Posts tagged ‘kentucky’

September 29, 2012

Winfield House: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty

At Winfield House this month and October, we are collecting new or gently used outer wear for men. Those items include: coats, vests, sweatshirts, gloves, hats, and boots.

To all of the knitters and crocheter’s out there, we need handmade scarves and hats. If you are inclined, blankets, too. All items are collected and given in love to the men who live under the bridges in Cincinnati.


Because they need you!

Have you ever driven a car and accidently lost control? It can be likened to the downward spiral of homelessness or poverty. Sometimes we are driving through life without a care, all of the sudden something comes at us, or perhaps we were not paying attention, and we need to move the wheel quickly to avoid an accident. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Life is that way, hard to predict. If, when driving, we are startled, we jerk the wheel, and over-correct ourselves, as our adrenaline is heightened; we either miss the object or we are hit from the oncoming car.

If we swerve and still hit the object, we are now off the road and perhaps in an undesirable position. The car is tilted to one side, half on rock and half in the dirt.  Last night’s rain has made the dirt mud, so our tires are quickly sinking. We are somewhat immobilized by the shock of the accident, wondering if we have killed a person or animal we hit. Afraid of the tilt of the car, we try to examine our options. There don’t seem to be very many. We try to call for help, but find we have no phone service.

Seeing that the tilt of the car could be dangerous, rather than abandon the vehicle, we try to restart and maneuver the car into a better position.  In doing so, we have now sunk the tires deeper into the mud. The spinning noise is bringing us to hopelessness, and we realize the vehicle is truly stuck.  To leave the vehicle may not be safe as we are in now unfamiliar territory. Worried about the other vehicle, we pray, try 911 again, and are wracked with fear.

It might occur to us to now look for our own wounds, as we feel a sharp pain in our side, and see the oozing of blood on our forehead. The dizziness of the whole event has now brought us to a paralyzed state. We need assistance!

So, it can be with life circumstances. We sometimes need assistance. Whether we are brought to a low place by another, our own decisions, or a pervasive lifestyle, we have spun out the tires in exhaustion and cannot find hope for our circumstance. There seems to be no one to help us dig out from the accident.

At Winfield House, we are dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty.

Poverty is defined as a state of mind or financial situation where there is lack to sustain life and/or a healthy emotional condition.

Anyone can be affected at any time of their lives by poverty. Either one is born into it, or somehow brought low by circumstance.

For 20 years, Winfield House has helped individuals and families strive to become independent, self-reliant, and successful in both public and personal life.

Here is a three-pronged approach to helping:

Dignity- helping with basic needs, food, clothing, and life-sustaining supplies.
Discipline-helping with life skills to help avoid future problems, and to create a new life.
Direction-spiritual help to bring richness to our souls.

Regarding the poor, I hear this all the time, “Why don’t they just get a job?”
In responding, I have to have as much mercy on the giver as the receiver. Understanding poverty and homelessness is not as easy as it seems. The dynamics are as diverse as the people. In the Bible, we are mandated to take care of the widows, orphans and the poor, so I am especially honored to be part of the restoration team.

Please open your hearts to our friends under the bridge. You, too, may swerve off the road one day and need assistance. You never know.

by Karyn Alexander

Voice of the Nations column for RED!
Executive Director,

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, bringing hope to God’s people.
Voice of the Nations, Rev.5:19 “With your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe, language, and nation.”

July 16, 2011

Cowboys and Indians – by Karyn B. Alexander

I wanted to share some family memories with you this week, old and new.

Daniel Boone, one of the most widely known pioneers, is also someone with whom I share genetics. He is my 7th cousin.

Frank Spackman, a cowboy who was a skilled rider, fought with Teddy Roosevelt; one of the Rough Riders at San Juan Hill, he was also my relative and great-grandfather. Chief Red Feather, a Miami Indian, whose blood runs
through my veins – a kindred spirit and my great-grandfather, stilllives in me today.  All three men were culturally distinct in their own right; and all are men who make up my family tree.

Cowboys and Indians, once partners in trade and sometimes foes, are now all mixed into the same bloodline to make up my personal biology and the landscape of our early American heritage. I grew up in a family where bullet making and gun cleaning seemed as normal as eating and a bath. My father, who claimed to be an Indian fighter, was married to my mother, who came from Midwestern Miami Indians. We grew up believing that he was an American hero and she
tolerated his wily ways because he was a handsome gun slinger who was our protector and provider.

Some of my fondest memories are stories told over the task of cleaning guns. I watched my father dismantle a collection of guns each week, as he told stories of hunting down the enemy, of course bad and uncivilized Indians. He ran a smooth cloth inside each barrel while rubbing the guns clean with oil.  The guns, once cleaned, were put away
and locked until the next week, where he continued the ritual of methodical care and storytelling. We went from his large wooden desk, where he kept the pistols to the high work bench where ammunition was made for the shiny tools of the trade. 

I was part of the bullet making process. I was allowed to hold an iron pot with a thick handle as it melted the lead. When melted, I poured the lead into molds to form bullets. The lead was cooled and then pressed with powder into a shell.
A bullet dropped out of the mold, then placed into a carrier, ready for the next Indian encounter.  The process seemed dangerous because something hot enough to melt lead was surely not a toy. I was a trusted part of the Cowboy line in our family as I learned this trade and it became part of my nature. I can’t remember if my brother and sister
were part of the tradition, but I do remember them being more interested in shooting the bullets.

I did not like target practice or hunting, but I liked the exciting stories, many of which took place on
the Ohio River where my father grew up. Our family dog was a part of this world as well. He was a hunting dog, so along with my father he was in on the action and became part of the family lore. My mother was soft spoken and slight. She represented food and discipline and first aid. While thrashing through the woods during our days at
play, we were left with many a wound that this little “Indian” mom took care of. We ate what she cooked, and feared her hand of discipline, as she was little but mighty. During the evenings, we sang along with my father as he strummed his guitar. We sang songs about the cowboys and the streets of Laredo. These songs were the lullabies I heard as I drifted off to sleep each night. 

Life was good and calm; cowboying seemed like the way of the world, my world anyway. In my twenties, I moved near the Ohio River where I kindled the love for the Indian side of my family. I visited every Indian mound, read every true story and history book I could put my hands on. I even danced with like-minded strangers on an ancient Indian burial mound. I trudged through fields where I found many arrowheads, feeling secure that I had now connected to those who made the weapons. I made it a goal to find a Tommy Hawke and other tangible artifacts that helped me to understand a lost people – my people.  I visited reservations where I talked to strangers, walked through their homemade museums, felt connected, but saw a culture that “once was” and was no more.

As I raised my children, my father’s influence did not miss a beat with my oldest. My son sat in the bathtub with his cowboy hat on, while my dad, wearing the same, strummed his guitar, singing the songs I had sung as a child. Wild Turkey was the soothing balm that grazed ailing gums as babes. More stories and added generational tales were told.
My children were raised to play in the woods, too. Armed with backpacks full of food and homemade weapons, they stayed in the creekbed for most of their childhood days. Rock hunting, animal tracking, mud slides, and fort building were their favorite tasks. They made forts out of leaves and branches and swung on vines just as their grandfather, my father, had done in his youth. They found their own treasures and now have their own stories to tell.

It seems that everything changes in life, when nothing really does.

I own a farm on the Ohio River, not far from where my father and ancestors lived. I took a long walk just the other day, with my son-in–law, a descendent of Russian rebels. He led the trek through the woods, as he was the initiator of the exploration that day. A fisherman, he wanted to find a pond that lies on our property. He asked if he could clear land and settle a cabin for himself and my daughter. A pioneer! Just like Daniel Boone, a new generation felt the call.

As we walked, he turned over almost every stone saying, “This could be something,” meaning, he, too, was overtaken by the rawness of the land and wanted to look for artifacts or bits of history that might be a clue to who lived here last. We did not lose sight of what we were touching and seeing along my property line. The very rock walls that Irish immigrants had laid only generations before were still standing, just like the stories my father had told many years before. All alive, all part of our world today.
My daughter, who hiked with us, carried the tiniest member of our tribe, a little boy whose name is August.  August comes from Frank Spackman, an English American cowboy, Chief Red Feather, an American Miami Indian, Daniel Boone an American pioneer, Lottie Pierson, a German American baker, and Edmond Britton, an American preacher. All of
these people a part of the mix of my genetic batter, now combined with my son-in-law who comes from Russian rebels, makes an elaborate smorgasbord of heritage. Out of our giant melting pot or mixing bowl of genes comes another generation of life: little August.

August sounds like a cowboy name to me. A modern gun slinger, explorer or even farmer, he will live a similar yet different life than his forefathers. Growing up in Kentucky along the river, August will see and feel the natural beauty of being an American mix of Cowboys, Indians and more.

All of my forefathers knew the value of living and loving. They knew the cost of freedom and being an American. They fought hard for it, sometimes side by side, and sometimes one against another. All recognized that future generations would inhabit the same land they had shared, lived and fought for. Only four generations from my parents
lived my grandfather who rode-rough to free people.   I now wonder what challenges and gifts lay ahead four generations later. It will seem trite to say, “Life goes so fast,” but it does. It was within my generational reach to know the life of Cowboys and Indians and their struggles. It is now within August’s reach to see the same history and to write a new page of it. The cycle keeps going, the story never ends.

Giddy-up, Cowboy!
Karyn Alexander
Executive Director, Winfield House (

Winfield House brings the good news of Jesus in a practical way, giving
hope to God’s people.
Voice of the Nations: Rev. 5:9 “With your blood you purchased men for
God from every tribe, people, language and nation.”
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