San Francisco Citizens Help A Homeless Man Stay In Business

Posted: June 10, 2009 in Bureauacracy, Employment, Government, Homelessness, Hopes, Housing

About a week ago I published a post about Larry Moore – a gentleman who was trying to work his way out of homelessness.

Some six months ago, Mr. Moore started a small shoe-shining business at the corner of New Montgomery and Market Street in San Francisco.

He’d managed to build up some "regular clientele" from folks who work in nearby businesses and office buildings. He had also managed to save up nearly enough to acquire housing.

Then fate threw him a curve ball.  

An article about Mr. Moore in the San Francisco Gate caught the eye of someone from the city’s Department of Public Works. That person went out to Mr. Moore’s makeshift shoeshine stand and informed him that he was required to purchase a "street vendors permit."

The price for the permit: $491.

Almost all of what he had saved.

Although it meant having to put off getting housing for a while longer, Mr. Moore went out of his way to comply with the city.

When a second article in the San Francisco Gate reported that the city had informed Mr. Moore that he needed to acquire a permit, readers took notice and sprang into action.

According to a report from KCBS-5 (Bay Area),

"Hundreds of customers flooded his make-shift stand with shoes and money in hand. The politicians starting show up too, and before you could say ‘Shine Mister,’ Larry had reassurances that the city was ready to help him.

After collecting nearly $1,000 from so many new clients, Moore was finally able to pay his way into some temporary housing."

There are two things which I found wonderfully heartening about Mr. Moore’s story.

First, he was willing to help himself.

Second, the community was more than willing to help. They saw the need and rose to meet the challenge.

In the truest sense, they gave Mr. Moore a hand up – not a handout.

It has been my experience that most folks are basically decent, caring people; willing to lend a helping hand to others. However, too often it seems that we don’t help our local homeless. But, perhaps it’s more because we don’t know exactly what we ourselves can do to make a difference rather than because we just don’t care.

I believe there are a number of reasons for this.

On the one hand there are the many misconceptions and stereotypes associated with homelessness.

These are so deeply ingrained within our societal mindset that it becomes easy to focus on the condition and fail to see the person beneath the disheveled exterior.

There is also the belief that government and private organizations are doing everything necessary to "deal with homelessness." Most folks simply do not realize that there is actually a lack of adequate services available to assist the homeless get off the streets. Nor, do they recognize that community involvement is vital if we truly want to end homelessness.

That’s why reading about Mr. Moore was so uplifting.

It was people working together to reach a common good; offering community support. And, it was about folks reaching out to offer a fellow citizen the gift of hope.

As Mr. Moore says,

"Don’t give up, there’s always hope. And that’s my biggest thing – there’s always hope for every individual."

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