Some years ago, in my Professional Capacity, I worked for an extended period at a homeless shelter. My employer had contracted to provide educational services, and I was teaching G.E.D. and basic job skills classes to an indigent population. I learned a great deal while working that assignment; for one thing many of the homeless men I worked with were gainfully employed already, or recently had been, but had nonetheless found themselves penniless and on the street thanks to divorce court and its associated evils. I also found that women make up only about 10-20 % of the homeless population, and that to be a homeless woman you have to have messed up a great deal worse than most of the men who were homeless. Of course, as one would expect, there was also a large portion of that population that had substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Of these, many were veterans, yet trying to get assistance from the VA was an impenetrable maze that nearly always led to a brick wall.
Despite all this, the shelter did a great deal of good for the homeless populace. They had plenty of good food to eat, a safe and comfortable place to sleep, shower and get medical help; they had classes on managing their finances and getting and keeping a job, etc. Once in the system at this shelter they were allowed to live on site for up to two years, so long as they followed a few basic rules…
- No drugs or alcohol. I don’t know about other shelters, but we enforced this rule with surprising rigor considering I worked with a bunch of bleeding heart liberals (most of whom I became somewhat fond of in spite of myself).
- Get a job. If one of the clients was having difficulty getting a job, we would provide one on the campus until they could find one in the community. Many of the businesses in the area were aware of our program, and to their credit were willing to give our clients a chance, so we got some pretty good results.
- If you didn’t have a high school diploma, you had to get a G.E.D. If you had a high school diploma, you had to take financial literacy classes (we used the Dave Ramsey program) and job skills classes, at least until you got a good job.
- No sex offenders, and most especially no pedophiles. This was especially important as we were the only shelter in the area to provide intact family housing… A homeless family did not have to be broken up and sent to different shelters if they got into our facility.
We would, of course, lose clients… Most often due to falling off the wagon with alcohol/drugs.
And then there was Little Kenny.
Little Kenny was bright, personable, and generally pleasant to be around. He was also shiftless, utterly unemployable, and hopelessly addicted to weed. (I had not thought marijuana addiction was a real thing until I met Kenny. Maybe it isn’t a real thing for anyone else… but Little Kenny definitely had the reefer madness in his veins.)
Little Kenny always had an excuse as to why he could not get a job. The number one complaint, over and over again, was that he did not have any clothes to wear suitable for a job interview, and as a result no one would hire him. Such was his perpetual complaint.
Then one day I got a call to my office asking me to come up to the large meeting room at the main building. I arrived to find a Jos. A Bank truck backed up to the building, unloading all manner of clothing. (I do not receive any payment from anyone for what I write here, and certainly no clothing store sponsorships, in case anyone is wondering). There were brand new suits, sports jackets, khakis/slacks, dress and polo shirts of all different sizes. All the garments were brand new and in pristine condition. I do not know for sure, but I imagine it was the previous season’s overstock being removed to make way for new stock, and doubtless the store took a nice tax write-off, but nevertheless I appreciate what they were doing.
I had been called up because, unlike most of the men in the shelter, I had some idea as to how to size a suit, and could help our clients find clothing with a proper fit to make their best possible impression. I spent several hours that day helping indigent men put together well-fitting wardrobes for employment, and I remain grateful to that store and brand for what they did.
But guess who did not show up. Where oh where could Little Kenny, the perpetually insufficiently attired and thus unemployed unfortunate be?
A few hours later, towards the end of my day, Kenny came be-bopping into my classroom. As soon as he saw me, he realized his error in showing up, but it was too late to escape. I (rather forcefully) inquired as to where he had been, and why he had not availed himself of the opportunity to put together a professional wardrobe. I told him of new suits, sport coats, dress shirts, khakis and polos. Little Kenny looked at me aghast, wounded at my transgression against his person. He informed me, with all apparent seriousness, of the insufficiency of the day’s offering. “You gotta know,” he told me, “they didn’t bring me no shoes. How am I supposed to get job with no good shoes?”
I came close to getting in trouble with my own boss that day, and afterward Little Kenny never again darkened my door. I was unsurprised a couple of weeks later to find Little Kenny had been expelled from the campus for a drug violation.
Some time later, driving through downtown, I spied Little Kenny sitting on a street corner with a “will work for food” sign. Shabby, unwashed, and by the looks of him anything but sober, but imperiously secure in his dignity of having turned down a new suit that did not come with new shoes as well.
What can you do?
The missing links….
White supremacist mass shooting… https://theothermccain.com/2022/11/24/yet-another-inconvenient-mass-murder-destined-for-the-medias-memory-hole/
On workin’ with womyn… https://spawnyspace.wordpress.com/2022/11/24/an-employees-burden/
Why are women that way?…. https://sigmaframe.wordpress.com/2022/11/23/jack-on-female-agency/
What women need, not what they want… https://deepstrength.wordpress.com/2022/11/21/trust-attraction-and-the-biblical-female-marital-roles-of-helper-submission-and-respect-part-2/
This is tomorrow’s to-do… https://gunnerq2.com/american-conan-what-is-best-in-life/
The Adam gives thanks… https://pushingrubberdownhill.com/2022/11/24/giving-thanks/
Thanksgiving proves Plato was a fraud…. https://www.scifiwright.com/2022/11/thanksgiving-the-vanity-of-platos-conceit/