Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Panhandler Scams This Holiday Season

New scams have been hitting the streets of Roanoke but they aren't really new per-say, just been placed into the spotlight. I'm talking about parking lot scams, you may have heard about them, someone is in the parking lot of a store or gas station and they claim they are broke down, they need money because they ran out of gas or they're looking for cab fair money to get to the other-side of Roanoke.

These once over scams have become more of an issue in recent months and many of you have spoken out about it.Today I'm going to share with you just a few of the more popular scams that have hit the Roanoke Valley so you can be aware of them during this holiday season.

#1. Need Gas Money

Many have reported locally that people will come up to you at gas stations like the Kroger at Cave Spring or the Valley View Kroger gas pumps asking for money. The scam goes something like this:

You get out of your car and your starting to get your gas, a person approaches and they state they need a few bucks in gas money in order to get going again. more times than none, the scam involves the person car or truck and it's parked at the pump.

The idea is for you to give them a few dollars to feel sorry for them and if money is given they head towards the storefront in order to "put X amount on the pump" they are located at. However, what they do instead is they simply hide in the store or head to the restroom for a few minutes. Once you leave they head back out and do it over and over again.

Sometimes they don't have a car and claim it's down the street. More times than none they are simply wanting a drug or booze fix so beware. The best thing you can do is just say you don't have any cash.

#2. Car "Broke" Down Scam / Family Traveling Scam

We actually had this scam roll through Vinton and Valley View mall not too long ago. A family and
usually a minivan, this scam involves a family being parked towards the rear of a parking lot with the family hanging out or playing around the van with the mother while the father holds a sign asking for 'gas' food or anything to help them fix their van.

The idea here is a play on your emotions, you know..... for the kids. What the kids there don't realize is that they're being pawned as a father, whom most times is simply a relative, works the scam. They are banking that you will see the kids and help them just to get them out of the cold or the hot sun if its in the winter time.

I mean how convenient that they just happen to have a sign as they came to the mall stating they had no gas, food, etc.

Normally, more times than none, these families are traveling gypsy like people, the van has out of state plates and they travel the US doing this scam for as long as they can in any given area. Check out this video below of a guy who calls out a family knowing that they are scamming others.

#3. Fake Panhandler Scams

 People like these are regulars, you can often spot them in the same locations over and over again until people wise up and realize that they're a sham. Many have mental issues like the guy that set the 711 on fire over the weekend in Salem, if you listen to his videos you can clearly see that he has issues. He was not only homeless but he's been in and out of jail and mental hospitals like Catawba.

How to Best Survive the Holidays

My best advice, DONT  carry cash when you're out shopping this holiday season and do not give people any money, no matter how sorry you feel for them.

Yes, there ARE people in REAL need.

If you want to make a difference, give to a local charity, we have plenty here in SWVA including our own Blessing Bag Program. Make sure they're a 501c3 nonprofit and listed with GuideStar before you give a donation of any amount.

Want to help out another way, click on an advertisement at the top of this article, it helps put a few cents into the bag program.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Panhandling and the First Amendment

Known Scammer; has an apartment, social security and isn't disabled.
Over the last few years many civil groups have stepped up for panhandlers using our first amendment, Freedom of Speech in order to circumvent the local municipal laws in many cities and areas. Sadly, this has  created a new issue, one of many people scamming everyday citizens on street corners, flooding areas with an increase in those wanting a handout and the like. (Trust me Ive seen this first hand since I study panhandling and the issues it creates here in Roanoke)

As I've discussed before, you can actually fight panhandling without any laws, legally and rightfully, but today I wanted to talk about the overall effects this loophole has created within our communities.

Panhandling Population Increase

Since many people use the Freedom of Speech as a way to circumvent the laws, there has been a panhandling population increase within our area. This has created an issue with people feeling safe, not to mention it creates a "turf" issue among those trying to get your cash.

As the panhandling population has increase, everyday pass byer's see more of them, which actually effects the panhandlers bottom line. See if you are going to fall for someone being on the side of the road with a sign, then you are only going to have so much to hand out. If you see 5 panhandlers in a given day, chances are you are going to give that cash to the first or second one you see, leaving the other 4 with your cash.

Now those panhandlers are not dummies, they're street smart. What do they do? Simple, they move on after an hour or two often trying another location that isn't providing them with enough cash.

Another side effect of too many panhandlers is that it creates sort of a are turf issue. Sometimes panhandlers become aggressive among each other, many carrying knifes or weapons with them, that's something that a locally known panhandler admitted on social media earlier in the summertime.

Sense of Entitlement and Enabling

As we've talked about many times, giving cash to someone that's trying to get it from you enables them. When you hand out a few bucks, you might not think its a lot and you're right, but when you combine that with 10-20 other cars that also hand out cash on a given day, it's actually a lot of tax free money that the panhandler doesn't have to claim on their taxes (if they even do them).

Many that stand have a sense of entitlement, feeling like YOU the driver should give them money because of whatever excuse they have.

Much like a child, if you enable them by rewarding them (giving them cash) they are more likely to continue to stand out there and others will want to try the same thing, after all you're handing out free money, so why not?

Tourism is Effected

Roanoke, a small southern city with friend people, lot of outdoor activities, Mill Mountain Star, Downtown Roanoke at the Farmers market, the Blue Ridge Parkway, that down to earth home feeling. Sounds wonderful right? Well, it should be.

Then enter panhandlers.

Not just one, but 80+ (and its been growing since 2016). That's how many unique individuals we've spotted in the last year alone, just in the Star City.

Would you want to visit an area where there are tons of people just asking you for cash all the time?

I doubt it. (If you are please contact me, I'd gladly take your money here, haha)

Many Tourism and marketing departments are trying hard to promote great, local communities all throughout the United States, being plagued with people all throughout them asking for your cash make areas look trashy and not to mention the trash they leave behind too.

Business is Effected

When tourism is effected, so are businesses great and small, plain and simple. As we've talked about before, panhandling near area businesses slow down customers and customer growth and also it creates issues with the areas around the business, trash, theft and destruction as in the case of a business on Franklin Rd in Roanoke that we talked about on our Facebook Page.

Scammers vs Those Really in Need

Perhaps the biggest issue is weeding out those that really are in need and those that scam in order to get a dollar. Many panhandlers have figured out that if they intermix with the those that really need the help, they themselves will get your money. Many are quite good at playing the part too.

Sadly for us however, it's hard to figure out who is who.

If you give to a scammer, well you're NOT helping someone in need. 

We've talked about some things to be on the look out for when it comes to those that are in need vs. those that are scamming you, while it's not 100% fool proof, the article should help you size up if you feel needed to give.

It's all about the Cash; Lawyer; Panhandler

It's all about the cash, plain and simple. Panhandlers want it, lawyers get it from organizations and panhandlers that take your cash in the first place.

How would you feel if the cash you gave to someone went to a lawyer that was  taking a local government to court so they could panhandle more-so?

In 2017, I took to the streets myself to panhandle, to see how it was done, how people acted towards me and to see how much cash I could make being aggressive in a few of the most popular areas of the city, man even I was surprised how much I made!

Let's be real, the issue isn't really about Freedom of Speech, its about those involved being able to make money, legally or not. Lawyers are happy to suck in the dollars and panhandlers are happy to stand there and "fly their sign" as they often like to call it and take your cash.

While the First Amendment allows us to have Freedom of Speech, it doesn't give us the right to scam people saying they are homeless when they are not, saying they're a vet when they actually never served and the like. That's preying on you and your piggy bank.

The great thing is that we as citizens have a way to combat issue like panhandling, BUT it takes a village as people say. If you want to stop panhandling in your area of the United States, stop handing out cash. You have to educate people, make citizens aware of the people that scam for a living (it's actually easier that you might think if you just watch for the signs).

Stop the panhandling; simple. Stop handing out the cash.
People think you have to have a law to stop panhandlers, well it's helpful, you really don't need it. Let them stand out there with a sign, just don't give money. if they are aggressive, well that's different, call the police if you are threatened.

As is the case with a local panhandler here, once the internet knew about her and what shes does by scamming others, her source of funding dried up and shes been trying other local area cities for cash. Ironically, it was her own doing that let to her own demise, using a puppy to panhandle and then assaulting someone across the street where she was standing.

My point, stop handing out the cash, they'll move on and you will not have a problem.

Giving to an Organization; NOT a Panhandler

If you want to help out the community, give your cash to an organization that can help those get off the streets. They have MUCH GREATER buying power when it comes to food, clothes and even paying bills than you handing out a few bucks.

Let me give you a couple of examples. The Rescue Mission here in Roanoke. They have such great buying power with national organizations that a dollar, a single one dollar will feed 10 meals to 10 different people.

Our new non-profit, Blessing Bags, has the ability to create a bag filled with 10 items for about $2 (was $5-10 but we've been growing and meeting with companies like Amazon to help us when we do need to buy things). That one dollar will fill half a bag of items for homeless and needy right here in Roanoke.

My point, giving your dollar to someone on the street; could go to something good or something bad like drugs, booze, etc. it's hard to say.

While there are people on the streets in need, it may surprise you that roughly 60% of those panhandling in our area are actually living pretty good, mostly on the generosity of everyday people. Where is their sense of maturity if we are paying for them to live a lifestyle that's not considered being homeless?

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

How to Stop Panhandling Without the Law

Well hello friends, I hope that you are all doing well!

Panhandling, people standing on corners, "flying their sign" and asking for your money.

Over the course of the last two years that I've been involved in helping panhandlers get off the streets and showing the public those that are just after your money tax free, educating everyday citizens about the effects of giving a couple of bucks and how that can become more money than you make in a year, we've seen positive change!

While we're starting to see an effect in Roanoke and surrounding communities, I wanted to talk about the root of the problem and how YOU as a citizen can join together as a community and stop panhandling from overtaking your streets and your neighborhoods without use of having a law.

The Simple Step to Stop Panhandling

You may have heard me state it many times in my articles, speaking events, Facebook posts, etc. but the one simple key to stop people from panhandling is to stop the cash flow.

If you stop handing out cash; they will stop panhandling. 
Yes, its true. One of the reasons that people panhandle in the first place is because people hand them cash, it's called enabling. When you enable someone for behavior, be it good or bad, you are rewarding them for what they are doing and thus, it makes them feel as if what they are doing is a good thing.

As long as people will hand them cash (and the cash flow is enough for whatever they are seeking, be it drugs, booze or to cover funds to live a normal lifestyle) they will be there. And with good reason too....

Say that you work a normal job, a 9-5 like most Americans do. You get a wage every couple weeks or once a month. You work hard for what you do typically.

Now lets pretend that you just wake up one day and people feel badly for you because you held a sign. People started giving you cash, enough to cover what you make working that 9-5. While you might be standing there, it's easy free money. Why would you work a job to make the same when you can manipulate peoples emotions and make a quick buck?

Enabling people keeps them doing what they do, thus why panhandling has become a problem, we, citizens hand out tax free cash to those on corners and they continue to stand there asking for it, it's a cycle.

The Manipulative Play

What I mean by panhandlers and how many can manipulate you is sort of a tricky issue. See, there are REAL people in need that panhandle, however there are MORE that panhandle just to make a living; they simply don't need to panhandle, they choose to do it.

Where the manipulative play comes into effect is the way they dress, what they're sign says and how they come across.

See panhandling within itself is a choice, there ARE programs out there that help the homeless and those in need, trust me, there are plenty in Virginia and beyond. Take Roanoke for example, there are at least 5 dedicated programs for homelessness in our area and many more that support those programs such as our Blessing Bag Program.

If someone has gone through all the programs within that region and has failed them somehow and turned to panhandling, that says there is a problem with the panhandler, not the programs.

Where the manipulation comes into play is much like broadcasting, advertising to be more specific.You see, in marketing there are two methods that can open up ones wallet or pocket book, emotions through the heart and emotions through the wallet.

Emotions through the Heart Strings

This is very simple. You FEEL for them. Panhandlers use signs, pets, sometimes children in order to play on your emotions, to make you feel sorry for them. Advertisers use this alot in the world of television, magazine ads and the internet.

Take any prescription drug ad you might see on TV. Usually, the ad talks about the new drug and the wonders of how it works, some side effects and the like. BUT they are showing you images of happiness, people together smiling, doing activities together. in real life were not all smiles all the time twirling around in slow motion circles, but there is a play going on, an emotional one.

It says, if you use this drug you're life will be happy again. Much is the same about panhandlers. If you give them a couple of bucks, they'll be happy again in life.

While it's true, what you're not seeing is the reality of what they are doing, getting YOU to open your cash-flow to them. You believe that you are helping them get off the streets and you think you are doing good... and you are.... to enable them to get what they need so they can continue to panhandle.

Panhandlers use signs mostly to relay the emotional struggle and most signs are simply lies to begin with. Others, as you may have noticed use pets. Samuel, a known panhandler in the Va Beach area uses his children and minivan in order to score cash. Parked often at a Walmart or other shopping center, they use the "Need gas money and money to feed kids" type signs to get people to bit.

Emotions through Your Wallet 

The other way to get people to open up your wallet or purse is through your wallet. Savings. If you see an item that you through about buying but didn't there might be good cause, it's too expensive for your taste.

Where the emotion comes into play is the item being on sale. 30% off for example.

Take a look at the image below, which fridge would you purchase if you had to choose between the two?

The ONLY difference in the fridge and the ad (found on Lowe's website btw) is the price. One ad shows it being on sale while the other lists the MSRP price. Only a stupid person would buy the full price one on the right. It's a simply marketing ploy to get you to buy the one on sale. In the world of business, sale items might seem like a wonderful thing and they can be, but the sale item would also be an overstocked model, one that doesn't sell very well or one they are trying to get rid of because of known issues. Either way, paying $1699 is better than paying $2299 for the same thing. Sales, promotions, BOGO's are all examples of emotions to the wallet. This part has nothing to do with panhandling but I wanted you to be aware of the two differences, heart and wallet emotions that is.

How to Stop Panhandling In Your Area

While we tend to focus on South Western Virginia, can be applied nationwide.

While some people argue panhandling is Freedom of Speech, let them argue that. If you want to beat them at their own game, educate people into stop giving out cash. TRUST ME, if the cash flow stops, panhandlers will stop too.

Think about it like this. Say you had a yard sale in your home. You setup tables, put your items out there, put up flyers, Facebook event and you setup everything just right.... and NO ONE shows up. Would you keep having your yard sale, all day? All weekend? Actually, most people will shutdown early if they see no one shows up and actually buys stuff. However, if you had alot of people and a steady flow of foot traffic and people buying your stuff, you'd keep it going as long as people are buying stuff. Companies operate the same way.

Education is Key

Education is key here in the panhandling issue. Educate your friends, neighbors and family. Some will listen, some will simply complain. However if enough people join together and pledge not to give cash, panhandling will stop.

You can make use of this website. We encourage you take pictures and alert others where panhandlers might be located at to educate them. We also do speaking engagements through our non-profit, Blessing Bag Program for a donation.

Share our website or Facebook Group with your friends and family. 

If You WANT to Donate

There are plenty of local and national non-profits that focus on those that are truly homeless and needy.  They are able to literally stretch a dollar MORE than you can by handing out a couple of bucks. I highly recommend that you donate to those groups or better yet, if you can donate your time to volunteer or both!

For the Doubters and Complainers

If you have those that give you a hard time about making a post about panhandlers or if someone is uneducated about the issue, read up on how to address the doubters and complainers.

While a law is helpful, it's really not needed if you can setup and address panhandling within your own area. It might take a while for it to take effect but trust me, when people join together and stop handing out cash, people will suddenly find themselves with a cleaner, safer and better looking city.

Be sure to click on an advertisement on our website here, 100% of our ad revenue goes to the Blessing Bag non-profit that we run.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Panhandling is an Addiction

If you study panhandling like I have done over the last year, one occurring theme seems to continue to pop up, they continue to do it. But why? The question has been in the foremost of my mind while I've been educating friends and our community, taking the next steps in our blessing bag program and paving the way for communities to help fight against panhandling within their own communities.

It's a Cycle

The main reason why people panhandle, it's free money. Sadly people have an attitude that doesn't question why one may be standing on the corner of the road and they give money in the first place.

What they are really doing is enabling the person to stand there more-so, rewarding them for standing there by giving a couple of bucks, no matter what the circumstance that put them there in the first place.

Instead of getting the help that they need through local organizations that are designed to help them get back into society, many offer reasons why they can't get the help or they refuse to follow the conditions set forth by the organizations to begin with, thus physiologically justifying standing on a corner.

Now I've talked about how much a panhandler can typically make and I myself went out on the streets of Roanoke earlier this year in order to see how much money I could make myself pretending to be a panhandler.  The reality of the situation is that if you know how to panhandle on a professional level, you can actually make a lot of money and scam a lot of citizens at the same time.

Here in Southwestern Virginia we have panhandlers that literally travel from the New River Valley to Roanoke and Lynchburg each week, riding the Smartbus in order to "fly their sign", a term used by people seeking to get cash in hand. Don't be fooled by these people, many are actually NOT homeless, they acquire disability, they are able to work a job (if they can stand out all day asking for your cash, trust me, they can work they just choose NOT too) and many have bank accounts that would make you angry if you knew how much money they had because they tug at your heart strings.

The Physiology Behind Aggressive Panhandlers

Most aggressive panhandlers believe they are entitled to ask for a handout. Yes, a handout. They would rather stand there and collect money rather than work, as work is beneath them. Many feel entitled that society should pay for their woes in life rather than get over them.

Many do have mental health issues and many are narcissistic and believe they were put there for members of the community to take pity on them and give them a handout.

It's much like a child pouting because they got caught with their hand in the cookie jar and they're using the emotions to convene the next door kid to give them a cookie instead.

Sadly, they are playing with your emotions and winning.

The two main ways that people open their wallet is through the heart or through cost savings. Since panhandlers don't offer a service or product, they use the heart to try and pry open your wallets and purses.

The most effective way is through a sign. Using the words 'homeless' and 'God Bless' tend to invoke emotional responses that most can relate too. Combined with worn out clothing, sometimes a pet in tow and a look as if you haven't showered in a few days makes for a convincing story as you passby.

Even After Jail Time

Even after serving jail time, sadly aggressive panhandlers will continue to be out in the mist of the median or curb asking for your money. Many will never stop as long people continue to hand them cash.

If there is a FREE money flow source, panhandlers will be there. Afterall, the community started it by allowing them to stand in the first place and beg.

The people that are truly in need of help will never seek panhandling as a first resort, they will usually tend t the more normal routes, such as unemployment, seeking other means of work, working with their landlord or mortgage people on loans, loan deferment, and so forth.

Most people that panhandle KNOW they are get away with it and sadly they CHOOSE to panhandle most of the time. Now that's not to say that some that panhandle are bad or not in need, some are in real need of help and they've through the ringer to get to the point where they have nothing left but to panhandle.

Its the aggressive ones often lie about why they are out in the first place, thus giving most a bad name.

So What Can I Do to Help?

The best thing you can do is simple.

Stop giving money. If the flow of cash dries up, panhandling as you know it WILL stop. 

Now, I want you to understand, some panhandlers are truly in need of assistance and don't know where else to turn too. That being said, its very hard (unless you study them over a period of time) to figure out who needs help and who's helping themselves to your cash.

The main reason people panhandle is for the money in your pocket. Now, they could use it for a number of different things both good or bad and honestly, you find a mixture of both. It's really hard to tell these days WHO is in need and who is not.

Other things that you CAN do in order to help combat panhandling include educating your friends, family and neighbors. If Our community wants to stop the problem, stop enabling them by giving them cash.

We have several programs right here in the Roanoke Valley that actually work with those that are truly homeless, truly needy and those that are seeking assistance. There shouldn't be any reason why someone is standing on the corner begging for money.

Help show the community that we care by making a difference. We ask that you volunteer in our Blessing bag program and make a donation to the cause. You can learn more at the blessing bag program website. 


Monday, July 3, 2017

Panhandling Secrets They DONT Want You to Know

Look for these Panhandling Secrets so YOU Don't Get Scammed

A few years ago there was a man right herein the Roanoke Valley that would panhandle over in the Tanglewood mall area, at the off ramp intersection of 220 and Franklin Road. Even today, its a pretty popular spot among those trying to get some free money.

The man in question kept getting around pretty well, so much in fact that some citizens noticed he would get into his new BMW and drive away. That man, who has sense them moved out of the area, was making over $60,000 a year ALL tax free.

Richard, as he was known to many in the area, played a great image of being a panhandler. Today, many of the "professionals" out there have created some well know tips in order to help maximize their appearance and demeanor as well as pull at your emotions to WANT to give money. He was finally arrested over near the Tanglewood KFC and sentenced because of some other crimes that he had been doing.

Today, I'd like to share a few of these tips so you will be able to help better spot a fake person in need verse someone that really does need the help in the first place.

Look the Part

Looks are one of the most important aspects of panhandling. You make thousands of instant impressions and you need to be aware of the fine line between looking needy and looking scary. Certainly, being clean and looking happy does not help people justify to themselves to give you money.

But swinging too far to the disheveled and miserable appearance can be unapproachable for many. One of the biggest turn-offs for would-be donors is if you appear to be on drugs, so avoid manic looks. Find the happy medium where you look needy but not desperate.

Many panhandlers remove their shoes, wear baggy clothing, and do not shave or trim their hair.

Have a Unique Message

You may be thinking, how can a panhandler read these tips to be more successful if they are out begging on the street? You may be surprised at how many have smart phones. There is even one panhandler known for taking credit cards with his smart phone!

But these tips are not for them- they are living that life already. These tips are for you, and you may need these tips in a personal financial crisis or during a widespread financial collapse. This is where a unique and cohesive message is important. If millions of beggars are taking to the street to fight over the same scraps and change, what will set you apart?

You need to hone a unique message to beat the competition. Entertaining signs, patriotic flags, and other methods of presenting a unique message are all fair game. Being very relevant to a niche is more important in these cases than being relevant to all. In areas where multiple panhandlers are competing, the stronger messages and presentation win out.

Know the Area Laws

Smart professional panhandlers will know and understand the laws so they can work around them. Not all areas of the United States are the same and it's up to the local government to make and enforce these laws if there are any.

However, in 2016 in a federal case against the city of Charlottesville and a well known panhandler there,  it was ruled that panhandling is a part of being freedom of speech, allowing many of them to freely stand on any given corner and "Fly Their Sign" as panhandlers often call it.

Many cities are coming up with new laws to work around the freedom of speech, such as not standing in the median of a street or fining those drivers that donate cash to a panhandler.

The Ultimate Rule, Giving People What THEY Want

Whether you’ve heard this sung by the O’Jays in the 70s or the Kinks in the 80s, it is sound business advice. 

People give money to beggars and panhandlers to fulfill a need of their own. 

Religion, moral obligation, and personal connection are all major factors to why people feel compelled to give to those in need. Having your message and appearance revolve around your audience is important. Religious signs are very successful in certain regions and veteran signs are successful in others. 

Remember, that a panhandler, is not getting money for free. 

They are providing an experience to the people giving, and a fulfillment to one of their needs that may be as simple as doing a good deed for the day. Sadly, this is an emotional play in order to live a nice, tax free lifestyle for many. 

As long as people are not educated about the reality of people panhandling and how little of them are homeless or in need, people will continue to give. 

The real problem is that these scammers get in the way of those that are truly in need and wanting to seek help. What is really happening is that there are wolves in sheep clothing, people that prey on your emotions in order to live, putting cash in their hands and leaving the ones that are in need, still in need.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Types of Panhandlers

Types of Panhandlers

Now that our group has reached nearly 2,800 members and our Blessing Bag Program is becoming a reality, funded by you the members of our group, I wanted to switch gears a bit and talk about the various types of panhandlers that you may come across.

Believe it or not, there are a few different types and today I'd like to share them with you.

Traditional Panhandler

This is a person who it truly down on their luck and they have turned to panhandling as a way of being able to support themselves, temporarily.

Usually, a traditional panhandler is a local person that has lost their job, sometimes they are simply looking for a habit fix and they need money to purchase or they truly need assistance.

Unlike the other types of panhandlers, these people will panhandle for a month or two at most before stepping back into society. Sadly however, these are also the rarest type of person on the streets asking for money.

Aggressive Panhandler

An aggressive panhandler is someone whom is seeking your cash but they do it in a way that is literally aggressive. Use of things like children, empty gas cans, animals such as a dog, walking up to your vehicle while stopped, trying to strike up conversations and the like, these panhandlers usually have done this more long term and you will usually see them at a given location for an hour maybe two, them you will see them again at a new location shortly there after.

An aggressive panhandler will usually travel within a city at 3-5 places at any given day.

These are also the most dangerous as they tend to be verbal and they tend to attract more attention to themselves than the other types of panhandlers.

Road Traveler

A road traveler is a panhandler that wants to live a minimal lifestyle while traveling the country. Usually, these are usually educated people or those that tend to have a more open lifestyle than most, they will travel for 6 months or longer, just living one day at a time. 

These types of panhandles will live off of the money you give them, buying food or other needed items while making their way from on area of the United States to another. They rarely do drugs or alcohol and often have a pet with them. 

Road travelers do come through Roanoke usually for a day or two at most, then continue on their way. They are much like a hitchhiker, but they have no true destination until they are ready to return to society. 

Scammer or Skimmer

Mostly called "skimmers", they typically "fly their sign" and are full time regulars. You see them day in, day out, month after month, year after year. 

They scam people into believing they are homeless or in need, but rather they live in a permanent residence, often times living a lifestyle equal to or better than middle class. Some have drug or alcohol habits. 

Some drive new cars, appear to be handicapped but aren't, have smart phones, cable TV, they often times will get government assistance and they have fairly large bank accounts as they can make large sums of tax free cash on any given day.

They trick you into believing they are in need but they actually are not. They tend to be street smart and somewhat educated formally but they also carry an ego, a sense of entitlement for being out there taking peoples cash, almost narcissistic in nature.

Sometimes they can be aggressive but mostly they are just full time professional panhandlers that know how to get money from coming drivers. 

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Why you SHOULD care about Panhandlers

Why you SHOULD care about Panhandlers

I get it, peoples point of view I mean and I hear it alot. Many people I've spoken too about panhandling over the last couple of years usually fall into one of two categories, the supporters and the ones that oppose panhandling.

While many people say things like "Just ignore them" or "they aren't hurting you, leave them alone", it's usually those people that have not really thought much about the issue at hand and how it actually effects them just as much as the next person.

Today, I want to share some insights with you that may open your mind and make you think about the issue a bit further.

You just Hate the Homeless

Okay look, again homelessness and panhandling rarely coincide with each other. Just because you are homeless doesn't mean you panhandle or vise versa so please get your facts straight before you start ranting and raving on social media.

The Blue Ridge Continuum of Care is a report from the Blue Ridge Interagency Council on Homelessness that has taken a snapshot in time if you will about our homeless population. That report shows that less than 2% of the regions homeless population panhandles, yes less than 2%. 

SO when you speak about someone being a homeless hater I want you to realize that you're speaking out of context. MOST people lump homelessness and panhandlers into a group, poverty.

TRUST me when I say that a lot of known panhandlers right here in our area make some serious bank, check out this recent article I wrote about how much you can make being a panhandler or check out my own personal findings when I panhandled for just a few hours and made over $100!

Just Ignore Them 

Sure, you could just ignore them, but they are human beings like you and I.

If you're ignoring a panhandler, how are you helping the situation?

Ignoring panhandlers simply tells the community that you don't really care who's on the corner and you don't care about the community. Well you should and here's why.

If you are a tax paying citizen, you are paying the police that nudge them along, you are paying the cleaning crews to pick up the trash, needles and beer bottles they often leave behind at a given median, you're also paying into the courts, jails, law enforcement officers that write tickets, put them in jail, the people doing all the paperwork, etc. And for the ones that stay in jail, your tax bucks are paying for that too.

A LOT of people simply do not know any better by giving cash, in their mind they are believing they are helping that person. In reality however, when you give cash, you are just enabling them to stand more, which in turn shows others they can too and the cycle begins.

Leave them Alone

You could leave them alone, but how is that helping them get off the streets and how is that cleaning up our beautiful city?

Many panhandlers have mental issues, yes. We also have a slue of free resources right here in the Roanoke Valley that can help the ones that WANT to get off the streets and back into society. The ones that WANT to panhandle, want an easy tax free way out of life on your dime.

We also have many panhandlers that take the free money and live off of it. Drugs, booze, paying for cars, rents, food and living a lifestyle that sometimes is equal too or better than you or I.

As long as people give money to panhandlers, they will continue to be out asking for cash. 
Roanoke was NEVER an hotbed with panhandlers until recently. DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS TO BECOME THE NORMAL FOR OUR SMALL CITY? 

They're not Hurting Anyone

Well actually they are to a point. When you look for a place to live, do you want to be near a known panhandler hot spot?

Trying to get to Nashville, got the last 3 months, same spot.
Would the value of your home go up if there are people standing on the street corners there all the time?

If you own a home and support panhandlers, then I would encourage you to allow them to stand in your property to ask for money.

I'm pretty sure you would feel uncomfortable about them standing in your yard asking for cash.

Well, what about those that walk in parking lots asking for cash? Are you going to give the same people cash each time you shop at Kroger, Walmart or the like?

And what about safety? Did you know that many of them carry knifes or weapons?

We recently had a well known panhandler (Cheryl, who admitted on social media she carries a large knife) in our area attack a citizen just because he was there filming her. Sure, she might have been mad at that, but it's our right to record on a public street corner anything that is in public view. It's the same with her being out there on that corner, you didn't see someone attack her over standing there.

My point is that Roanoke was once a beautiful and lovely city to be proud of, today many businesses have complained about panhandlers and how if effects business (lack thereof), people complain about them coming up to you in parking lots, being aggressive on street corners and even how it effects tourism.

Well, the Bible Says...

Listen, I'm  Christian. The bible says LOT's of things both about how you shouldn't judge people sure, BUT it also says a LOT about how you shouldn't just be silent when you see a thief or liar either. You can find a lot of verses about fraud here.

What you see as judging, I see as simply alerting others in our community about the true nature of the person panhandling. This is NOT a religious issue, but rather an issue of the community and it's morality.

And for those that state they don't know their situation when it come to panhandling, well don't be so sure. I work with a lot of organizations here that can pretty much tell us everything about the person, from them being on disability, where they live, how long they've been panhandling, if they are a drug or alcoholic abuser and so forth.

While its one thing to call them out, it's another to point blank state they are a bad horrible person, something we don't do or encourage within the group. There are situations on social media when people do go overboard with a panhandler sure, but those people are not part of this group.

You're Just a Hater...

Well, simply put yes and no at the same time. It's not the people that we hate, its what they do and the scams and lies behind them.

Yes, you should hate that we have a lot of aggressive panhandlers and yes you should hate that most of them live nicely off tax free money.

After all, I work, most of you work and you don't see us standing on corners doing the same. It makes Roanoke look bad, it's our community, shouldn't you care about your neighbors?

If you state you're homeless but you're really not, which is most likely the case, then you are scamming (lying to) people emotionally for cash. Tips on how to tell a real panhandler from someone who does it full time.

So, yes we hate panhandlers on that extent.

And no, we don't hate them either. They are people just like you and I. We're NOT haters of homeless people, we hate those that abuse panhandling to make a career out of it.

Finally, if you still feel like you don't really care about panhandlers and giving them cash, donate to our Blessing Bag Program instead. If you're handing out cash to everyone on the street corners, give it to our program instead. At least you will know that it wont go to booze or drugs.

Blessing Bags are a local program that helps give items to homeless or needy within our area each month.

IF we were haters then why do we run a program to HELP the homeless and needy in our area?


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