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Awesome letter we just got today from a turtle rider who works with the homeless in Worcester and read our blog about the dumb suburban who started a $7,000 GoFundMe so a drug addicted panhandler can have an apartment:
I’ve been reading up on several of your blogs about the homeless population in Worcester, what’s helping and what’s not. I must say, you hit the nail on the head with your recent blog about Maddie Barcomb and her new friend Thomas.
I’ve worked with the homeless population in Worcester for several years now. I’ve gotten to know the people standing on the corners begging for change, I’ve seen what they’ve had to go through and what they struggle with daily. I’m also aware of the resources available for them and how many times, people like Thomas get caught up in the life.
When I first started out working with the homeless I was overwhelmed with what a needy group they were. I’d be lying if I said I never thought about giving all my money to them to have a better life, but in retrospect I’m glad I had people much more experienced than I who kindly told me to “calm the fuck down.”
Homelessness is one of those things that tugs at your heart strings. You see a person standing on the street, begging for food, money or whatever the case may be and something in you wants to help. That’s a good thing, it means you’re a sympathetic person. I welcome anyone who wants to help the homeless to volunteer at a shelter, give out some hats and gloves to those pan handling, buy them a coffee, donate gently used clothing to a center but please for the love of god stop giving them money.
There is a new trend going on, which on the surface seems great but had a ton of consequences. It’s suddenly cool to post on social media videos of yourself giving a pan handler money, posing with them on the street, pretty much using them as props to show how generous and kind you are.
It’s a form of disaster tourism where there is very little impact being made, except for a cool Facebook update. Ultimately when you give a panhandler or a homeless individual money, you are paying for their next bag, a pack of double diamonds, cheap booze or something that in no way helps their quality of life. By giving money you are furthering the homeless problem in our city and only solving a very temporary problem – their craving.
Have you ever been sitting at a red light and seen two panhandlers fighting over a corner spot? That’s called rent exhaustion and is a direct result of people feeling like they need to help these individuals by giving them a dollar. Instead of helping one person you are multiplying the number of panhandlers. Cut it out.
I’m sure that when Maddie started this GoFundMe (I hate go fund me by the way) she was trying to do something good, and that’s nice, but like you said very naïve.
Not only is Maddie putting herself in danger but she’s also putting Thomas at risk as well. I’d like to consider myself a fairly sane person, but when I know someone owes me $100, you bet I’m calling them every day. I can only imagine that Thomas will be blowing up her phone wanting to know when he gets his GFM money. I can’t blame Thomas for being friends with her and telling her what she wants to hear, he may even mean it. But homelessness, addiction and mental health are complicated things that can’t be fixed with a GoFundMe. And thinking it can is pretty irresponsible.
Now I’m not saying the homeless don’t deserve our help. They are family members, sons, daughters, moms and dads who are on the fringe of society and mostly forgotten about. They deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and there are tons of ways to get involved in the city that don’t involve money. It’s the holiday time, so go hand out food at The Salvation Army for Thanksgiving. I saw that there is a big homeless donations give out this weekend that’s looking for volunteers. Donate money to a shelter or halfway house. But unless you are willing to respond to that individuals overdose, or live with them every second of the day, don’t give panhandlers money and definitely don’t start a GoFundMe
Thanks once again for keeping it real, and I’d love to get an update on that situation. I can only image what will happen next.
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