Monday, April 11, 2011

Homelessness: Here we go...

After recently attending a homelessness seminar in Merced, I have a few comments, concerns and thoughts.  After sitting and listening to the issues at hand regarding our issue of the homeless, my mind blew in a million different directions.  The following is purely from personal expierence and I in no way mean to offend or upset anyone.  I come from a very hardworking family. I will admit I never really had to worry about when the next meal would make it to my mouth.  My sympathy for the homeless has recently fallen short after attending a seminar that's intention was to build it.  I realize given the current economy is it really hard to find a job right now, I will never deny that.  However I find it hard to believe that those who are less fortunate than I have all tried to find a job.  Everyday when I drive to school and pass the church on the corner of M St., and Yosemite Ave., I can not help but notice, the majority of the people living in tents on the lawn look perfectly capable of hard work.  I was raised to work as hard as possible and exhaust all means of working before you ask for a hand out.  I am a college student and even at the age of 21, almost 22, I hate asking my parents for anything.  Call it what you will, prideful and such but I simply feel since I am now healthier than ever that I am more than capable of hard work, why should they have to fund my entire life.  I became upset at this recent seminar because the whole time the testimonials were going on, I couldn't help but feel like I was being penalized for having a job and not being considered poor.  There were multiple issues that came up the other day and one caught my attention the most.  A few of the people who were there to state the hardships they have fallen upon also stated they do not think it is right that they should have to obtain a permit to ask for money on the median of major streets.  They felt that was not fair and discriminated them, and here is where I almost blew, then they called out Valley Children's Hospital for the fact they were allowed to sell Kid's Day papers in the median and not have to obtain a permit.  My take is, that money goes to Valley Childrens Charity, to help little kids fight cancer and help provide medical care to children who's parents may not have been able to afford it.  I am absolutely astonished that, that statement was even a matter of discussion.  That money goes to families who's parents are working themselves thin barely making a dollar but still WORKING just to be able to maybe put food on the table, and now you are stating that it should not be allowed? I completely disagree.  I would have thought that being homeless most of the people at that seminar would have compassion for little kids who would otherwise die without the care that Valley Children's provides, however I guess I am wrong.  Our solution to ending homelessness in Merced is not going to go anywhere if we sit and point the blame at eachother and play a childish game of politics when it comes to chairties.  I have an emmense about of compassion for those who have lost their job recently and/or a loved one causing strain on their financial situation.  However there are places that offer help.  Most churches will never turn their back on a person in need, they offer food and clothes possibly even places to stay, yet most of the time the people who I see standing on street corners have never once set foot in a church building to ask for help.  Some programs require that the person stays clean from drugs and alcohol however if you can manage, they will help you.  There are always opitions out there if you are persistant and try hard enough.  The choice is up to them.  I donate to these churches, and these programs and will only donate to them for this cause.  I do not give out money any longer when I am out about the town.  After a woman approached me at Applebee's with one story then the VERY NEXT NIGHT approached me at IN N OUT with a very different story yet still asking for money.  My response to her the second night was, I am sorry I will buy you a hamburger however I donate my spare change to my church which I can give you the address to and you can ask them for help.  They will not turn you away.  Her response to me was a sarcastic laugh and then a "Ha! No thanks." From that day forward I promised myself I would only donate to programs who are helping homeless the right way, and I have. Once again this is only my opinion and I am in no way telling everyone to stop giving money on the street, I am just asking that you educate yourself enough to know a persons true intentions.    

4 comments:

  1. It's true enough that some people who are homeless or just unemployeed period have no desire to locate gainful employment. Several studies have shown that the majority of homeless are homeless for very short periods of time before they find help. The people you and I typically think of when we think, "Homeless," are what's called chronic homeless. These are a different group all together. For a large part these people are no longer capable of functioning in society. Typical causes include mental and social disorders as well as excessive drug use resulting in mental and social disorders. The large remainder of the people that are chronically homeless that don't fit in this category are people that are satisfied enough with their current situation to not put forth a true effort to be employed. Then there are the relatively few who are truly stuck in a bad situation. For the most part this small group tends to locate assistance and reach out to improve their conditions but manage to find themselves back where they began.
    It's a disheartening and complex issue dealing with the chronically homeless.

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  2. Hey Cuz: You're touched on a real hot-button issue here. I commend you for speaking your mind. I know exactly what you mean about people who don't want to help themselves. Unfortunately, it makes it tough on the ones who really need help. I am very active in my church and I serve at a community dinner for the homeless every Monday night. That's where I will be after work today. I too, do not give money to people on the streets. They are the ones who are usually too lazy to help themselves.

    We're living in a society of entitlement. Most people think they are owed something for one reason or another and I believe this will get worse before it gets better. Laziness has become the norm. Yes, jobs are hard to come by but there are jobs out there. I try not to judge people because I don't know they're story but your "Ha, no thanks" woman is most likely not interested in helping herself. She just wants a handout.

    I disagree with you on the issue of the permit, however. If the City or County requires street vendors to obtain a permit then that should apply to everyone. Even a non-profit. It shouldn't matter if you're begging, selling something, or just passing out flyers. The same rules should apply to all.

    Thanks for sharing your blog. Sorry for getting up on my soap box there.

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  3. Glad to see your stepping up to the plate and trying to get people to wake up. I think Mark hit the nail on the head when he said we are living in a society of entitlement. When I was working with some children in elementary school, I would often ask them to list their goals. Some of my students would say they didn't need to work because they could get money from the government like their parents. It's a cycle that is difficult to break.
    Thanks for "stirring the pot".

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  4. Thank you everyone.. I love the feedback. There are so many issue's I have yet to address and am excited to see where they all take me!!! :)

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