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Nominal Me

I'm falling in love with my camera and taking photos everywhere I go. That, combined with my passions for politics, sports, religion and other things we all agree on, makes this blog persist.

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Location: Astoria, New York, United States

I'm born in Manhattan and raised in Queens.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

We're not sure when Jesus Christ was born, but a long time ago, it was decided that we'd celebrate it on December 25th. For those of you with the spirit, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Here's something to remind you of the power of the day:

National news

Dec. 23, 2005, 12:33PM
Homeless Get Second Chance As Santa Claus

By VERENA DOBNIK Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK — Dale Keyser: bipolar, alcoholic, homeless, jobless, estranged from his wife and children.

But that's history.

Days before Christmas, Keyser is playing Santa Claus on Fifth Avenue _ now a man with a roof over his head and a job, who volunteers to entertain the sidewalk crowds. And who will spend time with his own family during the holiday season.

"I love this. Little kids run up and say, 'Santa, I love you,'" said Keyser, who works for Volunteers of America, the group that helped him and about a dozen other "Santas" rebuild their lives.

One of his happiest moments was the day when two busloads of schoolchildren on Fifth Avenue ran to him with such glee that they toppled him over.

Keyser, 63, is one of 96 formerly homeless people who live in studio apartments at Rose House, on Manhattan's Upper West Side, where they are offered treatment for substance abuse and mental illness, as well as job training. Four of them are playing sidewalk Santa.

Another is Thomas Sanchez, once a Sears employee and book vendor who lost his income, wife and three children after being disabled by arthritis. He ended up living on the steps of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church.

At 46, he now volunteers for the church and during this season rings his bell to raise money to buy food for people who can't afford it.

The Santas plant their portable red chimneys at tony locations where the holiday crowds are thickest: Rockefeller Center, across from St. Patrick's Cathedral, and the sidewalks in front of Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue and FAO Schwartz.

They started work the day after Thanksgiving, standing in the cold from noon to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

The Fifth Avenue Santas _ a dozen in all _ come from city shelters after being approved by the Department of Homeless Services, having proved that they can kick old habits and work with therapists to get better.

"I was caught up in drinking. I was destroying myself. Eventually I lost my family _ four kids and my wife _ and I became homeless," Keyser said. "Then I was able to get help and I'm on medication. My personality has leveled out, and I've been sober for 13 years."

After a 15-year absence, the one-time iron foundry worker from Pennsylvania now periodically sees his ex-wife and children.

Volunteers of America, a Washington, D.C.-based national nonprofit, was founded more than a century ago to provide help through a network of community-based offices.

Relying on federal and state funds, plus residents' Social Security checks and private donations, the organization houses and cares for 750 New York men and women. Many are recovering from mental illness or substance abuse, mostly untreated, said Andrew Martin, a spokesman for the organization in New York.

"Our mission is to provide every last opportunity for a person to turn his or her life around. We don't give up easily," Martin said. "These men exemplify the true spirit of Christmas _ looking inside yourself and finding hope."

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Blogger Janet said...

Happy holidays to you and yours!:)

Sunday, 25 December, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy Chanukah!

Friday, 30 December, 2005  

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