The line outside God's Extended Hand, corner of 16th and Island
  • The line outside God's Extended Hand, corner of 16th and Island
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A man leaning against the façade of God’s Extended Hand at 1625 Island Ave. — a religious soup kitchen — will talk to me. He will not reveal his name but a mutual familiarity with Illinois is the way into conversation.

“I’ve been out here maybe a year, maybe a little more.”

As to how he’s finding things here, he says, “Well, I’m doin’ a lot better than what I was. I was homeless back in Illinois. I was livin’ out in the woods in the southern part of the state. Tryin’ to live off the land: roots, mushrooms. I was nothin’ but skin and bones. No meat on me, ya know? So, this is actually my fourth year of bein’ homeless.”

It is evident he has, in fact, spent much time in the south of that state, which abuts Kentucky, and a particular type of a low-key Southern accent can be made out.

“Ever’ once in a while I’d have to go into town and the community to soup kitchens like this,” indicating God’s Extended Hand. “And I didn’t like it. I need a lot more vitamin D from the sun and I got medical conditions where my bones pop out of joints and stuff like that.”

In fact, the anonymous interviewee, with his shaven pate and indeed pale skin smiles and reveals the teeth of a 90-year-old man — or a 30-year-old amphetamine user. This latter being conjecture, but the image is familiar.

When asked how it was he became among those without conventional housing or permanent roofing over their heads, he answers with the single word: “Divorce. I lost my wife, my job, ever’thing.”

Was it a matter of the wife taking everything?

“No, it weren’t like that. It was more, ‘Take it all and go — please!'”

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Comments

John Kitchin Aug. 9, 2013 @ 9:36 p.m.

As one of the primary representatives of the San Diego homeless, and publisher of the San Diego Homeless News, I want to thank you for your frank interview. Unfortunately, it is mention of things like amphetamines that get the public into the incorrect thinking that homelessness has to do with drugs, alcohol, and mental illness, which it does not, at least not right away. Many eventually succumb to these things, to be sure, but in the beginning it is economics that causes all homelessness. I might also mention that the church chosen is one of the worst for causing more problems than they solve. Visit the Meals List on the Homeless-Owned website, www.NZ9F.com/B, and you will note this church not even listed, because it has abused so many people, causing their problems to become worse. Dr. John Kitchin

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John Kitchin Aug. 19, 2013 @ 11:32 p.m.

It is not, as far as I know, a cult per se, but invites really frightening ministers to cause everyone to shout, holler, and become very aggressive, plus it greatly abuses Spirituality by making the food served way, way, too "holy". This causes drug abuse, mental illness, alcoholism, suicide, memory problems, defective libido, and worse.

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EricBlair Aug. 16, 2013 @ 12:12 p.m.

Dear John: Nice to see your writing, even if the topics are not so sunny. I hope you are doing well.

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John Kitchin Aug. 19, 2013 @ 11:34 p.m.

I am okay, and you probably heard about my planned suicide, scheduled in about two months. I may have to call that off, and the reasoning eluded the hundred or so professionals I talked to. I have one or two friends that are species above us humans, and they are helping me right now. I have interacted with them since age 3, and I am now 61.

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xians421 Aug. 28, 2013 @ 11:55 a.m.

This pic is NOT the line for God's Extended Hand. What it is, is an uncredited photograph of people waiting in line for free burritos. If you're not going to pay me for pics, at least give me credit for the pic . . . .

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MrWolf Sept. 4, 2013 @ 1:18 a.m.

Eric said it best. Keep writing Brizz!!!!

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