Sunday, January 25, 2009

It's cold outside... where are you sleeping?

For us the economic crisis started in 1931…
(or something along those lines) was an advertisement to raise funds for a homeless shelter that I saw in the subway today. And it really made me think. As I got out of the subway station and walked across the parking lot to my car, the bitter -29 temperature freezing my nose and ears on my short 3 minute walk, I was asking myself about how this economic crisis affects the poorest of us all.

Maybe it’s in my nature to want to help those less fortunate then me, maybe it’s the fact that I hate seeing people out in the cold; but I’m really concerned that places like shelters and food banks aren’t seeing an increase in government funding despite the increased demand for their services as the economic crisis deepens.

We have a paper here that is published twice a month here called L’Itineraire. It’s published by former homeless people. All the reporters are either homeless or less fortunate. They sell for 2$ each, the seller keeps a dollar from every sale. With the proceeds the paper has opened a restaurant, full meals for 2-3$ each three times per day. Every time I see someone selling it I buy one, it ends up costing me about 20$ per month. But the great part about it is that sellers have an income, an opportunity to write and they can afford 3 square meals per day.

But other then this paper, every other organization in my great city relies on donations and government funding. With people’s savings shrinking, jobs becoming scarce and everyone panicking about money; how are these places supposed to not only stay open but increase their services to those who need it the most?

If you’ve got a couple of dollars you can spare, please, I urge you: buy someone you see begging a meal, a coffee, a book or give them money. If you don’t like giving them money, like I said, buy them a meal. Take them to McDonald’s it’ll cost you 4$ and it’ll take 15 minutes of your time. I met one of the most interesting people ever a few years back doing just that, we ended up talking about classical music for hours and the finer points of the compositions of Rachmaninov and one memorable occasion we even discussed Winston Churchill’s wartime political strategies.

So when it’s cold outside and you see someone who looks like they might need 5 minutes of your time or the sandwich took work, look into your heart and brighten someone’s day because the government won’t. It’s amazing what you can learn from the less fortunate when you’re willing to open your heart, your mind and your change purse.

Muchacho Enfermo

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