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Topic: Homeless Challenge
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Feb 17, 2017 12:09PM)
I don't quite know where to post this, but here is a challenge: What could you do when a homeless person asks you for money?

To be honest, I have always just said "Sorry", and moved on.

But, I got to thinking, what if I made some money appear in their hand and give it to them?

I would make sure that they understood it was a magic trick, and both of us could be entertained by the experience, and they get a little money.

I have noticed more and more homeless people where I live in the Los Angeles area. It also seems like we have more and more "new" homeless. Many of these "new" homeless people are people not much different from you and I, just they lost their job, lost their money, lost their home, and now find themselves on the streets.

I got to thinking about this when I encountered one such person outside the Dollar store. They were asking for fifty cents. When they got their fifty cents, they went into the dollar store and purchased a dollar burrito and a dollar bottle of water.

It got me thinking that it doesn't take much money, perhaps just the appearance of a couple quarters, to get them half way to a burrito.

I decided I'm going to keep a quarter in each of my back pockets. The next time someone asks, I'll make a quarter appear magically from one of their hands, then make that quarter multiply into two quarters.

Of course, the whole thing needs to be done in the right spirit, one of establishing a positive human connection with another "brother of God".

What are your thoughts?

What have you done?

What will you challenge yourself to do the next time someone asks you for money?
Message: Posted by: jefkve (Feb 17, 2017 02:45PM)
My only objection to giving homeless people money is that they will spend it on alcohol or drugs. I've always preferred going into a store and buying them something to eat. Now, finding a was to make a sandwich appear might be a fun challenge...
Message: Posted by: Tim Snyder (Feb 17, 2017 08:13PM)
Coincidentally, earlier today I was reading Mick Ayres' column in the Feb issue of MUM. He was discussing the difference between a successful and unsuccessful beggar (not sure what the politically correct term for such a person is). Successful beggars use theatrics to create an emotional response. Ayres then applies this idea to performing magic.

No one really helps a homeless person by giving them money. At best you alleviate their suffering for a short period. Genuinely helping a homeless person would involve mentoring them through a life changing process that would eventually lead to their receiving an income from a traditional source -- either a job or a government agency. In the case of people who have decided to derive their income through successful begging, you are just buying their "product".

It all comes down to what you can live with and what makes you happy. I think it's great that you enjoy buying a meal for someone less fortunate, Jefkve. Like you say, 1KJ, what's 50 cents if you can brighten someones' day with a little magic. I very rarely give money anymore. I got burnt out from my regular trips into the city of Chicago where I was constantly asked for money. Once this stylish dude with an attache case asked me for money. More often than not it seemed like a game they were playing to see if they could get this mark from the suburbs to give them cash. Over the last ten years, the ruse that I most often get suckered into is the "we need gas money" request. I have given at least 5 different people "gas money." I never giving money grudgingly or because I feel pressured to. If I give it's because at that moment in time it makes me happy to "help them out".
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Feb 18, 2017 10:57AM)
Tim,

I have generally felt the same as you. Recently, I am noticing a different sort of homeless person. I live on the outskirts of Los Angeles, and I am seeing what I would call "newly homeless". I am pretty confident many of these people are not on drugs. I live in an area where home prices and rental prices have gone up and up while jobs and time offered to workers have gone down and down.

Also, I used to think that I needed to give someone a few dollars to really "make any sort of difference." Now, I'm thinking that fifty cents is not really going to "make them rich", and it would really take a long time to get drug money a quarter at a time, but four or five quarters will buy a burrito from the dollar store.

As for helping them in life, I suppose that if a homeless person expresses an interest, I could teach them a little magic routine. I've often thought that if I were ever homeless, I could probably get back on my feet pretty quickly by doing street performing. I have studied street performers to help me in my own performances and I use busking skills in my regular performances.

kj
Message: Posted by: friend2cptsolo (Feb 19, 2017 11:22AM)
I might chime in. First if you give money to someone, than do just that. It is now their money, and they will spend it how they see fit. You, as the giver, must have the attitude that giving MONEY was your choice in the exchange and you should feel good with that. If you really want that money to go to food, than go buy food, and give that person food. Let charity, be charity.

What we do, when perfoming magic, is entertain people, just like TV, movies and theater. Sure we dress it up into something else but it is just "stage".
So now, why do people want to spend their TIME watching magic? For many different reasons, but they do so with other needs met in their life. People that may take time to enjoy a magic show are well fed, not suffering from flu like symptoms, not worried about where they are going to sleep for the night, not worried about their kids and so on and so on......


IF the homeless person in front of you needs a dollar to get food....then they are HUNGRY. Imagine when you felt really hungry and needed food...now multiple that. How hungry is that person? They are begging for what ever they get right now. If you were in that state would you be able to focus on a coin trick? and would it even be fun for you. What if you just lost your home? Job? or health? Would you be in a receptive state to watch magic?
If they are addicted to crack,meth or any of the nasty things out there, and now live on the street. The drug use is not fun for them at this point. It's horrible, if they go without that drug for a couple of hours they will start shaking, throwing up, break out into cold swets(like having the flu). They will spend ALL DAY begging for quarters so they can get some "stuff" and actually sleep through the night.

I am sure I am bringing up EXTREME examples of the street homeless; but I do so because this is a population that is wrought with many potiental problems.

My opinion, if you live somewhere that has a good homeless shelter that helps families, then give some time there. Do a show for those kids. They need it. That would be a great time for these people to take a break and spend the little bit of time with their family watching their kids laugh and be amazed.

Just my two cents...
Message: Posted by: JG (Feb 20, 2017 06:49AM)
[quote]On Feb 17, 2017, jefkve wrote:
My only objection to giving homeless people money is that they will spend it on alcohol or drugs. [/quote]
Wow!
Message: Posted by: jefkve (Feb 20, 2017 12:13PM)
[quote]On Feb 20, 2017, JG wrote:
[quote]On Feb 17, 2017, jefkve wrote:
My only objection to giving homeless people money is that they will spend it on alcohol or drugs. [/quote]
Wow! [/quote]

Yeah, I know it sounds harsh, but given the high levels of alcoholism and drug dependence amongst the homeless, I'd rather not risk contributing to their vices. I want to help, not hurt.
Message: Posted by: 1KJ (Feb 20, 2017 09:09PM)
[quote]On Feb 19, 2017, friend2cptsolo wrote:
I might chime in. First if you give money to someone, than do just that. It is now their money, and they will spend it how they see fit. You, as the giver, must have the attitude that giving MONEY was your choice in the exchange and you should feel good with that. If you really want that money to go to food, than go buy food, and give that person food. Let charity, be charity.

What we do, when perfoming magic, is entertain people, just like TV, movies and theater. Sure we dress it up into something else but it is just "stage".
So now, why do people want to spend their TIME watching magic? For many different reasons, but they do so with other needs met in their life. People that may take time to enjoy a magic show are well fed, not suffering from flu like symptoms, not worried about where they are going to sleep for the night, not worried about their kids and so on and so on......


IF the homeless person in front of you needs a dollar to get food....then they are HUNGRY. Imagine when you felt really hungry and needed food...now multiple that. How hungry is that person? They are begging for what ever they get right now. If you were in that state would you be able to focus on a coin trick? and would it even be fun for you. What if you just lost your home? Job? or health? Would you be in a receptive state to watch magic?
If they are addicted to crack,meth or any of the nasty things out there, and now live on the street. The drug use is not fun for them at this point. It's horrible, if they go without that drug for a couple of hours they will start shaking, throwing up, break out into cold swets(like having the flu). They will spend ALL DAY begging for quarters so they can get some "stuff" and actually sleep through the night.

I am sure I am bringing up EXTREME examples of the street homeless; but I do so because this is a population that is wrought with many potiental problems.

My opinion, if you live somewhere that has a good homeless shelter that helps families, then give some time there. Do a show for those kids. They need it. That would be a great time for these people to take a break and spend the little bit of time with their family watching their kids laugh and be amazed.

Just my two cents... [/quote]

I can tell you that I have been homeless. Never on drugs, but homeless, yes. It's not always about being miserable. I know that when I was homeless, I would have enjoyed a quick bit of magic in my day. I do think that you have to be selective. I have encountered homeless that are nearing the end of their lives and I have encountered many homeless like myself, who have a shot at getting out. Yes, I did get out and now I do quite well financially. As with everything in life, it is about using good judgement.

kj
Message: Posted by: Herr Brian Tabor (Mar 10, 2017 10:39PM)
[quote]On Feb 17, 2017, jefkve wrote:
My only objection to giving homeless people money is that they will spend it on alcohol or drugs. I've always preferred going into a store and buying them something to eat. Now, finding a was to make a sandwich appear might be a fun challenge... [/quote]

No. That's a stereotype and just plain wrong. Sure, there are homeless drug users, just like there are drug users who have homes. Here's a good example of what a lot of homeless will do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUBTAdI7zuY
Message: Posted by: Mick Ayres (May 15, 2017 04:47PM)
[quote]On Feb 17, 2017, Tim Snyder wrote:
Coincidentally, earlier today I was reading Mick Ayres' column in the Feb issue of MUM. He was discussing the difference between a successful and unsuccessful beggar (not sure what the politically correct term for such a person is). Successful beggars use theatrics to create an emotional response. Ayres then applies this idea to performing magic.
[/quote]

For the record, my column was about buskers, Tim. Thank you for reading it, though!

Mick
Message: Posted by: Tim Snyder (May 20, 2017 01:03AM)
[quote]On May 15, 2017, Mick Ayres wrote:
[quote]On Feb 17, 2017, Tim Snyder wrote:
Coincidentally, earlier today I was reading Mick Ayres' column in the Feb issue of MUM. He was discussing the difference between a successful and unsuccessful beggar (not sure what the politically correct term for such a person is). Successful beggars use theatrics to create an emotional response. Ayres then applies this idea to performing magic.
[/quote]

For the record, my column was about buskers, Tim. Thank you for reading it, though!

Mick [/quote]

You made me go back and reread you article, "You Sell It -- They Will Buy It". When I wrote my comment it was from memory and I didn't remember the term you used to describe the young fellow in ragged clothes who asked for spare change, Walter who held out a cup for donations, and Donna who pretended it was her birthday at truck stops so the truckers would pay for her meal. You referred to them in the article as "grifters". Yes, your article was about much more than just beggars and I recommend everyone read it; but since a quarter of the article discussed the techniques these grifters used, the begging aspect stuck in my mind when I responded to this post.
Message: Posted by: jljones83 (May 22, 2017 02:34PM)
I live in the LA area, and honestly, I think the panhandlers would be annoyed by this. When I see people asking for change, it's a numbers game for them, ask and walk away. If it takes longer than a second or two, that's more time they could have spent asking different people. I've been asked by the same people multiple times in a 10-15 minute period because they are not looking at you, just asking anything that walks by.

Plus, I'm getting a feeling like you're just paying them to watch you do a magic trick. You're kind of just forcing them to watch you. They might really not want to watch you, but now they feel like they have to in order to get your money.

That's just my two cents.
Message: Posted by: Rook (May 22, 2017 03:40PM)
My perspective is that if I gave money to 10 homeless individuals and 9 used it to buy alcohol or drugs and 1 used it to buy food, I'm okay with that because it lead to feeding that person. I'd rather be taken advantage of by several someones who would use the money to buy alcohol or drugs than let one person go hungry that I passed up because I was concerned as to how they'd spend the money I gave them. As such, when I can, I give them what I can.
Message: Posted by: ParkinT (May 26, 2017 11:03PM)
This is an interesting discussion. And I can easily empathize with both sides of the issue regarding money and how it might be used by the recipient.
And, for that reason, my wife and I try to always carry at least two Gift Cards from McDonald's in our car. Giving out a gift card [almost] guarantees the person will use it for food - unless they sell it to someone else for money to buy drugs/alcohol. At least you are weighing the odds in favor of the preferred outcome.
Message: Posted by: Rook (May 26, 2017 11:29PM)
[quote]On May 26, 2017, ParkinT wrote:
This is an interesting discussion. And I can easily empathize with both sides of the issue regarding money and how it might be used by the recipient.
And, for that reason, my wife and I try to always carry at least two Gift Cards from McDonald's in our car. Giving out a gift card [almost] guarantees the person will use it for food - unless they sell it to someone else for money to buy drugs/alcohol. At least you are weighing the odds in favor of the preferred outcome. [/quote]

Nice tactic! I also carried around a pallet of water bottles in my car. Living in Phoenix, dehydration is a serious risk if you're on the street.
Message: Posted by: nkwmagic (May 27, 2017 03:40AM)
Nice act. If done well this can give them hope and faith in life. Too bad here in Hong Kong beggars often are controlled by gangs so people are generally quite cautious.
Message: Posted by: Raymond42 (May 28, 2017 09:06AM)
Magic (well & sympathetically performed) would give them a unique experience and would remain as a bright light in their memory, as a distraction from the awful life experiences they must endure.
Message: Posted by: DelMagic (Jun 3, 2017 09:33AM)
[quote]On May 22, 2017, jljones83 wrote:
Plus, I'm getting a feeling like you're just paying them to watch you do a magic trick. You're kind of just forcing them to watch you. They might really not want to watch you, but now they feel like they have to in order to get your money.
[/quote]

And what is inherently wrong with "forcing" someone to do something to get money from you? All of my employers have "forced" me to do things to get their money. I've spent a great deal of my life doing things that wouldn't be at the top of my daily activities list but I did them for the money. If watching a 5-30 second magic trick is all that is required to get some money, sign me up.

I guess Penn & Teller are being "forced" to watch magic tricks on Fool Us to get money and that doesn't seem objectionable to me.
Message: Posted by: ScottMN (Jun 11, 2017 07:57AM)
Rook - well said, and nice idea on water bottles... on the railroad, we always have bottles of water on our locomotives, and often pass some out in areas where homeless have congregated or have camps.

KJ - I think it's a thoughtful way to show concern for them and help a little. 50 cents doesn't hurt my pocket and may actually help someone else, and I can't worry about their end use... and if doing a small bit of magic to say "I wish I could do this for real for you - but keep that at least" shows a little personal care and contact - I'm all for it - our world would be a better place if we all cared just a little more!

Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter to perform a little - kids and adults alike deserve some fun too, even those who can't afford a ticket to see a show or afford the meal at the restaurant where you might usually perform...
Message: Posted by: Rook (Jun 11, 2017 11:00PM)
[quote]On Jun 11, 2017, ScottMN wrote:
Rook - well said, and nice idea on water bottles... on the railroad, we always have bottles of water on our locomotives, and often pass some out in areas where homeless have congregated or have camps.

[/quote]

Many thanks! It occurs to me that if you didn't want to do money magic, you could always produce a water bottle in a magical way.
Message: Posted by: andrew124C41 (Aug 2, 2017 05:22PM)
I fell upon this post and I thought to give a personal and professional opinion.

My undergrad and grad work prior to medicine was psych. I was also certified in addiction medicine. So, generally speaking, I know the drill.

Some of this has to do with where and when, that is to say some cities have more of one kind of homelessness than others AND after the 2008 business, there were a lot of folks who were definitely not alcoholics or addicts who were added to the homeless rosters.

By and large, most that I see in the DC area are the same type of people who were deinstitutionalized when the psych hospitals were emptied in the 70s. They suffer from various, serious mental illnesses. Often they are either beaten up or others steel from them when they wind up in shelters so they often refuse to go there. They are no paranoid in this regard. There fears are well founded.

But by the Grace of God Go I...

My wife and I generally give money or try and help them in some way.

Because they are all ready suffering, usually there is no place for humor or whimsy so no magic is in my opinion appropriate.

We just give them the money.
Message: Posted by: harris (Aug 4, 2017 01:01PM)
My thoughts are each should follow there own beliefs.

I have also been in mental health/addiction field for 30 years.
My clients ranged from street people to people whose family names were on city streets.
Some if the above were both.

Urban ministry has led me to
A. Provide food, clothes, and an ear
B. Musical programs
C. Family Fun nights at our City Union Mission.
(above included magic and puppetry)

Decades ago I was sharing at a "Juneteenth Event".
I was wailing the blues and doing a bit of ventriloquism".
I remember a man quipping DROP THE PUPPETS.
Message: Posted by: LeoH (Aug 9, 2017 10:28AM)
I perform close-up or a local homeless shelter sponsored and located at a church. Local businesses furnish dinner for the "guests" and the employees act as servers for the dinner. For the homeless who attend. it is an experience like eating at a restaurant. The servers explain the menu for the evening. and the homeless order their meals and then are served by the volunteers. The diners set at large circular "10 top" tables with tablecloths. Two or three church members eat with the guests and engage the guests with conversation. The church tries to give this experience at the shelter once a month. Performing at a local shelter in a structured setting instead of the street may be a win/win for you.
Message: Posted by: paul180 (Sep 15, 2017 09:03AM)
Having once been homeless myself this is kinda a touchy subject for me. To say that all a homeless person will do with money given is to use it on drugs or alcohol in not only ignorant but just plain wrong.

Having said that I do believe in a "hand up" not a "hand out". So giving money doesn't really address the underlined issues to a persons homelessness regardless of the reason. Disasters, Fire, gentrification, socioeconomic issues, mental health problems and more can all contribute to ones ability maintain residence.

The single best thing a person can do for one who is homeless is to CARE. I mean TRULY care, that a fellow human being be saved from the isolation and loneliness not to mention dangers present on the streets. Reaching out with a sandwich will feed our brothers for a day, reaching out with a way to help will hopefully, feed him for a lifetime.

I was through the good graces of people who cared that I moved from the streets to a home and I have never looked back since. But if my story isn't enough to convince you? Check out these once homeless people and tell me what you think?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyhSh5jXqPA
Message: Posted by: HeyUTheClown (Aug 20, 2019 03:19PM)
I might be a little late in posting this, but you could also try the "Teach a man to fish.." proverb. Instead of producing money to give him, maybe you could teach him a simple enough coin trick (or card trick, if you want to give him a deck of cards), so he might be able to perform for other people and in return people will give him spare change.
Message: Posted by: ryanshaw9572 (Aug 20, 2019 06:29PM)
I saw a homeless man performing magic outside my dorm, and he was a decent story-teller. If anyone is ever compelled to give to homeless people maybe keeping a few $5 gift cards to fast food restaurants would be better than cash.
Message: Posted by: TomB (Aug 30, 2019 08:41AM)
[Quote] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AUBTAdI7zuY [/quote]

We have a lot of fake homeless people and they collect money and then go home. When I saw that guys coat, I thought it was too nice for a homeless person. My guess is if they followed him around some more, he would have went home.

I usually look at the bums shoes. If they are pretty beat up, they probably are homeless.

I use to give to homeless people when I saw them in downtown, but realized quickly most of them were driving to events to beg for money.

I would rather give money to food shelters where the homeless folks can go and get food. Churches historically have helped the poor too.

I use to be in favor of giving people jobs like cutting lawns or painting fences but too many bad things have happened in the world and I am less trusting to strangers now.

If I eat in a downtown area and take home a doggy bag, you would be surprised that bums turn down the doggy bag. I know its humiliating getting someone else's food, but if you are starving you would take it.

But now these homeless invaded cities have a new problem. There is something that happens after they eat. It's a really messy situation.