“…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?