homeless people

Discussion in 'Teacher Time Out' started by TennisPlayer, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. TennisPlayer

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    What do you do when you see someone on the corner especially when you're at a light? Sometimes, I'll give them a nutrition bar if I have one handy but it still makes me sad when I see people there especially out in the cold weather.

    I'm thinking about putting some phone numbers together for them to call someone/some place but don't know if they'd spend the money they get on phone calls. The guy I saw today was drinking beer and hiding the cans in the bushes. Sometimes I think people may not know how to help themselves improve their situation or others may know how but don't want to!
     
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  3. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    One of my friends does that - she keeps water and blankets in her car, and has a bunch of numbers of shelters, and asks them if they would like her to call and have someone get them and take them to a kitchen or shelter. But her mom runs a kitchen, so she knows all this stuff.
     
  4. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    This is going to sound really heartless, but I don't do anything and don't feel guilty about it. There are two memebers of my family I don't frequently to admit too, and they're both "professional bums". I'm dead serious. They both have nice cars and live in "business" hotels, and eat out every single meal every single day. They make their living by looking pathetic and standing on street corners with emotion provoking signs. They actually get so much food from people driving by, that they donate thousands of dollars worth every year to food banks. I realize that not everybody gets that kind of money, but I know at least two that do, so I just don't do anything.
     
  5. AMK

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    I don't do anything either. While in Key West most of them were all drinking on the corners in front of the bars and such...they find money for beer!
     
  6. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Both of those reasons are precisely why I don't give money - Blankets, water, and an offer to make a phone call. If they truly need help, they will be appreciative and it only takes a second.
     
  7. Proud2BATeacher

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    MM, the city I used to live in had a lady who hung out downtown. We called her "The Quarter Lady" because she went up and down the street asking for quarters. She seriously looked mentally ill and homeless. I found out that she lived down the street from a very wealthy family I knew. Her daughter used to drive her downtown everyday in her BMW. Needless to say, I stopped giving her my quarters;).
     
  8. Ms. I

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    I don't do anything & am feeling less & less guilty as time passes. It's like it's expected to always see a few of them somewhere.
     
  9. Proud2BATeacher

    Proud2BATeacher Phenom

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    I would rather donate to programs rather than specific individuals.
     
  10. Teach'em

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    In my town, we have a shelter for the homeless that has strict rules, such as being in the shelter by 9 pm, spending your day job hunting, etc. A lot of the homeless people around here don't want to go there though because that means they have to take responsibility for themselves and get their lives on track. They like the idea of bumming for money better.
     
  11. Kat53

    Kat53 Devotee

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    A few years ago I was stopped at a light with my window rolled down. The "homeless" man saw my California license plate so we started chatting about California. He told me he worked at the airport but * wink,wink* did the homeless gig for extra christmas money. Ever since then I will not give money to someone standing on the corner. Besides the fact that I don't feel comfortable with people approaching me in my car.
    At the pharmacy that I stop by for snacks on my lunch break, I get approached almost every time for money. I sometimes give a dollar or so because I feel obligated, but I don't like doing it. I have a friend that's a missionary and I would much rather give money to help her.
     
  12. MissJennifer

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    Reading the book "Under the Overpass" really opened my eyes to the world of homelessness. It's an awesome book that I would recommend to anyone. (www.undertheoverpass.com) One thing that our church has started doing is encouraging everyone to keep a box of granola bars in their car - and when they pull up to a corner with someone there, hand them a granola bar. If you feel like you'd like to give $ for a hot meal, the book suggests that you either buy them a hot meal and bring it to them, or else buy gift cards for fast food restaurants or even grocery stores. Some grocery stores might even be able to specify that the cards cannot be used to purchase alcohol or tobacco products. (check with your local grocery stores on that! i'm not sure how that would work, but that's what the book suggests!)

    I think we're going to try to get a box of those handwarmers to hand out with the granola bars for this winter - in the summer a bottle of water.
     
  13. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    I saw that on a 20/20 special one time on abc. My mom has one that she sits with shopping cart by the shopping mall where mom gets groceries. She does not bother the lady and the lady has never bothered her. Mom is a travel nurse and has been to CA to work and there are lots of them there and many beg. It is sad to see. We donate at Christmas time and Give all our clothes to goodwills and such places. We even donated our washer and dryer when we got new ones so if they wanted to there are places. Most of them just do not want them help. Sad deal tho.
     
  14. Upsadaisy

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    And a rather high percentage of homeless people have untreated mental illnesses.
     
  15. silverspoon65

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    I did a unit with my students on the homeless last year, and we talked about a lot of the generalizations made about the homeless, and I see a lot of those here. A lot of what you are saying is true, but I hope you remember that it is not true for everyone, and sometimes your loose change, a bottle of water, a granola bar, and old blanket, or a phone call for a ride is not really going to hurt anyone, whether the person is out there on the streets "legitimately" or not. And the majority of people are out on the streets because they have an addiction or mental illness that they weren't able to have treated, maybe because of poor health care. A high percentage of teens are out on the streets because they are gay and not accepted by their families.

    Sorry for the lecture, but we spent a lot of time on this in school. I'll jump off my soapbox. :)
     
  16. moonbeamsinajar

    moonbeamsinajar Habitué

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    Although I live in a very small town, we have a homeless shelter here. Usually it is filled to capacity. If the need arises to house someone when it is full, the local churches will put them up for a night or two at a residential hotel, or get them to a shelter in another city. The area churches are very dedicated to feeding the hungry and getting people into homes. Most of the homeless here are people who have been evicted for not paying rent. Occasssionally, though we do have someone who lives under the bridge or overpass. They usually do not hang out on the street corners, but we see them carrying their backpacks and stuff as they travel along the highway. Those are generally the individuals that refuse to go to the shelters.
     
  17. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    All of that stuff will do absolutely NOTHING to solve the problem or do anybody any good. Give your loose change (or more) to organizations that actually do something to solve the problem and help the people. Giving street people loose change not only doesn't help them, but can seriously hurt them, and not just in the form of them buying beer or whatever. These people become targets for violent crime because petty thugs think they're an easy mark, or that they don't matter so the police won't do much to catch their attackers. By giving them change, you encourage them to stay on the street and possibly contribute to crimes commited against them.

    Instead, volunteer with organizations that go out and get these people off the streets and get them the help they need.
     
  18. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    I think it is really more about showing compassion towards another human being and seeing them as a person, not a problem. I agree about giving change, which is why I encourage people to give out granola bars or water, or offer a phone call.
     
  19. ecsmom

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    Here at home, I have given food to a guy on a corner with a sign that read "Cold, wet, hungry". I have bought gas for a mom with kids who was trying to get home. I got a "God Bless You" in both cases. One never knows who is an angel in disguise. I have been blessed even though we have had hard times. I like to be a small blessing to others.

    I do agree that many have made a business of being homeless. They tend to prefer warmer climates like Key West if they are really without shelter. Many do have mental illnesses and can't or won't get the help they need. It is a shame.
     
  20. Grammy Teacher

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    I don't live in a large city, but have been approached while traveling to larger cities. I don't give them anything. There are shelters to take care of their needs. I donate to places like that.
     
  21. Hoot Owl

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    I always give money or turn around and find a place to buy them some food. We were coming back from DD's surgery last May and there was an itinerant looking man on the freeway. I insisted to my DH that we buy him some food, make the loop to give it to him, and see if he needed money. He was homeless and trying to get to some family's house up north, he had severe asthma and was visibly hungry.

    If they use it to buy alcohol or stash it away in their savings account so be it, if there's one in ten that desperately need it then I've done the right thing. There are a lot of mentally ill people who are out there, they don't know how to get home, they don't have a home to go to, they have no family, or their family is sick of putting up with their illness.

    I also donate to our local Salvation Army.
     
  22. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    We had a rash of brutal homless person beatings/killings a while back. The perps were teenagers who did it for fun simply because the people were there. Think about that. If you give these people money and food, you encourage them to stay on the streets where they can be victimized by people like these. The "right" thing, for the people that really do need it, is to help the organizations that get them off the streets and out of harm's way. Spend the time and money with the homeless organizations. Let them train you in how to talk people into accepting help at a shelter or soup kitchen. Help run the soup kitchen, work the overnight shift in the shelter and other things like that. If you want to do something directly, then make that phone call...to the appropriate social service agency or homeless organization.
     
  23. Grammy Teacher

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    When I was a young girl, there were several bums who passed through on the rails. One was named "Kennedy" and he always came to my parents house for some food. My mom would pack up a lunch bag full of sandwiches for him.
    One time my dad picked up a couple of hitch hikers. They were headed to Chicago and one had an awful infection in his foot from walking and his shoe rubbing. My parents let them live at our house for about a week and helped him heal up, then bought them a bus ticket to Chicago. They were named Craig and Gino! I would be afraid to do that now days.
     
  24. Dzenna

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    I don't give money either. My daughter befriended a local homeless man who "helped out" where she worked. In fact, he "helped out" at many businesses in town including our local food bank. We gave him a bike when his got stolen. I still see him riding it around town.

    Recently, a lady asked for money for food. She was outside the grocery store with her small son. I took them inside and bought staples that we donate to the food banks: milk, a bag of rice, a bag of beans, peanut butter, a bag of apples/oranges and a loaf of bread. I didn't think it would hurt. If she was scamming, then shame on her.
     
  25. KinderCowgirl

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    I may be in minority here but I also usually give them money if I have change or bills loose in the car. Once I was on the way to the grocery store and bought an extra box of dog treats because the women had a dog. If they need to spend that money on alcohol to numb the pain of being homeless, then so be it. I feel for people with mental illness out there today - how do they get medications to help? And after working in a shelter (very briefly) I understand why people don't want to stay there - most are crowded and not always safer than the streets anyway.

    I truly believe that with a different turn of the dice any one of us could be in that same situation. I also think about what ecsmom about angels in disguise - maybe it's good karma.
     
  26. mom2ohc

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    i look the other way also, see, now reading this, I see that there are so many scammers, it just pisses me off!
     
  27. d_anne5

    d_anne5 Rookie

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    I don't give anything. I don't mean to sound harsh, either, but like everyone else has stated, there are shelters and organizations to help them. Everyone has issues. Everyone has been through rough times. It's not my responsibility to take care of them. Just my opinion.

    I was walking in downtown Dallas a few days ago and saw a homeless guy digging through a trashcan. . . while holding a cigarette in his hand. Let me tell you, cigarettes are NOT cheap. He obviously had the money to get a pack, yet he's digging through the trash.

    Also, when I was in college, sometimes I'd stop at a gas station right off campus to get gas. Homeless guys would bum around there, walk up to my window, ask for change, etc. It freaked me out. I'm a 5'2" female with a couple of homeless guys tapping my window. I just don't feel safe around people like that.
     
  28. futureteach21

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    I have a hard time walking by a homeless person without giving them at least some change. My friends give me a hard time because they think every dollar I give goes to the person buying beer or cigarettes. But I can't help it. I would rather assume that person needs the money and will spend it on something to better their situation then not believe them. Not every homeless person (even though there are plenty) scams their way into money. Maybe I need to be tougher, but I would rather have faith in a person than keep that dollar for myself.
     
  29. MrsWbee

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    I try to always give at least a dollar or two. There have been times in my life that I pull up to the light and hand the person a twenty dollar bill. Honestly, if they are spending the time out there and are not truly in need, then that really sucks, but you never know whose life you are filling with blessings. I'll leave the judgment up to the Big Guy.
     
  30. JustMe

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    My mother often recites the phrase: There, but for the grace of God go I.

    Some things are within our control; some things are beyond our control. Whatever the reason someone is homeless is heartbreaking, even if they brought on the conditions by their irresponsible behavior. I'm very rarely confronted with this situation, seeing a homeless person that is. In fact, it is only when we go to a Reds game in Cincinnati...but my husband and I give.

    I always buy for two "angel tree" children at Christmastime. The program is operated by a well-known and respected organization, yet "scammers" can penetrate it even. I was at Wal-Mart a couple of days before Christmas and waited in the long line to only have to wait much longer because the mother in front of me was returning numerous items her son had received through the program. She told the clerk this...she was rude and clearly unappreciative. She ended up getting nearly $100 on a Wal-Mart gift card to buy whatever she pleases. Hopefully she spent the money either on new items for her son, groceries, or other necessities...but there was nothing from stopping her from buying cigarettes or things for herself. My point is, I will still buy for two needy children next year because not all parents behave in that manner.

    The homeless person outside of the Reds game may very well be a "professional homeless person" taking advantage of the thousands of fans who attend the games. I most certainly don't approve of that. But I also don't approve of the way many, many people earn an income...even those who have careers that seem legitimate on the surface. Predatory lenders, for example. No, the two are not the same, but hopefully you see my point. Okay, maybe you won't see my point...it's a little too complicated to explain. I guess I'm saying that I'll take the risk, and if the person isn't legitimate then it won't my worst judgment ever or the worst mistake.

    Some people are so, so cold...and that makes me sad. I'm blessed, lucky, a product of hard work...whatever you wish to call it. My five dollars is so little to me, but could mean so much to a person in need. I give because, to me, it seems to be the absolute right thing to do. Obviously, as others have stated, giving to shelters and programs is a very wise choice, but I choose to do both. Just like when we give advice, we can't control what a person does with the money we give.

    Oh, I could go on...but I'm boring myself! :)
     
  31. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    See, I think a lot of people are missing my second major point, and that is the fact that doing something that enables a person to stay on the street harms them far more than any good that can come out of a dollar or two, regardless of what they spend it on. Homeless people are targeted as victims of violent crime because they're seen as easy marks and criminals believe that a crime against a homeless person won't be as aggressively investigated. Next time you give a dollar or two, think about how you will feel if that person't battered face is strewn across the news chanels the next day. If you want to make a difference, donate your time and money to organizations that get the people off the street and away from people who might victimize them.
     
  32. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    That's like saying it's my fault my house gets broken into because I left the door unlocked. I would not feel responsible in this situation.

    First of all, these things often happen in shelters just as they happen outside.

    Secondly, many shelters only provide certain services. It is rare for a shelter to provide clothing, a permanent place to sleep, a shower, basic toiletries, and 3 square meals. Many people still need money or relief for these items as well.

    Finally, there are many reasons why people don't go to shelters, and many of them have nothing to do with drugs, alcohol, or pride. Pets usually aren't allowed, if the person has a family or companion, often they have to leave that person because shelters are usually open to one gender only. And some people don't go because of mental illness or other reasons.

    I doubt giving or not giving someone a few dollars or some food or water would really change their mind about going to a shelter. Those who go will go and can still use the relief of a few bucks, and those who won't go are pretty resolute about not going, for whatever reason.
     
  33. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but personally this seems like an "interesting" twist to the situation. A person who gives a dollar to a homeless person is not responsible in the least if that same person is injured. That is taking the responsibility from the people actually responsible: the SOBs who hurt the person!
     
  34. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    No, actually, I equate it to enabling an alcoholic.
     
  35. mandagap06

    mandagap06 Devotee

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    So you are saying everyone who is homeless is an alcoholic? Yes, some are but thats your job to say who is or is not and I am sure many are not.
     
  36. mmswm

    mmswm Moderator

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    No, I said that I saw a parrallel to enabling an alcoholic. The disscussion was wether or not giving money to people on the street contributed to the danger they are in and if you do, does that make you partially responsible. I said yes, and drew an analogy between that and enabling an alcoholic. People in dire situations don't change until they hit "rock bottom", just as alcoholics don't change until they hit their "rock bottom". Rock bottom won't come for a homeless person as long as he can take care of his needs by the handouts given to him/her. By giving money, you are enabling him, in my opinion, to stay on the street, and are therefore part of the problem, just as somebody who looks the other way, or provides a way for an alcoholic to drink is part of the problem.

    If you've actually read my posts, then you will know that I'm a huge proponent of working with organizations that get people off the street and into safer environments. My time and my money go to those organizations. There are many different groups that work with homeless people. My choice is a group called "The Homeless Voice". They go out into the streets and talk to and educate people about their options. They identify those people who are mentally ill and provide them treatment. Sometimes it's a long process, with volunteers hunting down and contacting a person every day, while bringing required meds, food and clothing, but that person is in daily contact with somebody actively working to get him or her off the street. This group is helping to solve the problem, one homeless person at a time, and that is where I spend my money.
     
  37. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    mmswm- You reminded me of the saying:

    "Give a man a fish, you fed him for today; Teach a man to fish, you fed him for a lifetime..."

    It's the difference between reinforcing a bad situation and actually helping make a difference, isn't it?

    :angel:
     
  38. silverspoon65

    silverspoon65 Enthusiast

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    Better yet, give him a fish to eat while you teach him to fish so he isn't starving and miserable while he is trying to figure it out.
     
  39. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I think that's what mmswm was saying...and I agree.
    I went back and corrected the quote ...I had paraphrased it...
     
  40. TampaTeacher

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    I don't usually give money to individuals, but do give to the Salvation Army. I've had some family member who suffered from addiction and who received life-changing help from "The Sally," as they call it.

    However, on the occasion I do give a couple bucks, I don't really care if they use it for cigarettes or booze. Of course I hope they buy food or something else more productive.

    Oh, and I heard somebody say once that, rather than turn away in disgust, maybe we could send out a quick prayer for the person. That really struck me, and I try to keep it in mind as I'm rolling up my windows at intersections.

    EDIT: I'm not implying anybody is turning away in disgust. It was just something I heard that made a difference to me.
     
  41. Jem

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    I never carry cash, as I loose it or forget how I've spent it, so I rarely have change or bills to give.

    There was a girl outside of Whole Foods once, though, who was about my age. She was a mess. I bought her a really expensive chocolate bar and a sandwich, and gave it to her on my way out. She was in disbelief when I gave them to her.

    I think people who give to homeless people are soothing their own guilt, and that counts for something, too. Giving that sandwich to her made me feel good as well, so it was a two-way gift.
     

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