Where can I take a Shower? - by Stephanie Thomas
2:06 pm edt
It's something we take for granted. We get up in the morning and take a shower. If we need to wash our hands we go to the
sink. If we want to wash our clothes we put them in the wash. For people living on the street and in tents, getting clean
and staying clean is not so easy. Fortunately, in Greensboro, we have the Interactive Resource Center on Washington Street.
For people who are homeless, being able to go there to take a shower and wash clothes is a real blessing. Unfortunately, for
people who live away from downtown, it can be difficult for them to get to the IRC, especially on a daily basis. In California,
Doniece Sandoval, came up with a solution: She turned retired city buses into mobile shower units.
Drugs on the Corner
There are so many reasons why young women are begging, and unfortunately in Greensboro,
we are seeing more young women out on the street corners every day. The reasons vary from mental illness, to abuse, to neglect,
but drug addiction is also a big problem. Drug addiction devastates the lives of our young people, and many of the young women
and girls you see the on the street corners today have children. There is some help available, but not enough. Please give
generously to those on the front lines who are doing all they can to help.
11:20 am est
Who Cares for Her?
1:42 pm edt
I talked to Jennifer today. She flys (or begs) in front of the Wal-Mart on
Wendover. She was there with her husband of 12 years. When I spoke with her she was standing in the shade trying to cool down.
It's going to be almost 100 degrees today and when I got there around 12:00 it was already sweltering. She said her husband
was flying in order to give her a break but that most of the time he wanted her to fly. That is one of the tradgedy's I see
on the street corners. When you see a woman flying there is a good chance there is a man in her life who is basically pimping
her out to beg for him. I will continue to visit Jennifer and hopefully over time she will trust me enought to tell me how
she ended up begging on the corner.
While I was there I watched
him fly his sign for just a few minutes and then he sent Jennifer back to the corner to beg...
is not her real name. I have changed it to protect her.)
Rules of the Game
4:12 pm est
They all have rules for flying their signs. They have a way of doing
things, like smiling and waving. It is their way of showing appreciation for what you give them.
11:32 pm est
While I was doing the interviews for this book quite a few people told me
that they were angry with people who begged. They belived that people who begged made a lot of money by taking advange of
others. There is a lot of misunderstanding in the community about this subject. A lot of that comes from the media. Every
person I have met who begs in Greensboro is destitue.
7:04 pm est
If a person who is begging and homeless they frequently have all of their belongings
with them. What do they have? What is important to them? Where do they hide it? How does it feel to have all of your earthly
belongings in the pack on your back?
9:06 am est
When you see someone begging be aware that there are many more people living
in poverty you don't see.
6:39 pm est
Most of the beggars I met, both men and women, usually tell those who ask them that they
make more money than they do. I believe they want to save face. They need to justify their behavior to society, and, more
important, they need to justify it to themselves. In the end, it does not matter how much they make per hour begging, because
the long-term effects on them and their families are devastating.
Walk on By...
11:55 pm est
“Sometimes it's easy to walk by because we know we can't change
someone's whole life in a single afternoon. But what we fail to realize it that simple kindness can go a long way toward
encouraging someone who is stuck in a desolate place.”
Pregnant and Cold
11:07 pm est
When I first went out onto the street corners, I didn't understand how people could drive past
a young pregnant woman standing in the cold and snow, on Sunday after church, and not stop to give her a few dollars. Most
people have a good heart. People don't give because they are afraid to do the wrong thing. They don't want to enable someone
in what might be self destructive behavior. If you want to give, give a kind word, a smile, or a wave, then give to Urban
Ministries, The Salvation Army or The Interactive Resource Center or some other charitable organization, but please give...
1:55 am est
A vast majority of women who have been on the streets for longer than six months are likely to
have been assaulted and/or raped. As an essential survival tactic, homeless women make themselves as invisible as possible
so as not to be noticed. ~Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Excerpt from The Greensboro Voice
9:42 am est
Before I met individual's struggling with homeslessness, I had no idea
of their capacity to be generous and share what little they had. To be honest, I believed that people who were homeless, and
individuals who begged, only took from others and never gave. I saw many instances where people who were homeless and
begging gave to each other. They shared their food, what little money they had, a place to sleep if they had it, and transportation
when they had it. More importanlty they geneorusly gave their time, their concern, encouragement, their counsel, and their
friendship. It's a humbling realization. Most of us have so much and yet we give so little. These individuals have so little,
and some have nothing at all, and yet from that they give so much.
Excerpt from Pushed to the Corner
8:44 pm est
When I first began to notice them standing on the corners with their
signs I tried to avoid them. I'd slow down, change lanes, or rush through a light so I wouldn't get stuck next to one of them
while I waited for the light to change. Whenever I did have to stopI'd look away, pretend they weren't there, and hope they
didn't see me. On occasion however I'd roll down my window and hand them a couple of dollars. The inconsistency of my actions
came from a feeling of helplessness.
9:06 pm est
"Poor, uneducated women do not have a realistic place in the current
labor market, designed to support nuclear families with male breadwinners. Many poor woman are forced into service sector
jobs that do not pay the livable wage or provide necessary benefits." ~Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Give a Package of Small Comfort
5:00 pm est
This is without a doubt a country filled with generous people. It's difficult
for many of us to pass a woman who is begging on the corner and not stop to help her. We know however that as much as we might
care about the woman and her situation, we as individuals do not have the means to help her in a substantial way. The majority
of us simply do not have the training, the money, or the time to help a woman who is begging to get off the street.
But we can give a small amount of comfort and assistance to her. If you'd liked to help, the following is a short
list of items you can put in a ziplock bag to give to a woman who is begging on a corner near you: sunscreen, chapstick, gloves,
hand-warmers, tissues, a small pad and pen, hard candy, gum, deodorant, and bottled water.
Why are Some Women Homeless?
8:42 pm est
"A high percentage of homeless women have experienced domestic or sexual violence at
some point in their lives. Violence against women is a major
cause of women's homelessness." Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
5:25 pm est
Many people have asked me why some of the homeless women they see on the corners
are not staying in a shelter. It's possible they are staying in a shelter. The problem is that most shelters only allow
women to stay from 7:00 pm to 8:00 am. The rest of the time is spent outside.
Urban Ministry has 14 beds for women. To stay at Pathways an individual must have an income. Clara's House has room
for 26 women with children. Please give to these shelters and help keep our women and children off the streets.
9:51 am edt
There are a lot of new faces begging on the street corners this fall. There
are more women begging now than there were in 2010. They are all in desperate need for one reason or another, but giving money
to them only enables their problem. If you want to help, give them a drink, or a smile, or an encouraging word.
9:48 am edt