Helping St. Louis

A Blog About Helping Each Other

Archive for March, 2009

What’s up with mocking the homeless?

Posted by Schevus on March 25, 2009

I normally do not like to draw attention to bad posts, but this post pushed me over the edge on this topic. I realize this post is intentionally overblown and inflammatory, but I have seen several serious posts along this line recently. When did it become popular to publicly disparage and spout hatred against the homeless?

The big issue lately concerns homeless people having cell phones. Apparently some people view this as the most egregious offense a homeless person can commit. Let us evaluate some realities:

  • Homeless people do not have a home! Therefore, they cannot have a land-line phone. If they have a job, it is often important for them to have a way to be reached and since they cannot have a land-line, a cell phone is the other alternative. If they are seeking a job, it is also critical for potential employers to be able to contact them. This can be done through shelters and other social service agencies, but often employers are wise to this and may be prejudiced not to select a homeless person for a position.
  • Being homeless is dangerous! Violent crime rates are extremely high amongst the homeless population. In addition to this, the health of homeless people is generally poorer than normal. Thus it is important to be able to summon help in the case of a medical or other emergency. Having a cell phone also enables homeless people to stay in touch with social services, making their transition off of the streets easier.
  • Some families will provide a cell phone to a homeless family member in order to be able to stay in contact with them.

As you can see there are very real, practical reasons for a homeless person to have a phone.

I also find the derogatory and stereotypical attacks on homeless people in that post to be absolutely disgusting. This is one of the most vulnerable groups of the population, and includes a large (and growing) number of families and children, not just “hobos, winos and bums.” The homeless need and deserve our help, not disdain, stereotypes, and insults.

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BBQ and Desert

Posted by Schevus on March 23, 2009

Yesterday I and other members of the Shalom Outreach Society served a dinner for the women at Shalom House. We served lasagna, salad, and garlic bread and everything turned out great. I sat with a couple of the ladies while they were eating and one of the women spoke with me about the normal course of meals they get at the shelter.

Apparently they get plenty of cheap frozen pizza, hot dogs, and, yes, frozen lasagna. If we had known this we would certainly have picked a different meal! The one exception to this poor variety of food seems to be Thursdays when a church group comes in and makes a better meal. The woman expressed to me that what the ladies would really like is some BBQ food – and desert.

I was struck by such a simple request, and I think a BBQ is something I really want to make happen before summer is over. I know that many of the ladies are diabetic, so that is probably why they do not get much by way of desert.

She also shared with me her difficulty in finding employment. She does not have a high school diploma or GED and she told me how at job fairs everyone is talking about resumes. Somehow I do not think that a resume is all that practical for someone who has not graduated high school and whose last job was working at Burger King. Perhaps someone should organize a job fair for lower wage practical jobs? Have any of you heard of such a thing?

Despite serving a meal the women get regularly they were very appreciative and thankful for us being there. It was a great experience to work personally with the clients!

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Housekeeping

Posted by Schevus on March 18, 2009

My apologies for the delayed posting. Life has been hectic as of late – my wife and I just bought a house! I hope to be back to normal posting soon. Here are some miscellaneous tidbits:

– Time is running out to support education with a comment. I must say, I have been pretty disappointed to have zero participants thus far. Take a moment a leave a comment for a good cause!

– I have volunteered to create a website for Tri-BALL-Athon 2009. If anyone is good with graphic design and would be interested in helping out please let me know! It seems like we are always in need of graphic design help and our current resources are overtaxed and unreliable. Anyone with working knowledge of PHP is also welcome to assist.

– We will be serving a lasagna dinner at Shalom House this Saturday as part of our service commitment for the Shalom Outreach Society. If anyone is interested in seeing the shelter or helping out with dinner, leave a comment and I can get you more information.

– I know it is late notice (sorry I just found out today), but there is a job fair currently underway that runs until 2:00 PM today at the St. Ann Community Center. You can find more detailed information here.

I hope all is well with everyone!

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Building Relationships

Posted by Schevus on March 10, 2009

My family and I have a friend who is currently deployed to Afghanistan for the Air Force. Of course we send him care packages to remind him of home and to make his experience a little better, but with the next package we plan to take it a little farther. I asked him if there were any particular items that the locals needed and he discussed it with the humanitarian officer and determined that currently school supplies are in demand.

Fortunately we had a cache of school supplies from our last stockpiling when they were on sale for the back to school season. We will be sending pens, pencils, markers, crayons, colored pencils, and paper. The weight of the paper will likely make the shipping cost a bit high, but such is life.

The soldiers in Afghanistan distribute these kinds of humanitarian items on their patrols as a way to build relationships and trust with the local Afghanis, as well as to make life a little easier and better for them. As I think most people have come to understand now, Afghanistan will not be won militarily, but rather with more productive nation-building techniques (and better government). I like to think that these small humanitarian donations assist that process in a very small way.

I am pleased to be sending school supplies because as I have mentioned many times in my blog, I think education plays a crucial role in the development of any country. If I can help a few Afghani children make it through their schooling, perhaps they will decide to become engineers,  government officials, or teachers rather than falling prey to fundamentalist ideology.

I realize that children need help here at home too, but I think that devoting some resources toward ending the conflict in Afghanistan is also a worthy endeavor. It will be a benefit for our youth not to have an ever lingering conflict to deal with when they grow up.

If you are interested in donating items – either to troops or Afghani locals – but do not know how, leave a comment and let me know.

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St. Louis Area Job Fair

Posted by Schevus on March 6, 2009

According to the United Way, “at the end of 2008 more than 108,000 people were unemployed in the St. Louis Metro Region.” Wow!

There will be a Job Fair held by the Partnership for the New Workforce on Thursday, 26 March. The event will run from 1 – 4 PM and will be at the following location:

The MET Center
6347 Plymouth Avenue
Wellston, MO 63133

The purpose of the job fair is expressed in the United Way press release:

The Partnership for the New Workforce (Partnership) is a collaboration of area employers, and employment and training service providers whose primary goal is to bring together trained and work ready job seekers with employers who need new workers. The goal of the partnership is to support employers and employees in ways that encourage retention and advancement in the workplace. The Partnership targets the employment and career development needs of first time job seekers as well as others who are reentering the job market, including older workers, ex-offenders, empty nesters and individuals with disabilities.

If you have lost your job because of the economy (or for any reason), it is important to be extremely proactive in attempting to regain employment. With so many people scrambling for jobs, you must do everything you can to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by potential employers. If you need more information about the job fair, you can contact the United Way at 314-539-4072.

Much thanks to Carrie Zukoski from the United Way for passing along this information.

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Third Friday Event Pictures

Posted by Schevus on March 1, 2009

The Third Friday event for the Shalom Outreach Society went great! There were dozens of people in attendance watching live glassblowing demonstrations and browsing the glass and art displays. We had the opportunity to share information about Shalom House and the Outreach Society with many people.

Third Friday

The great folks at Third Degree did a live auction for a glass piece as it was being made with the proceeds benefiting Shalom House. The winning bid was $140. I would have had this post up sooner, but I was waiting for the pictures of the finished product. Here is a photo timeline of the piece as it was being made (sorry the quality is not the best):

Auction Piece

Auction Piece
Auction Piece

Auction Piece

Auction Piece

Auction Piece
Finished Product

The Third Friday event was a lot of fun and I recommend it if you are looking at something different to do with a Friday night. There is talk that we may be present at future events as well, so look for us!

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