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Addressing the homeless and panhandlers

Editor’s Note: I asked Phillip Fletcher, Executive Director of City of Hope Outreach, if he would address panhandlers in Conway. Many of the panhandlers are among our homeless. Phillip dives into the top.


The context in which we live is fraught with difficulties.  I wonder if our eyes are open to recognize the difficulties people are living in at this present moment. Can we observe with our new eyes the strain people are under? Can we hear beyond the words of “I’m fine,” the possibility a person right before me simply needs my presence?  When we hear, and see someone or some group in difficulty maybe the question we need to ask is, “What will happen to him or her if I do not do something?” instead of the usual question, “What will happen to me if I do something?”

Compassion represents a very human and deep activity which places an individual in the storm of another individual’s experience.  Compassion is made up of two words, “together” and “to suffer.” I gain knowledge-hearing or seeing-about your situation and this emotion rises out of the depth of my being to propel me to embrace another person in his or her difficulty.

Why should we respond? We should respond based on the recognition of our sameness. Our sameness is rooted in the truth we are image bearers of God. I have either experienced my own suffering or I know at some point a difficulty is on the horizon. Nevertheless, I understand to be alone or to be isolated as a human being when all hell is breaking loose cannot be how I am supposed to exist.   

So, we acknowledge the humanity of another by entering difficulty. I acknowledge you are there and I acknowledge by my actions you will not be alone. Can we grasp how transformative it becomes when in the middle of my pain, my grief, my tiredness, someone says, “I see you” and “I am joining you in this moment?”  

Compassion Close to Home

Who among us in our city and state are physically and/or emotionally weary? Can we consider the homeless for a moment? The homeless are looked as potential criminals and drug users.  We must be able to recognize the homeless among us who need replenishment, rest, and refreshment. Our acts of compassion will require us to enter another person’s difficulty and say, “It is time for rest.”

As you exit the 40-Freeway or drive towards Vilonia or Greenbrier, at some point in time you will see a man or woman homeless and in need. You and I can enter the apparent suffering of another individual through acknowledgement and benevolence. Acknowledge the homeless man or woman with a welcoming smile, a wave, or most importantly a kind word. People desire to be seen by others and the experience of acknowledgement can offer a healing balm to a person who has had a long day. Second, be benevolent. Carry in your car gift cards for food, water bottles and small bags of toiletries. Also, our community has great services such as CoHO, Bethlehem House, CAPCA, and the Conway Ministry Center. Consider offering direction to these organizations so persons can find long term support.   

We are men and women who possess the capacity to act with compassion. As God entered the suffering of humanity and reconciled humanity back to himself through suffering, we can enter the suffering of humanity because Christ has triumphed. He has made us alive because he is alive. Therefore, to live means being active and aware. It means being able to move into situations which are powerfully difficult and situations in which we will not completely understand.

Let us act compassionately for the homeless.  

Phillip D. Fletcher

Founder

CoHO

 

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14 thoughts on “Addressing the homeless and panhandlers”

  1. This is a wonderful article. It’s been very distressing to see that, for all the churches Conway has, it has yet to come up with a compassionate way to meet the homeless crisis.

    1. Hopefully, we will see some changes in the near future. Folks like Phil Fletcher help us find our way. Thanks for stopping by Ashley!

    2. Ashley, check out what City of Hope Outreach (CoHO) is working toward to address homelessness in Conway. Please join us in supporting this project. Challenges like this require creative solutions. CoHO is proposing just such a creative solution: https://www.hopevillagecoho.org/

      1. Addressing the homeless by agencies telling people to give the money to an agency instead of a panhandler. The agency gets more funding while the homeless get basically nothing from agencies. I am borderline homeless with a partially disabled wife. We both work part time, but live in a weekly motel room. We went to all these agencies that told us that they could only help us if we were homeless. We were just short 80.00 on our weekly rent. Thats it. So i will go do a sign of my own. Even if i make no money, i have a story to tell about these “agencies”. Ill get to hear stupid comments by motorists. They hate panhandlers. Sad to say that their hate is a reflection of their guilt. I am not as broken as the panhandlers seen on the streets. And im not too proud to join them. My wife is shamed that Arkansas is her home state. Need a little help, panhandle, agencies wont help you.

  2. These “agencies” are in the homeless buisness. Keeping people homeless is profit for themselves. So many of these people dont get proper help from funded programs. Panhandling is not only a way of life…..its all they have left. Wish someone had the guts to audit some of these agencies to comfirm if the donated money is actually going to the homeless. But it will never happen because its all swept under the rug.

  3. Phillip Fletcher makes a good point, but how many of you can deny that sometimes JESUS just isnt enough. In todays time people are going away from the bible as a comfort. Its more of a crutch today. The verse,”What would jesus do” is not followed or remembered by many. We are all gods children, but tend to forget that when we see a less fortunate individual. Sometimes food, clothes, and shelter isnt enough, the word of god may not be either, as some of us have seen. Christians are caring as well as uncaring. Not doing Gods work well. But neither are they perfect.

    1. Thanks for commenting David. Sounds like you are having a tough time. I know we have a few good agencies in this town and know the directors. I am happy to let them know if you need any help.

      Feel free to leave me an email at conwayscene@gmail.com.

      Todd

  4. Phillip D. Fletcher

    Hi David,

    I can’t speak for other agencies. Our organization. Specifically helps homeless men. We found this out as a necessity and have chosen to focus here. We are limited in funds and so that’s how they are used. So we don’t provide rental assistance but other places do. How, when, and how much depends on each agency.

    I’m not in the business to keep homelessness going. I want it to reduce significantly but this takes a concerted and long term effort.

    As far as Scripture, Jesus is enough in terms of salvation. Second, Christians are commanded to love the poor. It’s a nonnegotiable. This does not mean other resources can not be used as well. You have to admit everyone, including yourself and me, don’t do all we are supposed to in life.

    Now back to the important matter, the Ministry Center helps with rental assistance specifically, if you have not gone there.

  5. Hi David,

    I can’t speak for other agencies. Our organization. Specifically helps homeless men. We found this out as a necessity and have chosen to focus here. We are limited in funds and so that’s how they are used. So we don’t provide rental assistance but other places do. How, when, and how much depends on each agency.

    I’m not in the business to keep homelessness going. I want it to reduce significantly but this takes a concerted and long term effort.

    As far as Scripture, Jesus is enough in terms of salvation. Second, Christians are commanded to love the poor. It’s a nonnegotiable. This does not mean other resources can not be used as well. You have to admit everyone, including yourself and me, don’t do all we are supposed to in life.

    Now back to the important matter, the Ministry Center helps with rental assistance specifically, if you have not gone there.

  6. Update. I am now working. And have joined the ranks of the panhandlers. My assistance problem was solved by 300.00 i made in 3 hours holding a sign. Who needs the help agencies. People in this town know the agencies dont help.. But i do go out and run a sign and not take money…. Instead i tell the people my experience. Some say they wont donate anymore to agencies. Oh, and i do have proof of what i tell people. So now i have found my faith…… In myself. And my new found career. My wife and i will take care of each other. No need for agencies. I wonder how the people on facebook are going to react to a recorded conversation i had with the ministry center. Yep. Reaching out to people, not agencies does have better results. Do i feel guilty? No.

    1. Dude WTF. I know you. Where I work is hiring. I’m not ready to see another one of my bros on the street. Call Flycatcher

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