On Time for Recovery blog
2009JUN15 - Initiated the On Time for Recovery project. Asked Anneliese S. where the Dollar Tree stores were. She recommended one in Littleton at 8601 W. Cross Drive. Visited the Dollar Tree store and purchased 7 digital watches for $7.55. The watches had no alarms, and the wrist bands on two of them broke as I removed them from the packages. I set the time on all the watches to make sure that they are working properly.
2009JUN16 - I visited with Paola at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (2111 Champa St, Denver 80205). She’s in Education and Advocacy, and her title is Communications Coordinator. Paola said that the project is a great idea, and she took my flyer to show around in her department. She said she’d get back with me on Friday with any suggestions. Visited the St. Francis Center in Denver, but I was denied permission to enter and distribute watches. The supervisor in the back didn’t want me coming in to talk to people. The staff suggested that I could leave the watches to be handed out by staff at the desk, but I said I’d prefer to give them in person so that I could talk to the recipients. Upon inquiry, the staff recommended that I visit Triangle Park, where many homeless people are for the day. At Triangle Park, it took less than 2 minutes to distribute 7 watches, and more people came up, but I was unable to fulfill their need. One man said “Thank you. I really appreciate this.” Another said “I really needed a watch. Thanks!” One woman said she needed one, but I saw that she had a watch on her wrist. “You already have one,” I said. “It’s broke,” she replied. I peered at her watch closely, and the hands were not moving. “OK, here you go!” I exclaimed. Based on this handout today, there is great need, probably in the order of hundreds or thousands of watches for the homeless population in the Denver metro area.
2009JUN25 - Bought 15 $1 watches at Dollar Tree. Went to the entrance of St. Francis Center (2323 Curtis Street) in Denver and distributed all 15 within 10 minutes. Each recipient printed their first name on my receipt page.
2009JUL07 - Bought 20 $1 watches at Dollar Tree in Parker. Distributed the 20 watches & 5 donated watches (25 total) in Triangle Park in Denver. One individual requested a more stylish watch and rejected the ones I had. Others requested 2 watches, one for themselves and one for a friend. Some needed assistance in setting the date and time. One guy grabbed the whole bag of watches and ran off, but I caught up with him and after an exchange of words, he handed the bag back. Said he was from Chicago and that I should watch out for these people.
2009JUL08 - Received a postcard from Target Community Relations (1000 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis, MN) regretting to inform that they are unable to support OTR. Doesn’t say which Target it is, but the card was mailed from Denver.
2009JUL14 - Sent an email to Target using their online form, requesting donation of watches and support for OTR. Received an email from Target Guest Relations explaining that I must go to individual Target stores and speak with Grant Captains, but that the organization must be 501(c)(3) non-profit. Sent an email (via online form) to Fossil requesting donations. Delivered 9 watches to those in need at St. Francis center. Crystal C. went with me to assist, and she was very helpful in getting first names for each watch received.
2009JUL15 - First cash donations received for a total of $60. Three separate $20 donations were received via mail and in person.
2009JUL16 - Created the OTR web site using free web space offered by www.cwahi.net. The web address for OTR is ontime4recovery.cwahi.net.
2009JUL24 - Registered On Time for Recovery as a charitable organization (receiving donations) with the Colorado Secretary of State under Colorado Charitable Solicitations Act (CCSA). I distributed 12 watches today, 8 of which were purchased at Wal-Mart using donated funds. One of the recipients asked the name of my organization, and he was very pleased that I was doing this. When I asked people if they wanted a free watch, a couple of people asked “Free watch?” in a surprised manner. People are very grateful to receive these watches. If only I had enough to go around.
2009JUL29 - Distributed 22 watches at St. Francis Center with assistance from Jason. We handed 2 watches out to people in need at intersections while they were panhandling. The recipients were very thankful. One man said, “God bless you, brother,” after I told him that I too had been homeless. Jason collected first names while I held the bag of watches and let each person choose the watch they wanted. Twenty of the watches distributed were women’s small, decorative, pendant watches. All 24 watches were handed out within 10 minutes. The need is simply enormous.
2009AUG18 - Interviewed with Chris Vanderveen from Channel 9 News. Went well. Jason was with me to distribute watches. Chris Vanderveen and Anne Herbst were very nice and instructed us on when and where to stand. They captured an excellent interview with one watch recipient. I spoke with the recipient also. He said that other needs include mental health services, socks, deodorant, razors, rain ponchos. Distributed 19 watches today in front of St. Francis Center.
2009AUG19 - Received a DUNS number from Dun & Bradstreet. A DUNS number is required to register with federal Central Contractor Registration at ccr.gov. Completed Central Contractor Registration at ccr.gov. It is now possible for On Time for Recovery to apply for federal grants on grants.gov.
2009AUG23 - On Time for Recovery's story aired on Denver's Channel 9 News. Chris Vanderveen reported the story. The story aired at 9 pm and 10 pm, and also on Monday's 8/24 morning news. Six donations were received online as a result of the news story. Articles also appeared on the 9 News web site, in the Denver Post and in the Coloradoan.com. So far the feedback has been excellent, and the public has been very appreciative of the project.
2009AUG26 - Received a call from People Magazine regarding a possible story. The journalist asked me a series of questions about how I became homeless and about my watch and current distribution in Denver. She said she would speak with her editor about the story.
2009AUG31 - I received a donation from Debbie in Littleton, CO. She donated 5 watches and $10.00. This is the note she sent with her donation.
2009SEP10 - A successful hand out at St. Francis Center in Denver. Jason and I distributed 57 watches today inside the facility with assistance from St. Francis Center's executive director, Tom Luehrs. St. Francis Center staff assisted in forming a line, and all watches were distributed to their clients within 30 minutes.
2009NOV03 - I had a successful distribution of watches to 18 women at the Women’s Bean Project in Denver. The mission of the Women’s Bean Project
is “to teach, through employment in on-site businesses, workplace competencies for entry-level positions to women in metro Denver who come from backgrounds of chronic
unemployment or poverty.” According to Pat Chacon (employment case manager), many of the women are homeless or living in transitional housing or half-way houses. The
women I served today were so appreciative and commented on how they could get to work on time. Women’s Bean Project was amazing to see. All 18 women were working
on producing various food products including bean soup packages, jelly bean packages, and jewelry. The term for this type of business is a social enterprise. Fantastic idea!! I
am glad On Time for Recovery could provide support to the women in their program.
Sequel Watches donated 78 women’s Guess watches and 4 men’s Guess watches. All of the watches are very stylish and attractive. The watches are worth $6,000.
2009DEC04 - Today I received assistance from the STAR Reach Clubhouse in Littleton, Colorado. The clubhouse is a vocational program that rehabilitates people with mental illness so that they may be employed and productive in their communities. With the assistance of 3 clubhouse members and one clubhouse staff, we refurbished 41 Guess watches with new batteries. The clubhouse’s skilled hands were excellent, and all 41 watches are now working. The members needed only a quick demonstration of how to replace batteries, and they became master jewelers. We completed the work in an hour, whereas alone I would have spent many hours.
2009DEC07 - Amanda and I replaced batteries today at Mental Health America of Colorado offices. MHAC was kind enough to let us borrow a conference room. We replaced 42 batteries in the Guess watches from Sequel. Since we didn’t have a case closer, we put the back covers on by hand. Our fingers were so sore after completing the replacements.
2010FEB07 - With the support of OTR's board, I have been diligent in leveraging some our donation assets. We decided to auction on eBay some of the higher value watches we received as donations. The result is that we've raised more than $1,000. This money has been used to purchase 1,000 watches for $600 from our new partner, China Suntime Industry in Putian, Fujian, China. By taking a few high value watches and auctioning them, we have been able to serve many more homeless people with watches that cost $0.60 each ($0.86 incl. shipping). The watches we have purchased are electronic, digital and water resistant with date, time, alarm and a light.
2010MAY22 - On February 22, 2010 Liz Ochs of the Denver Department of Human Services invited On Time for Recovery to attend the 2010 Project Homeless Connect at Coors Field. I responded to Liz’s email to say that On Time for Recovery would be at the event. At the 2009 Project Homeless Connect, we handed out 91 watches, and I knew that this year we could do better.
I started On Time for Recovery in July of 2009 to help people experiencing homelessness. To date we have handed out about 1,000 watches to homeless people in need. You don’t think about the need for a watch until you are homeless without a timepiece and unable to buy one. I experienced 18 months of homelessness, and it was a watch that helped me to get to day labor jobs and make a few dollars and survive on the streets.
The On Time for Recovery project grew from a project for WE CAN!’s basic leadership academy in June of 2009. The project went from a concept to a full blown 501(c)(3) nonprofit in 3 months.
On May 22, 2010 Amanda Callahan (of Mental Health America of Colorado), Jennifer Hill (of Deb Amesbury’s WRAP), Rachel Melendez (of STAR Reach Clubhouse) and I met at Coors Field. We observed a long line of about 1,000 volunteers, waiting to enter the stadium. The volunteers were amazing and navigated the homeless clients to access to the many services arranged inside.
Volunteers guided people to resume workshops, job interviews, haircuts, dental work, homeless shelters, transitional housing, state photo IDs and many other service providers. In 3 hours, On Time for
Recovery provided 240 watches to people in need.
Rachel, Amanda and Jennifer made the distribution go smoothly. We shook the hands of each person receiving a watch, and that made them smile. Often, people who are homeless feel undesired, and a warm handshake makes a difference. Even those with gauze stuffed in their mouths after having teeth pulled smiled.
In the process of doing something good, I had a sad realization. I saw a face that I recognized from last year. Tina, who I photographed receiving a watch last year, and whose photo was on display at our booth, arrived to receive a watch. I was sad to see that she had not yet recovered from homelessness. But my dismay was quickly overpowered by a throng that was gathering at our booth. They were cheering for her, announcing that she was famous (because of the photo on display), and Tina began to smile radiantly. I took another photo. I truly hoped that that photo would be the last I would capture while Tina was homeless.
Seeing Tina again, made me think about the inability of our welfare systems to get people off the street. In my mind, organizations such as On Time for Recovery should not exist; but we do exist because our society has made mistakes by not crafting a safety net that is universally available. I have been one of those to fall through the cracks due to schizoaffective disorder. I learned firsthand that the safety net is absolutely inadequate. I hope that someday, On Time for Recovery will cease to be necessary because homelessness no longer exists.