This off-week update’s a tad late, I’m afraid. I’m a part-time preacher, and I get to do a wedding this week, so I have an excellent excuse. Also, I technically made it by Friday, so it counts!

Guitar Girl #4 features a gag about homelessness, or specifically, one of the common excuses about giving money to the homeless. “They’ll just spend it on booze…” Poppy’s response, while (hopefully) humorous, is appropriate, I think. As my friend Tom Osterbuhr’s dad used to say, “I don’t give a damn, it’s his money now!”

As a society, we spend ‘way too much time worrying about the poor wasting “our” money. Whether it’s being certain that the homeless man will dare to get drunk the seventy-six cents in change we give him, or that the single mother of two who works three jobs and gets public assistance will waste it all on drugs, we love to let our prejudices rule our hearts.

yourownfault1

Yet every time a state mandates drug testing for welfare recipients, the results show that those tested use drugs at a rate far lower than the general population. And there are “undercover” videos all over YouTube showing homeless people using the money they’re given in positive ways.

It’s as easy for my confirmation bias to see only the positive as it is for someone else’s to show the negative, I know. All I’m saying is, it happens.

If you want to know the truth about homelessness, talk to people on the front line. Two of the people I trust the most are Hugh and Renee Hollowell, who run “Love Wins” Ministries in Raleigh, North Carolina. They work to alleviate the suffering of homeless people, in real and tangible ways, every day. Summer or winter, Hugh and Renee and their staff and volunteers are there.

Hugh

(That’s a caricature I did for Hugh… yeah, shameless self-promotion: I do those.)

The point is this: you can’t go wrong giving pocket change to the homeless. Yeah, they might use it for booze. Or they might buy food, or another pair of socks, or gloves. So do it, but also, more importantly, find a ministry (or secular group) that provides assistance to the homeless, and donate to them, too. Don’t for pete’s sake, just give the crappy canned goods at the back of your pantry; give money, or actually call them and find out what they need most, and give that. Be proactive, be generous. Work against laws in your city that criminalize the homeless; support efforts to provide housing, speak truth to power on matters of public assistance. Do something.