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A key word that you will see:

Fragmentation: a mental process where a person becomes intensely emotionally focused on one aspect of themselves, such as “I am angry” or “no one loves me,” to the point where all thoughts, feelings and behavior demonstrate this emotional state, in which, the person does not or is unable to take into account the reality of their environment, others or themselves and their resources. This is a term that my therapist and I use and is on the continuum of dissociation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What Do You Think and Will Do?

By now, most people especially in the US have heard about Ted Williams, "the homeless man with a Golden Voice."  In a matter, of about three days the original video (the actual video was removed due to copyright issues, but this is the original content) has thrust him into a whirlwind of a media frenzy and job offers.  The has been interviewed by all the morning and evening talk shows, completed many voice overs and even did a voice over for a commercial for Kraft Mac & Cheese which will air Sunday.  Besides being offered many employment opportunities, he has been offered a mortgage and a credit card with some money with it. 

Unfortunately, most individuals who are homeless do not have the talent or have the opportunity that Mr. Williams has had.  In one interview he said, "don't judge a book by its cover."  That is so true.  If you really think about it most of us are just a few paychecks away from being homeless.  I know of a man who was a physician at a hospital and was living a great life with his children and wife, but due to the economy was laid off.  That began a downward spiral that left them homeless.  There are many professionals that end up homeless.  Yes, some are there due to an addiction to drugs or alcohol or mental illness.  But, what do you do? Do you give them money? Something else? Are you afraid of them? Do you take them to eat? Or something else?

On another blog, I was part of a discussion regarding whether or not to give money.  Generally, I put together a bag of toiletries, two bottles of water (one for drinking and one for hygiene needs or for their dog or whatever they will use it for), non perishable food items, toilet paper, sometimes food gift certificates, maybe an umbrella, clothing especially coats in the winter and information of where to obtain help. My church makes sandwiches and delivers them along with other things that they might need approximately every six weeks. 

At times, I have taken them to a nearby restaurant to talk and listen to their story and help to problem solve. Sometimes, I just listen. Sometimes, I pray with them or for them.  I do give money now.  I usually keep ones and fives in my car coin section for such purposes.  It is up to them on how they spend it.  I am careful to only do this during daylight hours and in areas where there are others around.  I know that there is controversy around giving money, but I have chosen to do so.

One fellow blogger who was once homeless said, "as someone who can speak from both sides of the fence, having been there, done that, my advice would be to follow your heart, use your head, and if you want to give, give. For every person that gives to a homeless person, there are a thousand that pass by with their nose in the air, flip the bird, or honk and say “get a job”. So, do you want to be one of the thousand and run with the pack, or do you want to make a difference?

Usually I needed a motel room for the night when I held a sign. Many cities have a 3-night per month limit on shelter stays. After those 3 nights you’re on your own. I never used the money for drugs. I can’t speak for other people in the world. I would say, use your intuition, guided by your heart and available resources. A few kind words to someone go a long way, also, more than a few dollars would. Show an interest, let them know that they are human (many of them feel less than human) and it’s really not about the money…just knowing that someone cared enough to stop for a minute will brighten any homeless person’s day. It’s degrading to stand there with a sign…whatever the reason, you can know for sure that the person is hurting inside, whether or not they show it."

The following is from ezine @rticles: "Is there any ways that really help the homeless? Does handing the panhandler a dollar do any good? Are you looking for the quick help or do you want to help solve the solution? The biggest problem is the homeless are not a group of the same person so their problems are not the same so the same solution will not work for everybody.

First off the reason for their homelessness is not the same. Yes some are due to addictions - both alcohol and drugs. Others have psychological issues. And then the fastest growing segment is those running from spousal abuse or throw away children. And some simply have out spent their income and ended up on the streets with the downward spiral that leads to loss of job and loss of everything else.

So you have 2 avenues to help - the long term solution and the short term fix. The long term solution includes finding them jobs and affordable housing. The long term solution also focuses on fixing the other issues - the addictions, the psychological and emotional help, career and family counseling. So the long term solutions help with economic means to get them off the streets and the mental issues to help them cope so they don't end up back on the street.

But since most people only want a short quick answer we will now comment on the ways to help the homeless deal with their everyday issues. Though these solutions are vital to them surviving they do nothing to help get them off the Street - they help them deal with the street.

What do you do when you see someone holding up a sign, "Will Work for Food"? Do you roll down your window and give them money? Do you pretend you didn't see them? Nobody likes to be confronted by the homeless - their needs often seem too overwhelming - but we all want to treat them fairly and justly.

Please do not treat them ALL as addicts - the addicted old homeless man we all pictures is only 25% of the population. So try and treat them with respect - remember they are still people too as you deal with them help them to help themselves. Take them to the appropriate homeless shelter. Most shelters offer immediate food and shelter to the homelessness through their emergency shelters. Many offer long-term rehabilitation programs that deal with the root causes of homeless. Many also offer "tickets" that can be given to homeless people which can be exchanged at the shelter for a notorious meal, safe overnight lodging, and the option of participating in a rehab program. Exposure to the elements, dirt, occasional violence, and lack of purpose all drain years from a person's life. God can use your prayers and the brutality and the futility of life of the street to bring many of the broken to Himself. So please pray for the homeless.

So you want to do little more. Their immediate needs are the basics - food, clothes, and shoes. So you can take food to the homeless shelters. Get with your local grocery store and ask if you can have the daily leftovers and date expired food. Take to the shelter. If you like set up a weekly trip and take them enough food every week - now you are making a big difference. Take along your kids. Another great way to help is to take your extra shoes, coats and clothes. Have a clothes drive in your neighborhood, Do it on a monthly basis - if you like - the homeless residents next month are most likely not the homeless residents who were there this month."

Please add your comments, thoughts or share what you do and how you feel about homelessness.


Wanda's Wings said...

By the grace of God we could all be there. There are no guarantees for employment or a roof over our heads. We need to be thankful and help others. You had some wonderful ideas.

J said...

It breaks my heart to look into the eyes of a homeless person. I can't do it. to be honest I go with the easy fix and hand them money. I don't know what they spend it on and it doesn't matter, it helps them out and that's what matters. Thank you for posting this CC!

Tracie Nall said...

My husband and I do a combination. Sometimes it is food, or clothing, and sometimes we do give money...and prayer.

In the years before we were married, my husband was homeless for a time, so he understands very well the needs involved in that situation. It is very true that sometimes a shelter isn't an option and money to get a hotel room would be a huge blessing. Not all homeless people just spend it on drugs.

I heard a sermon once that I have never forgotten, one thing the pastor said was that when he goes to jails to minister he always remembers that he could be just three bad days away from being in the same position. I think the same is true for homelessness.

Tracie Nall said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Clueless said...

Thank you everyone for commenting. You all touched me.

Tracie, do you think your husband might write a post about homelessness?

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