Tag Archives: United Way

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.


Ten Signs of Child Abuse

Ten Signs of Child Abuse

1. Unexplained injuries. Visible signs of physical abuse may include unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.

2. Changes in behavior. Abuse can lead to many changes in a child’s behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or overly aggressive.

3. Age-inappropriate behaviors. Abused children may display age-inappropriate behaviors, e.g., for older children: thumb-sucking, bed-wetting or fear of the dark.

4. Fear of going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them.

5. Changes in eating. The stress, fear and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.

6. Changes in sleeping. Abused children may have frequent nightmares or may appear tired or fatigued.

7. Changes in school performance and attendance.
Abused children may have difficulty concentrating and have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.

8. Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for and may be wearing unsuitable clothing for the weather.

9. Risk-taking behaviors. Young people who are being abused may engage in illegal activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.

10. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language.

Some signs that a child is experiencing violence or abuse are more obvious than others. Trust your instincts. Suspected abuse is enough of a reason to contact the authorities. You do not need proof.

IF YOU SUSPECT A CHILD has been abused…


• Keep calm.
• Believe the child.
• Show interest and concern.
• Take action. It can save a child’s life.


• Panic or overreact.
• Pressure the child.
• Confront the offender.
• Blame the child.
• Overwhelm the child with questions.

If you suspect a child is in danger, call 911 or check with United Way for child advocacy and child protective services and call immediately.

The above information came from Safe Horizon


Who you gonna Call?

Who you gonna Call?  Or perhaps more accurately: How you gonna Call? 

An idea to consider:  cellphoneIt occurs to me that we have a great 9-1-1 system operated by our local governments and a wonderful 2-1-1 system operated by United Way.  I think we all know about 911 but only a few know about 211.    211 is a wonderful system available over about 80% of this country. 

One call will reach a trained operator that will find out what you need in the way of services if you are broke, need a doctor, have mental problems, can’t pay your utilities, or  have virtually any non 911 emergency need that you are unable to meet yourself.  211 calls are typically made by those  with limited resources to pay or find the services they need otherwise.   211 is a referral service only. 

However, the phone companies are removing the phone booths as fast as they can so the option of using a phone booth to make emergency calls  of any kind is disappearing fast.   Most of our homeless cannot afford cell phones and many businesses refuse use of their phones to the public.    

Some homeless (usually parents with children in school) carry cell phones and they can call 911 anytime even if the phone has no minutes or has been discarded and no longer activated.   But…. can they call 211?  Most cell phones can’t, but a few select providers do.  Metro PCS is the provider in the Atlanta area that allows 211 calls from cell phones.   Since the answer is generally NO, then I want to suggest that United Way lobby the cell phone companies to allow free 211 calls for any cell phone even if it is not in service as long as it can get signal, and suggest that we all lobby our Congress to require it.  

Actually I have alredy talked to United Way of Atlanta’s call center director and they are considering the possibilities and welcome my suggestions.    However, this needs to be nation-wide and you need to consider taking up the cause whereever you are located.   As a short-term solution, the local 9-1-1 call centers should be allowed to transfer calls to 2-1-1 at their discretion if there is a need for help that is not a police matter.  

However, if we can get 2-1-1 calling through cell phones with no-service calling features (all you need is signal, not air time), then we could collect and distribute old cell phones for use by the homeless and needy families who could then call 211 as well as 911 without charge and with no cost to them for air time.  There are millions of these old cell phones around.  I know we do that now for emergency use by battered women, but can’t we do this little thing for the homeless too?