Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Erin!

Yes, you are watching Rick and Paul perform "Here Comes The Pigmy Gerboa," by the Beatles in celebration of Erin's birthday. Make no mistake--you saw it here first. (Wow, I haven't posted anything in a million years). :) Enjoy (and pretend that Paul nails the intro when watching).

If the video isn't on your screen, watch it here on YouTube:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sweet 2nd of July!

I just want to say that our "4th" of July barbecue--which was on the 2nd--was fantastic!  I mean, my stars!  This BBQ was the ginger!  We had over 15 resident volunteers who prepared and served the myriad victuals pictured below.


And, if that isn't enough for you.  Get something of the full experience by watching this short video:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Our Maiden Clinic

Thanks a million times over to David, John, and Arlen from L.A. non-profit the Bicycle Kitchen! These three gents spent three long hours with us at the Las Americas repairing, and teaching us how to repair, our broken bicycles.

We held the clinic in preparation for our first bike club outing, which we hope to do in the next month!
We can't wait to do this again! Thanks B.K.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Recycle Your Cycle!

We are going to be starting a bike club in the next month and we are in need of more bicycles! Now's your chance to do something good with that 80's dust-collector in the garage or that soon-to-be-obsolete college cruiser.

Many of the Las Americas and Olympia residents have expressed an interest in joining the bike club, but do not own (or have the means to own) bicycles of their own. Additionally, most of the bikes that residents do own are in need of some new parts, maintenance, and T.L.C.

That said, if your "ride" is slightly less than functional, you may still be able to donate. With the gracious help of L.A. bike non-profits The Bicycle Kitchen and The Bike Oven, residents will be able to learn how to repair their battered bicycles at no cost to them. We are hoping to actually host an onsite repair clinic at the Las Americas in the upcoming month! Stay tuned, we will be posting again soon!

P.S. Thanks in advance, if you are planning to donate a bike, especially from the UCI campus! Best wishes!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


You've got to hide your love away by watching Paul and Las Americas resident and avid writer, Richard Joyce, perform this classic Beatles song in honor of Erin's birthday!

Enjoy--just ignore the fact that the tambourine is messing with the camera microphone. :)

(Having trouble viewing it, watch on You Tube).

Read Richard's Skid Row story, recently composed for the SRHT newsletter, below (and ignore the shameless case management praising near the end--it is all lies):

I've been asked to make a short statement about my relationship with Skid Row
Housing Trust. It's a long story, but I will attempt to be succinct.

In 2001 I came to Skid Row having absolutely nowhere else to go. I was, and am to this day an alcoholic, or addict if you prefer, addicted to anything that would get me out of myself. Over the years it became a big problem, because ultimately alcoholism is an exceptionally selfish disease, and it took all of my time to maintain my addiction, which left little else for employers, family, friends, or wives. They soon would have no more of my nonsense, and I found myself alone.

And without resources. I had no money, no job, or hope of things turning around anytime soon, so I needed some help. After I came to that
realization my path was relatively clear.

I'd lived in Los Angeles since I was three years old, but I rarely came to the "Downtown" area. None of my friends did either. It was a place to avoid. It was dirty, unkempt, with homeless people ruling the streets... not a nice place to be.

But I became a homeless person. In late December I exited a showing of "The Lord of the Rings" half sloshed on vodka, and discovered I had nowhere to go. I'd been
kicked out of the Salvation Army's Adult Rehabilitation Center program many
times, but I knew that the downtown Harbor Light facility would probably accept
me, as they were an independent entity. By the time I made it there it was near
midnight. Still, they took me in.

I graduated from their alcohol and drug program, stayed there a year, spent another year at the Weingart Center, but still had no place I could call a home.

I'm a veteran of the United States Navy, and one day at the ASAP clinic (a drug and alcohol program) at the Veteran's Administration, I met my old friend Ron, who I've written about many times on my blog ( He had a nice apartment, was independent, and living quite well here downtown. It was he who got me set up with Skid Row Housing Trust, and after a short time being on a waiting list, I received permission to move in to the Las Americas Hotel, just
on the outskirts of skid row. That was January of 2003, and I've lived there
very happily ever since.

I was eligible for the Shelter Plus Care program due to my close relationship with depression and addiction. The program requires that I participate in activities that are beneficial to me. I don't mind. I like things that are beneficial to me. I go to 12 Step meetings, depression groups at the V.A., and interact with my case managers from Skid Row Housing Trust, regularly attending their various support groups.

After the 2004 general election I finally found an interest that I became obsessed with ever since. You might say I found my life's mission, and now I devote most of my time to writing political and social commentary and satire, rather than being on the streets and wandering through life aimlessly. This was made possible in a large part by SRHT.

Skid Row Housing Trust has given me the opportunity to have my life back. I pay my rent, and now have a place I can call home. It's just a small room, but it's mine, and it's all I need. With the depression and all, what can I say, I take the medication, and some days are better than others, but I always know that I have a great place to stay, nice neighbors, and a truly wonderful and motivated support staff that I can come to whenever I feel the need.

My current case managers, Erin and Paul, (two young kids, compared to my fifty-threeish nature) are just the nicest people you'd ever hope to meet or work with. They are truly invested in their jobs, enjoy interacting with their clients, and keep inventing interesting things for us to do. We have a weekly Garden Club (where magic tomatoes, peppers, and oranges appear somewhat, well magically), a Cooking Club (Lemon Chicken over pasta this week), Yoga Class, "Drama Free" support groups, and field trips (I once almost killed myself trying to ice skate in Pasadena). They are not only a reliant source of support and consistency, they have also become my true friends. And one can't have too many of those. (I have to say these nice things as Erin is editing this piece for me).

I've been told that the newsletter this testimonial is appearing in goes out to many
possible donors to the Skid Row Housing Trust organization. In this day and age
a viable answer to the problem of homelessness in the country couldn't be a
better investment.

As usual I've gone over my allotted amount of words. So Thank you, and have peace in your life.

-Richard Joyce

Check out more of Richard’s writing on his blog, Joyce’s Take.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Garden Update!

A huge thank you to my wonderfully thoughtful roommate, Shannon, for donating several plants and gardening supplies to the Las Americas garden. We are all very appreciative. As you can see below, the grounds are growing. We now have a hanging hosta-like plant, a gardenia shrub, some tomato cages (excuse the sideways pic), and five different types of cacti.

We've also begun a small indoor garden. We have planted a number of seeds in different pots, hoping to sprout a few more vegetable plants.

Our next endeavor will be to jump the fence that borders the east side of the garden and cut the weeds down on the other side.

Beyond the fence is a small field that is, at least, 100 feet in length by about 30 feet in width. It is surrounded by several warehouse-type buildings, including one owned by the Department of Water and Power. Because of its lack of trees, the field receives far more sun than our courtyard garden space. Our idealistic hope is that we will be able to use a small portion of the field to grow even more future edibles.

Today, I got the go-ahead from the nice people at Beauty Treats International Co. to cross the fence and, at least, weed-whack. They are going to find out if we can make use of some of the space near our fence. Cross your fingers. This could get very cool.

The garden club members also suggested that we acquire a bike rack for the courtyard, so that we have one single space to park all of the tenants' bikes (currently, all of the bikes are randomly chained to various trees and benches in the courtyard). I thought this was yet another bright idea, so I contacted some bicycle non-profits here in L.A. John, a volunteer at the Bike Oven, in L.A., suggested that we ask someone to weld a custom rack for us. (Thanks, John). Then, the light bulb clicked on. Just two-doors down from us is a metal shop that, apparently, fabricates all sorts of custom metal objects. I put in a call and I'm supposed to meet with someone tomorrow to assess the possibilities. Hopefully, I'll be writing again soon with some good news about this little endeavor. Stay tuned.

Best wishes.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Sweet Serenity

Check out our latest, and potentially greatest, addition to the American-Olympian group roster: Yoga.

Yoga set-up at SRHT's Defiance Space.

The classes have just begun and it's already beginning to catch on. Attendance went up 200% from the first class to the second, and the responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Hopefully, this is more than just the normal new group attendance spike. We'll see.

Whatever the case, we are very grateful to have the very charming and Yogically (to create a word) gifted Beth Dian leading us into relaxation each week. She has developed a program that focuses specifically on deep-breathing, stretching, and meditation. As a participant myself, I can vouch for its therapeutic powers. May we all aspire to this:

Or not.