Siena/Francis House Homeless Shelter, Omaha, Nebraska, United States (Spring 2012)
Poet’s statement: This poem was created out of a life of childhood abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, desperation, and recovery, enabling me to rediscover a life worth living, an affirmation of the human person, and a new-found face.
You know there was a time
Self pity then delusion
A power greater than me who
Photography by Luis Antonio Rodríguez Ochoa
DONALD ROACH is a 56-year-old man who was born into an extremely dysfunctional family system, and grew into a man who didn’t have any idea how to live on life’s terms. In desperation, a close friend led him to the Miracles Treatment Program and saved his life. Today, he is a creative and productive member of our society, has a faith in God, and is a grateful human being.
Poet’s statement: “The Wind” is a poem reflecting on the long-term grief in my life after the death of my wife. I found that through poetry I was able to talk about my feelings, which began the healing process.
“Heart Sick” came about while recovering from alcoholism and chronic depression. Although fear and self-loathing are the shadows in my heart, I have found that as I share this poem with others who are also in recovery the “shadow” takes on new meanings with each of them.
Photography by Luc Viatour
There is a shadow in the heart
Where the shadow is born? . . . Who can say?!
What the shadow touches withers and dies
Where is the sun?
MICHAEL “MICK” MILSON grew up in a small rural town in Illinois. Mick has served in the US Navy. He has also worked in the nursing, telecommunication, and transportation industries. He currently resides in Omaha, Nebraska, and is active in an addiction recovery center. He also writes poetry and plays the Native American flute. He uses his art to help others in recovery.
Poet’s statement: This poem is about my stay in a detox facility due to my abuse of alcohol. Someone told me about a homeless shelter that was just up the street, and I entered the shelter’s treatment program. There, I took the advice from others who had walked the same path and “latched” onto their teachings to crawl out of the hole that I was in.
KYLE M. was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. Since the age of 18, he has struggled back and forth between active alcoholism and recovery. He has now been sober since December of 2010 and is a full-time student at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha pursuing a bachelors degree in biology or environmental sciences.
About the artist
JEREMIAH NEAL is a former homeless guest at Siena/Francis House in Omaha, Nebraska. While battling with addiction and other personal struggles on the streets, Neal was encouraged by Siena Francis staff to embrace his artistic talent. He hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in over 25 years. Art helped him define his future and find his voice. Today, Neal is sober and works to empower other homeless guests to find their voice and start new journeys. He has painted over 100 pieces of art and has sold several of his works. Neal grew up in Muskegon Heights, Michigan. He recently moved from Omaha to Atlanta, Georgia to be closer to his family.
Artist’s statement: Located right outside the homeless shelter that I stayed at for six months, my mural is in a spot where it can touch hundreds of other homeless individuals who have given up on life. I hope that it will change their attitudes, in a way that I changed mine. I am a drug addict and formerly homeless. I used to blame others for the loss of my job and my home. I remember sitting on the back porch steps of the homeless shelter and staring at the blank brick wall feeling hopeless, waiting for good things to happen to me. I thought I was going to die on the streets as a drug addict and alcoholic. But then, I realized I did not have to. I have a choice. I chose to look past the “road of distractions” to find God. God is working in mysterious ways, connecting with us as puzzle pieces do. I can’t keep waiting. God does not do all the work, which is why I am up on a ladder in the mural, doing my part and using my talent. I hope my mural inspires others who are hopeless and hanging out on that back porch.