Friday, September 28, 2007

Panhandling Problem

Ordinances like the new one that makes it illegal for a person to aggressively panhandle is hard for many of us to accept. However the reality of downtown is that there are a few men, primarily, who not only panhandle but also do so aggressively. During the past 22 years at the Mission I have seen mostly the bad side of aggressive panhandling. I have seen volunteers coming from their cars, panhandled by our clients. I have been panhandled by men who did not know my connection with the Mission and I have been aggressively panhandled several times while in my car in front of McDonald’s on Market Street by men pecking aggressively on my window. We have a rule at the Mission that may seem a little tough to some, but men who are panhandling our volunteers or staff are asked to leave. The logic follows. The Mission provides nearly 2000 meals per day; no one who needs a meal is turned away. Homeless clients staying at the Mission are given many opportunities to work for money, including job placement, and those with alcohol and drug problems are given a free program of recovery that they can join. Disabled men have case managers assigned that help them secure housing or other needed services.

Aggressive panhandlers can be bad for businesses, can be frightening to adults and children, and downright dangerous as a good-willed citizen opens their wallet to expose credit cards and cash. Couple this with the fact that almost without exception the money goes for alcohol or drugs, giving money to a panhandler reinforces the behavior and the addiction that may be present. Hopefully the panhandling ordinance has provisions for people getting the help they really need.

If you want to help the homeless, make your contribution to a number of agencies that help the homeless in our area. Become a volunteer and really get involved or offer jobs and other opportunities to homeless men and women who are in shelters working on a positive track. This safe way to help usually is very rewarding for the homeless clients as well as the volunteer. Let’s see, I kind of sound like a “professional panhandler”, maybe we all are to some degree.

Give to the poor and be generous, but do it wisely. And, of course, pray!

Rev. Tim Moseley, CEO
Wayside Christian Mission

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Summer Heat

Summer at the Mission is almost over and as we are preparing for the winter we reflect about the summer. This summer was one of the hottest on record for the Louisville area causing many homeless to seek safety in our facilities. This summer our floors were almost as crowded with overflow as in the winter, as temperatures put us into Operation White Flag. Many of our guests were cooled by donations of bottled water, ice cream and juices. Many donated food and other supplies that helped us to get through these crowded times.

During the summer we also started a new housing program for Metro Health Services. There are a number of homeless men who are in need of not only TB medication but also housing stability so that they may be properly treated. The Mission is now contracting to provide such a space to men who are no longer contagious but who are receiving medication and other needed support. We have set aside four small rooms in our Jefferson Street campus to help with this need.

Our plans for the new campus on Market Street are underway as a contract has been awarded for construction. Ground breaking is scheduled to begin March 8th 2008 and completion should happen within a year from that date. We continue to be in need of designated funds for the project and welcome you help.