Guest Blogger Friday! Part II

Posted: June 13, 2008 in Daily Blog


My first Monday morning in LA, 5 am, I hear this noise that I have never heard in my life; it kind of freaked me out. I jumped out of bed and looked out the window. The noise I heard was a person pushing a shopping cart down the street. At each house, this person was stopping and going through the trash. They were pulling out the cans and bottles to recycle and make some money. This is really something I have never seen, someone literally dumpster diving.

In California recycling is very big; you get 5 cents for a can, plastic bottle, or glass and 10 cents for a 2 littler. So you see, a lot of people that are homeless are always digging through trash cans for money. When I see these people, I always feel very bad and wish I could help them. Sometimes I want to know there story, like what put them on the streets and why don’t they have a job? You know they are creative people; they are the only people I have ever seen fit so much into one shopping cart. They have 10 to 20 black trash bags tied to the side of the cart and all of their belongings in it. They travel through the neighborhoods were the recyclables are already separated for them. We have three trash cans here – a black can for trash, a green can for yard clipping, and a blue can for recycling. So it is easy picking for them.

I really love helping people, which is why I am in the auto industry; I enjoy helping people fix their cars. But to what extent do you go? Tracie and I have stopped putting bottles and cans into the blue bin. It is like we are giving the homeless money. We deiced to keep the cans and recycle them ourselves. Is this selfish? I don’t know, but I do know I do not want to encourage their lifestyle of living on the streets or feel that I am contributing to their learned helplessness. I feel like they are getting free or easy money so they will just continue to do it. This is the same reason we do not give people money that are standing on the corner with a sign. I feel like if you do give them money you are helping them, but they will just continue to live this way; it makes for a big internal struggle at times.

Growing up I really didn’t see much of this unless I went downtown. I see people that are homeless everyday now. It is hard to see these people like this, but seeing this everyday now kind of gives me a reminder to stop and thank God for the things we have. I feel very fortunate to go to a house, have a roof over my head, a nice bed to sleep in and food in the fridge. I just feel like since I am living very far from home, that I appreciate things a lot more now.


Justin is my nephew.  He is a great young man that has a great job with Toyota in California.  He is preparing to marry his girlfriend of 7 years this fall.  He always has a positive outlook on life and loves helping anyone he can.  He grew up in Colorado, so LA is a bit of a change for him.  I am trying to get him to be a regular guest blogger here, until he starts his own blog!

Thanks for sharing Justin!

  1. trish says:

    It is such a great thing to be grateful for all you have. Never loose that, I think when you stop being grateful your “stuff” start to control you always wanting more. But when we are grateful for a roof over our head, food then we are grateful for what we have. I agree I always have a inner struggle when seeing someone holding a sign for food when leaving the grocery store, I have stopped before offering food not money if they do not want the food then I figure they are not that hungry. I think there is a balance in there somewhere where we help when we can without being taken advantage of.

  2. wow, this is a hard topic. it’s one of those i hope i don’t step on anyone’s toes kinds of topics.

    my opinion on this has changed over time and it might continue to change. i have no problem with giving money, clothes, food, etc… to poor or homeless people. my only responsibility is the giving. it’s not my place to judge their situation or how they got there. truthfully, i’m pretty thankful i’m not in their situation. i don’t know why they’re in need – what hard times have fallen on them or what poor choices they have made. and i’m not saying i give to everyone or that i give tons when i do, but there are times when i am convicted to give and when i ignore that, it’s me who suffers. and i can’t think of one time when i have been convicted not to give (but i do believe that could happen, too)

    “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land.” Deuteronomy 15:11

  3. trish says:

    I agree with you transplantingme it is not our place to judge how they got there,
    if you have ever fallen on hard times it is easy to see how it happens, I think we are all called to help but… that may look different to people, I may help by supporting a local food bank and someone else may stop and give money to the person on the street, I don’t think we are all called to the same thing, and I do think there are times when God will tell you to keep walking could be safety could be he has a different plan for that person. We all have people in our lives that have less than us, we all have people we know or don’t know who could use help.

  4. Graham says:

    Great discussion, this post and comments really makes you think. helping people in need is something we all should do, but should it go beyond that? shouldnt we also help them get back on their feet. Does it end with giving the homeless a few bucks, does that really solve the problem?

  5. so graham, what do you think our responsibility is?

  6. Graham says:

    I believe that sometimes we get so focused on the “destination” in our thinking and actions, we miss the point. Life is a journey, the destination is a mirage. All we can do is live to the best of our ability, some days that is easy, some hard. Sometimes it is realizing we don’t have all the answers to all the questions in life. Sometimes it is realizing that our previously held thoughts about a subject such as “homelessness” needs some re-evaluating. Will we ever get all the homeless people off the streets? No. Can I do my part to help? Yes… my part to help today may look entirely different that it did yesterday. Yesterday I didn’t even know homeless people went through people’s recycling bins. Now I do. Does that change how I look at a homeless person on the streets of Colorado Springs – I am not sure yet. If I tell you what your responsibility is in helping the homeless, haven’t I just taken away a bit of your humanity – your ability to decide for yourself how to handle the homeless where you live? Do what you know is right, decide for yourself and do it (Rom 14). Some of us are trying to figure out how to go from A to B, not A to Z. Becoming aware of the needs around us is a huge step, being thankful for what we have is a huge step, realizing that there are hurting people out there is a huge step. What is your B, what is your next step? That,I think,is your responsibility to figure out… what do you do next?

  7. trish says:

    Graham is doing something very cool with his kids this week, a service project make sure to ask him about it!

  8. so, you’re not really asking us to give you our opinion. or you are wanting our opinion, but you’re not going to give us yours because you’re fear the we won’t see it as opinion, we’ll see it as you telling us what you think we should do?

  9. Graham says:

    Re-read my replies, my opinion is in them, but I will recap if it is still unclear to you.

    our actions should spring from love. Love for our fellow man regardless of his or her condition. But I know I don’t love perfectly, I wish I did, so when I realize I need to love better, hopefully I change my attitude towards those I am not loving well.

    this subject seems to have poked some of your buttons Transplantingme, I wonder why?

  10. hmmm… me, too. not really.

    i’m fine with this subject. homelessness and giving really isn’t one of those button pushing topics for me. there are just things i find so annoying that i become obnoxious and start annoying right back.

    like “life is a journey, the destination is just a mirage.” i mean i wouldn’t call heaven a mirage… that is the final destination, right? or probably that’s not the final destination your talking about…

    and my question was “so graham, what do you think our responsibility is?” and what i chose to read as your answer was “If I tell you what your responsibility is in helping the homeless, haven’t I just taken away a bit of your humanity – your ability to decide for yourself how to handle the homeless where you live?” i really didn’t get “our actions should spring from love. Love for our fellow man regardless of his or her condition. But I know I don’t love perfectly, I wish I did, so when I realize I need to love better, hopefully I change my attitude towards those I am not loving well” from your replies. my bad.

    and michael says i should stop being so darn snarky… as he shakes his head at me. and says “have you already sent that reply??” and he suggests i sleep on it before i send it.

  11. Graham says:

    Heaven is the destination – after life… but so many religious people think they have already “arrived” here, perfect and pompous, and have it all figured out – and I completely disagree. I like to bump people out of their thought process by thinking about things differently, and I can see I may have bumped you too hard here.

    I agree with Michael… but the discussion on the topics I post is part of the “bumping” process so I expect disagreement. As long as the tone is respectful and honest we can have a good dialog I am okay with it.

    but in this case I don’t really understand what was “so annoying that you become obnoxious and start annoying right back though,” can you explain that to me? was it the topic or my responses, because I didn’t see you get “snarky” to anyone’s comments but mine.

  12. i didn’t feel bumped too hard. i have no problem being encouraged to think differently about things. i really asked what you thought our responsibility was because i was curious. but the answer i got back read to me like alot of words that sounded good, but there really wasn’t an answer in them. it came across to me as you trying to facilitate a conversation and not really participate in it.

    and part of why i wanted your opinion is because i hadn’t seen you participate in this conversation. there are many things in the original post that i find offensive. and i was really curious to see what you thought.

  13. Graham says:

    I appreciate Justin’s honesty and authenticity… His gratefulness for what he has is encouraging, and moving from CO to CA certainly has put him in a different environment that I believe he is dealing with quite well. Panhandling and Homelessness are difficult issues to discuss, and like politics, I am sure all of our views on this issue may be different.

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