Does feeding the homeless really make a difference?
There are Oklahoman's who give food to people on the street when they see them on the corner. And there are Oklahoman's who have established charitable organizations to help those who are hungry and living outside. There are also Oklahoman's who work at nationally recognized charities like the Salvation Army who help the homeless with food, shelter and hope. And, Oklahoman's who get together casually and drive downtown once a week to hand out sack lunches. Others hand out hot dogs. And this week, I covered a man who donates nearly 500 slices of pizza every other week to feed those who are hungry in the Mid-town area.
But recently, I looked at it from a different angle.
There's a place called The Refuge. It's an old run-down apartment building in the middle of Oklahoma City's skid row that was functioning as a crack house. Several months ago, the building's owner moved in and decided to renovate the apartments so that more affluent people would move in. And that is exactly what's happening now. Young people and even young families are renting out apartments at The Refuge and living among the neediest people in Oklahoma. They call it "intentional living". These people have cars and jobs unlike many of the homeless in the area. But they moved in so that they can bring accountability to the neighborhood. They say they're giving hope to those who are hopeless.
When I was interviewing the residents at The Refuge, they said they see a lot of Oklahoman's come down to the area to drop off food, and then leave. Many staying in the area for only the few minutes it took to pass out the meal before it was gone.
Since I've taken on the Making a Difference series, I've seen dozens of groups/people/charities who feed the homeless. I've put many of the philanthropists on television talking about why they felt compelled to help. And it seems like there are so many people who travel downtown to pass out food on West California Avenue, that one of the men or women living down there could potentially have a meal every day of the week.
So, does passing out a meal really make a difference in the lives of the homeless? Will living among them help? And what would you be willing to do?