Archive for the ‘Charity’ Category

Question asked, question answered late and sorta!

June 9, 2014

A while back I was asked something that I thought was a good question.  It was actually difficult at the time to answer and the person asking me this question wanted me to share my answer with his church and others in support of his group called Resurrections.  The answer has been forthcoming for a good long while and believe me it took more than a week to come up with it as well as more that I keep bringing up to myself often as time goes by.  But first, let me tell you what Resurrections is about.

For over a decade now Resurrections has been providing one meal each Saturday to those that are homeless and those in need.  This group of individuals is not from just one church but many.  This organization gets others involved (other churches, local businesses, as well as one entire school district).  So it’s not just a core group who comes to feed those like myself who are on the street or those in need (low income people).  The volunteers that come feed those of us are the ones who share their time and also learn that homelessness isn’t about just one issue but many.  From here out, I’ll describe individuals I know from the group’s core and talk about the people who volunteer their time.

Over the years, Resurrections has gone through two organizers.  The first person goes by C.J.  I never really got to know him well or know what Resurrections was about till he retired and Larry took over.  When Larry took over is when I started actually assisting Resurrections with their setting up for feeding those in need.  I’ve not asked what Larry does for full time employment.  However, I know he does a lot of footwork for Resurrections.  He sets up the volunteers for time slots and hunts down donations as well as more volunteers.  I’d like to think of it as his second job and almost a calling in life.  Other than that, Larry has been a great individual and I like to count him as a friend.

Monica, is one of the sweetest individuals I know with the group.  She’s what we call our chili lady.  Every week she cooks up at least two to three pots of chili for the hot dogs served as well as offers prayer at the beginning of the meals when there is no others available for this small chore.  However, that isn’t where her work started.  By day she’s a school teacher that is deeply involved with teaching her students.  She goes above and beyond the usual teacher stuff.  It wasn’t till I met her that I knew more about teaching than I did when I was a trainer in the military.  Often times she’s putting in over seventy hours a week.  And yet, she still feels as if those that come are like her wayward children.  I know no other person that can do this.

Betsy, our cookie lady, is also a fine person who has problems of her own which I can’t discuss here.  She’s there at least once every two weeks handing out home made cookies she bakes herself.  Every week she’s off, I miss her and think about her as well as keep her in my prayers.  She makes me think of my mom’s own cooking when I get her chocolate chip cookies 😀

Tobie is the woman who brings our bananas most weeks.  When she can’t she gets Herb or some other member to pick them up where she gets them from.  I won’t name the place because I don’t advertise anyone if possible.  There are many like Tobie who are concerned citizens and think that everyone in America should treat each other with equal respect irregardless.  She’s a wonderful person to talk to and know.  I wish I could say more.

Robbie is our desert man.  He’s one of the most unique individuals I’ve met here in Columbia, South Carolina.  Sometimes I think of him as our overgrown child.  He often brings his “big kid” toys to the weekly feed.  Bless his heart for always thinking about those in need and working with a local grocer to provide the deserts at each of those events.  He’s a blessing to many of those that come and is always friendly with those he talks to.

There are many others in the core group and it seems like it’s always growing.  Some come and some go.  They will never be forgotten.  I could name many others who help out here by name but I’ve covered the main individuals.  They are just what keeps this going.  If it weren’t for the volunteers this wouldn’t come about at all.

That is the main point of this weekly event.  It brings those that often don’t know or have very little knowledge of what really goes on in this town beyond their own personal life.  I’ve met many a volunteer through this weekly event and have several people who I’d like to call friends other than those I deal with on the street.  The volunteers make this event work more so than the core group.  We ALL get to know more about each other when they come.

Yes, I say I don’t advertise here.  However, I’d like to thank two groups in particular.  One is a local business called Southeastern Freight.  Their corporation has two or three groups that come down once or twice every three months to volunteer their services feeding those in need.  They are a great bunch of people that I relate to very easily as one of my brothers was/is an over the road truck driver like many of them.  The second group is a large group of children of various ages coming out of Richland county school district two.  They frequently come out to volunteer their service and actually work to get some of the things those out on the street need (mostly book bags so that those on the street can carry their belongings in something other than trash bags).  These children give me faith that there is a tomorrow for this country.  I hope they can learn some valuable things as well from those of us out on the street.  I know I try to impress upon them the importance of education as I’m still learning even from them.

All the volunteers as well as the regulars do so much with so little funding it’s truly amazing.  I can’t recommend more for those that chose to do something for their fellow man but to get involved in this group in one form or another.  Donations are always welcome by these people.  It could be clothing, shoes, book bags, toiletries, your time helping out by serving those in need, or even chipping in funding this wonderful group and their volunteers.  Resurrections would be more than happy for any assistance in their mission.

My final words here are words I’ve shared with Larry about Resurrections.  I’ve promised him that if I remain in South Carolina, specifically Columbia, that once I got off the street I’d still come and help him out.  I would be bringing more instead of just my assistance of helping set up in this case.  I believe in this groups mission and thank God himself for what it’s done for me in the way I see society in general.  If you’re not from South Carolina or the United States there are others like me and those of us out on the street.  Help however you can.  It doesn’t have to be a monetary handout.  It could be a meal or even just time listening to those that need a person to listen to their story.  Never ever look down on those that are having a hard time.  You could be there yourself at one time or another in your life.  Everyone needs friends no matter what the circumstances are.  Because of a group like this I’ve many more friends than I first had here and hope to find many others through this group.  God bless everyone involved.

Benevolence!

January 9, 2014

Many of you might wonder how my holidays went.  Being homeless doesn’t always allow you to have great holidays or holiday cheer.  Almost all the homeless would much rather spend them a different way than out in the street, sometimes cold, sometimes wet, and sometimes hungry.  Some have better holidays than others even if they are in the street.

Myself, I’m not much of a holidays person after my father passed away.  I tend to prefer to be alone even though I’m often lonely for someone of like interests.  I spend the days much like I do now.  Usually reading a book and going to one of the few places who feed the needy on those days.  One of my favorite places to be is a local park where few homeless go.  It’s here where my story of benevolence begins.

From just before Thanksgiving all the way through Christmas and even on to my birthday (January 5th), I’ve been the recipient of the benevolence of others outside the usual and even more from the usual.  Not once but five times I’ve had people whom I didn’t know come up to me and give me money or offer me food.  Almost every time I’ve attempted to refuse the assistance.  Not out of pride, but out of concern for those attempting to give the gifts (some of these I believe can’t really afford to do what they do but do so anyway).

Most of these folks I’ve met this way have been younger than myself (I just turned 54).  Some have families, others do not.  Those that have had families, I’ve tried to explain that they should put that money into their families and not into my hands.  Others, like the gentleman who I’m guessing was around 75 years old, smile when I finally do accept their offer.  In the case of the 75 year old, I’d like to think it brought him some pleasure and joy to help out his fellow man.  Two who helped me out I’ve known through helping them help others in my shoes.  I won’t name them, but they know who they are.

The one thing I always do with these people is attempt to befriend them.  What I would much rather have is their friendship and understanding instead of their money.  Over my 54 years, I’ve learned that it isn’t about “money.”  I no longer crave the material things I once craved.  The one thing I crave most is friends since it’s not likely I’ll ever have a family.

Very few of these people do I ever see again.  Though I don’t find it odd, I find it odd that they wouldn’t take credit for doing what they do.  These are the true benevolent soles out there.  The ones who don’t have a lot and yet they go out of their way to help a total stranger out.  They may or may not do this in just one place.  Often times, they would much rather be forgotten for their good deeds.

Well, to those that helped me out with charitable contributions, I thank you.  Even if I’ve never known them or never got their name, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Your money was well spent on either food or keeping my bicycle going.  As all my followers know, I don’t have the vices of drugs or alcohol to use the money on.

Philanthropy!

March 10, 2012

This one is for El Gwapo since he was kind enough to make me think about this word and it’s meaning.  As per Dictionary.com:

phi·lan·thro·py

[fi-lan-thruh-pee] Show IPA

noun, plural -pies.

1.

altruistic concern for human welfare and advancement, usually manifested by donations of money, property, or work to needy persons, by endowment of institutions of learning and hospitals, and by generosity to other socially useful purposes.
2.

the activity of donating to such persons or purposes in this way: to devote one’s later years to philanthropy.
3.

a particular act, form, or instance of this activity: The art museum was their favorite philanthropy.
Let’s look at each of the four meanings of this very special word.  The first one is more or less left to those whom have excessive amounts of money to contribute though there are those that contribute over time to the extent taht the other parties do.  Most of these people generally contribute to schools or hospitals.  They generally do so and get the promise from the entity to which they make their (tax write off) donation to, to name a building or something after them.  Yes, there I said it again.  Tax write off.  Many of the wealthy use a limited but usually maxed out amount of contributions as a tax shelter or writeoff.  Admittedly there is only so much that can be written off as contributions.  Then  it’s that persons money.
Getting back on subject, the wealthy besides, donating monetary funds donate time in the form of public speaking engagements.  Think of one of our former presidents (I am in the U.S. for those that may stop by from a country outside of mine) donating an hour to give a short speech as well as have a short Q&A session.  Most public speakers charge between $30K and $60K per hour.  At least the most successful do. So they’ve contributed a check to a school, hospital, or other charity as well as monetary funds in their speaking performance.  All well and good.  This is definitely a plus for those asking for the donations.
Ok.  Moving on to the second description.  Let me use a very dear and known name to you and me both to tag this one.  Bill Gates.  Yes, the billionaire.  He’s publicly stated that his children will have to earn their money the old fashion way (I won’t comment on this statement here).  He’s using his entire fortune to benefit man/woman in various projects funded through his and his wife’s organization aptly named Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  Every now and then you’ll hear of this organization and what it does.  That or you’ll look it up on the web.  They take other people’s donations as well.  Most of what I’ve found out about their projects has been positive.  They’ve helped the homeless, they’ve helped educate African’s about AIDS, Bill himself is active with a company who’s sole job is to make it so weather forecasters can better predict hurricanes saving ungodly amounts of money, manpower, and time.    It’s truly amazing that this man acquired all this wealth and is spending it to do some good though I’m not a fan of Microsoft (more later).  This is philanthropy to its finest.
As to the third description I think  those that volunteer their time or money or both such as the people in El Gwapo’s group (Resurrections) which the homeless refer to as Hotdog Joe’s as well as those that do the tireless work at the Soup Cellar best fit this description.  They volunteer their time if nothing else.  Some contribute their money to help these organizations.  Then still there are others who do volunteer work in any number or fashion to help others out.  They all fall under the third definition for philanthropy.  Most of these people are middle class or even the poor themselves helping out those less fortunate.  They can be church groups or any other group or individual.  Even I could be a philanthropist with the measly $127 disability check I get from the Veteran’s Administration.
Now number four via Dictionary.com’s definition I don’t believe in.  A philanthropy organization is  a fallacy.  First of all they have a staff that gets paid to select the work they fund.  Most times that pay comes out of the donations either monetarily or otherwise.  Like all charities, these organizations generally come at an administrative fee.”  This to me excludes them from the definition proper.   Charities are just that ,charities.  They are not meant to be organizations used by greedy people to enhance their agenda or their own gains which so many administrators do now.
Don’t believe me, look at your local public school system.  Don’t believe that, ask any charity Muscular Dystrophy Association, The American Cancer Society or others, what administrative costs they have.  You’ll be astonished.  Some run as high as 30%.  That’s right up to 30 cents on every dollar is taken out on administrative costs.  It’s pretty shameful what others will do to get into yours and my pockets in the name of charity/philanthropy.
Alright, that’s what I’ve considered philanthropy.  I know others have their definitions too.  However, one thing is for certain.  All organizations whether it be places like Oliver Gospel Mission or the Muscular Dystrophy Association have administrative fees.  Look before you donate and find out just how much is going to those that are needing the charity of others to get by from day to day.  If an organization is spending more than 15% of it’s donations on administrative fees then they are spending too much that should go to those they are championing.  That figure is ball park.  you can set that standard higher or lower.  You may think 10% is too much in administrative costs.  As for me, I haven’t got the money to be a philanthropist.