Charity work…

16 08 2012

Day after day with St Vincent De Paul we had 2 jobs, the first to figure out ways to raise funds to help the poor.  I had no problem with how we raised funds.  I was glad to put in time at the thrift store, co-ordinate picking up stuff that was donated, donating whatever I could, working bake sales, and helping to cook and clean up at the once a week meals for the poor.

It was the other end I couldn’t deal with.  I was working hand in hand with a bunch of people who had NEVER been poor.  Their only way of dealing with people’s problems was to throw money at it and when we ran out of money, turn people away!

I bit my tongue until it bled every time someone else had the phone!   “Man I had a rough call yesterday, this poor girl called and needed $300.00 for an airline ticket to L.A. because her mother just died and she needed to get there to take care of the arrangements.  I hated to tell her we couldn’t help her.”

WHAT??!!!  Why couldn’t we help her?  Well we have a limit on what we can give each person, it’s $65. You give me 30 minutes and a phone and I would have gotten her there!

I would have called everyone on the list and asked them if they knew anyone who had frequent flyer miles enough to cash in for a ticket to L.A. and if that didn’t work I would have found her 6 verifiable rides on Craigslist that would have taken that $65 and gotten her to L.A., but I never told her that.

She had always lived a blessed life.  She had a wonderful husband who supported them well, two kids in school and worked part time.  She could easily be out sipping coffee with friends rather than spending her time trying to help people that didn’t have what she had.

When we handed out checks we went in pairs.  I guess so there was no question where the money went among other things.  I went with her to take a check to an 88 year old woman with a part time job and a $500 a month winter electric bill.

This woman still had to go to every other charity in town to get the limit of what they would give her to make up the difference and each and every one of them required a personal visit and her signing some piece of paper saying she got that check.  What kind of dignity do you get from that?

Real help would have been to sit down with her and figure out why that bill was so high and help her to remedy that.  Real help would have been to find a contractor or someone who knew something about making her small home energy efficient so she didn’t have those huge bills and making those $65 a month payments that we were giving to her, directly to him for doing it.

No I couldn’t be that person.  I wasn’t the one who would stand up and tell these people who had kept this charity running all these years how to run it when I was the newbie in the door.

I was the one who quit, because quitting is what I do. I get worn down by life to the point I can no longer do it and fold in like an aluminum can.  At some point I can no longer function without unloading what weighs me down and I quit.

My own life is hard enough to manage.  I have never been more than centimeters above the struggle to just exist, how can I tell anyone anything.




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