Sure, I’ve seen the blue tents and some homeless standing on street corners. Yet, it was not that long ago that I went for medical treatment every day for seven weeks. Each day at 9AM there was the same person on the same street corner with a sign that said: ‘Just lost my job. I have two young kids. Please help!’ Sure. OK. I have also been approached a number of times by another person in the same parking lot over a three year period that zooms in on people just getting out of their car. Her story: ‘I forgot my purse and $5 will help get me enough gas to safely get home.’ Sure. OK. You have a great day until you corner me in the parking lot again!
It can be easy to write some folks off as scammers.
Back in October 2014, I was at a committee meeting for a local civic association. They are all good people. They want to help. They want a better community. The topic of homelessness came up and how that would be a good topic for a community information and education panel. Truthfully: I was indifferent. However, it bothered me greatly that the discussion quickly turned into almost an attack on the homeless and somewhat on the person (strong disparagement rather than an attack) that proposed the topic for us to focus on.
As the committee chair, that set my hair on fire. Admittedly there did not seem to be much enthusiasm for the topic from the committee, and my own experiences had jaded me. However, every idea needs examination when the proposer went to the effort to put together pages of supporting data.
If only to determine the viability of the idea of homelessness as an area of concern in our community I agreed to personally assist the topic proposer in learning more about the topic and to personally investigate.
One other committee member challenged me to do more than just to learn more. Go meet with homeless groups and go meet the homeless. So in early December, just after Thanksgiving I did. I got out and started meeting the homeless in person. It has been an education. I have learned that ‘I just lost my job’ and ‘I forgot my purse’ are anomalies. Our community is full of people in real need. Hundreds. The official count is almost 500. The real number is undoubtedly higher.
After failing to get my civic association to do more than to just talk about it, or to show much interest in wanting to learn more, I made the decision to start PWCHomeless.com. My goal is simple: enable those that are trying to help those less fortunate to be more successful.
The homeless are not out there scamming and mooching their way through life. Most have some major challenges and most face it humbly without seeking handouts of any kind. In fact, one of the things that I discovered is that an amazing number of homeless may live in tents on whatever piece of land they can squat upon … but they also have jobs. Those jobs just do not support them well enough to live in the housing that is available to them.
I am not an activist, at least not in the traditional sense. There is nothing specific that I am seeking to change.
I am not an advocate. I am not asking government for anything, other than maybe some creative alternatives to services that it provides to other citizens.
I am continuing to learn and in the process I have discovered members of my community exist in their daily lives at great risk. Hopefully, PWCHomeless.com can connect those with need with those that can help.
Got news about helping those less well off? Send to Bill@Bill4DogCatcher.com