Homeless in Paradise

You'll see people pushing carts filled with their belongings. They are the homeless residents of Paradise, and you'll see them encamped at bus stops and beaches, or panhandling near ATMs or stop lights.

You may notice that many of them are in the downtown/Chinatown area, and that’s because the Institute for Human Services (IHS) is nearby, and this non-profit organization provides shelter for men, and women and children.

There are people who believe that these folks are alcoholics and/or drug users who don’t deserve any help because they’re not likely to change, but that’s not 100% true. Some of the people who seek shelter at IHS lost everything when they lost their jobs, and are trying their hardest to get back on track.

With that being said, if you’re approached by a panhandler (someone who asks you for money) or are in the path of one, use your judgment and exercise common sense, but don’t be rude – they’re still human beings.

Recent news articles suggest different solutions to this issue and one of them is sending them back to the mainland (some were sent here or chose to come here).

I've seen squatters in a third world country, but this is the United States! And this is Paradise! The first time I encountered a panhandler in Chinatown, I thought I was being charitable when I dropped some coins in his cup (like I've seen people do on TV). Sheltered girl that I was, I wasn't prepared for his sarcastic response. So that was that!

Once, I witnessed a grandpa teaching his young grandson a lesson in giving, when he bought a plate lunch for a man that I’ve seen encamped outside of a neighborhood grocery store.

I must confess that even though I was inspired, I don’t have the guts to reach out on my own like that. The farthest I'm able to go is volunteer at the IHS, and donate household and personal grooming products. Hopefully you would too.

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