Saturday, April 19, 2014

Benefit for homeless Saturday pits Beatles against Stones

The debate is classic. Beatles vs. Stones. Charlotte musicians will take on both tonight during a benefit concert for the Urban Ministry Center, which aids 500 to 600 homeless Charlotteans daily. The concert features Reeve Coobs, Toleman Randall, Yaddatu, Little District, and Dead End Parking as well as groups formed by students of Charlotte's School of Rock.

The eight acts will take on the Beatles and Stones in a battle of the bands at Double Door Inn Saturday. Tickets are $12 in advance and $16 at the door. All proceeds benefit Urban Ministry Center. The concert is presented by Poverty Is Real, a Decatur, GA-based organization that works with local charities through fundraising concerts to combat poverty.

In February the HousingFest to benefit Urban Ministry, which featured the Blind Boys of Alabama, was a sold out success.

As an avid music lover I'm sure my dad would have an opinion on the Beatles and the Stones debate. I'm not sure who he would choose. He was partial to later psychedelic Beatles where my mom was a teeny bopper when "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" came out and favored the early Fab Four. I mention my father, who died in 2003, because he could have very easily ended up homeless. Most of us think that homelessness is unlikely to happen to us. I certainly don't want to think I could lose my family or the roof over my head, but life isn't that predictable.

Thirteen years ago with the help of a social worker at the veteran's hospital in my hometown, I placed my father in a nursing home. I was 24. I had just moved from Arizona and was living with my boyfriend's mom in Charlotte while looking for work and a place of our own. My father, who'd been diagnosed with untreated diabetes, chronic depression, morbid obesity and serious heart problems (he had a heart attack on the same day as Jerry Garcia seven years before) had been hospitalized for months, but checked himself out of the hospital multiple times. He went home to a house with no power or phone (although he rarely kept a phone). He hadn't paid the lease on the house for a year. He was being evicted. This is the situation I walked into upon returning from the barren desert. I was given two weeks to find him a place to live and if he had not been a Vietnam era veteran, I am almost sure he would've ended up homeless. That's how easily it can happen.

I didn't want to put my father in a nursing home, mind you. But he was a stubborn, 400 lb. man on an endless stream of medications and his only options were that or my elderly grandparents who he didn't get along with and who were not in any shape to take care of him due to his size. I'd spent my first month back trying to dole out his medicine (it was confusing since the VA would send him home with a paper bag full of pill bottles with different instructions on them) and do his grocery shopping. He'd eat an entire box of Lean Pockets and balk at my tofu dishes ("I've never eaten anything that gets bigger when you chew it before," he complained).

I share this because my father wasn't any more likely to end up homeless than the next guy. My father was raised in the church by my devout grandmother. He had a degree in psychology and worked as a social worker, a psychologist, a hypnotist, sold coal mining and construction equipment and managed construction sites. He'd traveled to Italy and France when he was in the Navy and enjoyed culture, languages, art, poetry, and even math. He read philosophy and the classics and was a die-hard bluegrass fan. But circumstances, untreated illness, and bad judgment put him in a spot where he could have easily ended up homeless.

That's my point. When you consider contributing to a charity or not, remember that it could someday be you or someone you love in need.