Several years ago in 2011, Mayor Bloomberg said that the number of panhandlers in the subway had gone down drastically during his administration. I remember nearly choking on my water as I read the news. He obviously was not living in the same city as the rest of us. We encounter panhandlers and homeless people on a near daily basis- it is so normal that one does not even look up when these folks begin their tales of woe. The mayor obviously does not ride the A train or the 4-5 trains or the R trains (or any other train for that matter- I am the most familiar with these aforementioned lines). He does not see the hundreds of folks sleeping in Penn Station on a regular basis or the Roosevelt Avenue station, or the Jamaica stations or lining up outside train stations on Broadway near Wall Street.
I am ashamed to admit that I have become hard-hearted; I begin to make horrible assumptions about these people begging for money. What must it take for a person to become so desperate as to beg from folks who cannot even bother to look up from their phones or books? How difficult must it be to live from day to day, wondering where meals will come from or where one will sleep or if one will be warm for the night? May compassion never leave our hearts for those less fortunate!
There are several food pantries and organizations that are trying to combat hunger and organizations to help relieve homelessness. Can we, the city, the public and private institutions, open up more spaces for the homeless? For example - keeping public libraries open longer, especially in the winter. What else can we do to help? I try to give some money and pray for them. I am afraid that it is not enough. Any thoughts or suggestions?
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