Today I am known as MR. TRIPP to most of the Poor and Homeless Brothers and Sisters that I run into on the streets of Kansas City. The rest of the world knows me by other names such as my birth-right name – Richard G. Tripp; or by the nickname I’ve picked up over the last few years – Mr. Compassion. Still others have called me everything from a saint to a devil. Depending on who’s doing the talking. And to tell you the truth, what they call me never really did matter anyway. What does matter though, is that I’m able to show the world that one person can make a difference.
What’s important to me is I’m able to motivate others into doing what it takes to help those that are down and out. The truth is it’s God doing the work; you might say I’m just along for the ride. But it’s really something to see everyone helping each other at these events I’ve been able to arrange with his help.
Some say these events I do are just a band-aid. Maybe they are right. But I know of a lot of lives that have been saved by these band-aid approaches. It’s my prayer that when I’m dead and gone the one thing that people can say about me, is that I was for real , and I fought the good fight of helping others till the end.
Sitting under the Broadway Bridge here in Kansas City 14 years ago, the only thing that was on my mind was to survive. I didn’t really care about anybody else. Here I was with no money, no job, and kind of felt like no future. Little did I know at the time that things were about to change. That things were about to happen that would change the way people think about me – and vice versa. At the time I can remember back then I wasn’t happy with my situation by any means. I couldn’t see why God above would let me end up here under this bridge. I mean I wasn’t a bad guy. I worked all my life (that is when I wasn’t in the hospital for one operation or another – my health wasn’t the best), but surely I thought there was no reason for God to let me end up here. I drove a cab for years, not like those people you see on the streets – those homeless bums. If they wanted a job all they had to do was look for one right?
I’d seen them on the streets for years, I just passed them by and didn’t want anything to do with them. Of course I’d never talked to any of them – as a matter of fact I had no compassion whatsoever for any of them. I had my own problems and didn’t need theirs. After being there for a while, I started meeting others that were living on the streets under the bridges and old abandoned buildings in the same area as me.
The story about what changed my life and got C.O.P.P. Inc. started begins here –
I had been under that bridge for a few weeks and it was really starting to get real cold. I knew I had to figure out a way to survive. So I went to one of the shelters and became a staff member at that particular shelter. The only reason I did that is because I knew I wouldn’t get kicked out at six in the morning when the shelter closed if I was a staff member. Well, I had been there for a couple of weeks, one of my duties was to put away some of the donated food that was brought in to feed the poor. Anyway I’m putting away these sandwiches that this gentleman and his little 5 year old son had brought us and the little boy walks over and hands me this paper sack, and says this is for the homeless too. I grabbed it and for some reason just stuck it in my pocket. I thanked the little boy and continued with my work. Later on that day there was a group of ministers from one of the seminaries here in Kansas City coming down to tour the shelter and find out how it operated. The staff member that was going to give them the tour and speak about the shelter got sick and wasn’t able to give the tour, so I was asked to do it.
So when the group showed up I gave them a tour of the place and we went to the sanctuary where I was to tell them about the shelter and how it worked. You must understand at that particular time I had never gave any speeches to anybody especially a 100 seminary student’s. I got up on the stage of that shelter to speak to them and looked out at them and basically just froze. I tried to speak but nothing was coming out for some reason. For some reason I remembered that sack in my pocket and I opened it up right there in front of those seminary students, and I can truly say today that is where my life changed, and where I personally started walking Jesus not just talking Jesus. For you see what was in that paper sack was the little boys piggy bank. I will tell you my eyes started tearing up and since that day I have done everything I can to help those down and out. For if a 5 year old Jewish Boy can give all his earthly goods to help someone he doesn’t even know, then how much more should we as grown ups do?
After being involved with that shelter, I started learning the ways of the systems that be. A lot of the ways they were run was ok but at the same time there was a lot of injustices done to the poor and homeless a lot of time by the ones that were supposed to be helping like the staff members. I don’t want to go into why it happens, but lets just say a lot of the workers at the shelters are former homeless people, and they get the jobs because just like me they are looking for a place out of the cold, but the problem is like most of human history, they all have their own agendas, and once they get a little responsibility it goes to their heads and they think their God.
I’ll tell you up front, I have seen too many things happen to the homeless in our so called shelters to be a supporter of them. The problem being until we can come up with a better way a little help is better than no help. I was the first human being in Kansas City, Missouri to ever walk a picket line on a shelter, and you better believe I had to really think about it when I did, because I knew I would be putting my life in danger by messing with Kansas City’s biggest shelter operator. The truth is I couldn’t walk away from it at the time. There were too many people being mistreated and ending up hurt to walk away from it.
One of the first events I started 14 years ago was Christmas Briefest for the Homeless. This event was done because all of the Shelters in Kansas City at the time were putting the poor and homeless out on Christmas morning. They all said at the time that it was because they were getting Christmas Dinner fixed for the Poor and Homeless. I talked a place into letting me use their building and given the poor and homeless somewhere were they could get in out of the cold on Christmas morning. Then I went to the Kansas City Star Newspaper and asked them to run a story about us needing donations of cooked food and coffee to feed the poor and homeless on Christmas morning, and it wouldn’t hurt if people would donate some warm clothing materials and toys that we could give the homeless kids on Christmas morning.
Well I’m proud to say we don’t have to do that event anymore, because every one of the shelters here in Kansas City over the last couple of years have decided to feed the Poor and Homeless Brothers and Sisters that stay in their Shelters. You might ask yourself can you make a difference? With Gods help we can all make a difference.
I feel blessed, that God has given me the gift of motivation to motivate all the different factions of my community into coming down and helping the less fortunate of our community. It’s really fun watching all the love that’s passed out at these events. For you see we have all the different faiths Christians, Jews, Moslem, you name it, all doing the work that there taught in their religions to help those Brothers and Sisters that are down and out regardless of Race, Creed, Color or Religious background. In other words all Loving their Brothers and Sisters as themselves.
Care Of Poor People is a 501c3 org, that I started here in Kansas City, Missouri 14 years ago. Although I had no ideal at the time of what I was really up to, I just wanted to help a couple of brothers get a coat so they wouldn’t die from the elements. Today we have partners all across America doing our event’s just like we do them here.
We have let the public know there’s a better way of taking care of the problems the homeless and poor face. And that way is by getting personally involved in events like Survival 4, letting those down and out know that you truly care. One of the advantages of the event is you see were the materials and funds are going. You also can find out that a lot of the myths you here about the poor and homeless aren’t true.
When I got the ideal to start an org, here in Kansas City to help the homeless, I knew their would be several problems I’d have to overcome if I was truly going make a difference. 1) I had no real idea about how to start one. 2) no one really new me, and 3) where was I going get the funds to run it. Not to mention how was I going keep the other organizations from hassling me while I was trying to make a name for my organization and what we wanted to do.
While I was a ninth grade dropout, I still knew where the library was. So I started there. Thank God I could read. Okay, I had that much figured out. Next, what was I going call my organizaiton? The funny thing is I didn’t name it the other organizations did. You see I was invited to a homeless coalition meeting. At the time I was raising a lot of questions from the public about the homeless because of some newspaper articles that had been done on me. So I’m pretty sure the reason I was invited to the meeting was to pacify me into laying off the other organizations making them look bad with my comments about them in the papers. Anyway, when I went to the meeting I was in one room and in the other room there were two of the biggest shelter operators in this city. They didn’t see me but they were talking about me. I stayed out of their sight and listened to their conversation. About that time one of them said to the other one, “Who did this Richard Tripp think he was anyway? Some kind of cop or something?”.
Out of the blue I had my name for my organization; Care Of Poor People allias C.O.P.P. INC. I might add they never did let me hear any more talk about me.
Next where was I going get funds to run my organization? Well, by that time I had started driving a Taxi again, so I’d use my own money until I could get someone to pitch in and help. Since I was working that would have to be my source until I could get others to help.
How was I going keep the other organizations from messing with my work, badmouthing me and the like? Again they came to my rescue. They started telling people I was just a dumb cabdriver. I might add they also said what could a ninth grade dropout do to help the poor and homeless. I’m sure they had quite a laugh at my expense.
So the answer came to me. They said I was just a dumb cab driver, then I’d just play the dumb cab driver. They had no idea what I was up to in the back ground.
You see that cab gets me connected. I used to work the Airport all the time. From that airport it takes about 20 minutes to drive someone downtown. That gave me twenty minutes to promote my ideas to whoever I was bringing downtown, and the best part I never knew who was in my taxi. The point being Richard G Tripp and Care Of Poor People now are known all around the world. It’s funny I was known around the world, before the organizations here knew what was coming down and I was getting funds from around the world to help me do my programs. Not much, but some. Today I’m known in my city. For the last seven years I have even gotten my own day, called “Care Of Poor People Day”. The Mayor and city council makes a proclamaiton to that effect every year for the past seven.
You know I could have never thought that God would take my little step at helping a couple of brothers get a coat to blessing our work to the point where today we are able to take care of millions across our nation.
Today I’m proud to say we have a team of the best community leaders in Kansas City’s history helping us do the events we do for the Poor and Homeless. The Board of Directors of C.O.P.P. INC. reads like a list of the who who’s of our community.
A lot different than when I started years ago. Back then our first board was made up of the homeless brothers and sisters of our community, but today we have well known community leaders doing the job. With their help I’m able to let them do most of the work in our community while I concentrate on the national picture of helping the down and out across America.
Although I do a lot of speaking to the various groups throughout the Kansas City Metro Area about our event’s, I have became a national spokesman for the poor and homeless of America. There have been stories written about the work I do in several of the Chicken Soup for The Soul Books, along with other writers doing stories about me in their various books. I also have my own book, IT’S Hip To Help The Homeless, sub title, Giving a hand up instead of a hand out.
I have spread the message of giving a hand up instead of a hand out across America for the past several years, I have been on stage with some of the top speakers in America. I’ve spoken to as many as 5000 and to as little as 50. Some of the speakers I’ve been on stage with include, Mark Victor Hansen, Arue, Gandhi, Jack Canfield, Tony Robbins, and dozens more of the top inspirational speakers of our time.