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Prove It Clarksville: Day Six: Workin’ Man Blues


An exercise in homelessness.

Clarksville, TN – Hi, I missed you!

I’m sorry these two days are late, but I worked a couple of side jobs the last two nights—and on top of sneaking in and out of camp, riding the bus, and standing on my street corners as long as possible, it made for a couple of very long days. In fact, Friday night I got only five hours of sleep, if you can call it that. I’m still not used to this hard ground.

As I’m writing this, I can sense some of you rolling your eyes all the way back into your head (they’re making sounds almost like a slot machine). You’re thinking, “I knew it! I knew he’d sell out!—He’s working, and the homeless are lazy—they don’t work!”

Prove It Clarksville: Kenny York makes a friend.

Prove It Clarksville: Kenny York makes a friend.

Well, I have news for you: the homeless people to whom I’ve offered work, if they were physically able to do the work, almost never turned it down.

In fact, there are homeless volunteers working at Manna Café all the time who don’t even get paid. So when I had an opportunity to work a couple of sound jobs, I jumped at the chance.

There have been more than a few occasions when I’ve been able to find paid work for my homeless friends (at the same gigs I sometimes work on Friday and Saturday nights).

And to prove my point about how willing the homeless are to work: this past winter when we were running the warming shelter, my friend Thom Spigner and I took nine men to meet up with a van full of people they didn’t know to go to Arkansas to help with clean-up after the ice storm down there—and I had more guys ready to go if the company had needed more help.

Prove It Clarksville

Prove It Clarksville

But a problem arose after they got to Arkansas: the company started jerking them around—at least that’s what it looked like from my end. We got the problems ironed out, but I refused to send anybody else down there.

After doing some checking around and talking to the director of the Nashville Rescue Mission, I found out that a huge problem is people picking up homeless guys to do manual labor and then making excuses for not paying them at the end of the day or week—and then ditching them. After all, who’s going to believe a homeless guy, right?

I can’t believe one human being would do this to another.

All in all, I spent about six hours standing on street corners on Friday and Saturday combined. Friday, I was on Riverside by Shoney’s for only two hours; it would have been a lot longer, but I had very frustrating transportation issues, which I’ll talk about in another blog.

There were three highlights during that short time, though: Four very sweet little girls, along with their mom and grandma, came by and gave me a piece of strawberry pie and some unsweetened tea (somebody’s been paying attention!), and they all had “We Care” signs. You might have seen the photo on the left above.

Later, a guy came walking by, looking pretty worn out, so I passed on an extra lunch that someone had given me, along with my day bus pass. It’s very cool to be able to bless people out here because of your generosity.

But Friday’s biggest event was when a homeless couple came by. They’d been living in their car for a while—the same car they were driving—and they thanked me for what I was doing and told me that it was giving them hope that someone cared. This was so huge for me!

As they were walking back to their car, I remembered that the day before, someone had given me a gift card for O’Charley’s. I felt like God was saying, “Give it to them.” So I called them back over, and I did just that.

The wife began weeping right there on the street corner, saying that now they’d be able to have a real meal that night. She gave me a big hug, and the man shook my hand. As they left, she wasn’t the only one with tears in her eyes. Wow … when we give like we’re supposed to, we’re the ones who are blessed.

Prove It ClarksvilleSaturday, I spent about four hours in the rain at the corner of 48/13 and Riverside. Once again, I was given a bunch of food, which I shared, and two umbrellas.

But the highlight of that day was when my son, Dustin, and grandson, Carter, brought me strawberries, (they love me!), sterno, and a Snickers bar. (You can read about this on Facebook because I can’t even write the story without crying like a baby.)

As usual, I spent both nights in my tent, just like so many of my friends did.

There are a lot of blanks I’ll fill in later, but for now I need some rest.

Peace out.

One way you can “Prove It” that takes less than a minute: sign the petition to show your support of a full-time transitional homeless shelter:

About Kenny York

    Kenny York

    Kenny York is the founder of Manna Café Ministries,  a faith-based organization devoted to meeting the needs of homeless and low-income families in Montgomery County via hot meals, food boxes, and emergency shelter. In 2014, the organization distributed 1.3 million pounds of food to the hungry and provided beds for fifty-plus individuals via a warming shelter during the winter season.

    Web Site:




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