in the shoes of these women who find themselves trapped in a system that is hard to escape. However, I know there is great hope if we continue to lift up their voices and stand with women who are in need of support, care, and compassion. -Claudia Delfin

“Women” March 8, 2012

Since I began my blog I have only written about my interactions with the men I have met in the homeless community. The outdoor sleeping area is divided between men and women at night so its more common for me to have longer conversations with the men. However, there are many women who stay in the outdoor shelter and have tremendous need.

When I arrived at the outdoor shelter on Tuesday evening there were cop cars surrounding the area.  It seemed strange…but not surprising because this is a bad part of town so I just quietly walked on by the cop cars and checked into the area.  Once I entered the gates women started buzzing about what just took place.

According to the sources…just before I arrived there was a woman arguing with another man outside the gates where many people gather to socialize (in both good and bad ways.)  The argument started small…then elevated to a fight…and then the woman was physically abused and hit in the face by the man.  I don’t really know what the fight was about.  It does not matter.  It was a tragic but all to common situation.

This was a strange night for me to confront this issue emotionally because I was just returning from Trinity University where I watched a play about women’s rights and issues all around the globe.  (Angela Tarango, a former Duke Ph.D student and T.A who is now a Professor of Religion at Trinity, starred in the play with her colleagues.)  Needless to say…women were on my mind.

Like the men in the shelter, the women come from all different ages, races, and backgrounds.  However, it seems to me that many of the women struggle with different problems than many of the men.   A major one being….abuse.

Physical Abuse
Sexual Abuse
Mental Abuse
Chemical Abuse
Unfortunately, it’s all here at the shelter.

I see it every night.

Violence.  There are women who are abused by men on a daily basis in and around the shelter.  They are talked down to by the men, yelled at, and commonly show signs of physical abuse.   You can see it in their eyes.  You can see it in their smile.  You can see it all over their body.  We can very easily write it off as just another issue on the streets.  But the problem is much bigger than “the streets.”  Violence against women happens at every economic level.  Historically, men have the upper hand over women due to the cultural and religious beliefs of many people.  The same applies on the streets.  The woman here are treated by the other homeless men as second class citizens.

Sex.  Prostitution is everywhere on the streets.  It is not uncommon to witness women selling their bodies as they make their rounds in and out of the sleeping area during the night.  Some cater to the men in and around the shelter…and some cater to business men or others who drive up to the area and pick them up on the side of the road.  The world’s oldest profession plays a huge part in the abuse of homeless women living on the streets.  It’s not always by total free choice.  Quite the opposite when it happens inside poverty.  One women I have befriended is one of these women.  She spends many of her nights at a motel downtown when she posts good business.  They guys here give her attention when they want her body for sex…but when that is not possible they treat her like dirt and call her a slut for acting the way she does.  It kills me.  It seems so one-sided.

In fact, she is a terrific woman.  She just needs to be loved by the right people in life.  The other day she found a cat and started to care for it.  And she wanted to show everyone her new pet!   When I ran into her she needed a rope to make a leash so we gathered up enough lanyards from our ID cards to make a leash.  It was fun.  I saw this practice done by others with pets in the area!

However my favorite story comes from my third night in the outdoor shelter about 2 weeks ago. One evening a women a I were sitting at a picnic bench inside the gates talking about life when a man came into the area completely drunk. As he made his way into the area he quickly passed out on the cement by our table. Quietly, without announcement or scene, she got up, grabbed and extra blanket from her mat and laid it on top of the man. Then jumped back into our conversation. Her quiet kindness blew me away. Why would she care for someone like that after all she has been through? It hit me…

For a moment she was able to focus on something other than sex.  For a moment she was able to participate in true love.  For a moment she was not a slut.

Jesus had many interactions with women.  Some not looked upon so kindly by others…
Read Luke 7:36-50 and John 8:1-11

The truth is shocking. According to the United Nations, one of every three women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime. “Although sources of violence may seem diverse, women’s responses sound tragically similar. Besides the pain and strength you will hear in their survival stories, the themes that resound across cultures and geographies are of the indifference of authorities, the familial instinct of denial, and the lack of public outrage about the violence that millions of women experience every day.”

The night the lady was abused outside the outdoor shelter, my friend Angela was helping raise money to help stop the violence against women.  The fight against women’s violence was born of the belief that until the above themes are addressed, these violations named and taken up by whole communities as an unacceptable desecration of human dignity, the violence will continue.

Go online and help fight against violence. There are many great organizations that help fight for women’s rights. Join one of them tonight.

“NAME” Day 10 & 11: 40 Days of Haven: Reflection

This blog post from 2012 is one I read the most when I give talks about homelessness. I often read it when someone asks me a common and predictable question after my talk. People in groups like Rotary or Lions service clubs or church outreach groups usually ask something like, “What can our group do to serve the homeless?” It’s an honest question. One I appreciate. Now, I think they expect me to answer like this, “It would be great for your group to come serve food or donate clothes at our center…” If said this, they can easily sign-up and check the project off the list. Please don’t get me wrong. All those things are good and sometimes needed. However, this kind of charity is easy and often duplicated by many great organizations.

What I usually say is that I would love for a group like Rotary to come cook, serve the food, but most importantly eat the food and join in conversation WITH our homeless guests. (Groups like that have tons of capable people with skills who could offer great advice to those we serve.) However, when I say this, the group usually just stares back at me. You see, serving food or giving money is easy but engaging and being vulnerable with another person, especially the homeless, is hard and often uncomfortable for many people. This is understandable but should challenge us to do more!

That is why it’s easier to hide behind giving money or serving in a kitchen line because it makes us feel good without having to make any real human connection during charity. Just think of the time when you encounter someone who might be homeless and asks you for money on the sidewalk. Most of the time it’s easier just to give them a coin instead of making real eye contact, spending time, or even worse, starting a conversation with them.

When we engage with someone in genuine conversation, we open ourselves up to be vulnerable with a disinherited stranger and possibility admitting we might share much more in common with that person. This encounter might lead us to feel responsible to help in larger ways. It often requires time and real effort so this frightens us.

That’s why I was so impressed with the church that served the meal at Haven on March 2, 2012. They had all types of volunteers who engaged with those who were homeless. Not only did they cook and serve amazing food (I found out later that they serve food that men from their church hunt for during hunting season) but they treated the homeless like their own family with dignity and respect. They asked for names. They made eye contact. And they were not afraid to be vulnerable and join in conversation WITH the homeless.

Serving someone a meal might treat a temporary need, but sharing in a meal and joining in conversation with the homeless can be transformative. Partaking equally in our common humanity can be life changing. (I will share more on this in the blogs to come but for now enjoy the original blog for Day 10 & 11 and the passages I reflected during those days of 2012.)

NAME: March 3, 2012
A good friend of mine, Bryan Fillette, came in from Houston to experience part of this Lenten journey with me for a few days.  Bryan is a smart man. (Not for living with me on the streets…but what he has accomplished before today.)  Bryan graduated with a 4.0 from LSU, attended Baylor Medical School for one year, then transferred to Duke University to attain a Divinity degree (that’s where I met him and we became roommates), and then he went back to Baylor Medical School to complete his M.D. in Psychiatry.  He is now both a Reverend and a Medical Doctor…and he allowed himself to experience life at the “lowest level.”

Bryan attends a church near the Houston Medical Center where he leads Sunday School and leads the efforts to provide assistance to the homeless near his church.  He calls it “Common Ground.”  I like that name.

When Bryan arrived at the outdoor shelter it was time for dinner.  Usually dinner is simple and you can only get one plate from the churches that provide the meals.  However this night was different.  Last night, River City Community Church (their website is www.reallife.org … I also like that name!) served us the dinner…and it was amazing.  First off, it was the first time in 8 days that I was greeted by the church volunteers in line before we were served and they asked me “What’s your name?” before we were seated. Let me type it again.

They asked me, “What’s your name?”

They cared enough to know my name…some random homeless person needing a place to eat.  They cared about the downtrodden, the addicts, the hookers, and the lonely.  For a moment, they look past the shaggy hair, torn clothes, and smelly bodies…and they see Jesus Christ.

They didn’t have to ask.  All the churches before didn’t find it neccessary to ask that question.  I bet they are all great churches…but River City Community Church got it right.  They saw the image of God in every single one of us.  The humanized homelessness.

It was the first time we also were allowed to have 2nd, 3rds, or even 4ths.  They brought that much food!  And did not hold back. They had ground beef, white rice, beans, pickles, jalepenos, bread, milk, tea, cheese, and juice. It was a banquet. It was a great banquet.

Last night the dining room had a different feel than the nights before.  The residents were laughing, hugging, sharing food, and praying for one another.  This might happen quite often here…but it was the first time I experienced that type of spirit in the outdoor shelter.

Maybe it was luck.
Maybe it was the weather.
Maybe is was the 2nds.
Or maybe it was the love River City Church had for everyone regardless of social status…how they dropped their fear of the homeless and saw in us the Image of God.

Maybe it was because they asked, “What’s your name?”

“NAME” Day 10 & 11: 40 Days of Haven: Reflection

Luke 14:15-24 (Posted on )

The Parable of the Great Banquet

When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests.  At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’

“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’

“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’

“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’

“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’

“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.  I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

Proverbs 3:24-26 (Posted on )

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.  Have no fear of sudden disaster or of ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being snared.”

Day 11: 46 Days!
The Second Sunday of Lent is here.  We are making our way to Gethsemane….and we have 35 more days to go.

35 days left…but its been 11 days?    FYI…the Lenten season is really 46 days long.  I keep forgetting that fact.   And did not remember till recently.  (Sundays are considered “mini-Easters” and the church does not include these days in the Lenten Calendar.  However, I have decided to include these days and will continue my fast.   I am leading a youth trip on a Discipleship Retreat  March 14-18 and I will be away from San Antonio…so I have 4 days to give.  However…we are riding a train…so it’s definitely not my home…  (www.puslestudents.com)

Having Bryan in town to witness part of the fast was great.  I hope he had a good time meeting my friends and learning more about homelessness in San Antonio.  Bryan told me to keep writing about my direct interactions and stories regardless of the image.  I told him I would…so this next week all I will write about is my direct interactions and journey.

It was 39 degrees last night…the coldest night yet.   But my sleeping bag keeps me warm.

Have a great Sunday!  -gavin

(NOTE: I was a Baptist at the time, and grew up Church of Christ, so I forgot Lent was longer than 40 Days but stayed longer to make up my misunderstanding!)


“SUITS” Day 5: 40 Days of Haven – Reflection

For the first few days of my journey, I stayed at an outdoor shelter called Prospects Courtyard (PCY) at Haven for Hope that has less rules than the indoor campus. (It has since moved fully indoors during the evenings for PCY guests.) At the time it was the only place one could find quick shelter if indoors shelters were full. The courtyard provides three meals a day, a mattress, showers, support, and blankets for guests.

I remember this day like it was yesterday. One of the first things that shocked me at the start of this journey was the misconceptions I had about homelessness and the diversity that exists in the community. Walking into the courtyard as a new person was like walking into a school cafeteria as a new student and not knowing where to sit because there are many social circles and groups.

For the first few nights I slept near a man who would wear a suit and go to work each morning. He was well spoken and had started a new job. After the original post below, I learned later that he was getting back on his feet and needed a place to sleep, shower, and wash clothes so he could gain enough money to pay off bills and find better options.

According to “Policy Advice” and other organizations the state of homelessness in America looked like this in or around 2021:

  • The number of homeless in the US is estimated at 552,830. (White House)
  • Approximately 17 people per 10,000 experience homelessness each day. (HUD)
  • 20% of homeless individuals are, in fact, kids. (HUD)
  • 42% of street children identify as LGBT. (Street Kids)
  • 39.8% of homeless persons are African-Americans. (Forbes)
  • 13% of homeless persons are of Hispanic origin. (Forbes)
  • 48% of homeless persons in the US are white. (Forbes)
  • 2.8% of homeless persons are Native American. (Forbes)
  • 61% of homeless persons are men and boys. (HUD)
  • 11% of homeless persons are veterans & 8% of homeless veterans are women. Stats suggest that 40% of single homeless men are veterans (Policy Advice & PBS)
  • 38.6% of sheltered homeless individuals are disabled. (National Law Center on Homelessness)
  • 25% of homeless people have mental illnesses. (PBS)
  • 38% of homeless people are alcohol dependent, and 26% are dependent on other harmful chemicals. (The National Coalition for the Homeless)
  • 58% of homeless individuals in Texas, California, and Florida entail youth, homelessness statistics from 2018 reveal. (AHAR)
  • Over 65% of the homeless population in America is in homeless shelters. (White House)
  • 58,000 students identified as homeless in 2013. (AC Online)
  • Only 30% of affordable housing is available to people with extremely low income. 25% of renters have extremely low income that can easily lead to homelessness. (National Law Center on Homelessness)
  • 23% of the US homeless population is chronically homeless. (PBS)
  • Every year, roughly 13,000 homeless people die in the US. (National Homeless)

The stats can vary year by year and change based on the current pandemic and economy, but the above stats hold weight and reveal the diversity that exists in the community. Yes, a good percentage of the unhoused deal with mental illness and drugs but its not the majority of people experiencing homelessness. Finding a solution takes a holistic approach.

Therefore, we need to drop our stereotypes that form bad policies, ineffective volunteering, and privileged charity. When this kind of misunderstanding takes place it often leads to more trauma and harm in our community. We must first see a common humanity in all people experiencing homelessness, realize the facts, and adjust our actions appropriately, and with compassion.

Below is my original post from 2012:


“SUITS” 2012 Original Post:
There is a “safe” outdoor area I stay most nights where many homeless people choose to find haven to sleep and rest.  When I started to stay there I was worried that I would stand out and look out of place.  (Are my clothes too nice?  Is my hair too short? etc…) However I was surprised to find out that fitting or blending in would be quite easy.

I really did not have to worry about looking homeless.

Come to find out there are people with nicer packs and sleeping bags than me.  There are people wearing nicer clothes than I have on.  There are men cleanly shaven and speak without stuttering.  There are women with styled hair and designer jeans.  

They are all not drunks, addicts, beggars, prostitutes, and criminals. What were these people doing here?  

A few night ago I was entering the homeless area and was walking behind a man wearing a suit, wool overcoat, dress shoes, and jewelry who was talking on his smartphone all “business like.”  I assumed he was a volunteer or visitor saying hello or helping a friend in need.  He was dressed way to nice to be sleeping outdoors.  “He has to be visiting” I assured myself. 

He was not.  He was staying the night just like me.
Maybe he is on a Lenten fast and writing a blog as well…but I imagine that’s not the case.  

Soon after he arrived…he took off his jacket, shoes, and tie right after grabbing his sleeping mat.  Then not five minutes later he quickly went right to sleep near a man with a long beard, broken shoes, and dirty clothes.  I wanted to capture the image…but I don’t have a camera.  Just a basic go phone.   

It appears this man has a job and one that requires a suit and smartphone.  (Many people who work and live here wear construction clothes, factory uniforms, and have a basic cell phone to use).  But I was surprised to see the suit…I was still in my stereotype.

Homelessness can happen to anyone.  It’s not just for people who refuse work or desire a life out on the streets.  Especially in this economy people who are not typically stereotyped as “homeless” have found themselves living on the streets or shelters as a last resort.  They are living day by day to make ends meet while still retaining some type of job.

But one that requires a suit?  I did not have that in my packing list.


Lent 2022
10 Years ago, I decided to live on the streets of San Antonio during the Lenten season to learn about homelessness in San Antonio and how I could better understand the community through acts of solidarity. I was a youth pastor at Trinity Baptist Church, and at the time, the congregation was grappling how to serve the unhoused population at their newly opened TriPoint Community Center. I had very little understanding of the realities of homelessness and wanted to better understand the community before I formed any opinion of services. Little did I know how formative the 40+ days would end up being for me!

The journey was not perfect but It was a life changing event that unexpectedly changed the direction of my life, ministry, and calling. I have the privilege of now looking back on those days, the relationships formed, and lessons learned from a much different perspective. I am going to post each daily “40 Days of Haven” blog post during lent unedited with only some slight name changes for clarity and then post a current reflection. (In 2012, I was still protecting some identities to respect their own story.)

I hope you enjoy, read with lots of grace and forgiveness, and reflect with me during this Lenten Season of 2022. -gavin

Stop Asian Hate: A dialogue with AAPI Voices

Join Myra Dumapias with Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders for Justice in San Antonio, Gina Ortiz Jones, student leader Kyle Huang, Kin Hui with Chinese American Citizens Alliance, and Becca Moyer DeFelice as we discuss the rise of AAPI Violence and the actions we can take to STOP the hate and SUPPORT our Asian American and Pacific Islander Community!

Pub Theology San Antonio is dialogue group that discusses faith, our community, and creating the common good. Hosted by reporter Jackie Wang (San Antonio Report) and Pastor Gavin Rogers (Travis Park Church) #stopasianhate

#stopasianhate

Pub Theology with Jen Hatmaker, Kimiya Denise Factory, and Dorian Williams

AUTHOR JEN HATMAKER, KIMIYA DENISE AND DR. DORIAN WILLIAMS WILL DISCUSS THE POWER OF LISTENING WHILE SUPPORTING RACIAL RECONCILIATION.

DreamWeek & Pub Theology Panel with Author Jen Hatmaker, Activist Kimiya Denise, and Rev. Dorian Williams. Hosts: Pastor Gavin Rogers & Bekah McNeel & Alex Bailey with Black Outside.Racial reconciliation is a matter of life or death in our nation and across the world; we can no longer accept the status quo and continue to divide and tacitly limit voices that have been marginalized and silenced in the past. We need to relearn how to listen and understand the invisible systems that support inequalities, create suffering, and deny human rights. Rather, we need to have an open dialogue—a process that starts with listening.

Pub Theology is a weekly dialogue group that meets to discuss faith, our community and creating the common good.

About Author Jen Hatmaker: Jen Hatmaker is the author of New York Times bestsellers For the Love and Fierce, Free, and Full of Fire, along with twelve other books. In addition to starring in the popular series My Big Family Renovation on HGTV, Jen also hosts the award-winning For the Love podcast, is the delighted curator of the Jen Hatmaker Book Club, and leader of a tightly knit online community where she reaches millions of people each week. Jen is a co-founder of Legacy Collective, a giving community that grants millions of dollars toward sustainable projects around the world. She is a mom to five kids and lives happily just outside Austin, Texas in a 1908 farmhouse with questionable plumbing. To learn more about Jen, visit www.jenhatmaker.com

About Dr. Dorian Williams: Dorian was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. After a short collegiate track career at UTSA where he was an all-conference track performer, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force and received his commission as the Air Force’s first black Aerospace Physiologist. Doctor Williams is currently the CEO/founder of ReachSA, Senior Pastor/founder at Texas Christian Fellowship-SA, Presiding Bishop/founder of UCMA, and Senior Manager of Learning and Development for the San Antonio Area Foundation. Additionally, he is the author of the international best seller, “Strategic Planning for Black Folk: Unleashing the Secret Weapon to Success!” Doc is co-leader of the SA Stronger Together movement for pastors against racism, he is a board member for Teach for America, and a board member of the San Antonio African American Museum. Brother Dorian also sits on the Black Leadership Council, chaired by State Representative Barbra Gervin-Hawkins.

About Kimiya Denise: Kimiya is a graduate of the University of Texas – San Antonio and the President/Executive Director and Community Activist for the Black Freedom Factory in San Antonio Texas. Black Freedom Factory exists to build a more racially and socially just society by cultivating racial equity across San Antonio through data-driven advocacy, mentorship programs for grassroots organizers, community outreach, anti-racism training, and consulting. She is also the Leader/Co-Founder of #ChangeRapeCulture which challenges Title IX policies regarding sexual misconduct and accurate survivor representation. Kimiya also fights for reproductive justice. Email info@blackfreedomfactory.org for more information.

Badass Women of San Antonio: Ending Family Violence w/ Judge Diaz and others!

Our third “Badass Women of San Antonio” series will feature SA Women who are taking on family violence head on through advocacy, policy and legislation.Panel: Judge Monique Diaz, Dr. Stacey Speedlin Gonzalez, and Patricia S. Castillo L.M.S.W., and others. Hosted by Reporter Bekah McNeel.

We are “striving to bring family violence to the forefront of policy and community discussions because we understand that it sadly affects an unacceptable number of individuals and families in Bexar County,” said Judge Diaz.

About Monique Diaz:Monique Diaz was born in San Antonio, Texas, where she and her two brothers were raised by their Puerto Rican mother and Dominican father. Monique successfully earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Along the way, she developed her passion for working with families and children. Monique focused her studies on early childhood education in low-income populations. In law school, Monique remained committed to serving families and children while working at the Child Support Division of the Attorney General’s Office, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is a judge of the Texas 150th District Court. Diaz assumed office on January 1, 2019. Diaz’s current term ends on December 31, 2022.

About Stacey Speedlin Gonzalez:Dr. Stacy Speedlin, Ph.D, LPC, LCDC, NCC- Clinical TeamStacy is a licensed professional counselor (LPC), a licensed chemical dependency counselor (LCDC) and a nationally credentialed counselor (NCC). She has a doctorate degree in counselor education and supervision and is a visiting professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Dr. Speedlin has worked in the field of addiction and mental health for over ten years, has presented at several national and state level conferences, and published several manuscripts on various topics pertaining to mental health.

About Patricia Castillo:Patricia has 35+ years of working to end violence against women and families. In 1990, she co-founded the P.E.A.C.E. Initiative (Putting an End to Abuse through Community Efforts) Initiative, a coalition of 48 agencies, organizations and individuals as well as the F.A.C.T. (Family Assistance Crisis Teams) Program based in San Antonio, Texas. Using collaboration and community organization she serves as an advocate, educator and technical assistance resource to civic, legal, medical, religious, activist, educational, human resource and media groups. She’s done casework at the Women’s Shelter and with inmate women and their families at the County Jail. She was the first social worker ever assigned to the police Sex Crimes Unit-Homicide Bureau.

Pub Theology with Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez

Pub Theology w/ Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez
Pub Theology is a weekly forum that talks about faith, our community, and creating the common good. Hosted by Pastor Gavin Rogers.

About our guest:
Judge Rosie Speedlin Gonzalez was born in Brownsville, Texas to a mother and father who instilled in her a love for both her culture and country. Her mother, Alicia Gonzalez, who recently passed away taught Rosie the importance of service to her community and the value of people in her life. After her father took ill, Rosie left her job as a Probation Officer in Austin, Texas to pursue her law degree at St. Mary’s University. Her mother requested that she pursue her education so they could access healthcare and resources for her father. (He died during her second year of law school.)Rosie graduated from St. Mary’s University with her law degree in 2001.

She practiced law for 16 years, becoming the only lawyer in South Texas to be certified as a Child Welfare Specialist by the National Association of Counsel for Children in her law career, she represented hundreds of children who reside in foster care or the CPS system. She mentored several new attorneys, who went on to develop successful law careers.Rosie had a solo practice, where she committed to hard work and service to her clients. Rosie loves the law. During this time, she also serves as one of Commissioner Kevin Wolff’s appointee to the Bexar County Small, Minority and Women Business Enterprise (SMWBE) Advisory Committee where she made significant contributions to ensuring that LGBT firms are now included in the county’s contracting policies and procedures.

Rosie took the bench this year as the presiding judge of Bexar County Court at Law No. 13. Her top three initiatives are as follows: 1) to create a drug court/ domestic violence specialty program that addresses the core issues that bring offenders into the courtroom; 2) to create a live feed into the courtroom which would allow victims to view the hearing without having to be physically present; and 3) to collaborate with UTSA’s Counseling Department to set up a therapeutic support for the victims of domestic violence. Rosie recognizes the lack of resources in the community of San Antonio for our most vulnerable citizens.Further, she is aware that the most dangerous places in our city can exist in the home. She has dedicated her time on the bench to addressing the needs for an ever-increasing problem in our city.

Badass Women of San Antonio: Birth Justice Panel

Our second “Badass Women of SA” series will host a panel of women in our community to discuss issues about Birth & Reproductive Justice. Hosted by Bekah Stolhandske McNeel and Erika Stiner.Our Current Panel:Dr. Erica Hernandez, Adrianne Ortega & Amanda R. Reyna

About our Panel:
Dr . Erica Hernandez is a chiropractor and birth doula who specializes in working with growing families. As a mom of 4 and a diverse birth history, she uses her platform to empower families on their birth journey. She plays an important role in helping them connect with themselves and the birth community.Adrianne Ortega, is reproductive acupuncturist and business owner of Alma Acupuncture. She specializes in Women’s Health/ Fertility, Pediatric, and Mental health issues. She supports birthing people with fertility, pregnancy/postpartum, and wellness needs. She also supports people with their fertility issues, IVF/IUI preparation, breech presentation, placenta previa, postpartum depression/anxiety, and other common issues during pregnancy/postpartum. She is the only female and bilingual fellow of ABORM (American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine) in San Antonio as well as our state of Texas.

Amanda R. Reyna is a co-owner and the managing partner of Journey to Motherhood, LLC – Doulas of San Antonio, a birth and postpartum doula collaborative in San Antonio, Texas. Her work includes providing evidence-based support for birthing people, including full-spectrum reproductive support, childbirth preparation and education, labor and postpartum care, and placenta encapsulation services. Amanda writes for Alamo City Moms and served on the storyboard of Texas Public Radio’s “Worth Repeating.”