Homeless/hitch-hiker help


#1

I took a new job in May which requires me to drive 160 miles/day. I see people on the roadside hitch-hiking, or I see the people standing at stop signs holding signs. I am a 38 year old female, and, as you know most of these unfortunates are male. On two occasions, I immediately felt I was in a position that I could help in some small way and asked the young men to walk to a fast-food place that was within view, then I met them and got them something to eat. There was one occasion that I went to get a young man some food, but when I came back, the man was gone (he wasn’t aware that I was going to get him anything) Then there have been occasions when the traffic was pretty bad and I felt uneasy about picking up the stranger and letting him in my car. Today, though, I saw a young man in a very busy intersection with a sign that read, “I need a miracle/God Bless” I looked at him, squatted down petting his dog and I guess he saw that I was looking at him and could see that I was trying to figure out some way I could help him…he stood up and looked back at me-the light changed and I drove forward, but felt terrible that I didn’t help him. I drove on, but turned around and went back to the highway so that I could turn around again to get on the off ramp that he and his dog was on. I saw him when I got on the on-ramp, but by the time I got back to the off-ramp, he was gone.

My question is this: Do any of you have any suggestions on how to help people in these situations? My husband worries about me so much and has insisted that I not give any money or let anyone in my car, which is where I came up with buying the meal in a public place. I know there are a lot of crazy people out there, but there are more good people who are in terrible situations. I just think I was given this job which exposes me to a lot of these situations for a reason and I want to do all I can. If I fear people more than I trust God, do I really trust in God? How do I ease my husband’s fears?

I will talk to my Priest about this, but I would like to hear some of your input and see if any of you have run into the same situation.

Thanks!
M


#2

If it is in a relatively busy intersection during the day, I think you should roll down your window about an inch, shove a buck or two their way (or keep a supply of McDonald’s gift certificates in the car, if you’re afraid they’ll spend it on hootch), then go. And I’m sorry to have to say that I think that is all you should do and maybe you shouldn’t do that much. A woman alone is a target for some and, unfortunately, you cannot tell the good from the bad fruit. Never do this at night. Never do it anywhere other than a busy intersection. Never pick up a hitchhiker for any reason whatsoever. Carry a cell phone, for your safety and to call about accidents that you see or other stranded motorists. Here in Las Vegas, a man was robbed at gunpoint by a vagrant after he had bought the man something to eat in a fast food place!!! The poor man was giving the vagrant a ride.

If I fear people more than I trust God, do I really trust in God? How do I ease my husband’s fears? Our Lord said,“Be as wise as serpents, but as gentle as doves.” I think Our Lord understands the situation of a woman traveling alone. As for your husband, I think him somewhat justified in his concern. It is an ugly world sometimes.


#3

I think you should be safe and just keep driving.


#4

Dallas passed an ordiance making panhandling illegal. The reasoning is that the people use the money for drugs/alcohol. Help is available in shelters if they need it. So, giving money probably is not a good idea.


#5

[quote=MCOLE]I took a new job in May which requires me to drive 160 miles/day. I see people on the roadside hitch-hiking, or I see the people standing at stop signs holding signs. I am a 38 year old female, and, as you know most of these unfortunates are male. On two occasions, I immediately felt I was in a position that I could help in some small way and asked the young men to walk to a fast-food place that was within view, then I met them and got them something to eat. There was one occasion that I went to get a young man some food, but when I came back, the man was gone (he wasn’t aware that I was going to get him anything) Then there have been occasions when the traffic was pretty bad and I felt uneasy about picking up the stranger and letting him in my car. Today, though, I saw a young man in a very busy intersection with a sign that read, “I need a miracle/God Bless” I looked at him, squatted down petting his dog and I guess he saw that I was looking at him and could see that I was trying to figure out some way I could help him…he stood up and looked back at me-the light changed and I drove forward, but felt terrible that I didn’t help him. I drove on, but turned around and went back to the highway so that I could turn around again to get on the off ramp that he and his dog was on. I saw him when I got on the on-ramp, but by the time I got back to the off-ramp, he was gone.

My question is this: Do any of you have any suggestions on how to help people in these situations? My husband worries about me so much and has insisted that I not give any money or let anyone in my car, which is where I came up with buying the meal in a public place. I know there are a lot of crazy people out there, but there are more good people who are in terrible situations. I just think I was given this job which exposes me to a lot of these situations for a reason and I want to do all I can. If I fear people more than I trust God, do I really trust in God? How do I ease my husband’s fears?

I will talk to my Priest about this, but I would like to hear some of your input and see if any of you have run into the same situation.

Thanks!
M
[/quote]

Bless you for your generosity. You are not obligated to give to these individuals, if you are giving money to your parish or to social service organizations that help the poor you can be assured that you are helping people who really need it. In addition to people who are in real need, there are also con artists and criminals on the street corners.

We had a presentation one year during my company’s United Way campaign (and I know United Way is problematic and therefore do not give to them). Despite being United Way, the talk was very interesting. It was a woman who had been homeless and had been helped by a United Way agency. She actually suggested that you should NOT give money to those on the corners because they are about 99% scam artists. She said that people in need who really want to get off the street know where to get help (ie, bona fide shelters and social services) as she did. Anyway, she suggested giving to the agencies not to the people on the street. That’s one perspective. Also, I would tend to agree that the street corner beggars are scammers, because I sidewalk counsel every week at Planned Parenthood in a “bad” part of town with many homeless. Lots of homeless will stop and pray with us and maybe 1 in 10 or 1 in 20 ask for a handout. They are the REAL homeless, but they are not asking us for anything. So, I tend not to believe the ones on the corner asking for $.

If you do feel called to give to these people, sometimes I know I do, then I do have a couple of suggestions. My old roommate used to carry lunchbags with food in them with non-perishable, easy-open foods like the ready-made lunch packs for kids, chips, an apple, etc… and she’d give those away from her car. She actually had most people refuse the food and curse her, they really wanted $$ for drugs (even though their sign said “hungry”…). But, some took the food.

Other ideas would include buying gift certificate dollars for fast food places common in your area, like McDonalds. You can usually get them in $1 denominations, and give them out instead of cash. That way you know your $ is going to food, not drugs.

And, pick up business cards from the local shelter/social service agencies and give them out with the certificates or in the lunch bags or just give them out alone. Those who really want help will use the card to get help.


#6

I woudl not offer money, but ask them if you coudl bring them some food, if a food source is near. I empathize with you, btu I have been attacked. Money attracts unwanted attention, and is never enough to help them, and there is no way to be sure that it actually goes towadd helping them eat. I have offered rides to fmeales before, but in only very rare occasions (being female myself).

As for there being enough shelters, this is not true. I know a few people who manage shelters, one is explicitly for abused women. Due to the budget cut backs during the last few years, and the terrible economies, all of these shelters have experienced a greater demand of beds, with less resources to provide them, and they have had to turn away more people than ever before. One of the selters actually closed during the last two years and nothing has risen to meet the demands it left behind.


#7

$5 in McDOnalds Gift Certificates.

You also have to discern if people really need help or are scamming.

If someone is dressed better than me and they haev a pelase help sign. Its likely they dont need a hand out.


#8

mcdonalds gift certificates (or other food places - taco bell has them, too) are a great idea. i wouldn’t assume that people ‘know where to get help’. i know many of the homeless people in my town - and they’re not quite ‘all there’. they don’t know how to get help - and don’t trust the help they might get.

God bless your generous and compassionate heart. i’d recommend, above all, that you pray for God’s leadership and direction in helping people. there’ve been many times i’ve not picked up hitchhikers because i felt an inner prompting that something wasn’t quite right.

and i discourage ANYONE reading this thread from EVER picking up a hitchhiker. it’s just too dangerous.


#9

I saw someone in a wheel chair trying to flag people down yesterday and got a bad feeling. I really wanted to help so I prayed for him. SOmetimes these people need to walk on their own and sometimes you never know if they are going to fall on your car and hurt there self and sue you. There is so much evil $#!^ going on today we really have to be careful and just about any 80 year old Catholic priest will tell you that. The days of stupid happy martyrdom are over. The Catholic CHurch already has more than enough martyrs. I think a few years back we had a Catholic Priest murdered in Baltimore.


#10

Sometimes, for our own safety, we need to leave things in God’s hands. I suggest you say a prayer for those you encounter on the road. Then, if you can, donate your time or treasure to a charitable organization that helps the homeless. This way you are not putting yourself in harms way but you are fulfilling this need you have to help those unfortunate among us.

God bless you for having such a kind heart. :slight_smile:


#11

Oh, how I know how you feel. There are many on the roadside ramps here near my town, and I always feel guilty if I don’t do something. Tossing them a McDonald’s bag, IMO, is probably the best you can do. Gift certificates are nice, but you never know what will hapen to them. Also, who knows how they will be treated walking into the restaraunts.

If you live in a “cold winter” area, you can take the blankets (Army surplus stores usually have the really warm ones, dirt cheap).

I used to live in Chicago and saw “bums” all the time, but always though it was their fault they were where they were at, until I heard a country song by Mark Wills “Don’t Laugh at Me”. Now it pains me to see these people. Here are the lyrics:

I’m the cripple on the corner
You’ve passed me on the street
And I wouldn’t be out here beggin’
If I had enough to eat
And don’t think I don’t notice
That our eyes never meet

I lost my wife and little boy when
Someone cross that yellow line
The day we laid them in the ground
Is the day I lost my mind
And right now I’m down to holdin’
This little cardboard sign…so Don’t laugh at me.

I hope you can find peace in yourself at whatever you decide to do. Maybe this is a calling that you need to be volunteering at a shelter, food pantry, or organize some way to help through your parish.


#12

[quote=cove]Sometimes, for our own safety, we need to leave things in God’s hands. I suggest you say a prayer for those you encounter on the road. Then, if you can, donate your time or treasure to a charitable organization that helps the homeless. This way you are not putting yourself in harms way but you are fulfilling this need you have to help those unfortunate among us.

God bless you for having such a kind heart. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Ditto (+ under no circumstances would I EVER open up my car, wallet to a strange and potentially desperate/dangerous man. Use some common sense to guide your generous impulses!)


#13

The McDonald’s gift certificates are a good idea; you can put them into a paper sack, along with a prayer card and information about the local shelters, etc., if you want, and a small stone. When you see the hitchhikers, roll the window down just enough to toss them the bag, whistle to get their attention, toss them the bag, roll the window back up, smile, wave, and off you go.

Under absolutely no circumstances do you ever unlock your doors, and do not ever allow them into your vehicle. It’s too bad to have to be that way in our society, but we have to face reality here, and the potential exists for opening yourself up to real harm, especially when you’re a woman.


#14

God bless each of you for your responses. I had thought about making little boxes to keep in my car (something like we’re sending to our military men). The lunch sack thing sounds better. I can place a couple in my front passenger seat and just hand them out the window. I will find cards for shelters! Prayer cards, etc…I worry that some people can’t read, but most should know how to use the phone and what a phone number looks like. You people are BRILLIANT!

The volunteer thing sounds good, too. I will look into that. With all the driving I have to do, it just seems so overwhelming (as far as donating time), but if there’s any way I can help it will be worth it. I know there are a lot of people in this world who work and/or drive more than I do and still find time to give of themselves.

I just felt so bad for not stopping for that young man yesterday. And I thank God I came to Ca/An’s. Today, I saw a van pull over to pick up a hitch-hiker. The driver was a fairly large man and he was on his cell phone as he pulled over to pick up the hh (a male). When I see that happen, I pray for the drivers as much as I pray for the hh’s.

After reading all of your posts, I feel much better and won’t torment myself with the “what-ifs”. I’ll pray harder… and if you wouldn’t mind praying a little prayer for me to receive God’s guidance I would certainly appreciate it.

Thank you all so much for taking the time to respond!
:blessyou:
I’m going to continue checking this thread for other ideas and opinions as long as it lasts.

With the Love of Christ
M


#15

[quote=cove]Sometimes, for our own safety, we need to leave things in God’s hands. I suggest you say a prayer for those you encounter on the road. Then, if you can, donate your time or treasure to a charitable organization that helps the homeless. This way you are not putting yourself in harms way but you are fulfilling this need you have to help those unfortunate among us.

God bless you for having such a kind heart. :slight_smile:
[/quote]

This is good advice unless you are hell bent on making yourself a potential target for some nutcake. A recent investigation by one of our television stations in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area showed that a goodly number of these down and outers were making very good money standing on the street and begging. Things are not always what they seem.


#16

It’s a difficult situation to be sure. As a woman, you need to protect yourself. It reminds me of something we discussed in RCIA last week, “If everyone followed the 10 commandments there would be no need to fear a dark alley” I had never thought of it that way. But unfortunately we know that not everyone does, and that we still have to have some fear, if for nothing else but to protect us.

I like the suggestion of fast food gift certificates. I think buy a lot of them, and clipping them to a business card or flyer for a shelter would be a good idea. Then you know the money is going to food, and you are helping, but don’t have to put yourself in danger.

God Bless you!


closed #17

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