Friday, February 25, 2011
This past summer we were driving to Ocala for some reason or another and drove by the intersection of Highway 200 at Interstate 75. There's always a myriad of traffic, people, congestion and the like and one has to be careful to avoid all the snarls and distractions. On the side of the road I saw several people panhandling. I started to look away thinking most of them had a social resource for sustenance.
Oh, you've probably heard the story of the guy in San Francisco who made 40k a year panhandling for spare change and drove away each day in his fancy SUV parked around the corner. Just a week ago the news in Tampa said they were going to ban panhandlers in the city. Sure some people asking for spare change on street corners aren't legitimate, but some of them are. How can a person tell which cry for help is legitimate and which isn't?
As I turned away that day, I saw her in the crowd of others who were begging. A young woman dressed in clean, well worn clothes with a baseball cap shielding her face from the 96F noon day temperatures. She held a sign which read, "Please help, mother of 3, laid off, needs work".
I turned to Gary and said, she needs work, we could hire her to do some painting or weeding at our house. Gary said she lives too far from our house and it wouldn't be cost effective for her to come to our home. Gary said how do you know you can trust her. I said I just know I can trust her. If she is out there begging in this heat, she is desperate and she needs help.
For weeks I couldn't get the picture of the woman who was begging out of my mind. I wanted to go back there and help her. I want to help all the folks I see by the side of the road and I know I can't. What can I do, what can I do? I hired a 70 year old painter to paint the outside of my house; I hired an out of work tile person, but somehow nothing seems to be enough. I thought to make something in art. Something to bring attention to the fact there are thousands, even millions of people in our country out of work and needing help.
I came home and made the sketch above for a piece I planned to make in clay, but it went no further. It was too painful for me to make that piece in clay, and I figured it wouldn't do any good anyway. I try to gather my strength, but sometimes I feel like I'm not doing enough for others.
I debated whether to publish this post today, I've had it in the cue for months, but then I read the post Learn to Be Present by Paul at Quoteflections and I decided to go ahead and publish this. A 17 year old boy came and bought our bed (see the previous post) with money given to him by a volunteer for habitat for humanity. He was so happy he was going to sleep in his own bed in his new house tonight. And we were happy to sell the bed, not to mention it isn't taking up space in the garage.