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Old 01-11-2007, 10:05 PM   #1
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Helping the Homeless (Long and not sure if it's OT since food is involved)

First please note, it is not my intention to start a controversy or a firestorm with this topic. I'm simply relating a couple of experiences.

Last year when I was at the gas station I was approached by a homeless man who was trying to cadge quarters. (1) I rarely carry cash. (2) Since there was a liquor store next door, if I'd had cash I wouldn't have given him any. But what I did do was tell him I have no cash but if you want I'll buy you a sandwich. [Note: And I knew the fast food places take credit & debit cards these days. And I observed he was not (yet) drunk.]

Ladies and gentlemen, when I offered him food his eyes lit up like a kid who had just gotten a shiny new toy! He said, "You'd buy me a sandwich?" Sure! (I didn't tell him this I've run into panhandlers who refuse any other sort of help, virtually spitting, not literally! Harsh rude words to to people who won't give them cash.)

There was a Burger King (hereinafter known as BK) next door and a Wendy's across the street. I asked which he would like. He'd seen the sign at BK for a bacon/cheddar burger, asked timidly, "Could I have one of those?" Yes; would you like some french fries? Onion rings if they have them? "Oh no, ma'am, the sandwich will be just fine." I asked what he would like to drink. "Oh, water, ma'am. It won't cost you anything." Imagine a man living in a box beside a strip mall worrying about my money!

Anyway, tonight, I was back at that same gas station. And Steve was outside, petting a Daschundt that a woman had walked up. I recognized him. Unfortunately, this time he was drunk. (Last time he was sober.) I asked if he remembered the lady who took him for a burger last year. Oh, yes! (I'm not convinced, he'd been hitting the whisky - Scottish spelling, same results). But I said the same thing I said last year. I won't give you money for booze but I'll buy you a sandwich.

He perked up. Said, "I remember you! Are you going to buy me a sandwich?" Yes sir, I am. Last year it was a BK. He said, "Is the Subway across the street still open? I'd like a Subway. I'm trying to eat healthier." Okay, for a man living on the street, drunk on whisky most of the time that was But I can sort of appreciate it, too. Anyway, we went across the street to Subway.

He didn't go inside the BK last year when I ordered his food. He did walk into the Subway with me, for this was his strip mall. The merchants and employees knew him there.

He announced to the employees I was his guardian angel. The people behind the counter laughed and prodded him to figure out what he wanted to order. This time I asked if he wanted chips with his sandwich and he said he'd like some BBQ chips.

He was obviously drunk but I got some food in his stomach before someone gave him enough spare change; maybe it helped.

I left him sitting inside the restaurant with his sandwich, a bag of chips and a cup of Dr. Pepper. It's cold outside in west Tennessee tonight and they'll let him stay inside the restaurant as long as he can 'nurse' that foot-long sub and some chips or until Subway shuts down for the night.

Fraidy

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Old 01-11-2007, 10:19 PM   #2
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Good karma to you, FraidKnot.
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Old 01-11-2007, 10:24 PM   #3
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Thanks FraidNot, your story definately helps me to appreciate what I have in life.
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Old 01-11-2007, 10:47 PM   #4
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fraidy, i've gotten food to homeless people. only a select few. i screen them out.
won't give near my neighborhood here, although near my school that's different- my neighborhood is rich & those guys that aren't any semblance of poor tend to lurk cause they're aware of that- they're well-groomed, tuck thier many items beside them like you can't see thier expensive belongings- if they get to be too annoying, i dial authorities.
yet several guys central city (far from here) look very weathered. old, alcoholic, filthy, tired & sunken. if they beg, usually i'm like, 'uh-uh' & leave that at that.
couple of them, though, get a burger or a few $$ if they're obviously hungry.
although i probably shouldn't- they can get gourmet meals via food pantry- meals prepared by us Chef students get donated to that.
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Old 01-11-2007, 11:07 PM   #5
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Fraidy, you've done what many of us wish we had.

Maybe next time, you'll "deliver" a homemade sandwich to Steve.
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:50 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvs
fraidy, i've gotten food to homeless people. only a select few. i screen them out.
won't give near my neighborhood here, although near my school that's different- my neighborhood is rich & those guys that aren't any semblance of poor tend to lurk cause they're aware of that- they're well-groomed, tuck thier many items beside them like you can't see thier expensive belongings- if they get to be too annoying, i dial authorities.
yet several guys central city (far from here) look very weathered. old, alcoholic, filthy, tired & sunken. if they beg, usually i'm like, 'uh-uh' & leave that at that.
couple of them, though, get a burger or a few $$ if they're obviously hungry.
although i probably shouldn't- they can get gourmet meals via food pantry- meals prepared by us Chef students get donated to that.
It's hard to tell who is hungry and who is not. Many years ago, a neighborhood family bought a red sports car. The family consisted of a husbnd, wife and three kids. A few weeks later, I noticed the parents outside at midnight looking through the garbage for food. I bagged up two sacks with captain crunch cereal, lil debbies, hot pockets, milk, chips, candy bars, sausage biscuits, etc. The next night, I set it beside the garbage dumpster about 11:00 and prayed that they would find it. Within a few days the red sports car was gone and they were back to paying their bills and eating. About 8 years later, I stopped at a convenience store and a young man in a service truck jumped out and ran to open the store door for me. He said that he had been watching out the window when I dropped off the groceries. He giggled and said he ate gummy worms all night. Then they decided the car was not worth it.

I noticed a well dressed senior citizen couple in their 80's walk down the street about the same time each month. I kinda thought they were looking for change along the curb side for some reason. The next month, I put a $20 around a rock and left it at the curb side on the day that I usually saw them. Sure enough they found it. There was a donut shop on the block and they went inside. They were so excited about the money that when they ordered, they told the lady all about it. When she found out that they were not able to buy food and pay their bills all month, she called some agencies. (she too had noticed them walking along the street). They never had to go without again.

People in all walks of life need a helping hand now and then.
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvs
fraidy, i've gotten food to homeless people. only a select few. i screen them out.
won't give near my neighborhood here, although near my school that's different- my neighborhood is rich & those guys that aren't any semblance of poor tend to lurk cause they're aware of that- they're well-groomed, tuck thier many items beside them like you can't see thier expensive belongings- if they get to be too annoying, i dial authorities.
We've all heard about folks who have nice homes and nice cars who go out and beg and pretend they are homeless. These crooks go home with mega $$$ and I also am on the lookout. No one gets cash from me.

I can't offer anyone work because I live in an apartment where everything - from yard work down to changing my smoke alarm batteries for me - is taken care of... not that I tell strangers where I live! But this guy I've seen twice now and trust me, he's not an actor. He's really down on his luck.

Quote:
yet several guys central city (far from here) look very weathered. old, alcoholic, filthy, tired & sunken. if they beg, usually i'm like, 'uh-uh' & leave that at that.
couple of them, though, get a burger or a few $$ if they're obviously hungry.
although i probably shouldn't- they can get gourmet meals via food pantry- meals prepared by us Chef students get donated to that.
Nothing wrong with directing someone to a food pantry or a soup kitchen... gourmet meals? Must be a pretty unique place!

Fraidy
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Old 01-12-2007, 01:49 AM   #8
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Thank you for helping Steve. Some of the homeless people get abandoned by their families over time and some of them out live their families.
You didn't mention Steve's age. Did you ever learn what his circumstances were about?
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Old 01-12-2007, 02:18 AM   #9
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fraidy, yeah, we cook quite a volume of food at school, so rather than get rid of that, we send our extra food to our local food pantry.

stirblue, it's easy to me to spot hungry people- i see them daily & thier appearance speaks volumes.

& if someone is silly enough to buy stuff they obviously cannot afford due to thier lack of $$, that's thier own naive frivilousness. have to wring me dry to get me to offer them pity. people ought be aware of thier finances & not purchase these items when they cannot nourish themselves & thier babies.
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Old 01-12-2007, 02:32 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StirBlue
Thank you for helping Steve. Some of the homeless people get abandoned by their families over time and some of them out live their families.
You didn't mention Steve's age. Did you ever learn what his circumstances were about?
This is a difficult subject for me. Steve says he's 64 or 65 years old. Depends on whether you talk to him sober or talk to him as he was tonight. Doesn't really matter, he says he's a VietNam Veteran. At that age he certainly could have been a young vet.

Having said that, my father is a Veteran of WWII (age 17), Korea in the 1950's (and was in Okinawa, Japan when I was born). He did two tours in VietNam. He's 82 years old and a retired Colonel, U.S.M.C.

Can't use the "VietNam Vet" thing as an excuse in my book. I've seen too many people drafted who came back and went on and people who volunteered who went, came back and went on. But I don't discount the ones who should not have been sent in the first place. The U.S. military isn't the best place for screening out "problem children".

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Old 01-12-2007, 02:38 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvs
stirblue, it's easy to me to spot hungry people- i see them daily & thier appearance speaks volumes.

& if someone is silly enough to buy stuff they obviously cannot afford despite thier lack of $$, that's thier own naive frivilousness. have to wring me dry to get me to offer them pity. people ought be aware of thier finances & not purchase these items when they cannot nourish themselves & thier babies.
I will never turn my back on anyone; not even you.
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Old 01-12-2007, 03:02 AM   #12
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profound.
leaving said conversation cause others tend to be less rude.
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Old 01-12-2007, 03:54 AM   #13
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Food, clothing, & shelter and money are not the only things people will ask for in life.
People ask for directions.
People ask for the time of day.
People ask for recipes.
People ask for pens.
People ask for pay raises.

People take cpr classes and give blood.

Think of all the times that you were given a smile.
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Old 01-12-2007, 04:54 AM   #14
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I give food too rather than cash. On the local radio station I used to liusten to in London there is often an ex homeless guy who says food is better, but to still be aware that food can be bartered for drink/drugs. I know what he is saying, but then if people have jobss and money they can spend that on rubbish too, so the odd sandwich is ok in my book. I got in trouble giving too close to home a couple of years ago though, its a safety risk and you need to be careful. That was blankets, we were having a clear out and a few older but still warm blankets were given away, but unfortunately word got out. I have a couple of regulars in London, people who I see regularly and offer something. Its a policy DH and I have. Therer have been many refusals of offers of food rather than cash. The funniest one was when DH had bought two sandwiches expecting to meet be but I had to cancel, he offered the spare sandwich to a guy who looked cold and miserable who replied "No mate, I just had fish and chips, I only like hot food". But, someone else got the sandwich.
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Old 01-12-2007, 09:58 AM   #15
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When I first moved to England, there was a man who used to sell The Big Issue (a magazine sold on street corners by the homeless, who then receive money for what they sell, and access to resources such as drug counselling, shelter and job assistance)

I had no friends at the time, and he used to talk to me every single morning, asking me how I was etc.

I started bringing him a coffee or soup (since the magazine only came out once a fortnight!)

He had fallen into a heroin habit, and had finished rehab, and was trying to put his life back together again.

He gave me a lot more than I ever gave him, and taught me a lot about not judging people.
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Old 01-12-2007, 12:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkath
Fraidy, you've done what many of us wish we had.

Maybe next time, you'll "deliver" a homemade sandwich to Steve.
It's doubtful I'll venture into the alley next to the strip mall... there's sort of a 'hobo camp' back there, shades of the 1930's Depression era camps formed by people who road the rails. While Steve is a friendly sort I'm not at all sure about the others who reside there. As a female I would not feel comfortable in doing that. I'm sure you can understand that.

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Old 01-12-2007, 01:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvs
& if someone is silly enough to buy stuff they obviously cannot afford due to thier lack of $$, that's thier own naive frivilousness. have to wring me dry to get me to offer them pity. people ought be aware of thier finances & not purchase these items when they cannot nourish themselves & thier babies.
While I certainly agree about the not having babies and frivilous spending thing, you're talking to a middle aged woman who has been out of work for 3 years. People aren't exactly lining up to hire someone who will be 50 in a few short years. If I didn't have 25 years worth of savings and loving parents of means, I'd be on the street.

I don't spend "frivilously". I shop with coupons; I shop sales. You won't see me at the grocery store stocking up on sodas and cookies and crap. You'll see me buying vegetables (fresh when in season, frozen otherwise). You'll find me buying inexpensive fish, beef, pork, cheese, milk. Right now I'm planning to go buy some eggs so I can make some cornmeal griddle cakes for breakfast.

I'm betting Steve won't have breakfast, except for his bottle. But when I see someone like Steve on the street, grateful for a sandwich and a tiny bag of chips, I think "That could be me."

Yes, you have to take things into account. There are shysters out there. And there are people who buy million dollar houses who can't afford to furnish them, too. They are not my concern. My concern is for people who don't have a dime to their name. I am unemployed but I pick up extra cans of food and donate them to the food bank. (Unfortunately the food bank cannot accept frozen or fresh foods, they don't have the storage.)

I don't begrudge someone a "gourmet" meal at a soup kitchen because trust me, what some think is gourmet is not what I think is gourmet under those circumstances.

Now, if someone tells me they get individual beef en croute (repleat with goose liver pate or duxelles under the puffed pastry) and roasted white asparagus with a lovely garlic/herb sauce and steamed new potatoes with butter and dill weed, then tell me where to line up! Other than that, vegetable beef soup and a slice of bread doesn't cut the "gourmet" label mentioned previously.

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Old 01-12-2007, 01:59 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by StirBlue
I will never turn my back on anyone; not even you.
Succinctly put, StirBlue, and very empathetic.
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Old 01-12-2007, 04:12 PM   #19
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When I started reading this thread last night, I thought, what a nice thing to do. Now, reading more, I see, that we have begun to disagree about, food or money to homeless people. I believe all of us deep inside have a desire to help, be it with food, money or kind words. Be it homeless, abused children, the sick..Its that feeling deep inside that whispers, that could be my brother.So, if there is compasion in our being for our fellow man, a respect for life, why can't we respect the opinions and feelings of our fellow members? We might not agree, but if you are allowed to give your opinion without question, isn't your DC neighbor allowed his? Don't we welcome newcomers saying how great this place is? Don't we say, what great, kind and thoughtful members? Do we prefer the forum this way, or do we want to come to a point where we wonder to ourselves, do I dare post this recipe? Will someone be angry about how I spell, my grammar, the way I choose to provide food and shelter to others? I hope,we will all, think about each other and take a moment before replying to certain theads. Remember, all of us, have feelings and we should respect them..
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Old 01-12-2007, 05:17 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by kadesma
When I started reading this thread last night, I thought, what a nice thing to do. Now, reading more, I see, that we have begun to disagree about, food or money to homeless people. I believe all of us deep inside have a desire to help, be it with food, money or kind words. Be it homeless, abused children, the sick..Its that feeling deep inside that whispers, that could be my brother.So, if there is compasion in our being for our fellow man, a respect for life, why can't we respect the opinions and feelings of our fellow members? We might not agree, but if you are allowed to give your opinion without question, isn't your DC neighbor allowed his? Don't we welcome newcomers saying how great this place is? Don't we say, what great, kind and thoughtful members? Do we prefer the forum this way, or do we want to come to a point where we wonder to ourselves, do I dare post this recipe? Will someone be angry about how I spell, my grammar, the way I choose to provide food and shelter to others? I hope,we will all, think about each other and take a moment before replying to certain theads. Remember, all of us, have feelings and we should respect them..
kadesma
I could not agree with you more, kadesma. We definitely should all be allowed our opinion (within legal limits and site policy, of course). But in any type of conversational forum such as this, that freedom of opinion must be allowed in subsequent replies as well, provided it is not abusive or insulting and provided it remain relatively on-topic. Otherwise, we might as well not have any exchange of ideas and just post one-comment threads.

We're all adults here. We should be able to respect one another enough to allow for our differences and not just for our similarities, so that we don't end up hearing only echoes.
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