Tag Archives: Respect

Drive By Missions

Drive By Missions 

I was surprised this morning that one of my posts, “Homeless Veterans – An Overview of the Problem” had suddenly taken off.   More than 30 times as many viewers as is normal for the past month.   Then I became a little curious and checked my StatCounter site and found that all but a very few, more than 90 percent registered a “0 second” visit time.   Uh Oh – “Drive By Viewing“.   A commercial site had mentioned, with all good intentions, that this was a good post and therefore highly recommended it.    I looked up the site.  Every click on my site for that post was referred back to an advertisement for the host service, not the site recommending mine.

That site is being charged 5 cents per click.  They are being charged “through the nose” for the clicks they send me, but they apparently are mostly not real clicks.   Perhaps 1 in 10 are actually visiting my site, but the host is sending me clicks for every visitor that clicks on their site and I get fake views and the site gets charged a nickel per view, fake or real.   The person that recommended me thinks he/she is doing good in their recommendation, and I’m appreciative for the 10% that actually look in, but it is mostly drive-by accounting on the part of their host that bothers me.  They think they are doing good but I’m getting drive by views.

That made me think about drive by missions – mission trips to the homeless that are, in effect, drive by missions- well intentioned but mostly fake.   I’m talking about the many that want to help out, but do so from the window of their car, or a few steps outside.   They drive up, hand out a small baggie of goodies and then take off, looking for another homeless person to mission to, all the while feeling good about themselves.

The homeless person looks up from his bench and sees a half dozen well dressed people headed his way and thinks “Uh Oh – Drive By Mission“.    Within a few seconds, he is handed a baggie with comb, soap, wash cloth, and maybe a candy bar or two; the baggie often stapled to a religious tract.   A few halting words, a “God Bless You!” and they are off.  “They didn’t even ask my name!”  

The same people would not toss a few coins in the cup of a panhandler nor offer to buy a sandwich for a homeless person outside of a McDonalds.   Nor would they actually engage a homeless person in small talk.  Too much to ask.  But collectively they get up enough courage to take a token gift to a few homeless people they find as they drive around.  That way their fellow group members all get to know how good they each are and they feel they have done their duty for the year, all the while exercising safety in numbers. 

Helping the homeless is much more than that.  It means being active in an organization that helps the homeless or picking the homeless up and bringing them to church, asking them to break bread together (at the same table).  It means donating folding money, it means volunteering at a homeless shelter or going out to the bridges and taking food, clothing, blankets and socks.  It means holding meaningful conversations, finding out what each needs and promising to come back (and actually doing so) on a regular basis.  

It means writing your congressman, your local United Way, your newspaper, and promoting through writing some legislation or program or understanding that benefits the homeless.   It means speaking out to help a shelter remain open or a tent city to remain, or keeping a small encampment from being removed.   It means helping the dislocated homeless when they are chased out of their sanctuary in the woods or under a bridge.  

 It means showing respect and compassion for the homeless and also taking up for them when someone calls them “bums” and promotes “running them out of town.”  It means educating yourself on what causes homelessness, what works and what doesn’t work, and making sure the city and/or county leaders know your position and expectation that they will find a way to help.  Sometimes it means riding around in a church bus or van on cold nights and rounding up the homeless to take them to a shelter, or knitting hats and scarves for cold winter days, purchasing “sun showers” (solar heated water bags) for camps and also sometimes putting someone up in a motel or rooming house for a period of time. 

I’m sure the homeless are appreciative of the goody bags, sandwich or tract, but there is so much more that could be done if the same people had put the same energy into actually stopping and asking what is needed after some meaningful conversation.   Then supply that need, even if it means serving only half as many drive bys.


Veterans conquer flag restriction

Veterans conquer flag restriction

Veterans don’t give up without a fight. Not when it comes to the flag. On Wednesday, they secured a victory for patriotism with Marietta (Georgia) officials. “I’m ready to fight any of ’em over the flag,” said James Ellis, past post commander of VFW Post 2681 and veteran of World War II and the Korean War.  
Marietta revises safety rule on distribution during parade after public outcry. 

(origianlly posted by the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Veterans don’t give up without a fight. Not when it comes to the flag. On Wednesday, they secured a victory for patriotism with Marietta (Georgia) officials. “I’m ready to fight any of ’em over the flag,” said James Ellis, past post commander of VFW Post 2681 and veteran of World War II and the Korean War.

The skirmish started when city officials told the vets that they couldn’t hand out miniature U.S. flags as they walked alongside their float during the annual Fourth of July parade. Citing safety concerns, the city said the veterans could only give the flags away before the parade starts. But after the story hit ajc.com — and after the city received several e-mails about the squabble — Marietta put out a news release that said the flags could be distributed during the parade. The one hitch: The veterans will have to do it from the sidewalks — among the crowds — and not from the parade route along Roswell Street as they walk next to their “Let Freedom Ring” float. “They will be where the people are,” Marietta city spokesman Matthew Daily said. “They will be on the sidewalk. They will not be able to do it on the street.”

But the veterans are not sure how that’s going to work. Last year’s parade attracted 35,000 spectators.  “It’s going to be hard to do it from the sidewalk because there are going to be a lot of people,” said Leon Dean, the post commander and a veteran of the Korean War. The city cited safety concerns — that someone might run out to grab a flag and get hurt — for its policy.

“It’s not just these guys. No one can pass anything out while the parade is going on,” Maggi Moss, the special events coordinator for Marietta’s parks and recreation department, said early Wednesday. Moss said the policy has been in place for years and that officials were not aware that the veterans were handing out the 3-by-5-inch flags. “Obviously, they have been handing them out very secretively,” she said. No one has ever been hurt during the parade, Moss said. Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn and Officer Mark Bishop will meet with the veterans this morning.  “We are as patriotic, if not more, than most from around here,” said Bishop, who recently returned from an 11-month tour of duty in Iraq with the Navy Reserve. “The bottom line is we want everyone to be safe.”

The parade —the theme this year is One Nation-United — kicks off Wednesday at 10 a.m. from Roswell Street Baptist Church and heads toward Marietta Square.

Update: VFW, Marietta

reach flag detente

By Yolanda Rodriguez
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Published on: 06/29/07

Marietta police Chief Dan Flynn and Marietta’s veterans worked out a compromise on Thursday so they can hand out Old Glory at next week’s parade.The pact: Some members of VFW Post 2681 will walk with other volunteers along Roswell Road handing out the flags before the parade starts.”I understand we put him [Flynn] on the spot too,” said Leon Dean, commander of the post on Thursday.

But some members say they plan to keep on doing what they have done for years.

“I’m walking, baby, and handing flags,” said Rose McDaniel, a member of the post’s Ladies Auxiliary and the incoming chairwoman of its Americanism committee. McDaniel was in the Navy from 1953 to 1957 and her husband, Bill McDaniel, was in the Navy for 22 years.

Citing safety concerns, the city has forbidden the veterans and any other parade participants from handing out anything while they walk in the parade alongside their floats during the Fourth of July parade.

City officials said the VFW members are welcome to hand out Old Glory from the sidewalks among parade viewers. But the veterans say that idea is not practical. Last year’s parade attracted more than 35,000 spectators along a route that is about 1 1/2 miles long.

The veterans maintain that they always have handed out the flags along the parade route without any problems. City officials say the rule has been in place to years and they never knew the veterans were handing out the flags.

Officer Mark Bishop, a police spokesman, said safety is the department’s main concern. “If the issue comes up, then we will address it,” he said.

Respect our flag,
Honor our Troops,
Honor our Veterans

Oldtimer’s Note:  Marietta, Ga. is where I live.  This is my town.  We should be ashamed for ever restricting our flag or prohibiting its distribution.