Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Mission of the Mission and Questioning Authority, Part II

[ Part I of this two-part post can be found here.]

Joe Cambridge hasn’t (yet?) put a follow-up fb post online on what happened after his encounter with the Night Manager, but some of what happened has leaked out. So, using that – mission gossip – I’ll tersely report on the last of the Cambridge Caper and wrap up with the usual ramblings and blatherings about my days in the chapel seats.

From what I hear, Cambridge was asked to come to the Mission on Monday afternoon and was shown around the place by higher-ups and others and given the semi-official Mission view of things. He was taken into the New Building, which is where the highest-ups have offices and they and the merely higher-ups congregate and praise God and take care of all the business to keep the Mission operating. All went well. There was kindness and understanding, sweetness and light, and there was an overture for Joe to get his butt into the Mission’s nine-month Rehab Program. It is believed that Joe was negatory to the idea of going into rehab – he being successful on his own at taming what beasts he has -- but at the end of the tour, things were nice, hands were shaken and glad tidings were exchanged.

Sitting for the service

There are always rules about how the guys in the chapel seats are to behave. They have to do with removing one’s hat when the service starts; when it is permissible for a guy to dart to the bathroom; when it is OK to for a guy to address the preacher or otherwise contribute to all that is going on on-stage, in front of us. There are rules about what papers we can have in our lap to look at and how respectful we must be to those church groups that come to address us.

I confess that I think the firm rules (the ‘standard’ ones read to us before the group that’s come is introduced) and those that are mostly just learned as a result of seeing other guys and gals be admonished for bizarre behaviors are reasonable and judicious.

To my mind, it is understandable for the Mission to expect for the folks in the chapel seats to stay awake and listen to the message coming from the night’s preacher and the others who address those who are congregated for the event. After all, the Mission’s prime mission is to save souls and that happens during the service, not during dinner or while guys are showering or asleep. I would rather the sleepy guys didn't get punted, however. It would be best if a very very sleepy guy has a pal sitting beside him to poke him constantly. It is true that a very very sleepy guy with a forearm bruised with pokes won't remember any of the sermon, but at least he will usefully get some of the other mission services -- food; shower; sleep -- that he might greatly benefit from.

Many other guys aren't prone to falling asleep, but are dog tired by 7:30pm when the service starts. Many of us have been up since 6am and have spent our day walking a great many miles. Some of the guys will be exhausted from part-time jobs they have. And yet others of the guys will be pretty drunk or otherwise altered and can barely avoid falling out of their chair.

At one point in a dark patch of my homelessness, I was having trouble being alert for the service. Happily, my money situation began to improve such that a No Doze or Five-Hour-Energy drink in the early afternoon staved off sleepiness nicely until I could get into my dorm bunk bed and hope to lose consciousness as I faded into a blissful dream.

The retard thing

My favorite instance of a homeless guy behaving at odds with the rules in the chapel occurred one night when a preacher began pacing the stage admonishing the congregants for being “a bunch of retards that God couldn’t love.” I don’t think the preacher had anything specific in mind; his message was just an inflamed way of saying that we were responsible for ourselves and we needed to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We were undeserving of any charity, blah, blah. We were men; act like it, blah, blah, blah.

A guy in the front row of seats stood up and told the preacher his son was a special-needs pupil and that the word “retard” was hurtful . He said he was sure that God loved his wonderful young son. At this point a bevy of guys in the Rehab Program, who act as ushers and security in the chapel, swarmed on the poor homeless fellow who had dared to speak up to address a preacher. The Night Manager came out and the man was escorted by several people out a side door.

The preacher then, again, launched into the fury of his sermon, lambasting us for being a bunch of retarded losers, undeserving of life, even – much less the protection or attention of God, Almighty! At this point, the side door opened and the Night Manager brought the weary father back in, to his seat. The congregation of dirty, [and worthless, in the words of the preacher] homeless people stood up spontaneously and greeted the father with a round of exuberant applause. [It was a magnificent moment, I thought.]

After that night, that preacher was never heard from again.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Mission of the Mission and Questioning Authority, Part I

A provocative topic in the corner of Homeless World Sacramento I best know has to do with a discussion between a homeless man and Union Gospel Mission’s Night Manager that quickly got out of hand.
A statue called "Homeless Jesus" shows an
exhausted man sleeping on a bench. There are
marks from nail holes on the figure's feet.

The homeless man in question is someone I don’t know but have heard quite a bit about.  For the purpose of this blog post, I’ll call him Joe Cambridge. From facts from his life I’ve heard and others that are provided on Joe's public Facebook page -- many of which can be verified from evidence found elsewhere on the Internet -- it is clear that Joe is brilliant and during his prime years as an adult he was an amazing creative person who enjoyed considerable success.

But, over a period of years, Cambridge’s life has fallen apart such that now for the past six months or year or whatever he has been a homeless man who makes use of River District homeless services – in particular Loaves & Fishes and the Mission – to sustain himself, get fed, stay clean and get by. He often sleeps in the Mission dorm.

The discussion that blew up was on the evening of April 10.  Cambridge tells us about it on Facebook. Some of the discussion was easily overheard by the many homeless men in the Mission chapel at the time.

The gist of Joe's complaint is this: Joe was upset by the new policy of ejecting homeless people during chapel for falling asleep in their chair. Joe wasn't himself falling asleep, but a friend was who got ejected. After receiving four warnings, any sleepy homeless guy gets punted to the street, meaning he would miss the evening meal, getting a shower, if he wanted/needed one, and, if he had one, lose his bed in the dorm. Joe wrote in Facebook, "The policy seems to me, mean and ill-conceived, and just plain wrong."

So, Joe went in to see the Night Manager in his office that abuts the chapel to get an understanding of the thinking behind the new policy. "Big mistake," wrote Joe in an assessment in the aftermath of his attempt to broach the topic.  "[The Night Manager] immediately went on the defensive saying that 'you people' (!!!!) are only here because [the meal and a bed in the dorm] is free, he would never hire any of us, if we don't like it we can leave. Not addressing the concern, but going off on a rant on how bad the homeless are. Amazing. Just amazing. I thanked him for his time and got out of there."

There is no excuse for the Night Manager's behavior.

I had a bed at the mission for over a thousand nights during the period of my penniless homelessness, beginning in April, 2008. And during additional nights, when I couldn't get a bed, I came for the sermon and meal.  The primary Night Manager that Joe writes about had the same role going back to before the time I first stayed at the Mission.

During my several years being dirty and out on the street, I went in to talk to the Night Manager a couple of times.  I don't recall my reasons for going to speak with him, but both times he was fully cordial, listened intently to what I had to say and was kind and forthcoming with his responses.

Plaque for the Homeless Jesus statue.
Nonetheless, I learned that the Night Manager wasn't someone easy to approach. He was often very angry about things I couldn't guess at. His is a difficult job, no doubt; there are frequent crazy, intense problems he has to deal with. But while I witnessed him making decisions that seemed very appropriate at ending a confrontation of some sort [including, btw, when he 86'd me from the mission for a two-week period], there were other times he seemed too harsh and lacking in compassion. But, then, my take on conservative Christianity, generally, is that it is too harsh and lacking in compassion.

There was one period of time when an old homeless fellow, Lincoln Smith -- known by everyone at the Mission as "Smitty" -- was having problems. He would get into a bunk bed that wasn't his in the dorm and was cussing a lot. This would cause him to be ejected. Yes, he was drinking, but it was also clear, to me, based on troubles my parents had, that dementia was a factor. Happily, there was a senior guy in the Mission's Rehab Program with whom I could discuss my dementia theory. Smitty's antics were better tolerated thereafter. [I was glad I found the right guy to talk to about the problem who would take up "Smitty's cause," working around the rigid rules and lines of authority such that Smitty was treated appropriately until the doctors and social workers could weigh-in to re-organize Smitty's life.  However, I don't know how much re-organizing got done. Smitty died as a direct result of his alcoholism soon after.]

As to the Night Manager's assertion that 'homeless people only come for the free food and bed,' that is often the case. Some of the preachers come, stand behind the lectern, and spend much of their time berating the guys in the chapel seats. I understand there is quite a lot of that these days. If you insult your audience and don't have a clue about the difficult circumstance of being homeless, you lose people's attention. In sharp contrast to the scowling preachers, there are others like Jimmy Roughton; Rev. Mooney; Juan; and the folks from Downtown Baptist Church; Slavic Trinity Church; Heart Talk Ministries; and others, whose love for homeless folk is clearly real; palpable, even. And the guys in the chapel chairs, then, are most likely to carefully listen to what is said.

But, to be fair, there is certainly a not-insignificant portion of homeless folk in the chapel seats who are not going to be interested in anything any preacher or church person has to say. These folk tolerate the expenditure of one hour in the chapel for the benefit of getting a meal and maybe, too, a shower and a bed. I think this is a circumstance that the Mission has to simply accept. There are going to be uninterested people at every chapel service; it's simply the nature of the association poor people have with any rescue mission. The Mission cannot coerce people to listen to the preachers' messages; that would be unproductive to the goal of saving souls or teaching what the Bible has to say. The Mission should accept that it does something greatly beneficial even when it only provides a poor person with a meal; and/or a shower; and/or a bed. Think of it as goodness for goodness' sake. Think of it in terms of Matthew 25:40.

The second part of this two part series can be found here: "The mission of the Mission and questioning authority, Part II."

Friday, April 11, 2014

Fuck the poor?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Safe Ground Cabin Village Idea is Alive, Alive – so says SN&R

March 13, 2014 issue
A full-page article in this week’s Sacramento News & Review, “Is a Safe Ground homeless camp coming to north Sacramento?” [titled “Safe Ground breaks through?” in hardcopy] by SNR staff writer Raheem F. Hosseini declares, ambiguously [note the question mark in the piece’s titles], that Safe Ground (the charity) may have found some safe ground (i.e., acreage exempted from anti-camping laws or building-code requirements) to build the cabin village it wants. In other ways, as well, the article tells us SG may be on its way to “make it happen.”

But while it is surely true when Hosseini tells us Safe Ground, in the person of its housed Executive Director Steve Watters, has a supporter/advocate on the Sacramento City Council in the person of Allen Warren, the representative for District 2, it would seem that Hosseini has failed to fully investigate the matter by gathering the sensibilities of the rest of the city council. After all, a single councilman is far from the necessary majority of the council to make any Safe Ground plan a functioning reality. But it does help mightily, as Hosseini points out, that Warren is eager to welcome the village in his own district in northeast Sacramento. It may be the defeating NIMBY (“NOT in my backyard!”) thing can be averted.
SafeGrounders behaving badly
However, long-existent other reasons for the city council NOT to approve any kind of Safe Ground tent or cabin community are still out there, unabated. While Safe Ground has done well with the Pilgrimage program it has – providing sleep space for homeless folk on floor areas, mostly at the property of churches – its history at illegal tent sites it has set up in years past is consistently terrible, revealing profound immaturity among its members. Further, the juvenility it displayed a few years ago in its effort to waste city councilmembers’ time by speaking incoherent nonsense during the two-minute-per-person time allotted citizens before general meetings is a memorable display of SG members’ foolhardiness.

At the first illegal tent campsite – after the famed “Tent City” was torn down  –  that Safe Ground set up, at Camp Pollock in early August, 2009, they cooked over fire, smoked and drank. Not so bad, you might think, though the guys had signed a contract forbidding drinking and drug use. But that August – like all Augusts in Sacramento – was hot and very dry. The field where they stayed was on a carpet of dead leaves and twigs. On the last of two nights I was there, I got up in the middle of the night to take a leak. There were glowing red dots about; people smoking while standing on the dry highly flammable ground.

Later, Safe Ground set up tents at property attorney Mark Merin and his wife, attorney Cat Williams, owned on C Street, east of 12th. There, the SafeGrounders managed to behave badly by constantly harassing a neighbor who lived in a nearby home. There was a lawsuit. It was also known that drug dealers gathered in the area.
Safe Ground’s Stalinist Communist Moorings
And the last and biggest thing that makes Safe Ground not so charming is that they were founded by the mysterious Stalinist Communist group SHOC [which stands for Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee]. SHOC was originally a subgroup of The Organizing Committee which came into being in the 80s after the break up of the California Communist Party. The Organizing Committee – or its primary actors, anyway – regrouped to create The League of Revolutionaries for a New America [LRNA] that, today, is centrally located in Chicago. That name is well chosen; it baldly states the group’s aim: to overthrow the government of the United States (such to impose Totalitarian Communist governance).

Safe Ground, at its founding, created a so-called “Safe Ground Movement” based on objectives that comport to those of LRNA. Now, I think that Allen Warren and the rest of the city council have a problem, here. Giving use of public property or sums of money to a political group is likely not legal. And, should Fox News or MSNBC find out they're shoveling funds to Communists, the matter would gain wide attention and, at best, our city would be a laughingstock. Not to mention that giving Safe Ground money is disgusting morally and the ultimate misuse of taxpayers’ funds.

The Dream of a Tent Community

If Safe Ground, using its own money to buy property and take care of itself, were to get the OK to create a small, pilot tent community, I think that might be worthwhile. The exact number is impossible to pinpoint, but there is something like 750 non-sheltered homeless adults in the county every night. If a Safe Ground tent community were to help one-tenth or one-seventh of those people have a safer experience, that would be to the good. Safe Ground made a great mess of things camping in the American River Parkway in recent years and there is no reason to think they will transform miraculously to become responsible, today. BUT every possible thing should be done to give unsheltered very poor people a better, safer existence. And, just maybe, a SG tent community would work out.  And who knows? Maybe from that bud of hope and possibility – and with success – the Safe Grounders can be entrusted to do something more grand in the future.

A reason to believe that the Cabin Village thing is greatly unlikely to come into being is because if it is built, at rather enormous expense, and then there is a flurry of problems – which is likely – how could the city council, easily, be rid of it? The SN&R article tells us that Safe Ground wants use of a north Sacramento plot of land AND $3,000,000!!! What happens, after the village is built and perhaps- inevitable problems occur? The Safe Grounders might quickly fall into toddler mode and protest that fires and drunken brawls are not really so bad and that the black eyes aren't really as black as they look and, besides, it'll never ever, ever happen again!  We promise. We'll sign a covenant. You'll see. Just give us a chance!

At some point organizations that evidence a record of ineptitude should be denied "another chance."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Another in a long, long series of Bee articles that purports to show homeless people up close and personal

The Sacramento Bee’s latest article on homeless people, “Faces of the homeless in Sacramento”[February 9, 2014], is good in many ways, but the Bee continues to be stuck in the mud of thinking that homeless individuals are a pathetic amorphous mass that can best be interpreted by their nannies in the homeless-services industry.

There is also this weird contagion from Loaves & Fishes newsletters that Bee writer Cynthia Hubert has that supposes homeless people are incapable of walking properly. Homeless folk do walk (or roll on bikes or in wheelchairs); what they/we don’t do is trudge or shuffle, we mostly just put one foot in front of the other, like other human beings. Hubert begins her article, “Maybe you have seen the older woman, bundled against the cold, shuffling along Folsom Boulevard …”

Ah, Cynthia: “Shuffle” is a racist code word that has been used in the past to denigrate black people. It implies laziness and a shifty character. It would not only be appreciated [by me; speaking only for myself, here] but proper for you to write about homeless people as if they are full-fledged human beings, and not by default pathetic or somehow subhuman.

The first paragraph of Hubert’s piece has three sentences, each of which describes a person. The first sentence is about the shuffling woman. The second describes a man who is “grizzled,” “filth”ily attired, and “mumbling.” Sentence three is about a lady whose prominent feature from Hubert’s perspective is that she needs dental work.

These people, whom Hubert groups together, are gathered to selectively present a pathetic picture. Hubert then describes the group in her third paragraph:

Collectively, we know them as “the homeless.” Most of us never speak to them and avoid making eye contact.
You know, Cynthia, if YOU spoke to them and made eye contact, you might have gotten their stories and used their stories in your article. But you didn’t. You used a big chunk of your column inches talking about old stuff regarding John Kraintz, who is a source and voice on many issues, BUT HE’S NOT HIMSELF HOMELESS ANYMORE [Congrats on that, John]; hasn’t been for years.

Cynthia, you should also be aware – since you describe yourself in your article as “a reporter who has covered the issue of homelessness for the better part of 20 years,” which means "more than ten years," right? – that there are homeless people, and others who use homeless-industry services, who dress and present themselves very well. They are a big part of the mix. These “stately” [don’t like that word; but I’ll use it] homeless people are absent, also, from a video that accompanies the article in the online edition, narrated by Loaves & Fishes’ Big Kahuna, Libby Fernandez, who begins by wanting to describe the “gamut” of homeless folk, but ends up, by no ill-intent on her part, to describe her rather broad sense of what “typical” homeless people are like, which is basically woebegone and afflicted with a mental, physical or spiritual malady.

Per almost always, there is a lot of selective truth in the article [and video, too], another in a many, many years’ history of Bee “what the homeless are like” stories, but the content is so skewed, with obvious, important omissions, that it greatly deceives or misinforms the public.

Fernandez says near the beginning of her video that “When we open our doors, every day, we see six hundred to eight hundred homeless guests. And each face has a story.”

For starters, the homeless people who show up first thing in the morning at Loaves & Fishes greatly varies by the time of the month. During the first week to ten days in a month the number who show up is half what it usually is BECAUSE THE HOMELESS ON DISABILITY HAVE JUST GOTTEN THEIR HAPPY CHECKS. Those “missing” homeless folk are getting happy in ways I can only guess [but can EASILY only guess]. And that six- to eight-hundred figure is the count that Fernandez often uses of those who show up for lunch, not those who show up first thing in the morning, which is hundreds fewer.  I write this because it's the truth. The truth matters if only because it is the truth. And the truth -- the whole truth and nothing but the truth -- is what you have to give people to help them best understand circumstances.

Fernandez says “And each face has a story.” That is one of those phrases that doesn’t mean anything overtly. It is something one might use to describe Okies* who just arrived in California after a long journey from the dustbowl in their Model A. It’s a weathered, bruised, gaunt and tired face. It’s unhappy; saddened, with tearing-up eyes.

Basically, “And each face has a story” is an aphorism for “They’re not one of us!” They’re alien; other; foreign; not quite human. They have smaller skulls that hold smaller brains. They don’t smell quite right. Their eyes are too close together. They write with their left hand.

I know it sounds like I’m making too much out of a simple, meaningless phrase, but I would contend that there is a whole “diminishment” terminology thing afoot here that in other guises and with other terms, has been used against other minorities – blacks, gays, Latinos, et al.

Fernandez and her friend Hubert need to knock it off. They need to see homeless people as people, first, described with the enthusiasm that would come if the article was a feature story about Leonardo DiCaprio and Scarlett Johansson.

I am fully 93% serious, here.

Here is something Joey [of "Ask Joey," the column in SN&R] wrote in an issue from April, 2011. I wish Fernandez and Huburt would approach things in THIS way, which is how Joey suggests we look at everybody:
The work here is to see others as they are with special gifts, unique beauty and distinctive life experiences plus shortcomings, eccentricities and unhealed emotional wounds. After opening your eyes to the truth of a person, your task is to accept that person as one (potential) expression of the Divine.
The Bee and Fernandez treat homeless people as lost and pathetic children and I am sick to death of it BECAUSE IT AIN’T THE TRUTH.

But, what the Bee prints in its “what the homeless are like” stories contains a bunch that is true, only it all comes through a gauze filter to say to readers “Yes, they are disgusting, but we should try to get over that, even though we never will.”

And Libby reminds me of the character Ingrid Bergman played in “Murder on the Orient Express”: the Swedish nun, Greta.

Greta confesses while being interviewed by detective Hercule Poirot that she is backward and condemned by God and that is why she has to take care of unfortunate, misbegotten people. Poirot’s trick [which will be important near the end of the movie] comes when, at the end of the interview, Poirot says, “When this is all over, mademoiselle, I promise that I shall make you an emolument.” It becomes clear that Greta understood the meaning of that last word and is not really backward at all; she knows what she's doing.


* I was born in Oklahoma and lived there until I was nine years of age. At that point, my family moved to California.  Thus, I am proudly an Okie and permit myself use of the word. It is just that when we left Oklahoma there was no dustbowl.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Loaves & Fishes' latest thoroughly disgusting donations-grabbing effort

Somebody will need to show me a Loaves & Fishes plea for dough that ISN'T offensive. Again [as in "again and again and again and again"] Loaves & Fishes reveals itself to be a irresponsible -- immoral, even -- in the way it operates its "conning the public for cash" effort.

The photo at right is a picture of James Bradley, a person whom I have cited previously as the very best, most-compassionate and -splendid person in Homeless World Sacramento. A great many would agree with that appraisal.

James was part of a team that worked for Volunteers of America that was involved in outreach, seeking those homeless people out in the streets, or sleeping in the weeds, who were in greatest need to be helped.  In 2008, in the wake of the beginning period of the Great Recession, to the great discredit of VOA, the outreach team was the first homeless-help group to be sacked.

No homeless-services charities in Sacramento stepped in to take over for years afterward, in whole or part, in aiding Sacramento's most soiled, mentally ill, terrified, lost and brutalized homeless people. These people, the worst off, needed to be taken to where social workers and psychiatrists could evaluate them and set a path for them to be protected and taken care of. Or, in the case of a more-able lost soul, he/she needed to be shown the way to a shelter or given direction on how to get cleaned up and fed, daily. There was need for those people who had fallen apart to get love and friendship and guidance. James offered that, abundantly.

James, who died nearly a year ago, had a heart as big as the planet. After being laid off, I know he applied to work as an outreach worker or Genesis counsellor at Loaves & Fishes. He was turned away. Too, he asked to volunteer as a guide in a program in Friendship Park called "Side by Side" that offered group counselling and support for homeless people. He was turned away there, too. He shouldn't have been turned away. In addition to his huge heart he had training and was certified to identify people who were likely to be mentally ill. On his authority, the police would come to take a disoriented person to the Schmick mental health center for evaluation. No one as well trained and certified to aid homeless folk specifically as James could have ever been employed by Loaves & Fishes, though, certainly, persons with university degrees in social work [which James didn't have] have worked there and work there now.

Without any bitterness or depression, James himself was rendered homeless and took it upon himself to commiserate with those of his brothers and sisters in Homeless World who were suffering. In the southeast corner of Friendship Park, James began a fully free regular schedule of group meetings with troubled homeless folk for the experience of discussing problems and exploring the Bible.

James -- bless him -- was a total Jesus Freak.  Every tenth word he spoke was "Jesus." He was animated and happy because he believed Jesus was with him, always and everywhere. It made him unstintingly compassionate and brave.

James also applied to be a volunteer or Green Hat in Friendship Park. These are people who socialize with the homeless, keep things peaceful, answer general questions, and might anticipate people's needs. James was turned down as a volunteer or Green Hat by Garren, a new director in the park.

One day, while I was with James in his corner of the Park, a fight broke out between a couple guys right in front of Garren. Garren stood there, stupidly. But James leaped up, dashed twenty yards over to where the fight was taking place and, though smaller than the fellows throwing fists at each other, placed himself between the guys and calmed things enough to prevent further hurt. THIS, this was just like James, to put himself in harm's way without a thought of being cautious entering his head.

In the role James took on as an independent homeless counsellor, he met people who were nervous wrecks or heard voices or behaved oddly or irrationally. He sought help from the Genesis-program people to aid in getting troubled people where they needed to be taken, but, always, Genesis (and Loaves & Fishes generally) refused to help those most in need.  James, though having no assets of his own, got people the help they needed.

When Safe Ground formed, and opened their first non-sanctioned campground in the wooded area near the boy scouts' Camp Pollock in August of 2009, James participated and offered support. While the camp seemed splendid at first, drinking and smoking in the dry woods on later nights by the SGers revealed how irresponsible the group was and James began to take on a more-critical view of many of the organizations in Homeless World.

Earlier that year, I got James to go with me to Union Gospel Mission -- but, wouldn't you know it -- the mission has one of its very weird nights: the preacher insisted the sun circles the earth, not the other way round, as we all learn in third grade. James was disgusted with the mission from that experience and never returned.

For many reasons, it is grotesque that Loaves & Fishes uses James as their February "poster boy" in a plea for money. They rejected him and his eagerness to volunteer to aid homeless people, but now, a year after his death, creepy Loaves & Fishes, uses his picture to to seek moola for their fat and inefficient selves.

The text with James' picture is also grotesque. It says that $49.50 provides 25 people with a hot shower. I would love to see the "math from Pluto" where the silly women who run Loaves & Fishes came up with that figure, which simplifies to $1.98 per shower.  I would bet that those women fail to understand that with their plea that are suggesting that the effort to bring men and women showers is fully, solely paid for with cash that the public provides.  This is not the case.

In the Men's Wash House, when I volunteered there -- and I would wager things today are much the same -- homeless guys volunteer to help their brothers. Volunteers' time is not something that should be tagged as a donation [and artificially given a dollar value on L&F's books] , as if it is FOR Loaves & Fishes that volunteers provide their time.

Also, there is A LOT that goes on in the Wash House beyond guys taking short-duration showers in the seven stalls provided for that purpose. Men are using the restroom and sinks and making clothing exchanges. Other men are having personal clothes they own washed. It's a busy, crowded, steamy place with washers and dryers running and lots of talking and joking and even singing, sometimes.

I cannot conceive that every Wash House shower costs Loaves & Fishes two cents short of a couple bucks -- but I'd love to see the math that came up with that. Likely, though, the number was just pulled out of the air.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013