Friday, June 30, 2006

Stephanie Wins Dual Awards

Stephanie Johnson, a Street Soccer Alumn who made the trip to Scotland last summer as one of only two females on the team won two awards last week.

The first was the Charlotte Area Fund's Self-Sufficiency Award recognizing Stephanie's economic achievement over last year, according to the award, earning enough wages to move her out of poverty. Stephanie said she was still pretty darn poor, but was grateful for and proud of the award.

Second, Stephanie was chosen along with a handful of players from around the world to participate in the United Nations Works online report on the Homeless World Cup. Below are listed the answers Stephanie provided to the United Nations Works. Please take the time to read them, they are extremely insightful and thoughtful remarks . . .

1.) Tell us your story. How long were you or have you been
homeless, how did this happen? How did this make you feel? How did
you picture your future to be?

Stephanie was homeless for 12 months during 2004-2005.

"I became homeless while relocating to Charlotte. I was absolutely fed up with the same struggle everyday in Maryland. I moved to Charlotte looking for something better. I really felt it was what God or the spirit or the higher being wanted me to do. I didn't think I'd end up on the streets, but I did."

2.) How did you hear about the Homeless World Cup? Had you ever
played football or other sports before? What made you decide to

"I learned about the homeless world cup through Art Works Football Club [now Street Soccer 945] at the soup kitchen [Urban Ministry Center]."

"I had played volleyball, softball, american football, and basketball growing up in the neighborhood and in high school. I played on the field hockey and lacrosse team in high school until I got kicked off the team for fighting along with half of the other players."

"I decided to play to get physical exercise and to help me with my mental peace. I was about to lose myself living on the street. I mean, can you understand? I was losing MYSELF. I was starting to get used to being on the street. I learned I could eat and get clothes, and find places to crash without paying rent. Then I heard about this soccer thing. The team offered me a group of people to bond with. I felt more secure, protected by my teammates. Your mind gets numb when you are just thinking about surviving, but the team made me socialize and I felt my old life coming back to me."

3.) What was your Homeless World Cup experience? How did you feel
when you learned you would be going to the Homeless World Cup? How
did you feel playing at the tournament? How did you feel after the

"I was extremely excited to know I was going and had the chance to represent Art Works Footbal Club. Actually representing the United States made me feel nervous. I remember marching down the streets and that's when it really hit me. I didn't feel like I was good enough to march for our country and play for our country. But then I learned it wasn't about that. It was about showing our spirit, showing that we were human beings. It was a wonderful time because there were no colors, no races, just stories about ways of being homeless, and ways of overcoming. I realized I was in the richest country in the world and i was worse off than most of the people there, for example the dutch and the scottish all offered places to stay year round, but over here we get all the clothes and food we need but no shelter."

"Stepping on the field made me feel important. I felt like I belonged. Having the crowd around me made me feel like I was in the right place. It gave me an ego boost and made me feel like I was suppose to be alive, living my life."

"I had to adjust to the United States again, because over there with all that good spirit where nothing was superficial I felt great, but over here it was a sudden shock becuase it was back to appearance and supeficiality. Also, when i came back I noticed all the summer clothes and styles that people were wearing here. Everything back home was bright like a flower, all the people, because it was summer, not the realaxing cool weather of scotland. It's hard for me to say, I felt like I was in the world over there, but coming back, people were separate again and all about me me me."

4.) How has the Homeless World Cup changed your life? Have you got a
job, found a house and/or sought education or drug/alcohol
rehabilitation? How has your attitude changed? How have your goals

"The Homeless World Cup introduced me to diversity. Now I feel connected to the rest of the world and I love to see people from other countries. I just met someone from Ireland last week. We are going to meet up for a meal tomorrow night."

"I now hold down three jobs; food and beverage manager at Bobcat Arena, Concessions at the Convention Center, and i work for Delectables by Holly, a catering company. I now have my own apartment as of three and a half months ago. I live alone and pay my own rent."

"I have more patience for people and less anger. I also have lots of new ideas about how to contribute to society after all this. My goals really haven't changed. I still really want to be a substitue teacher again, and I want to eventually do something for the homeless females here in Charlotte. When I was little I wanted to be a nun or to join the peace corp. I feel the same way now about being a teacher as I did about the peace corp then. I still might think about the peace corp though!"

No comments: