Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

What’s Compassionate and What’s “Street” Stupid?

I find it interesting to gather people’s opinions on what the right thing to do is when you are hit up for money.
One very compassionate person said, “What would Jesus do?” as she gave the beggar a five dollar bill. But another very kind person told me, “I give to a charity. Giving out dollars on the street doesn’t help anyone, and only contributes to many drug addictions.”
One woman said, “I give whatever change I have, and then if the person buys drugs with it, that is on their conscience. For my part, I’ve done the right thing.”
Another yet another: “Honey, you need to close the Borchard Endowment Fund!”
Sometimes giving feels good, like you are doing the right thing. But other times it makes you feel resentful–signaling a boundaries issue–like when I opted to watch the bookstore clerk’s daughter, paying the clerk five dollars an hour to do so. Man, how I’d love to get five bucks an hour from the sitters who watch David and Katherine.
I get fairly confused every time I try to set some rules along the “charity/Good Samaritan” policy in our house. For the time being, there are still no decision makers living there.

  • Nikki

    My opinion: “If it feels good, do it.” While it may sound trite, you know how you feel about the situation at the time. If you feel that giving someone who is asking you for money will help them and it would make you feel good to do it, then you should. On the other hand, if you have reservations about giving to someone, they are probably well founded. Follow your gut. There was a story on the news not 20 minutes ago about an elderly woman who was asked for money to help a charity by a normal looking woman. A man came up and offered to take the women to a bank. Well, you know how the story ends…the elderly woman was conned out of $16,000.

  • Carol

    Sometimes homeless people pressure you for money, they are usually males in two’s or more at fast food places. I do not like to lie,and tell them I have no money, so if I am at a place of business, I will give them some change, then go into the business and let the manager know there is a person pressuring their patrons for money.
    Sometimes, I will get a good, peaceful feeling about a person asking for money who truly needs it. I will give them what I can, depending on the situation.
    I have discovered that about 40% of the homeless choose this way of life, and expect others to give them money to eat. While most of the homeless population do not choose this way of life, and would love to have a job and get on their feet again….

  • Nancy

    My husband and I do not allow “pressure” to give away our money if we chose to, and that’s what it is – a choice. My husband (recently unemployed) past a gentleman in New York City and he gave him $1.00. The gentleman would respond with a “May God Bless You and have a good day”. That contribution each day did much more for my husband than it did the man receiving it. We aren’t just wimps who cave to the pressure of “begging”, but use our “intuition” – “God consciousness” to lead our actions. My husband did not feel the need to analyze the man’s motives or lifestyle, only his own; which was to give freely with no agenda. How often is that truly done these days – giving with no expectations in return???

  • Diane

    I really have no problem giving small amounts to strangers on the street. My deceased husband Robert was a homeless heroin addict who was ‘constitutionally incapable’ of staying sober. When I met him he was on the right track putting his life back together again { one of many many tries he made}. We had about 6 good yrs together, but then he spiraled downward over and over. I eventually lost him when he died in June 2003. But He told me so many times of people who helped him so much when he was hopeless and homeless. How he rarely used the $$ for drugs, but just to stay alive and get food. And Robert always gave to the homeless when he was well, because he said he never forgot how it was to be one of them and suffering so. I follow his example still today. We have no idea of someone else’s sorrows and what put them there. I too follow my gut or use my discernment on when it looks/ seems right to give.
    On the other hand I have an older sister who constantly needs money. She has an erratic salary as a real estate agent. But her real problem is she is in denial on how to be a good steward with money. She doesn’t know how to plan for expenses coming up, she has a dysfunctional dependent son constantly taking money from her and she won’t say no to him….and this vicious cycle goes on and on. The only reason I give her money is because my mom lives with her and not me. {much to my own heartache}. I don’t want to see my mom at 90 be thrown out into the street in her final days. I wish someone could enlighten me on how to say no to my sister without feeling guilty about what may happen to my mom if they lose their home. My mom chose to stay with my sis instead of me ‘because sis needs mom’s help and I was always the strong one’. I’ve given $450 since Jan this year. I really don’t know what to do. What would you guys do?? Thanks Diane

  • sofia

    Diane, I can feel your dilemma and would suggest to sell your mom’s house, bring her to live with you and hire a part-time caregiver for chores and errands. Let your sister and her son deal with their situation.

  • Cristy

    There are so many charity’s now that it is hard to decide which ones are pocketing the money and which ones are actually giving the money to charity. I do give to ST. Judes and to Breast Cancer Awareness. When it comes to the homeless and people in need I would rather give them clothing and food. I feel bad for the poor, but it is true alot of them use the money for their drug addiction which is why some of the homeless are on the streets to start with. I would be more than willing to take a homeless person and buy them a meal or clothing. In today’s world it is so hard to decide on what charitys to give to and that is a very sad thing

  • Gayle

    All of my life I have felt like the underdog. I was a teenage mother who wanted so desperately to go to 4-year college and get a degree. I ended up going to trade school, getting a good job and raised my daughter to be an upstanding law abiding citizen and independant. So many times I felt down, out and alone. Sometimes I felt that it would not have been so bad if I only had a finger to hold. And the times that I did find enough strength to ask for help I was almost always rejected. Even from the people that I thought LOVED me. So now when I’m out and I see myself (in one form or other) I give, because everything is not what it seems. When I don’t have it to give I offer up a little prayer. As I write this I am teary eye’d, not because I,m a bleeding heart or overly compassionate but because as the saying goes “A HEAP SEE BUT FEW KNOW”.

  • Pau Lee

    Street people have hurt themselves too many times. They are rude and insulting and when they don’t get money they will threaten you.
    I have many stories on people begging money for cigaretts..not a dollar but five dollars so they can buy a pack..what gall. I think these freeloaders should be kept away from the streets. In Chicago I was stranded there overnight as my train from Michigan to Nebraska broke down and they provided a free Holiday Inn room so when I got up the next day I went for an early sunrise was just getting light but all around the hotel on Halstead St. were the homeless. Bums i used to call them ..sleeping in the street. Panhandleing and being a nuisance. I was lucky my young children were not with me but I could not get back to the hotel in time to suit me.
    Yes, Chicago is nice in the “Micracle Mile” or in “Navy Pier” but around some area’s it is “hells kitchen” I hate to say this but most big cities have this “blight”. Washington DC ..our capital is OK to walk around in the daytime..but at night in Chinatown or around some parks by the White House it is not very safe.
    The only city I felt safe in was Tokyo, Japan..but I hear now that even Japan is having a crime problem.
    Thanks for letting me vent..I can’t solve these problems..but I hope someday we will have cities that are not Ghetto’s ..I was raised in a small town in Michigan..I guess I still am a hick..even if I have traveled around the world..

  • Linda M Bemis

    Food is essential to those who can’t afford to buy. Many of the churches will feed the people. Waterville and Augusta, Maine are examples. The need to eat is greater. Shelter will become a greater problem in the months ahead. Rents, prices and opportunities differ in some places so keep your eyes open for clues and talk to someone who knows what is going on in the neighborhood.

  • lillian polley

    i give if i have some to spare, at times luck runs out on all people, someone might be having a bad day, or really in need, even if on drugs your body still craves to eat and drink, no i don,t make any person situation the way it is, and i can,t help make it any worth by giving a hand full of change, some have use it wisely , then still others have did as they pleased, but i gave because i felted a need in my heart, i may one day need assistances, and who to say i will get it, but i do know i will not be ashamed to ask, and i may be turned down 100 times before i get help, but my grandmother always said, a closed mouth will never get fed, and no-one can read your mind , but god, knows your thoughts before you think them, in reality, life to be is about making choices that i can live with , and not worrying about what others think only about if i can live with myself with the choices i make

  • Dee

    I’m a struggling single mom of 3. But I have a job that I like, I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. Yes, sometimes I do feel resentful when a man comes and asks me for money( I’ve yet to see anyone knocking on my door offering to help me out with bills and such!) but at the same time I have to realize that perilous as these times are, all of us are just a paycheck away from being homeless. I remember evicion notices and having to find a place to stay in a week and no food in my house to speak of. God took care of me then and He blessed me with what I have now and I know that He didn’t bless me just so I can keep things to myself. We are all blessed to be a blessing to someone else. Besides, every time we help someone else, we are also honoring Jesus because He said in the Gospels, ” whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto Me!
    Grace and peace

  • Fed Up

    I used to give to the panhandlers until I one morning I just didn’t feel like going to work – no reason – I just didn’t want to go.
    Suddenly the term “Will work for food” as often written by panhandlers make me realize I HAD to go to work – as I also WORK FOR FOOD.
    In Nashville they are becoming “tag teams”. 4 or 5 will take turns standing in the streets to beg for money, while the others are lounging off under a tree. GET A JOB – I DID!

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