DONATING TO A NONPROFIT IS NOT THE SAME AS HELPING THE HOMELESS!
By Max R. Weller
I live in Boulder, CO. I’ve been sleeping outdoors in the same neighborhood since early in 2008, when I decided to make my home (or campsite, to be precise) in the Rocky Mountain region. The natural beauty is a constant reminder to me of man’s insignificant role in the Grand Scheme of Things, and I’m thankful to be both humbled and enlightened at once.
It’s true that I’m still healthy enough to walk with the aid of just a single trekking pole, and it’s also true that I have many friends who care about me; certainly, these are blessings I’m grateful for every day of the year. But, I want to tell you that having a purpose in life — blogging about homelessness in order to inform, critique, admonish, and sometimes praise — is the most important thing to me.
It is a great challenge, because there are those who wish to remain ignorant of the most elementary facts about the subject, and they deeply resent a homeless man who dares to set them straight. Their typical ad hominem responses never faze me, however, and even the one or two who have become obsessed cause me to briefly scratch my head, no more than that, and then I go on with my chosen work.
One of my detractors referred to me, in his comment online to the Daily Camera newspaper this morning, as “a homeless Bill O’Reilly” and I consider that high praise, indeed. I rarely watch TV, but if someone were to call me “a homeless Chris Matthews” I wouldn’t be happy about it, not a bit. Partisan posturing is not really my gig, but vigorous debate does stir one’s blood.
Let me give you an example of what beings me joy:
This letter-to-the-editor of the DC was posted online yesterday evening, and is copied here in its entirety:
On Nov. 15th, at 5:25 p.m., as I was walking home from an errand, I witnessed what I would presume was a homeless gentleman, because all he was clothed in was a very thin pair of pants, and a sleeping bag draped tightly over the top of his body, as he was holding up a sign, asking for food or money. It should be noted that Boulder was receiving snow and temperatures were well below 25 degrees. Not one individual that I observed offered this gentleman any form of assistance. I walked home in tears, and called the Boulder Police Department , to have an officer do a welfare check, and take the man somewhere warm for the night at least.
As a 52-year-old Boulder native, I was raised to believe that all individuals deserve dignity, kindness and respect. I remember my younger days, when everyone I knew in Boulder believed and acted as if all of the members of Boulder deserved to be treated with kindness, whether they were rich or poor. Sadly, I am seeing the city I love turn into a place that caters to mainly upper-class individuals, with little or no regard to those with lower incomes, who also live here.The continued eruption of high-cost housing, high-end stores and restaurants, makes it impossible for individuals who are either working two or three jobs just to keep a roof over their head and food on the table, or homeless people (for many different reasons, e.g. mental illness) to make it here.
With the tragic increase in deaths among the homeless population this year, and the continual struggle for many low-income families to make ends meet, the people of Boulder need to reflect and consider better ways to include all of the individuals of Boulder, first by showing compassion and dignity to each person, and discovering better opportunities to help lower-income and homeless individuals thrive and better themselves, so they can share in the same resources as upper-class individuals in Boulder do.
I was able to respond to her concerns by providing info, which she might pass on to the next homeless man in need:
Shelley, the homeless man you met could (and should) have been at Boulder Shelter for the Homeless at 5:25PM to play the lottery for a bunk there. If he wasn’t lucky and was turned away, he could (and should) have gone to Boulder Outreach for Homeless Overflow, which is open nightly until March 15th, 2015.
Clothing, camping gear, food, all kinds of resources are available FREE to the homeless. Deacons’ Closet and Boulder County Cares would be helpful in getting the man you met into more suitable clothing and gear.
Here’s a complete list: https://homelessphilosopher.wordpress.com/resourc…
I understand that Boulder PD is well acquainted with all of this, so you did the right thing by calling them to do a welfare check.
Frankly, I’m not surprised that a Boulder native is unaware of all of the help available to people on the streets. The homeless shelter/services industry concentrates on fundraising, and the news media is most attentive to dead homeless people (especially if they died outdoors), so a listing of resources for the living who are in need gets short shrift in the spotlight.
I do what I can, using the meager talents I’ve been given, and I’m so THANKFUL for the opportunity.
Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Homeless camper’s Thanksgiving feast