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.

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