February 9, 2009


Anytime you volunteer, there is the opportunity for a unique and magical experience.

Whether you’re rocking a child at the local children’s hospital or picking up trash in your community – there is a chance that your heartstrings will become vulnerable or a whole new world is revealed.

These special moments of clarity, appreciation, and/or inspiration don’t happen every time you volunteer your time and energy, BUT if you keep giving back, I PROMISE you will have one of these 

The 2009 Homeless Count provided one of those moments for a good friend of mine, her team, and the Fort Worth Police Officer who assisted their effort.

I wanted to share an e-mail thread between this team. (It is nothing short of tremendous.)

To help you completely understand their dialogue, here is a little background: With the guidance of Officer Rex Layton, they surveyed four homeless gentlemen that live under a bridge near downtown Fort Worth. That was only a small part of their eye-opening night in Fort Worth, but it may have been the most impactful.

(If you don't feel like reading each e-mail – 
MAKE SURE you read the last one from Officer Layton.)

From: Kelly I.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
To: Layton, Walter R.
cc: Kristina B., Leslie H.
Subject: THANK YOU!

Officer REX!!!!!!

Hello there! I just wanted to THANK YOU again for making our experience so great last night. Leslie, Kristina and I are so glad we participated in the Homeless Count, and we are glad we got matched with you!

Thanks for knowing the spots, too! Meeting Kenny, Kevin, Don and Gary was such a valuable experience. As with most volunteering opportunities, I’m appreciative of gaining a new perspective. I also appreciate the way you treated them (as humans), and I appreciate the way you let us get in the middle of the action (in more ways than one!). I can’t get them off my mind today.

Thank you for helping to maximize our experience last night and more importantly, for the work you do. Please keep in touch, Adam516.

Have a great weekend.



From: Kristina B.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
Subject: Re: THANK YOU!

I had a great time, too! 

I've lived here all my life and was surprised to find that I still had a lot to learn about my city. 

I crawled into my bed last night and felt extra appreciative of my privileged life. At the same time, I was reminded that I could still have joy even if I didn't have luxury material possessions, like Kevin when he said that the river is his bedroom window and he can look at the ducks and at night he can see and hear the owl. Thanks for the experience guys!



From: Leslie H.
Date: Fri, 30 Jan 2009
Subject: RE: THANK YOU!

I did have a great time. 

I thought I was prepared to be impacted by this experience, but I was wrong. 

Our first stop was intense, even though we didn't get a chance to meet anyone. Just seeing the small hut-like home made out of tree branches was intense. Just to notice and see that whoever lived there – their lifestyle was almost animalistic. 

I know we all were pumped & really wanted a complete experience by meeting the homeless. I thought I knew what I was going to say, I thought I was ready. When we reached the bridge I was at a loss for words. Here we met some of the coolest, open homeless guys around. 

I was impressed by the fact that these gentlemen had come together and formed their own family unit – and they all addressed their spot under the bridge as "Home." We all have an idea, or image of what home looks like, but nothing compared to these people & their perspectives on the world around them. 

Thank you again Kelly for the invite to join in.

Thank you to Kelly's friend Drew for keying her in.

Thanks Kristina for keepin’ it real, it was really great meeting & hangin’ with you.

And a BIG THANK YOU to Officer Layton … (a.k.a. the coolest Rex we've ever met) for takin’ us on a spin through your beat & making it a complete experience.

Consumed by Compassion,



From: Layton, Rex
Sent: Friday, January 30, 2009
To: Kelly, Leslie, Kristina
Subject: RE: THANK YOU!

Well thank you very much! 

I too appreciate what ya'll did last night as well … it’s always very nice to meet such caring and considerate folks, who are kind people with kind hearts. 

As you can imagine, I see all types of people out in this world – whether it be criminals, homeless people, lower-class, middle-class, upper-class, good or bad people. I see them and encounter them all – most of the time its not a pleasant experience, but that just comes with the job! Nevertheless, I try and give all the benefit of the doubt, until shown otherwise....

But anyway the point I’m trying to make is that ya'll reassured my hope in all of mankind by demonstrating your genuine care and concern for those in need … it is very refreshing to experience genuine goodness in people once in a while. It also motivates me to want to strive to be a better cop and reminds me why I became a cop – that is to serve and protect! 

If there's anything I can do to help you please don’t hesitate to call or e-mail me. Be safe!

Rex Layton-FWPD

1 comment:

Ruben Botello said...

Dear President Obama:

I have been dealing with homelessness since my honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1969. I found myself homeless shortly after returning from Vietnam. I was also in and out of homelessness with my two sons in the Eighties, and homeless again on my own in the Nineties.

I started the American Homeless Society in 1987 while my sons and I were homeless in California. I have worked very hard alongside other advocates, and have been in several hunger strikes, marches and demonstrations for homeless rights since the Eighties but have seen little progress to date.

My longest hunger strike was 58 days against President Reagan’s “trickle down” economic policies that created more instead of less homelessness in our country. You have spoken about fixing our nation’s economy from the “bottom up” instead, and that makes more sense.

From the bottom up should mean you are starting at the very bottom of our ailing economy, however. You should start by ending homelessness instead of neglecting the neediest among us like past administrations have done.

Philip Mangano of the Interagency Council on Homelessness has been promoting 10-year plans to end homelessness in major cities across the country on behalf of the Bush Administration these past few years. We would hope and pray you make a similar commitment, i.e., to abolish homelessness throughout our nation in ten years, not just in individual cities because there are far more homeless outside these cities than their urban homeless plans will ever reach.

Why not end homelessness in the entire United States in 10 years, Mr. President? You said, "YES WE CAN!" so why can't we when it comes to ending homelessness? Slavery was abolished in America over a century ago; why not abolish homelessness today?

Homelessness is just as bad as slavery in several ways and worse in others. Men, women and children from all the races, colors, cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, religions and creeds in our diverse society find themselves homeless everyday.

Along with hunger, malnutrition, sickness, disease and premature death, America's homeless are forced to endure harassment, discrimination, persecution and violence in our nation today much like the slaves President Lincoln’s armies fought to free in the Nineteenth Century had to.

America’s homeless face nature's harshest conditions without warm homes or shelter for protection. They lack good food and nutrition, good hygiene, medicine and healthcare, and the good education, training and experience needed to qualify for the dwindling supply of jobs in today’s worsening economy.

Many of America’s homeless are even employed but underemployed and therefore unable to afford existing rentals, while thousands of others are altogether unemployable and have no income whatsoever. How can our great nation permit so many of these poor souls to continue to suffer and die needlessly on our streets and in the wilds?

I joined the Marines to fight for our country so that all Americans could have a better life, not just the rich and well-to-do who are receiving all the bailouts today. There is no justification or excuse for anyone in our nation to be denied housing and other life-sustaining needs, Mr. President.

Please, if you are serious about fixing our nation’s economy from the bottom-up, begin at the real bottom by making a firm commitment to end involuntary homelessness throughout our country in 10 years without further ado.


Ruben Botello, Founder



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