Sunday, September 5, 2010

Unfriendly Friendship Park to be closed (on the 6th) and closed (on the 8th)

Loaves & Fishes, doing it's not-there-for-us thing, will close the Park (and many, many services) on both Monday and Wednesday.  With the preceding weekend, that's four days without services in a five-day stretch.

In an unusual move — perhaps even a unique one — notice of the closures came ten days in advance.  A one-day, or two-day notice is what's been typical, leaving things such that a lot of homeless people hike miles to the Park to find it - surprize! - closed.

The Monday closure is due to the holiday, Labor Day, but it's not only that.  It's also due to it being a holiday that comes early in the month.  Early in a month a great many people don't use Loaves & Fishes' services, and L&F caters to them, directly, uniquely.  L&F caters to their death wish.

Who are these people who don't show up early in a month to the cul-de-sac on North C Street to rush into Friendship Park, and are the beloved of the administrators of Loaf & Fish?  They are the homeless-by-choice1 who get their "happy check" on the first day (or so) of a month — usually an SSI check — and choose to use it for frolic and fun, on alcohol and substances, on women and feeding slot machines, and on stays in Motel 6, if they aren't enough content to party in their tents, or in front of the mission.

As people who are homeless learn quickly of their community, these homeless-by-choice folk are killing themselves with their use of substances, with alcohol being the prime item, for the majority, in the constellation of substances each abuses.  I know men who have already hardened their liver from ongoing free-flowing abuse of alcohol.  They have a limited time left on this planet, and they know it, a physician having told them so.  Their suicide by cirrhosis is a certainty, with Loaves & Fishes being "helpful" to them in speeding things up.  While liver replacement is possible for some people who have killed off their liver, doctors won't attempt the transplant surgery unless a candidate recipient has been fully abstinent from alcohol for six months.  Absent getting a transplant, a harded liver means death from septic blood.

After almost exactly two weeks into a month, the homeless-by-choice crowd has used up their "happy check" funds and have returned to the shelters and Loaves & Fishes to use homeless services, often to the detriment of others in need of services.

L&F's "holiday" on the 8th is for a staff retreat.  Staff retreats happen a couple times each year, I believe.  And they are always scheduled early in a month, catering to the imposed (by the arrival of money)first-half-of-the-month partying schedule of the homeless-by-choice.

I used to work for a nonprofit organization, the PBS TV station KQED in San Francisco.  We, too, used to have staff retreats, but channel 9, channel 58 (before the FCC took it away from us) and the radio station never went off-the-air during these one-day events.  At Loaves & Fishes, a staff retreat means that the organization, that bills itself as a provider of survival services, turns off the lights to just about everything other than its noontime meal.  The Loaf & Fish, afterall, began as a soup kitchen.

Loaf & Fish continues as a soup kitchen that is in the process of building a $2,000,000 warehouse. A two-million-dollar warehouse for a soup kitchen!!? If the administrators of Loaves & Fishes ran McDonalds' they would probably think they have to build a $3,000,000 warehouse adjacent to each restaurant. Afterall, almost any McDonalds' restaurant does more business than L&F's soup kitchen, which feeds an average of 485 people per day, and is open every day except Thanksgiving.

Now, Loaves & Fishes certainly has other needs for storage beyond its kitchen's needs, but a $2,000,000 warehouse!!?

Loaves & Fishes is going on a retreat on Wednesday. The administrators and other employees will celebrate themselves and tell themselves how wonderful they are, and what great work they do. Will they talk about the dead tree that almost killed homeless people in the Park last winter? Will they talk about how their services are essential, but how they are on a race to the bottom not to provide those services? Will they talk about how their effort to indoctrinate homeless people in wacky far-far-Leftist politics using the Speaker service of the former California Communist League? Will they talk about their success at gathering donations while mischaracterizing their work (ie, snookering donors)?

In the second-half of a month, Loaves & Fishes avoids, as it can, to close the Park and take days' off. That way, the homeless-by-choice people, who spent the first half of the month buying the substances they abuse, will have a place to eat and get services.

Homeless World Sacramento. A wacky place.

And, by the way: The homeless-by-choice are in large proportion the SafeGround people. While John Krantz and Tracie Rice-Bailey, the two most-prominent SafeGrounders [and, because media in Sacramento are SafeGround lapdogs, the two most-prominent Sacramento homeless persons], are not users of substances, living in a Tuff Shed makes drinking and cavorting especially easy.  A Tuff Shed village, afterall, is the idealized circumstance for people who are committed to living on the dole and fully adapting to a life-long homeless lifestyle.

If the "Eden" that the SafeGrounders want ever gets constructed, there will be drinking and substance abuse.  Alcoholics and drug addicts don't give up their habit easily.

Homeless help at Loaves & Fishes is centrally to help those who are homeless-by-choice.  And to "help" them in the way they shouldn't be "helped."  And all this is to the detriment of helping the substance abusers in ways they should be aided; in doing significant things for mentally ill people who roam the streets; and in helping folks who have no alternatives to homelessness.
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Make no mistake, recovery from addictions is extremely difficult, especially so when a person is homeless Addicts in Homeless World Sacramento are greatly deserving of compassion and help.  But Loaves & Fishes enables addiction rather than doing what it should to lovingly and determinedly combat it, and this is deplorable.

Addiction very frequently occurs in people who had an extremely difficult childhood.  Being abused, raised in poverty or in a violent household or by addict parents greatly increases the likelihood of a person becoming an addict, to numb psychological torment.

However, to escape addiction a person must his- or her-self commit to sobriety or no longer being "altered."

I'm no expert on all this, of course, but I do recommend the book In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts for insight into the suffering of addicts.

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