29 May 2008

The Homeless

One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody.
~Mother Teresa~
I've been thinking about the homeless lately. Our county has an organization called PADS. It stands for Public Action to Deliver Shelter. They offer a day program for homeless people to gain job skills and stay out of the cold in the winter. From October through April, they set up in area churches each night from 7pm - 7am and the homeless can come in, get a hot meal, shower, sleep. They are fed breakfast in the morning and given a brown bag lunch when they leave for the day.

In spite of this service, I still see homeless people roaming around town. This is not a brag, but I live in a fairly affluent town. 10 years ago you would never have seen a homeless person wandering around. Never. I actually saw a woman the other day set up right on the side of our busiest roadway. She had a shopping cart and had made a bit of a tent with it to sit under. This was also right in front of one of our major strip malls. There is a guy I see almost weekly. He walks around with all his stuff in a few bags. He just walks around all day. Sometimes I have seen him in the morning one place, and then in the afternoon at the other end of town.

So you are probably wondering why I haven't done anything to help them. I wonder that too. I have in the past given money to homeless people. One time I saw this man walking around various stores and gas stations checking all the public phones for change. I gave him $20. Probably not enough to make a difference, but he seemed appreciative. He did go right into the gas station and buy a pack of cigarettes with some of the money. I hope he at least got himself a sandwich with the rest.

My brother has an interesting perspective on the homeless. I remember one time he told me he took restaurant leftovers to homeless people. His point was that you could let it sit in your fridge for a week and throw it away, or give it to someone who would appreciate it. I thought it was kind of an insult to give food you had already munched on to another person, but my brother said it had always been appreciated when he did it. I think he still does it.

Recently I was emailing with my brother (who lives in AZ btw.) I had sent him this political cartoon:

I found the cartoon to be a bit truthful and funny. I wasn't at all thinking about the fictional homeless person mentioned. My brother sent me back this very thoughtful reply:

"Ok so what I get from that is that Barack will not give to the homeless, Hilary will give a little and McCain will give a homeless guy a Job.

The problem with homeless people is that 75% of them want to live on the street, 20% are drug addicts and alcoholics, and the other 5% do not have a choice.

We have a huge homeless issue in Tucson, probably due to our year round average temperature…I talk to, yes actually talk to, homeless people and most of them would not take a job if you offered it to them….they choose to live the way they do…..next time you see a guy with a sign that says “will work for food”…pull over and tell him to get in and that you have work for him….9 out of 10 will not get in the car or truck or whatever, they are looking for a handout, they are holding the sign so people who feel bad or think they are doing a good deed will just hand money to them…..I am ok with that….it takes balls and a lot of time to make money panhandling…and if it pays I guess it is a job…and the people who pay them are provided a service as well….they get to give money to the poor bum in hopes that they will get a better number in the waiting line to heaven….or they see it as a way of giving back…whatever the reason it works like a charm here in Tucson!

The only reason any of the presidential candidates would even look at a homeless guy is for the vote. I like Baracks response the best……”change” is an ambiguous term…..I am pretty sure at this stage of the game that it is not always for the better.

Oh and by the way, I don’t give the guy with the sign by the freeway any money….there are plenty of guys walking around collecting aluminum cans and getting 8 or 10 bucks a day from the recycler….if I see those guys I will pull up to them and give them $10 bucks and tell them to take the day off…..they are not begging for it.

I could have very easily ended up on the streets, drunk, alone, and dying.
I have to help my fellow man because of the gift that has been given to me, I will never be able to give or help enough to pay that back………….Life!"
See, my brother used to have a drug and alcohol problem. He wouldn't have ended up on the street, he has family that would have taken him in. But he can sympathize. After our mother died my brother really was touched by the hand of God. He was headed down a very destructive path. He has been clean now for almost 4 years.
I was really touched by his words actually, which is why I decided to post it here. Everyone might not agree with his statistics, but he makes some very valid points. Which brings me back to the people I see in my town. We have services in our county, yet they continue to live on the street and wander around. Could they be mentally ill, do they really want to live this way? How can you help people who don't want to help themselves? I suppose I can be like my brother, offer a hand out when I am able, and try to have compassion. I've been given a better lot in this life than most. Sure it doesn't really seem that way sometimes, especially because I am at the lower end of the spectrum for the town I live in. But globally, thinking of what most of the world has, I have been blessed. And I need to start being really thankful for that.

We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.
~Mother Teresa~

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

I appreciate your thoughts. My dh doesn't have much compassion for the homeless that he sees begging. He says if the can walk miles a day and panhandle they could get a job. Like your brother said most of them don't want a job.

I feel bad for those that end up without homes like women and children who had abusive ones, but usually those people seek out the shelters and get help to get back on their feet.

The political joke is cute too :)