Tuesday, February 02, 2010

just hungry

on any given night in the city of pasadena, an estimated 1,165 people are homeless.*

unfortunately, pasadena has many homeless people, and many people who make their living by begging on the street. i admit that i struggle with how to respond. on the one hand, the money handed out to people like this often encourage begging to take place. on the other hand, living a life like this can't be very rewarding, no matter how much money you are earning.

i was struck by how young this guy was. he could easily be my age. i can't tell if the smirk on this guy's face was because he knew i was taking his picture, or if i simply caught him thinking about something happy. either way, it didn't last long, as a police officer arrived soon after i took the photo to ask him to leave.

my ethics are built on the teachings of jesus - especially things like the sermon on the mount. i believe we are called to reach out to those on the margins of society in whatever way we can. in this photo i wanted to demonstrate the pain of life on the street, but his expression totally changed the way the photo came out. i was reminded of the beatitudes and how difficult they are to understand. one in particular - blessed are the hungry - maybe this guy understands more about that than i will ever know.


Cafe Observer said...

He's saying God Bless. It woodn't surprise me if when he's not out begging, he's inside studying at a seminary like Fuller. I've heard & seen much stranger things in life.

Good shot, bw.

On account of the economy, it's making a brunch more people homeless.

Anonymous said...

When the big rains started last week, my husband and I were out on California/Fair Oaks and were hurrying our walk home to beat the wet. We saw a guy we see quite frequently sitting under the overhang of what used to be Monty's. We ended up chatting with him for a bit. He was waiting for his girlfriend (who was using the bathroom at Starbucks) and then they were going to try to hunt up a place to wait out the rains. We gave him some cash and wished him luck. I've got no idea how he spent that money, and it isn't for me to decide. All I know is that I headed home to a warm house, and he and his girlfriend had to try to find a place out of the storms.

ben wideman said...

Great point. Usually I think SoCal would actually be a pretty good place to be homeless - at least weather wise - but when it is rainy and cold, and things start to flood, it puts a whole new perspective on things.

pasadenapio said...

Addressing homelessness is a big priority for the City of Pasadena.

Through our Emergency Shelter Grant program, we help fund local organizations that serve the homeless population. Recipients range from Union Station to the Bad Weather Shelter.

The City of Pasadena received $908,395 in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (AKA federal stimulus) funding to help families who are homeless search for and retain housing, and to help families at immediate risk of becoming homeless pay rent, utility bills and cover other housing expenses.

ben wideman said...

Thanks for that insight, PIO. I know Pasadena has many great programs, but I've also heard that most of them are maxed out. Fuller Seminary has a food bank for students and needy families in the area, and from what I've heard the clientele has increased dramatically over the last few years.

Cindy said...

I saw in the paper that Fuller participates in the annual homeless count to get HUD funds. I had no idea they did this and have a food bank as well. Very cool.

likenarnia said...

I think you are getting at the heart of what jesus meant when he said, "i was hungry and you fed me," it isn't all about the act (or the lack of actions as the passage goes on) but it the picture of jesus we receive in the interchange. this homeless man has taught us all something about jesus that i think we otherwise would never have learned.

Petrea said...

I recognize this young man. He usually begs--I think--is it right around where Corson meets Walnut? Somewhere around in there. I've seen the police ask him to move on from there, too. But he keeps coming back. I don't know what his deal is, of course. I haven't been brave enough to speak to him, much less to take his picture. Good post, Ben.

ben wideman said...

Well said, likenarnia.

Interesting that you recognize him, Petrea. I've found that about several of the people I see begging around town.