Sunday, April 5, 2009

Shelter business cards and maps

Criticise me all you want, but I generally do not give to the homeless that are on the streets. This is why I asked the question in my last post for honesty about your own giving habits. I can't expect you all to be honest without throwing out my own two cents!

I honestly don't have a the best reason not to give money other than that I know of the many great shelters they can go to for help here in Albuquerque, and having a roof, blankets, and food each night would be of more value, in my opinion, than spare change. I'm not saying I NEVER give, or that being a "spanger" as Wendy calls it is bad or not helping the homeless problem, I would just rather give a business card and a map to a shelter. I want to leave these cards and maps in my car so at any moment, anywhere in town, I can rummage through my stack and give them that little piece of help rather than money. I have yet to do this, for fear that those on the corners will be angry and I do not want to make them feel worse and not sure it is a good idea. What do you think?


  1. You really bring something interesting here. I think as a girl, and perhaps you do as well, we're taught that it can be dangerous to take time to open up your purse and search for something to give those asking for a little help. It's always a guilty feeling, and sometimes I have given in and handed out bills. Maybe it's also about feeling alone. If I were my boyfriend, I tend to feel relieved when he takes over in these situations. Just a thought/confession....

  2. This is an interesting question, because at the heart of the dilemma is the question of what the people asking for money really intend to do with it. I can't help but think of a scene in a movie where a girl gives a beggar a sandwich, and he throws it at her and says he asked for money, not food. I think some of the beggars desire the freedom to purchase the food and necessities that they want, this may include, but I'm not saying they all do, cigarettes, and alcohol, items not available at shelters. I think the shelters are extremely important for homeless people, but many homeless people do not like the restrictions of the shelters and desire to independent. I really enjoy your blog, community service is very important to me, and I have been involved in homeless outreach programs in Santa Fe for many years.

  3. I often think about doing something similar to what you're talking about here, but never get around to doing it. I think it's a very good idea.

    One thing I have learned working in non-profit housing and being around homeless and low income individuals is that people almost always know far less about the resources available to them than I think they do. Giving support and getting more information out there is always a positive thing.

    You mentioned being worried about angering people. Have you thought about putting up posters/flyers on street posts in areas that are more densely populated with the homeless? That goes on a fair bit in the neighborhood I work in, and I like to think it helps.

    Keep up the awesome work, people who care seem to be few and far between.

  4. Thanks for the great idea, Audrey. I didn't consider that approach! That will be much easier to do and not so in their face as personally handing them paper.

  5. if you're more comfortable with the gift of advice or directions, than that is absolutely the way to go. such a gift will truly help many who are desperate for aid.

    my philosophy is this. who am i to care where the spare change goes. the crux of the issue is generosity. when does it become my personal campaign to make sure money is being spent the right way? if a person doesn't want to give, they shouldn't do it. if you do want to give, it shouldn't be dependent on stipulations. i give because, more than for the sake of allevieating the stranger's hunger, i benefit from knowing that i can be generous or mindful of helping others... for the sake of knowing that i am not so attached to the 75 cents in my pocket... for the sake of knowing that i am not the one to decide for this person what their life should be like... for the sake of knowing that if someone asks me to give, then--if it is not a hardship for me--i'll give.

    i believe that we perilously balance on the ledge of self-righteousness when we presume to say this or that person shouldn't be given our hard-earned 75 cents because they'll only go out and spend it on whiskey. it isn't about that. it's simply about being generous.

    clinging tenaciously to pocket change in the face of a dirty drunk because he needs to "go get a job" is just mean-spiritedness.

  6. It is a good idea but a little dangerous. But you will be in your car and they would not be able to do anything. I don't why they would get mad because they will actually be better off then they were. I think they should be thankful for the information and whatever they decide to do with it is up to them.


Support CC - 2008