The Herald Banner, Greenville, TX

July 28, 2013

Fine line between helping, enabling

GREENVILLE — If you build it, they will come. There is a fine line between helping and enabling. Homeless people do not need handouts, they need life skills and employment. They need counseling and ongoing aftercare support to re-enter society as a productive member.

Providing a shelter is a good idea if the motive is honest and the intent is to help. Too many communities have suffered greatly due to enabling under the guise of helping, crime increased and shelters that only open from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. flood the streets with homeless to fend for themselves during the day.

Some shelters only open during cold months and are closed during the warmer months. A shelter will invite people seeking temporary refuge who have no intention of improving their quality of life. Drug addicts and alcoholics, domestic violence offender’s needing a place to sleep while the spouse calms down and they can return home, etc.

One can only hope that a local shelter will have in place a thorough screening process so those truly in need receive the help and guidance they deserve.

When thinking of a local shelter some important questions come to mind. Will this shelter be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year? Will this shelter provide counseling? Will this shelter help provide employment? Or will this shelter be another welfare system entrapping people who become dependent and not independent and self-reliant?

I am not against a shelter for the needy, homeless. I do believe this issue needs in-depth review prior to consideration and this City Council needs to do follow-ups to ensure the shelter is attaining goals that are truly helping people. Our government thought a welfare system would be a good idea; and if one looks closely at that mess, you can clearly see the outcome of enabling and billions of dollars wasted, not to mention the fraud involved.

I hope the City Council asks the right questions before considering any shelter for homeless. Homeless people suffer enough and the last thing they need is to be enabled to stay stuck, poor and feeling helpless. Our Department of Fish and Game will be the first to tell you not to feed the animals as they become dependent and will lose their instincts to fend for themselves. People are the same, and if not given opportunities they simply become dependent and will lose their ability to fend for themselves.

It is said that if you give a man a fish you fed him once, teach a man how to fish and you have fed him for a lifetime.

So true that is and a shelter should be a place to teach people how to fish. I have seen good intentions gone bad. I have seen many organizations jump on the bandwagon for a short ego trip and initiated shelters, all for the false pride; and in that process they hurt the very ones they claim to care about and wanted to help.

If this shelter really is going to be a tool to help the homeless, then those involved need to be up front and totally honest with this community. What are your goals? What is the method you are going to utilize to attain those goals for the people in need?

Do you understand what is involved and the amount of resources you’re going to need to accomplish this? Or is this simply some grandiose sound good idea you pat yourself on the back for and at the expense of hurting people already hurting?

Mitch Vaughn