What Would You Do?

I have a story for you all, and then I’d love to hear what you would have done in the situation/if there are other options that I didn’t consider.

The Story: So, I was in Detroit with one of my good friends. There was a Tigers game a little later in the day, so there were a few people walking around, but not super busy. As we were standing on a corner waiting to cross the street, a man walked up to us and began talking about how the church gives him a sleeping bag to sleep in and he just needs a few dollars for a sandwich. He then folded his hands, closed his eyes, and began mumbling prayers (something I thought seemed a little too rehearsed, but who knows).

I paused for a minute, knowing I had a few singles, but thinking through my options. I saw a Subway across the street and decided to give him a different offer. I said “you know what, I don’t have any cash on me, but I’ll gladly go across the street with you and buy you a sandwich!”.

He opened his eyes and had a confused look on his face. He then started mumbling something about being schizophrenic and needing to feed his family, so I tried again. This time, I offered to buy a few sandwiches so that he could also give them to his family. And do you know what this man did?

He walked away.

I was floored. I had just offered to buy him a sandwich, or a few if need be, and he proceeded to just walk away from me. Was it that he really was living the fear that most people have about the homeless? That he just wanted cash to feed some sort of addiction? Or was he confused? I guess I’ll never really know.

The Question: So now, my question is this: was there something else I could have done? Have you ever been in this type of situation and gone about it differently? I guess I’m just trying to think of everything I can so that next time I really can help someone if they need it. I also wanted to give people who also want to help the homeless a different way to do so (through offering to buy them food) instead of the common “I’m sorry, I don’t have cash” excuse.

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One thought on “What Would You Do?

  1. One of the challenges in pan handling is the fact that most people will give money for food or give food directly. Shelters and soup kitchens hand out food and churches provide outdoor survival gear (sleeping bags ). But imagine the reality of homelessness: sleeping outside is difficult and dangerous, many shelters are worse and getting off the street requires cash for clean clothes, a shower and phone/ internet (try landing a job without any one of those things) . if you really don’t feel comfortable giving cash volunteer at a shelter and actively work to establish a housing first program in your area. On the street you can offer cigarettes, since they can be used as currency with other street people. Just some things to consider.

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