Change For Change (by Wyndham McNair)

Part I The Research

Writers Note
holding hands

I learned that people like to help people. There are several people out there struggle with the moral issue on whether to give out money to the homeless. Unfortunately that apprehension is warranted.
Fortunately People like to help people and there are several resources that exist and are able to help you find a way to give in a way that you will feel comfortable with. I will attempt to answer one of life’s most important questions; To Give or Not to Give.

The Resources

Resources: Meals.” Your Comprehensive Guide to the Public Services and Assistance Programs in the Portland and Tri-county Area. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

This cite is one of the most comprehensive lists of all the places that either serve hot food or give out free food. This cite also gives times and days for the meals served there are a number of these in the downtown area. Seems that any time of the day someone can get something to eat.
In addition most of the places on the cite carry a rose city resource book that they give away for free to members of the public that ask.

“Causes of Homelessness.” Portland Rescue Mission. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <http://www.portlandrescuemission.org/learn-more/causes-of-homelessness/&gt;.

This cite contains the top ten reasons for homelessness and some interesting statistics pertaining to the national average. I would like to add that the number one reason is addiction. They state that 68 percent of american cities claim that addiction is the number on contributor to homelessness.

“The Cafe at Sisters Of The Road.” Sisters Of The Road. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. <http://sistersoftheroad.org/programs/cafe/&gt;.

This is the sisters of the road cafe page. From this site you can buy some meal cards to distribute to people that say they are hungry in the downtown area. The site even tells you the best way to interact with the person in need. It teaches you how to give a food card to the homeless person that tells you they are hungry. The cafe Is located in downtown portland.

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.” Substance Abuse. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. <http://usich.gov/issue/substance_abuse&gt;.

This article speaks to the numbers that correlate between the homeless and drug abuse and addiction

What to Change When asked for Change by Wyndham McNair

No doubt if you have ever took a walk in the downtown Portland OR, you have been asked for change. The downtown Portland area is highly populated with the homeless. I know that I have been approached several times and the main “line” that I hear is “hey could you help me out with some change so I can get something to eat?”
When you are asked that several times in one day, one would conclude that there are a lot of hungry people in the downtown area. Seems like a fair conclusion right? Maybe So. I decided to take a look into it.

I found out that there are several places all over Portland where one can receive food boxes full of non perishables items as well as milk, food bread and meat. That is all well and good if you have somewhere to prepare it, so for the moment it would seem that maybe the homeless person asking for spare change might still have a valid argument. With a little more digging I found out that this homeless person could receive well over 5 hot meals a day in the old town area alone. And it does not stop there seems one could receive a ton of other services that are crucial to survival.

http://www.rosecityresource.org/Resources: Meals.” Your Comprehensive Guide to the Public Services and Assistance Programs in the Portland and Tri-county Area. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014.

I had a feeling that a significant amount of the people asking were on drugs. It turns out that my hunch was right it is estimated that anywhere between 50 – 70 percent of the homeless abuse drugs and/or alcohol.

United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.” Substance Abuse. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Mar. 2014. <http://usich.gov/issue/substance_abuse&gt;.

The Portland Rescue mission posted something particularly revealing. This cite contains the top ten reasons for homelessness and some interesting statistics pertaining to the national average. I would like to add that the number one reason is addiction. They state that 68 percent of American cities claim that addiction is the number on contributor to homelessness.

“Causes of Homelessness.” Portland Rescue Mission. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <http://www.portlandrescuemission.org/learn-more/causes-of-homelessness/&gt;.

This cite contains the top ten reasons for homelessness and some interesting statistics pertaining to the national average. I would like to add that the number one reason is addiction. They state that 68 percent of american cities claim that addiction is the number on contributor to homelessness.

The question becomes Are we enabling the people that we give change to. I down know about you but I am not interested in my money being used to further someone elses addiction. It is true that a significant amount of people suffer from other things these days such as: mental health issues, foreclosure and loss of employment. Am I asking you to harden your heart? No. Am I saying that the next time you feel sympathy or compassion for a homeless person, you should just coldly walk by? Not at all. I am merely suggesting that maybe your hard earned money would be better served by meeting the actual need intended.

I would like to introduce you to the Idea of giving out “Sisters of the Road” meal cards. Sisters of the Road is a cafe in the downtown area that serves balanced and nutritious meals to the homeless and the underprivileged. For the low price of two dollars or a chore a person will receive a nutritious meal and a drink. On their website they sell meal cards and even provide instructions on how to give them out and have a meaningful interaction with the homeless person. The best part is that this cafe is located in the downtown area easily accessed by the person in need.

So be prepared pick up some of these meal cards and keep them in your wallet. Follow the simple instructions for the best way to give them out. The Next time you are asked to help someone who is hungry you will be able to rest easy and know that you are helping that person eat.

Wyndham McNair is a 3rd year college student at Portland Community College.
This piece was written as a WR122 study into Family and Family services.
Wyndham has worked in the social service field for 3 plus years
Wyndham has also led an African American Program for a Year and Worked as
a QMHA in the state of Oregon.
His Interests Include Playstaion 4 and Recording Professional Hip Hop
under the alias “The Rose City One”

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2 comments

  1. Hello Wyndham,
    Ive posted to a few of your discussions so I found it interested that we were paired for peer reviews! I think your argument makes a lot of sense. I checked out each of your resources. I found it interesting that the Blanchet House served breakfast, Lunch AND Dinner Mon-Saturday as most only offer limited meals and limited days. I also knew that addiction is a common factor/cause of homelessness, along with mental health. I tried to click on the link for the top 10 reasons but kept getting a “site no longer available” message. One thing i think is interesting, is that although there are several meal sources, what about addiction services? I know your main focus is regarding meals and hunger with people asking for money but if there were a large amount of resources for addiction help maybe that would be a resource that could decrease the amount of homeless people therefor the number of people asking for change?
    I like that you don’t come across as thinking all homeless people just want money for drugs so don’t help them. Thats the viewpoint I hear from a lot of people. I like that you took the time to research HOW people could really help instead of giving money and potentially feeding into the real problem itself.
    Ive given people money countless times because i feel like i never know what the situation may be. This being said, Ive also offered to purchase a meal before and later saw the same person buying beer at a local plaid pantry which was frustrating.
    I think the idea of the cafe giving meal cards. I went to the site and purchased 5 for $10.00. Ill keep them handy for the next time someone asks me for money and see what happens! Awhile back I saw something on facebook about cafe’s (not locally) that allow coffee for people to buy extra meals/coffee for the local homeless people who would come in and ask if there was any of these on the books. Places like that would be really cool too! Kind of the same idea.

  2. You really give the reader a practical solution and a lot of research to become more informed! I love that Brittany has already acted on your suggestion! That’s very powerful!

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