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. 



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