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Thread: Hunger: Resources at the Ready

  1. #1

    Hunger: Resources at the Ready

    The other day when I came out of the grocery store. I was approached by a woman with an interesting story. She said her grandmother had passed away and had left her everything, but she needed $400-500 to get clothes and makeup for the funeral. She promised to pay me back $3,500 if I could give her the money. I declined as nicely as I could and wished her good luck.

    While I donít believe that the person who approached me was telling a truthful story, I still walked away thinking what if she was? I couldnít hand her the money, but maybe there were resources available where she could get clothing and makeup so she would have something to wear to the funeral.

    Often I feel the same way when Iím approached by people who say they are hunger and need money for food. I donít want to hand something directly to them, but I know from the research we have been doing that it isnít simple to find resources.

    Below is the engaged activity and discussion. We will probably spend most of the month on this, since it has multiple parts and will take a little time and effort.

    Action:
    1. Keep an eye open for pan-handlers and people asking for things. Also think about past situations when maybe you didnít have the best answer when someone needed help. Make a list of what types of things were needed. (Share your lists, so we can all learn from each otherís observations.)
    2. Look for resources you could offer them to help fill the needs they have. (Food Banks, soup kitchens, places that offer shelter, etc.)
    3. Compile the information in a way that would be useful in the situations you observed when you were asked to provide help.

    Discussion:
    ē How can you format the resources, so it is available when you need it?
    ē How can you transition the conversation with a pan-handler from ďSorry I canítĒ to here is this information?
    ē Do you think gathering resources and having the information readily available is useful, or is it unlikely to be used/helpful?
    ē Share your progress! 😊

    Gassho,
    Shoka
    Sattoday/LAH
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  2. #2
    Food for thought:

    What constitutes nourishment is subjective. Drugs and alcohol is nutritious to some and giving with expectations is not giving freely.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  3. #3
    Jishin,

    That is true. I had a long running argument with a coworker over the right of people to use the gifts we give however they see fit. We had decided to do an adopt a family one year at Christmas, and she was determined that any gift cards included needed to not be able to be used for alcohol. I argued that we were providing the family the ability to have a Christmas dinner and that didn't mean we got to decide what they were and weren't allowed to put on that table. If they wanted to spend it so on wine and whiskey that was their choice.

    I don't not give to people directly because of the misconception that they will use the money to feed addiction or buy alochol. For me that is their decision.

    I have made the choice to give the majority of my donations to charities because they can stretch the few dollars much further.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday



    Sent from my SM-G930P using Tapatalk
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  4. #4
    Thank you.

    I once printed out resources and addresses of helpful community resources and given them to some runaways I passed on the street in Miami each day with a "Call this Number." Sometimes it was welcomed, sometimes not. In one case I know, it really did seem to help a young runaway get off the street. In other cases, the fellow stuffed it in his pocket, so perhaps. The trouble is that, these days, so many of these organizations are already overwhelmed and under funded. If it comes to soup kitchens and shelters, many of the homeless already know all the details in and out. I did help put up stickers for a suicide prevention line in phone booths (when we used to have those!). That seemed like a good project.

    Jishin: Not sure of the meaning of your comment, although I have read it a few times. I think it is okay to give with expectations (or, at least, hopes) if they are good expectations and hopes. I don't think drugs and alcohol are nutritious to the homeless and addicts we are discussing.

    Gassho, Jundo

    SatTodayLAH
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-06-2018 at 12:09 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Food for thought:

    What constitutes nourishment is subjective. Drugs and alcohol is nutritious to some and giving with expectations is not giving freely.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    Hey folks,

    I know for myself I do give with expectation ... well, I will clarify. I give what is needed, which is food. If someone approaches me asking for money I will revert the request into me asking them how I can help them. Are you hungry? I can buy you some food? I ask them if they like this or that to help deflect away from their desire of money for drugs or alcohol. My actions are not there to curb their desire or need for those substances, but to help them in the moment to ensure they are not hungry.

    So yes, I do give with expectation and I feel it is ok if we are wanting to do what is best for them.

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  6. #6
    This is a really good idea, Shoka, and not something I had thought of before.

    Giving information does not even have to be instead of buying food (I am of the same mind of Shingen in offering to buy food and drink rather than giving money) but can be as well as. Here the food banks only provide a three day parcel of food each month which leaves a 25-28 day gap so there must be other resources too which I will look into. I can imagine that bouncing between all of the options (emergency cash from the council, food from religious and other charities etc) could be a near full-time occupation.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    -sattoday/lah-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Jishin: Not sure of the meaning of your comment, although I have read it a few times. I think it is okay to give with expectations (or, at least, hopes) if they are good expectations and hopes. I don't think drugs and alcohol are nutritious to the homeless and addicts we are discussing.
    To give money or not to give money, tis is the question. If I give money, will it be used for booze or for food? Hopefully not for booze but the money will go to drugs and alcohol directly or indirectly in the case of addiction. There maybe an immediate conversion to drugs and alcohol if money is given. Food given directly to those suffering with addiction will enable the purchase of drugs and alcohol soon thereafter. Contributions to a food bank have the same effect. In some cases it is the humane thing to give money directly to the homeless (majority are addicts and mentally ill) even with strong suspicion that the money will not be used for food. Drugs and alcohol is the only medicine available to them that provides relief at a particular point in time. Drugs and alcohol will be involved in one way or another. In this sense drugs and alcohol are just as nutritious to the homeless and addicts as food.

    My attitude has always been bad, bad, bad! No drugs and alcohol for anyone! While I think this is so, the homeless deserve the compassion of giving them the choice of what to do with financial donations.

    My 2 cents.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST
    Last edited by Jishin; 06-05-2018 at 04:47 PM.

  8. #8
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    This thread has given me a lot to think about.

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday

  9. #9
    Food given directly to those suffering with addiction will enable the purchase of drugs and alcohol soon thereafter. Contributions to a food bank have the same effect.
    I think it is less likely that with a monetary contribution. Not many drug dealers take a sandwich or bag of pasta in exchange for crack.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Kokuu View Post
    I think it is less likely that with a monetary contribution. Not many drug dealers take a sandwich or bag of pasta in exchange for crack.

    Gassho
    Kokuu
    I don't think you ever seen what withdrawal from heroin looks like.

    Gassho, Jishin, ST

  11. #11
    I completely understand that perspective, Jishin, but don't think that small donations of food will be sufficient to score vis-a-vis commiting low-level crime.

    As part of the information we can give out, this can refer people to drug addiction centres as, like you point to, drug use and abuse is commonplace among the homeless.
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  12. #12
    This is such an intense topic of introspection for me and am glad it is being talked about.
    Every day on the way home from work I sit at a stoplight with the same lady pan handling. I have never offered money to her for one simple reason.
    A family member works with a church group that helps feed the homeless in my city. I was told this particular woman makes very good money from this corner and has an apartment with her boyfriend who works the adjacent corner. They do not need help but have decided panhandling can be their full time job and by all reports do quite well with it. I have even spotted her reading a book on a tablet behind her sign.
    This experience has left a mark on me, I want to help those that need it but giving what little I have to someone that by all accounts does not need it and is bending the rules doesn't sit well with me. Unfortunately sometimes it is hard to tell them apart.
    Thanks for the discussions and suggestions on this topic thus far.

    James F
    Sat

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  13. #13
    I am way behind in this project but I do have a quick idea about keeping resources at the ready. Business card stock is readily available online or in business stores. You can just print out resources onto the business card stock and then print new ones when resources change or you have additional information.

    https://www.amazon.com/Avery-Two-Sid...70_&dpSrc=srch

    If you want to take it one step further you can get self sealing laminating pouches in many different sizes - including business cards.

    https://www.amazon.com/Scotch-Self-S...Q82X7BQJR&th=1

    Gassho, Shinshi

    SaT-LaH
    What's so funny 'bout Peace, Love and Understanding.

  14. #14
    Treeleaf Unsui / Engineer Sekishi's Avatar
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    Powerful discussion here.

    My perspective on this is certainly a product of the environments that I've lived in for most of my life (rural, agricultural). While there is deep poverty easily seen without even scratching the surface, rural homelessness tends to be fairly "under cover" in my experience. One winter a few years ago, there were instances of people sleeping in barns or abandoned houses in our neighborhood, but this was only obvious after the fact. The people themselves were rarely (if ever) actually seen.

    Long story short, long-term homelessness and panhandling is really only something I see when visiting the city, so perhaps my views are unrealistic.

    There is a deep seated cultural bias against poverty that heaps blame on the victims: E.g. "Why don't they just get a job?", as if that is some sort of solution. We hear adjectives like "lazy", "shiftless", and "crazy". We hear that "People on welfare are buying steak with MY taxpayer dollars." I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said "I work hard so millions on welfare don't have to." No assistance without drug testing, mandatory labor practices, etc. And this starts at such an early age. The local food bank puts together "snack backpacks" for local elementary school children. These are backpacks loaded with healthy snacks and foods which are distributed in the school office. Kids can come in with an empty pack and trade it for a new one. The idea is to allow them to get healthy foods without alerting other students to their situation and open them up to ridicule. To be poor must feel like a sin.

    I do not wish to push a political agenda, or argue the merits of any particular political perspective. Instead the point I want to make is simply that as a person in extreme poverty or homelessness, there must be an overwhelming feeling that each bit of assistance or good will is transactional, and judged.

    So for me personally, if someone asks for money, I give what I can at the time. I always ask their name, shake their hand, and introduce myself. I ask if I can sit and chat for a little while (if not, thats fine too, I move on). I try to offer a few minutes of human kindness.

    At some level, I don't care what they are going to spend their money on. I've given it freely to help them and it comes with no strings attached. I of course hope they will buy themselves something beneficial to their situation, but I'm not going to judge if what they want is an intoxicant of some sort. If thats what they feel they need, they are going to get it or the money for it somehow. I would rather they not need to resort to a more harmful action to get the money.

    Just my perspective. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything. Giving food or clothing directly makes sense. Supporting a local shelter, food kitchen, or food bank makes sense. For me, direct giving without judgement also makes sense.

    Deep bows to all,
    Sekishi
    #sat
    sekishi
    石志

    As a novice priest-in-training, this is simply an expression of my opinion. Please take it with a grain of salt.

  15. #15
    At some level, I don't care what they are going to spend their money on. I've given it freely to help them and it comes with no strings attached.
    I take the same approach, Sekishi.

    I am very fortunate in my own life situation. There is a yawning gap between my day to day experience and anyone I see standing at the freeway off ramp with a cardboard sign asking for help. I can't even imagine how bad things must be that they're pushed into that situation.

    I try to remember that the one who is in need, is deeply interconnected with me. Our lives are not separate, but intertwined. One asks me for a few dollars at a stop light. Another asks for my advice on a work project. And yet another asks for help with her homework.

    And I still have my Christian upbringing in the back of my head, saying, “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

    Gassho. Sat today.


    No merit. Vast emptiness; nothing holy. I don't know.

  16. #16
    I am of the same mind as Sekishi, I currently live in a rural area so rarely have occasion to come across someone asking for money. When I do, I give them a few dollars, knowing I have no control over how they use it... but at least using the situation to give them a warm smile, respect, and eye contact, and maybe a little faith in humanity for a moment. If I have had 100 of those encounters in my lifetime, at least a few folks were not substance abusers, statistically.

    I wanted to contribute to the school backpack program, and thatís how I found the food bank. Around here, the most effective way to help with hunger would be through one of those programs, even though it does place the burden of finding access to them on the people in need. The food bank supports most of them.

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/LAH


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    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  17. #17
    Eishuu
    Guest
    I often tried to give information to people on the street in London about charities and organisations that would help but they didn't want it. Often they had adjusted to their life and didn't want to change it, they just wanted to survive. Also there were issues with interacting with people perceived as authority figures, and even when they had stuff set up to help them they would miss appointments and sabotage the process. Often there was trauma, alcoholism, a history of abuse...if anything it seemed that the mental health issues needed to be addressed first. I did try and get a placement with an organisation in London that worked with homeless people, but understandably they didn't offer places to trainees. I used to sit and chat to people a lot if they seemed to want to chat. Everyone had a story...I think some interaction and being treated as a human being go a long way. Most people walk past as though they are invisible and that must be hard. And I did give people some money.

    I think the idea of giving information on drug and alcohol addiction centres is good. Obviously many people using drugs and alcohol are self-medicating against immense psychological pain and trauma, so hopefully any help with addiction will go hand in hand with some kind of mental help support.

    Also, personally I'm really not keen on the term 'pan-handler' - there's something about it that sounds like we are defining a person by their begging pot. Maybe it's because we don't really use it in the UK and it sounds unfamiliar, I don't know.

    I think the issue of 'helping' people is interesting. Do we approach them with what we think they need and then judge them when they don't take it? How do we assess what they need? I think it's often complex with homeless people as there are many issues going on.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH
    Last edited by Eishuu; 06-07-2018 at 12:53 PM.

  18. #18
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
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    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Hi folks,

    So I've given this some thought and I've come to the tentative conclusion that there isn't necessarily a single way to give. I think giving freely as Jishin describes it has two benefits. It allows the receiver to do with it what they wish. They are respected as agents in their own life and will make of the gift what they will. I think this is often overlooked when people discuss approaches to government assistance like food stamps. If we really want people to be able to have a sense of control over their lives they need to be allowed space to explore their agency. Maybe its something like "people need the ability to fail before they can truly succeed." This of course means they could do something harmful with the gift but this is something we have to figure out on a case by case basis.

    As the giver its an exercise in letting go. A gift to oneself. When we hold on too tightly on outcomes and plans we create our own suffering.

    But we also have the other part of the Bodhisattva path which is trying to reduce suffering (I think a harm reduction approach is useful here) so we do not want to inadvertently make matters worse. Would you freely give a loaded gun to a suicidal person? I don't think many would. So giving food to someone who appears poorly nourished does help them. I assume if one is living on the street quality food would be hard to come by. Even if they are suffering from withdrawal I don't think feeding them is a bad option and may be more beneficial in the long term. That said, from what I can see withdrawal is fucking terrible. And if they are suffering terribly maybe I would give them heroin (or what have you) myself. I'm not really sure what I would do.

    A few years ago I filmed a presentation by a physician who worked at a local clinic at an impoverished part of town. She mentioned that she recently had to assist a patient in finding a new drug dealer. While this might seem crazy she mentioned that the patient's current dealer was abusive and she was trying to get the patient away from this person. At the time the best outcome was reducing the harm the patient was receiving rather then helping cope with her addiction.

    Anywho, just some thoughts on the matter.

    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sattoday

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by Sekishi View Post
    So for me personally, if someone asks for money, I give what I can at the time. I always ask their name, shake their hand, and introduce myself. I ask if I can sit and chat for a little while (if not, thats fine too, I move on). I try to offer a few minutes of human kindness.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jakuden View Post
    I am of the same mind as Sekishi, I currently live in a rural area so rarely have occasion to come across someone asking for money. When I do, I give them a few dollars, knowing I have no control over how they use it... but at least using the situation to give them a warm smile, respect, and eye contact, and maybe a little faith in humanity for a moment. If I have had 100 of those encounters in my lifetime, at least a few folks were not substance abusers, statistically.
    Sekishi and Jakuden,

    Thank you for your perspective. I have lived in a metropolitan area for so long that I hadn't even considered how drastically different this problem looks in rural areas.

    I would also guess that there are not as many resources within reach of people who need them. Or require them to travel much further to get access.


    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Eishuu View Post
    Also, personally I'm really not keen on the term 'pan-handler' - there's something about it that sounds like we are defining a person by their begging pot. Maybe it's because we don't really use it in the UK and it sounds unfamiliar, I don't know.

    I think the issue of 'helping' people is interesting. Do we approach them with what we think they need and then judge them when they don't take it? How do we assess what they need? I think it's often complex with homeless people as there are many issues going on.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH
    Eishuu,

    I'm personally not a fan of the term "pan-handler" either, but I don't know that there is a better inclusive term. We could say homeless, but we are then assuming they are homeless, we could say needy or beggers but I really don't like how that sounds. I actually searched for synonyms but it went downhill from there. The other terms are in my opinion far worse and more judgement.

    Does any have a suggest on a better term that could be employed?

    As to the questions about helping. I think one of the important things I have learned in life is how much I don't know, so I really try not to give people "what I think they need." I'm more open to asking people what they need. If someone is sitting out a grocery store I'll ask, "can I get you something from inside?" That way they can tell me what is useful for them and I can make a decision from there.

    Just yesterday I saw a guy standing with a sign asking for bottles. I'm guessing he is doing one of two things with them. Either using them to collect and have a supply of fresh water since we are heading for summer that will start to become a problem for homeless. Or he is gathering them to recycle. I'm guessing that if it is the later, it is easier for him to ask for bottle (which lots of us have empty in our cars since we are a commuter city) than to ask for change.

    But seeing that yesterday was a good reminder that I don't know what people need.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Hoseki View Post
    As the giver its an exercise in letting go. A gift to oneself. When we hold on too tightly on outcomes and plans we create our own suffering.
    Hoseki,

    This is lovely.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

  22. #22
    Member Hoseki's Avatar
    Join Date
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    St. John's Newfoundland, Canada.
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoka View Post
    Hoseki,

    This is lovely.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    Gassho
    Hoseki
    Sat today



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  23. #23
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoka View Post
    Eishuu,

    I'm personally not a fan of the term "pan-handler" either, but I don't know that there is a better inclusive term. We could say homeless, but we are then assuming they are homeless, we could say needy or beggers but I really don't like how that sounds. I actually searched for synonyms but it went downhill from there. The other terms are in my opinion far worse and more judgement.

    Does any have a suggest on a better term that could be employed?

    As to the questions about helping. I think one of the important things I have learned in life is how much I don't know, so I really try not to give people "what I think they need." I'm more open to asking people what they need. If someone is sitting out a grocery store I'll ask, "can I get you something from inside?" That way they can tell me what is useful for them and I can make a decision from there.

    Just yesterday I saw a guy standing with a sign asking for bottles. I'm guessing he is doing one of two things with them. Either using them to collect and have a supply of fresh water since we are heading for summer that will start to become a problem for homeless. Or he is gathering them to recycle. I'm guessing that if it is the later, it is easier for him to ask for bottle (which lots of us have empty in our cars since we are a commuter city) than to ask for change.

    But seeing that yesterday was a good reminder that I don't know what people need.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    I think you are right - it's better to ask what people need. 'Helping' is very context-dependent and should come out of our encounter with people and an understanding of their situation with the relevant amount of sensitivity. I think it's interesting that there are no words that sound particularly respectful to describe people who are begging, and that's probably symptomatic of society's attitude towards them. Would it work to say 'people who are homeless and/or begging for money'?

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH
    Last edited by Eishuu; 06-07-2018 at 05:39 PM.

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Shoka View Post
    Eishuu,

    I'm personally not a fan of the term "pan-handler" either, but I don't know that there is a better inclusive term. We could say homeless, but we are then assuming they are homeless, we could say needy or beggers but I really don't like how that sounds. I actually searched for synonyms but it went downhill from there. The other terms are in my opinion far worse and more judgement.

    Does any have a suggest on a better term that could be employed?
    Street person.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_

  25. #25
    Eishuu
    Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Street person.

    Gasho, Jishin, _/st\_
    That's better.

    Gassho
    Eishuu
    ST/LAH

  26. #26
    Hi everyone,

    I wanted to come back to this to see if anyone has any additional thoughts, or if you have found interesting resources that you might like to share?


    For my part, it has been an interesting experience over the past few weeks to actively look and read the signs of street people and to see what they are asking for. Many people I notice are just asking for help in general, nothing specific is listed. But it has been interesting to see what else the signs say, one this morning said "Lost Anything Helps". I found that very interesting, or course it was at a freeway exit and I was in the far lane so I didn't have the chance to see how they were lost.

    Gassho,

    Shoka
    sattoday
    香道 笑花
    Kodo Shoka

    Please don't take anything I say as anything more than just a normal person's thoughts on the topic. I'm just stumbling through life trying to be helpful, but really don't know much.

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