Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Money to the homeless...

I have pondered so much about the homeless (we have alot int he Northwest), but at some point I decided I would no longer give them money, unless I really felt the urge to do so. I used to give food. Now I ONLY give money to musicians if their music is good, and to them, I give generously. This whole post is in response to J. Star's post Streetcorner

This is why I decided ...

Article one: Outside a movie theater, there was a man panhandling. I asked my husband for the change from our drinks once we got inside so I could go give it to him, because I felt bad that here we were enjoying a movie, and he was skinny and needed food. He in turn suggested we give it as a tip to the folks who just sold us our pizza and beer, since they were working for their money. This seemed so obvious, so I did so and the guy behind the counter gave us a pointed thankyou. I know what it's like to have a counter job, the tips were my grocery money and made a real difference.

Article two: My brother has been in law enforcement and is the kindest, fairest, most non jerk of a cop I have ever met. He has told me that 80 to 90 percent of homeless are struggling with substance abuse issues. He recommended that I make a check out to the local rescue mission every month and call that my donation to the poor. There they get fed and sleep in a bed and can go back there as much as they want and if they are interested in getting their stuff together, they can find help from many church or county run places designed to place them in a job and help them off the street.

Article three. We have folks who stand at on ramps where there are control lights before getting on the onramp to the freeway and they have signs begging for cash. Down the road there is a Labor Ready where they can get day labor. Many of these people who hold the signs are clean, well dressed and why they are there seems really odd. In fact, handing out dollars felt to me always felt like I was paying them to alleviate my conscience. And in addition, I was positively reinforcing begging, because once one guy learned he could make a bundle at the onramps, a gazillion of these beggars popped up.

Article 4 There are people in this world who are just permanently on the grift. They live off of generosity of others and can often avoid real work or life this way. I guess I don't want to advocate this way of life. I think we need to take care of the poor, but through rescue mission or a soup kitchen makes much more sense than handing out dollars here and there.

Suley, we were in Chengdu. it wasn't like I was on some tour bus going all over China with a bunch of other tourists (eeegh perish the thought), we went to teach, which we did for 6 hours a day in grueling tropical heat--hovering around 95 to 100 with daily rainstorms so the humidity alwyas lingered around 90 to 100 percent as well. We didn't have a grand choice of what we saw, but honestly, it was all so good. It's difficult to travel China without knowing Chinese, really, unless you have a translator (at least I wouldn't be excited about the prospect of doing so, though I am certain it has been done). I know we tried one weekend to go it on our own, we pulled through, but it tended to be touch and go and best, and everyone in the group were seasoned travellers. We almost died in a taxi crash. None of those that would complain about not having ice in their coke or start to cry because of a hair in their food (though one of the older ladies almost passed out while another person in our group dragged her all over looking for the Tibetan restaurant where we had the most exotic dish of potatoes and carrots). We saw the terra cotta warriors, went to Suzhou's garden Master of Nets, saw many taoist temples and the worlds oldest irrigation project, and the Giant Panda Breeding Center.
Writing about this makes me think I should put up some of the pictures I took.

can you tell I am getting nostalgic...there is so much we saw and did, and the kids were the best.

ahhh and it was all free, in exchange for a little teaching. I was in heaven.


Jenelle said...

My aunt is a social worker at a hospital in NY on the psych ward. They see alot of these homeless people. Many of them are mentally ill. it is really sad. some are so depressed they can not get out of the pit of despair. And yes, there are some who are just lazy and looking to live off of others, but there are far more who are indeed in dire straits.

And no I did not have a hot date. Just some good late night conversation with a friend who really makes me smile...

suleyman said...

I agree with you on the homeless folk. We have people on off ramps here more than anything, but I tend not to think of them as homeless. They're either travellers or grifters.

I envy you. I really envy you. You got to see Wu ti's tomb. I wanna see Wu ti's tomb!! I have two replica terra cotta warriors who guard my room (thanks, Pier 1 imports), but I would loooove to see the real thing.

Maybe one day I'll visit China - when the communists don't lord over it. A taiwanese prof. told me to travel to Taiwan and teach english. No Chinese required. I'd like to try that.

and I find that hot dogs make great missiles.