Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beggar at the door

This weekend I attended a service at a local church with friends and as we were exiting a woman AfAm about 5'3" short hair and 250ish lbs was begging us for money at the steps. She said she was hungry and wanted to get something to eat. I said I didn't have any money (totally true) but stood for a moment trying to catalog what in central Shaw served food to the homeless on a weekend night. She asked again, and I told her I was trying to figure out what services could help her because I didn't have any money, but I had information. She didn't want that, she said those places were closed. Why the frak am I supposed give to the Can't Get My S* Together Fund?
In the Shaw neighborhood (NCPC borders) there are a dozen non-profits and churches that have some sort of outreach or feeding program for the homeless that I can think of. One church may do a free breakfast once or a few times a week, a non-profit a daily dinner, and the like. Then along the southern borders of Shaw, in the more downtown areas of town are the food van stops by the Salvation Army's Grate Patrol and the odd church.
When my group had walked on down the street, one member of our party mentioned that he had already given her money at the beginning of the service. And even after he handed her a few bucks she was still bugging him. Just then I remembered I'd seen her before begging at that church, on several other occasions. It's the perfect place to throw on the guilt trip.
Also this weekend I spotted a fellow on the 1500 block of New Jersey with a sign and a basket. I was traveling to the Giant, had forgotten my wallet, and traveled back along that same route so I noticed him. When there was someone stopped at the light he'd trundle over and ask for money. I couldn't read the sign as he must have used a fine point marker.
Lastly, at my own door a woman, slightly frazzled knocked on my door about over a month ago. I'd never laid eyes on her before. She had some story that her aunt or niece died and a whole bunch of them (whomever they are) were trying to get up to somewhere in PG County and she needed a few dollars. A few days earlier I found a Smarttrip card laying on the sidewalk, okay in the gutter. I pick stuff up. It had 2 or 3 dollars on it when I checked. So I reached in my coat pocket and gave it to her. I try not to give money, but totally okay with giving away stuff, food, found objects.
Do I believe the story about the dead relative? No. Do I believe the beggar at church door? Answer- insert cruel fat joke here. Not really.
It seems that dealing with people begging you for something is part of living and working in the city. Be it people on the street or social service organizations that keep sending you mailers for more money than what you're already donating them.

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At 4/14/2009 1:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I found this site http://dcfoodfinder.org/ through Bread for the City's blog and it lists a lot of places for people to get food and related services...it is definitely hard to keep track of all the different programs so hopefully this will help you advise other people that you meet!

At 4/14/2009 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

oops, sorry, forgot to ID myself:
--sb, soon-to-be DC (hopefully Shaw) resident

At 4/14/2009 6:21 PM, Anonymous HU said...

The old "I have to pay for bus fare line." Classic dopefiend.

Crack is some evil stuff.

At 4/14/2009 10:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you talk to homeless outreach experts, they'll tell you to not give money to panhandlers. If you feel moved, instead give them transportation cards, food, food gift cards, etc.
The reason is simple- there is plenty of free food and help for those who are willing to take advantage of it and most of the money given goes to drugs and alcohol and good intentions end up enabling self destructive behavior.
DC Gov Worker

At 4/15/2009 8:54 AM, Blogger Mari said...

For some reason the
Food Finder site doesn't work in IE, but is okay in Firefox.


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