Monday, April 1, 2024

"Define Success," she said.

A week ago, I sat at breakfast with my youngest, Emily. I pumped her with questions about her work with those experiencing homelessness. As a social worker, she doesn’t work with that population any longer, but she did for almost two years. And she loved it … most of the time. Homelessness is a backdrop for a new book I’m writing in the thriller-crime-mystery genre, and I wanted to pick her brain. 

I asked her, did you have success working with the homeless population? She thought for a minute and said, “Define success.” Without waiting for my response, she said, “You have to picture homelessness as rolling a boulder uphill. Sometimes, it’s easy, but most of the time, it’s hard and you never make it, and the boulder can roll back on you.” 

She talked about a series of struggles. Finding a place to sleep for someone. It can take up to six months or longer because of waiting lists. And once in a shelter, the individual has about three weeks or fewer to get themselves on their feet. That means a social security card, a cellphone, a resume, and an interview with the result being a job. There are several problems with all of that. 

If an individual lives on the street, they are looking for their next meal. In Greensboro where my daughter worked, lunches can be found most every day. Dinners? Once a week. So the individual has to decide whether to skip a meal and go to the social security office or to skip the card and eat. A job? The individual has to have help to create an email address, and have help to create a resume and a cover letter, along with the grooming and clothing needed for the interview. All of that takes time, so again, does the individual pass up a meal to attend to all of that or eat and pass up the opportunity for a job interview that might come their way with no guarantees? 

If you are a woman with a child, the chances of securing a room at a shelter are better, but again, there is no guarantee, and she and the child will find themselves on a waiting list and that can last for six months or more. If the individual is a single woman, there is still a chance, but not nearly as good if she had a child or children with her. For a single man, housing is a struggle. And while the individual(s) wait for housing, they are living on the street. Again, for up to six months or more. 

Street life is dangerous. Laws against loitering are increasing- aimed at those experiencing homelessness. If an individual finds a spot to sleep for the night, belongings might be stolen. The newly gotten phone? Gone. The blanket to sleep on? Gone. Any food that was stored up? Gone. It is safer for those living out of a car because doors can be locked. But even then, there is no guarantee. 

And social worker burn out? It is real and a problem, even for the most dedicated, the most passionate, the most caring. Yet, for a year and a half as part of her internship, Emily said the work was hard, but she liked it. Now, she works with adults who are experiencing or who have experienced trauma. Because of privacy, she couldn’t and didn’t share details, but being a counselor for eleven years, I get what she means. I saw it in kids. Those kids grow up to be adults, and if the trauma was never worked on, they become the adults Emily sees.

All of this ran through my mind yesterday as I sat down with my family to eat a delicious dinner. I thought about this as we talked and laughed about this or that. Even the joy of being with my wife, my two daughters, their husbands- one about to be my daughter’s husband in a few months, my grandson, and my son-in-law’s mother, there was the question of what are those experiencing homelessness, foodlessness, and even lovelessness, doing? Where were they eating? Where were they sleeping? Who did they spend their Easter with? 

Life is not for the faint of heart. There are choices and decisions made every minute of every day. Some can lead to a better life. Others? Not so much. Even the lack of making a decision can lead to one end or the other. Something to think about …

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!

To My Readers:

If you like what you’re reading and find a benefit from it, you can check out my other posts at under the Inspirational Blog tab. You can find all nine books, their descriptions, and links for purchase at the same site. I can also be found on TikTok by searching for @josephlewis5566 and on Tribal by searching for @jrauthor85 and on Facebook at

One of my books, Blaze In, Blaze Out, will be on sale for $.99 on Tuesday, April 2nd and Wednesday, April 3rd on Amazon for the Kindle version. For your convenience, here is the description and purchase link for my book, Blaze In, Blaze Out:

2022 Crime Fiction Book of the Year – Best Thrillers

2022 Readers’ Favorite Honorable Mention - Fiction - Crime

2022 Author Shout Recommended Read

2022 Literary Titan - Gold Book Award Winner

Blaze In, Blaze Out is an over-the-top thriller. Lewis jumps you seamlessly between timelines of one exhilarating roller-coaster ride to the next.” -Authors Reading

Blaze in, Blaze out with its engaging plot and deep themes is a riveting novel and fast read that will keep readers in suspense and hooked till the last page.” -Literary Titan

“A story that is so much more than you expect with well-drawn characters that keep you turning the pages.” -Beyond the Books

“This book was not what I expected. I thought it would be about mobster and hired assassins. It was, but it was also about so much more.” -Charlie Bees Books

“Blaze In, Blaze Out is a crime thriller that captures a reader’s attention right from the start. Author Joseph Lewis is a strong storyteller, using characters from his previous novels and once again putting them in danger.” -Joan Livingston, author of the Isabel Long Mystery Series

“Joseph Lewis uses carefully constructed settings and intriguing characters to create this unique and captivating action-packed thriller.” -Sublime Book Review

“A superb crime drama simmering with suspense and deep character studies en route to an explosive finale.”

“Well paced and exciting.” -Publishers Weekly

Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann, were the linchpins in the guilty verdict.

The two detectives thought it was over.

Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff and four teenage, adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers.

But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time.

The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.







No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe