(mt) Media Temple

Sylvia...under the tree

Dinner with the lover boy again. At Papa Haydn, Portland OR.

“…You’ll give me money if you are really sorry.” The homeless woman said to the couple behind me as I walk down Pike Place.

Two weeks later, as I was leaving the dog park, there she was again, asking for money. “Please give me some money, no one would give me money, I need money for food.” There were tears in her eyes.

I walked towards a convenient store, but then thought to myself, what if she’s a user? I walked home full of guilt. It was cold and windy. I was shivering even though I was fully clothed and with food still digesting in my stomach. I can’t imagine how it is to not have a warm meal or a home to return to.

I shared my story with D few hours later and learned that shelters provide warm soup to homeless but deny habitual drug users. It made me feel less guilty knowing that there is help out there for those who are free of drugs. Then again, what if she was clean, and had no idea what’s available out there?

I avoid giving money most of the time, because there is no way to find out if the money actually gets spent on food or other necessities. I give food, unless they are Real Change vendors. I had purchased more than one of the same issue in the past. People that try should get the support that they deserve. Vendors pay $0.35 for each paper and sell them for $1, and I generally give $5. Someone had made fun of me saying I should just give the money and not take the paper. My belief is that if I was homeless and made the effort to sell something for a profit instead of just begging for money, I would want others to respect my dignity and take what I have to offer.

Do you give? Do you pass by without a word? How do you judge who deserves the help?

4 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. You are right in what you are saying especially ‘I would want others to respect my dignity and take what I have to offer’ I live in the UK and I am from Pakistan, I have noticed that homeless people found in London are usually drug addicts or they have done something wrong coz of which the State isn’t giving them any benefits. Still there are people who work for homeless and still there are homeless, its really hard for me as well to walk past someone in Pakistan (especially) who is just asking for money to buy his/her food.

    I have learned frm experience that these are all organised gangs of beggers, I have now started to encourage people who sell towels, tissues, news papers on traffic lights instead of begging and if someone asks me I just point them towards that person that he/she is selling something why can’t you ?

    It just goes on, The only way possible for me to judge is that i look at the appearance and I listen to my heart, sometimes I give and sometimes I know for sure that he/she can do something better.

    Good Post and website

  2. Thank you.

    After talking to quite some people, I decided to, like you, follow my heart. It never occurred to me that I will help more than I will do harm by giving them a dollar or five. I obviously don’t encourage drug abuse, but I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to not have a home at the end of the day, and if a little booze helps ease the pain, then so be it. I help out the ones that are obviously asking for “clean help”, and ignore most that seem intoxicated or drugged out. I live in downtown and see a lot of addicts. It really saddens me to see some that are so deeply addicted, and there are not a whole lot that I can do to help.

  3. You do have a good point. None of us want to contribute to bad habits or the promotion/continuation of drug use. I don’t think that there is any way for us to really know what this person has gone through or what they are currently going through. We can’t walk in anyones shoes but our own. I’m sure that many of us have been tempted with drugs and might have even tried them, gotten high, done something stupid or even got to the point of addiction and death. I do know that there have been many times where the idea of a drug seems somewhat enticing, especially for the oppressed. It is relief in one form or the other even though it is not a healthy outlet. Each one of us could’ve been stupid and tried using drugs and who knows, maybe even I could be on the streets asking people for money. I don’t think there is any way for us to really imagine where we will be tomorrow, next month or next year. Something could happen to us in such a dramatic way that we succumb to drugs or sex or whatever there is to make us feel any better, and then one day we realize we have a problem.

    If there were 10 beggars on a street and only 3 of them were truly poor, would you withhold all of your money or even a dime of it just to be sure you were not giving to someone who did not “need” it. If we do not give to any of them because of that fear, we have failed in helping the 3 people who were truly in need. If the other 7 beggars who are there like wolves in sheep skin, and feel that they need the extra money even if we do not think they do –because hey we all “need” more…

    Give the money to each of the 10 beggars. Thats what I hope to do when the situation arrives. People who are on drugs make us more reliable to help them if they are asking for it but that of course comes with guidelines and some rules — like you said we don’t want to help them buy drugs. Those are the real people in need I think — the ones who are almost lost.

  4. kwinie_thedamned

    i totally agree when you said “making the effort and not just begging for money”…after all if we have to base this story on biblical basis,the scriptue would say:teach a man how to catch a fish and not catch the fish from him…these people can’t depend on others for the rest of their life…i just hope that in time poverty will be minimized/lessened…god still hears our prayers…call on him…and he will be right then and there…

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