Posts Tagged gift cards

The myth of gift cards

Christmas 2011 the shelter asked gift cards to be donated to the clients. There was a wish tree with angels and the angels had a number corresponding to a specific client. Visitors to “The Keep” would take these angels and return gift cards, reassured the person whose number was on the angel would get the gift card. However, it was not permitted to hand these cards directly to the clients, they had to be turned in to the executive director. “We are trying to keep it fair for everyone and will hand out the cards on the 23rd” was the official explanation.

Now the executive director went and bought $5 cards, handed those and a few of the donated cards to the clients and kept many $20, $25, $50 and even $100 cards in his office, not inventoried, “for later use”, gave some to vendors and was contemplating to give some to his children when they came to the shelter “to do some good work”.

These gift cards were designated for specific people, and not to supplement the shelter’s budget or be given to vendors.

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Human Rights

In 1948 the United States signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states under Article 25:

“(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.”

Housing as a human right has been reaffirmed in Article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, which the United States also signed in 1966.

Has anyone taken inventory lately?

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“Merchandising”

Visitors permitted into the shelter only saw and heard what the “Trident” had carefully orchestrated, some homeless people were “asked” to leave for a few hours out of fear they would cause problems, or simply because they did not “look” the part, and others were instructed on what to do and say, even had to change clothe so it would look like in-kind donations were used appropriate. The daughter would grab some women and set them up to give the impression classes were being taught. Afterwards these women would be paid for their participation.

Should a representative of a grant foundation come to visit, homeless would be paired up with employees in order to give the impression of a functional work rehab program, women would be set up again to look like a class, and a computer room was “all of a sudden functional” to teach resume skills. Again, payment was made to encourage the homeless to participate in the perception and to encourage “desirable” behavior.

There always was and still is the implication of dire consequences should one not comply, intentionally or accidentally.

Through the years practicum students from mayor universities would come to the shelter, not so much to make a difference, but to “practice” what they have learned thus far. Not that the homeless would gain anything, but the association with that university looks very good on paper when asking foundations for money. Of course, people were carefully selected and paid by the shelter director to participate in these courses.

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Conundrum

I have reached a point where continuing most likely will expose the organization in this blog and with that may have consequences for people living there. Not that I want to gamble with their well-being, but for my own sake I have to keep on writing. Thinking about the members on the board of directors it can also have repercussions for me and my family. But if I can make a difference in just one person’s life it would be worth it, regardless of what follows. That sounds so cliché, but that is what life is all about, isn’t it, pursuing that one moment where we can step out and distinguish ourselves from the crowd.

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Homeless people are needed

Homeless people are “homeless”, not coatless or sandwichless!  Sure, they do need temporarily help with clothing and food, but beyond that I have not seen one donor coming back “hey, I got a place for you to stay”. Why is that?

Those in need and those wanting to help have entered into a symbiotic relationship. On one side the needy have their short-term need answered by receiving a free coat and a sandwich and on the other the person providing the coat and sandwich feels good about handing out donations.

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