Give Dancing Bear a Home
Organized by: CarolineChambre SheilaRobinson
“God has found me in time – again.”
These are the words that Ronnie “Dancing Bear” Pierce kept on the refrigerator in his former apartment at Moore Place. Having a place to call home was incredibly important to Ronnie…but also incredibly difficult. After 17 years in the woods and under bridges, he worked hard at creating a sanctuary for himself in that apartment. Yet the demons of addiction which have long had a hold on Ronnie ultimately got in the way of his ability to maintain that cherished space. Despite his best efforts and the support of staff, Moore Place could not permanently end his homelessness.
Yet God has found Ronnie in time, again. My name is Sheila, and I have been a friend to Ronnie for many years. I think I’ve found the solution to his long homelessness, but I need your help to make it happen. To be clear, I’ve no illusions about Ronnie: I’ve witnessed his homelessness, the drunken stupors, the beatings, and the shame. But I’ve also witnessed the joy on his face as he works in the garden, play with my dogs, or have coffee with my mother, whom he calls “Ma.” My mother and I have been providing Ronnie with a small building in our backyard in which to live. He has thrived here, and I believe this is his best chance at conquering homelessness once and for all. As opposed to being in an apartment building where his behaviors tended to cause problems for the community, the space here is private and does not disrupt others. But the building lacks insulation, electricity, and a bathroom. It will cost approximately $7000 to make these improvements.
I think about a story that Ronnie once told me. While living in the woods a couple of years ago, he fell asleep on the frozen ground. When he awoke, he couldn’t feel his legs. He could not move. All he could do was cry out to God for help. He said the woods were the darkest black, but the sky lit up to a brilliant, piercing red. Twelve angels swarmed over him, and immediately he felt heat in his legs. He was able to get off the ground. I believe his story because he is such a special person that I could never doubt that heaven and earth would not act on his behalf.
Ronnie experienced a long history of physical, sexual, and mental abuse as a child growing up poor in rural Eastern North Carolina. His life was hard, and his alcoholism mirrors his pain and feelings of low self-worth. He longs to not be addicted to alcohol and has sought treatment several times over the years. The disease is powerful. Those of us who know Ronnie well know that the disease does not define who he is. Since he has been living with me and my mom, he seems happier than I’ve seen him in a long time. He has a feral cat that he feeds, takes care of the yard, and chats with my mom. He has something meaningful to do and something he can call his own.
I believe that God continues to find Ronnie in time, every time. Together we can make the latter part of his life much better than the former. Please help get his home insulated, with electricity and a bathroom.
I will take pictures “before” and “after” of Ronnie’s building and keep contributors abreast of the construction progress. And when it's all finished, I'm guessing we'll see Ronnie do a happy dance - quite literally! (He loves to dance, hence the nickname "Dancing Bear.")
* This project is being co-organized by Sheila Robinson and Caroline Chambre Hammock, Director of Moore Place.