Friday, March 7, 2014
Posted by NIEVES TV at 3:32 PM
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Posted by NIEVES TV at 2:09 AM
Friday, February 28, 2014
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Posted by NIEVES TV at 4:00 PM
Saturday, February 15, 2014
My name is Anthony Nieves and in 2014 I decided to do a homeless project. My homeless project would consist of going only 2.7 miles from my home, to Tent City in Lakewood, New Jersey. With the help of others I was able to donate food, clothing and my time to help. I frequently drive down Cedar Bridge Avenue and would always think to myself , how people could possibly complain about their lives when there are others less fortunate that don't have anything at all that are living in the woods. America is often regarded as the land of plenty, and yet hunger is still an issue that affects millions of Americans every year. I believe that before we help other countries we should take care of our own first. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, over 640,000 people experience homelessness on any given night in the U.S.
It all began in 2005 with a handful of homeless people from this area trying to find shelter with the assistance of Minister Steve Brigham. On Wednesday, February 12, 2014 I visited Lakewood's Tent City. As soon as I arrived, I was immediately greeted by Minister Steve and some of the residents of the camp. As they were helping me unload the donations, I explained why I was there and what my intentions were. Not only did I want to give back, I wanted to get an idea of what life was like for these people. I got the chance to speak to a handful of them and hear their stories. Before I asked them if they would like to share their stories, I asked each one of them what else I could do that would be beneficial to them. I made it a point to go back and show them that I am a man of my word and got each of them the specific things they had asked for. Some of the things they requested were boxers, socks, phone cards, batteries, mouth wash, tooth paste, and flash lights to see at night. To most people these things are basic everyday necessities that we take for granted. I asked each of them for permission to take their photograph and to write about them to raise awareness.
Although there was a language barrier between Antonio Rodriguez and I, as he was going through clothing donations, he explained to Candido, who then translated to me that Antonio was thrown to the streets because he had no money and lost his job, so coming to Tent City was his last resort.
Candido was the first person I had a conversation with at Tent City. After introducing myself I asked Candido if he would like to share his story with me. As we were walking he explained that he was here due to drugs and alcohol, he lost everything. Thankfully Candido has been clean for five months but has no work to support himself. He has two children, one is 19 and the other is 24. As we were conversing he told me that he was recently stabbed 2 times. "I need help somehow, my mother is deceased and I have no father" he said. I only talked to him for 5 minutes yet I could sense I was talking to someone, who deep down was a great person in a unfortunate situation. When the wood is wet from the rain or snow, or when he is out of duraflame, Candido's last resort is burning clothing to stay warm during the winter nights. Sadly he feels lonely and depressed at times. My wish for him is to get back on his feet and be able to live the life I know he wants. I will continue to keep in contact with Candido to make sure he is doing well and keeping high spirits.
I approached Paul as he was looking for something to eat. It was heartbreaking to see someone choose their meal off of a table that was outside in the woods that was covered in dirt and snow, for the first time. At first he was hesitant to speak with me but soon after he opened up a lot to me. Paul was born in Point Pleasant, New Jersey but spent most of his life living in North Jersey. He worked in the stock market in Manhattan, New York. In 2009 the company he worked for was bought out and ever since he has been homeless. He receives money from the state to get food for himself but Paul explained to me that he is too embarrassed to use it. Although he is grateful to be in Tent City because other homeless have it worse than him, he said there is a lot crime that goes on around him such as stealing and drug use. He then went on to say that when donations are attained they're then sold to the other residents, which he feels is wrong. He feels that relocating the Tent City residents out of Lakewood will not help unless there are job opportunities. He appreciates everything Minister Steve has done for him and supports any decisions made to make and keep Tent City safe.
While I was speaking with Jerry he told me that he has had apartments in the past and was able to support himself but because of a lack of work and an alcohol and drug problem he wound up homeless. He has been living in Tent City for about four years now. Jerry is now a recovering alcoholic and drug addict and was recently given a chance to get out of Tent City and move into an apartment, paid for by a non profit Lakewood-based organization called STEPS (Solution To End Poverty Soon) for up to a year. "Hopefully I can be able to get back to work so I can be able to afford an apartment on my own." Jerry stated.
Michael Berenzweig "The Lone Wolf"
While i was doing research before my visit to Tent City, I came across a video of Michael playing the piano and singing "I'm Free" (Who cover). I later found out he also plays guitar which got my interest because I also enjoy playing guitar. I asked Minister Steve to introduce me to Michael who I had the longest conversation with and the last person I spoke with that day. He used to work in New York City as a Radio Programmer for WBAI. He has been living in Tent City as a vegetarian and vegan. He is known as the "Camp Vet." Currently in his tent he cares for and feeds 3 guinea pigs, 1 squirrel, 3 orphan cats, 2 incapacitated pigeons, 1 starling, 2 chipmunks, and 2 recovering roosters. He spoke about how he feels Americans waste our natural resources and how he loves to read. To Minister Steve, according Michael, he is a "Biblical Scholar."
Going to Tent City was an eye opening, learning experience for me, even in my short time there. I honestly would never judge these people because I believe that we will never truly know what it is like and how it would feel to be in their situation, until we have walked a day in their shoes and live under the conditions these people do on a daily basis. I learned that most of the Tent City residents prefer it there, over a shelter. Some say that they feel more comfortable there. In my opinion, anyone who tries to make an honest living should have affordable housing. Many people in today's world have difficulty finding jobs, it's not just the homeless. I feel that most people at some point in their lives need help financially or struggle just to make ends meet. A handful of the Tent City residents worked great jobs at one point in their lives and because of one reason or another lost everything, and relocating to Tent City was their best option.
During the winter months it is very cold and these people do whatever they can to stay warm. They rely on each other and look out for one another. Some may say it isn't sanitary and how it is an unsafe lifestyle, but who are we to judge and point fingers? Many of them are doing the absolute best they could to make better lives for themselves. They say that Minister Steve has been like a father to them and regardless of the bout of bad luck, twist of fate, or choices they made to get there, that they appreciate all of the devotion and sacrifices Steve has made for them.
Before, during, and even after my trip to Tent City, I heard positive, neutral and even negative thoughts about certain legal and non-legal happenings that supposedly go on there. But when it really comes down to it we all bleed the same way. I didn't want this experience to be political or get into details of what the tax payers and others of Lakewood Township thought because that you can research online and form your own opinion, but I did, however, wish that this town, state and country would all try to do what we could to help out one another as much as we possibly could. Talking down on the less fortunate and spreading hate does none of us any good. I believe that everyone deserves the chance to tell their story and be heard!
THANK YOU ALL FOR YOUR DONATIONS
Mario and Michele Sarama
Erica and Adam Onello
Charlene and Brian Unglert
The Cuiffo Family
Stacey and John Onello
Minister Steve: 732-364-0340
Posted by NIEVES TV at 5:01 PM