by, Roxanne Carey
As you’re driving, watching all around, with your mind on things you need to do next, a regretted argument, upcoming event, or the movie you watched the night before, you slow as you approach a traffic light. Your focus is now on the light. And there she is, the damn panhandler. Then, the dreaded eye contact occurs. Now, either you have become saddened, irritated or feel guilty because those couple of dollars in your wallet are for a crunchy ice diet coke later (or whatever). What a way to spoil a good daydream, right? Either we feel connected to the sign holder, or we feel disconnected. Either way, these panhandlers really aren’t the con-artists with a fancy car, brick home, and savings account owners we have all heard about lately.
Most of these individuals got where they are today from not having, or missing the opportunity and support earlier in life to grow and be productive. That folks, leads to idleness that is either escaped with drugs or excited with crime. One thing is for certain, besides the fact that they are interrupting your moment, they could have turned out differently given the chance. Most often, missed chances happened from deep issues such as abuse and neglect that cause the need to escape, or do not believe that they are capable of succeeding.
Tiea is one such panhandler. A single mom of four who lives in a tent under a bridge, who with battered wife syndrome, had no self- dignity. The many cases of abuse inflicted and self- inflicted left her with no teeth and now certainly no opportunities. Her children live with other family and she only sees them for short periods of time monthly. Speaking with her, looking into her eyes, you see a woman as a human who desperately needs a connection.
In one of her abusive situations, her husband burned all of her identification. With no ID she cannot even stay in a motel. With no address, there is no possibility for an ID. Without proper identification, she can not work. Women shelters in Houston are full to capacity. So, a tent on gravel is the best she can do for herself.
Human Connection Revolution intends on helping other human beings with counseling to address the negative influences and why they occur. HCR offers to teach and help others in need to obtain the valuable self-dignity they need to step up. No band-aid hand-outs to cover the issue, but real assistance that continues in effect for as long as needed to be sure people have the opportunity to thrive.
As an effort to get the name of our non-profit organization out, I asked her if she would be willing to set her sign down and hand out flyers in lieu of donations. I would give her a donation for her volunteering. The flyer reads, “The person who handed this flyer to you, NEEDS help!” She willingly accepted and what Tiea did next amazed me! With enthusiasm, she worked hard at handing those flyers to drivers sitting at the traffic light, (probably relieved not to give their hard-earned money). She felt proud to have a purpose for another human (Human Connection Revolution). She, too was earning by working, (though not a real job to us, it was productive for her!) We all, including HCR need human connection. Tiea and thousands of more others like her in Houston need a REVOLUTIONARY hand up!
There are organizations that generously give hand-outs, blankets, non-perishables, a cot if there’s room in the shelter, but opportunities, holistic treatment and learned dignity do not accompany those well-meaning programs.
One day, perhaps we can pull up to a traffic light and keep on daydreaming, looking forward to that afternoon treat the dollars in our wallet were meant.