Saturday, December 1, 2007

Teach people how to fish. Dont keep fishing for them

I woke up in the middle of the night and came down here for two reasons. I had to write.. I had already linked the video early in the day but it is timely since I am about to write something that is related to it.

I first must get this out of my system. I woke up a little angry at the drunk who made the call that fateful morning when I was at my mom's house. I don't know what he was thinking as I was with him when this crime was to have taken place.
Next, it reminds me of the things I see and experience down here. Everybody is in everybody else's personal business because they do not want to concentrate on themselves.

That is what I was a victim to that morning and I have to dodge bullets like that every day because people want to accuse people of any and everything. The computer is the stage of accusations down here. It is rigged up in a very delicate way. It has a very tempermental personality. Yet people who do not know a thing about it want to accuse the person who is on it the most, of breaking it when it is not working.

I am on it the most because because people break it or cause it to mal function when they use it. Nobody thinks of that just like nobody thought of asking me logical questions on that morning. Ok that is finished.


"Walter, did you hear?" was the question when I walked in the Transition House, yesterday. "Hear what?"

"I am glad I can tell you. I knew you would want to know." I waited patiently for the information. The first thing I was concerned about was that she was going to tell me something about my mother. I never know when something like that will come my way. I remember during the summer when lady had me believing that something terrible had happened to my mother. (See what I tell you. People talking about things about which they know nothing. It is like they get this perverse pleasure bringing pain your way and watching you adjust to it.) That lady was a staff member and has since relapsed back to heroin.

"Porsche she went out", she finally told me. I just looked at her for thirty seconds. A tear struggled to get through. For some reason, I fought off the rest of them. I was more angry than sad.

Porsche is one of many who have relapsed within the last couple of weeks.
She is a sweet girl. She had a boyfriend who relapsed and she would not join him to do drugs. He kept trying to get her to do them but she refused.

I kept asking for details. How did it happen? When? No one knew.
Porsche is a young lady that wanted to help herself. SHE WANTED A JOB. She worked hard to get a job. She was patient. She avoided problems. She was sweet. That WAS the problem. Predators would come her way everyday. You could hear them say to eachother when you walked passed them "I want some of that honey. I am going to get me some of that honey."

The only chance Porsche had was to get a job to stay away from these blood sucking vultures that abound on Skid Row. She never got that chance.


The video to which I made a link, above, is an interview that Don Garza did with Jose Egurbide of the City Attorney's office. He is in charge of the Safe Streets Initiative for the office. Jose Was at the 3 on 3 Skid Row basketball league to give his support. He was cooking that day. He tells why he supports the league. He supports the league because these are people who are trying to help themselves.


HELP PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES. I walked through my street yesterday. Trash was everywhere. Everywhere. People come down and give away food that creates more garbage. Rats run around everywhere, happy to have so much more garbage on which to feed.

Food is not something that is in short supply on Skid Row. Food is plentiful. Food is everywhere.

Some blankets were given out. That is helpful.

"If you give a man fish to eat you will have to feed him everyday. If you teach a man to fish, he will be able to feed himself everyday." That is the point.

Porsche wanted to fish. She did not want anybody to fish for her. She went to one mission after another to apply for a program. She was told she would have to start at the bottom again. She just left a dormitory for women. She finished a program.
Why should she have to start out at the bottom? "Credits" from other institutions are not recognized by others on Skid Row.

You took job classes at your shelter, doesnt matter. You must take our job classes at the county. We have somebody that needs to get paid. You took classes at both the shelter and the county. Doesn't matter. You have to take ours at this mission. All of the classes are the same. They give you the same copies of stuff to read. Nothing is new.

This is the giving season. On Skid Row, it is the Casualty Season. People relapse all over the place. The ones that relapse the most around this time of year are the ones that tried to find work. They are the ones who were told they would get help all year by the organizations that made so many promises.

I remember every day when Porsche would come from this organization and that mission with hope in her eyes. They said they would help her. They did not keep up with their promises. I know she showed up for appointments. Each time she returned that smile would fade just a little more. She would try to believe but it became hard.
Finally one day she said to me. "Walter, it feels worse now than if they never had said anything to me. They gave me hope, Walter. Why did they have to give me hope.?"

I do not know, Porsche. I do not know. It is a an emotional cruelty far beyond my ability to explain its effects on people. I see it everyday.

Now she has relapsed. She may have an appointment. She may miss it. After months of going through the hoops and jumping over obstacles and responding to the orders of "JUMP" with compling rsponses of "how high", she may not show up for an appointment. As one staff member of a mission said to me. "it just gives them an excuse to justify their lack of performance. They count on you not making appointments so they do not have to perform."

My god. I used to say I was confused about this place. I am beginning to believe what I have heard. In the meetings, they said that family members and friends, many times, want you to stay dependent on substances. It makes them feel better than you. It may be in their financial interests for you to be an addict. They can get you cut out of the will, etc. But lets look at it on another level.

I was told by someone who works very closely with the homeless one day that only one person in all of these organizations wants to be out of business. That is scary.
Is it so that these organizations would rather stay in business than go out of business because problems are solved? or scale down because certain problems are solved. Are they in the business of saying they help people or do they really help people?

If Porsche is an example, they failed miserably to help her. She was the sweetest person on Skid Row. Everyone knows that.

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