Re: homeless bums ought to work - your reply?

Virginia Sellner (
Thu, 9 Apr 1998 15:21:39 -0600 (MDT)

We don't pass any judgement on those that don't want to work here either --
by here I mean in our Welcome Mat Day Center -- we may eventually find out
why they don't want work --  lack of confidence, self esteem, mental
illness, just plain beat into the ground by the 'system', and we try and
treat each person as a person -- not as a person with a label -- as in
homeless, mentally ill, whatever -- and we find that makes a difference.  We
eventually want our program to offer a variety of job training -- so that
when they find something they like -- as in computers -- or whatever they
will be able to work at something they like -- and even if that means that
they are just writing, painting, drawing or whatever, and possibly making a
little money, but not enough to live on -- we won't hold that against them
either.  If they want to live by the creek and sell art that's fine --  we
just want to have some options available for people so that they can find
themselves possibly and/or work their way into a somewhat better situation
even if it is not what we would want or consider better.

as Tedrico would say, nuff said.


At 02:07 PM 4/9/98 -0700, Tom Boland wrote:
>Virginia, thanks your reply on whether to tell panhandlers to get jobs.
>Your answer seems from the heart and deeply informed.
>I sometimes give money to panhandlers I know, when I have a little extra.
>Ocasionally, I ask street friends for change myself.  These same
>panhandlers give me change when I'm broke.  I don't feel guilty about
>asking, partly because I helped set up an eight year old Sunday meal
>program that feeds a bunch of them, me included.  Sharing's a part of "bum
>If people don't want to work paid jobs, I pass no judgment on them.  They
>may be helping their neighbors or themselves in ways I do not witness.  And
>some paid jobs hurt the environment or harm people.  So I know I can't be
>certain of what's moral or useful for all individuals in all circumstances.
>Streetpeople I see as the one subgroup of homeless folks that fewest want
>to help.  Personally, I love many "bums", as Steinbeck loved the "bums" in
>his novels.  Yet among them are theives I wouldn't let in my squat, and
>assailants whom I avoid.  I still judge, I guess, but I judge person by
>Virginia wrote:
>>We dont live in a big city or Mayberry here either.  I do agree with one
>>thing the person wrote = and that is I do not want to support drug or
>>alcohol habits either -- and mostly in Cheyenne when people ask for money
>>for food (which, by the way is available 3 times a day or more everyday of
>>the week, so you know that chances are they do not want it for food) then
>>whoever is approached usually offers to take them to a restaurant and feed
>>them -- which is fine if they really want food -- if they do not want food
>>then they turn it down and go on to the next person.  Here most of the will
>>work for food signs are phoney -- just wanting a handout and they do not
>>want it, in most cases, for food.  Offer them a job and see what kind of
>>excuses they come up with as to why they cannot take it -- We have limited
>>facilities as does everyone, but we do have food available -- for travelers,
>>for those staying around, and shelter if they want it -- In Cheyenne if
>>people want a job they can get one -- it might not be much, but it can get
>>you off the street if you use your money for food and shelter -- but there
>>are plenty of homeless people who are unable to work because of
>>disabilities, mental illness, whatever.  Telling them to get a job doesnt
>>work either.  I hate to say the following, but in Cheyenne, which is on 2
>>interstates and 2 main Railroad lines, we see a lot of transients who will
>>be transients and without a regular place to stay forever, even with the end
>>of homelessness -- now lots of people will want to argue with that, but it
>>is true nonetheless, and a lot of these people do not want to do anything
>>but freeload -- they don't go by the old time hobo code or any other code
>>than the world owes them a living.  BUT they are in the minority -- the
>>freeloaders that is, and unfortunately they spoil everything for everyone
>>else by giving a bad name to the entire problem. If there had never been
>>food stamp abuse there would not need to be a cut back in food stams for
>>example.  Those guys who used to travel from state to state doing nothing
>>but collecting stamps for the most part can't do it anymore -- if a few
>>people were not abusing the system things would be available for all.  If a
>>few people were not just bing bums then the name bum would not be attached
>>to homelessness.  I do somewhat agree with the person below because I know
>>that if someone wants or nees something in this town they can come by it
>>without creating problems panhandling, using phony reasons to get things --
>>the only persons I have actually given money to however, are the ones who
>>are honest and ask for money for booze -- the others I won't --  so I guess
>>I contradicted myself.
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Wyoming Coalition for the Homeless
P. O. Box 1232
Cheyenne, WY 82003