Another Post About the Homeless in Main Street Garden

I’ve mentioned a few times how much I enjoy Main Street Garden and all the interactions I’ve had there (with those who have homes and those who do not). You’re probably tired of me harping on it. But I have one more story to tell.

When I first moved downtown, I was very aware of the homeless. I carried crackers to give them if they asked for food. And when I ran out of crackers, I would take them to a Starbucks or a pizza place and get them something to eat. This lasted maybe six months. For the past year and a half, I’ve not carried anything on me. I purposely don’t carry cash because then I’m not lying when I tell someone who asks for money that I don’t have anything on me. I can’t remember the last time I’ve taken anyone to get food.

The other night, I took my dog to Main Street Garden so he could do his nightly thing. He got to the park and disappeared around the corner. When I caught up to him, I saw that he was standing in front of a homeless man who was finishing his dinner. My dog was begging for a bite. Embarrassed, I apologized, and rushed up to get Miko to leave the man alone. But the man stopped me. He said he had a lot of chicken and he wondered if he could give Miko some. He then held up half the chicken. I told him that was unnecessary and Miko wasn’t really hungry. But the guy insisted, and I told him he could give him a small piece if he’d like to. He gave Miko a very large chunk of his dinner.

Walking away, I realized how big that small act was. It greatly softened my hardened heart. And, once more, I realized how lucky I am to have a park that allows me to have these interactions I wouldn’t have otherwise.

16 comments on “Another Post About the Homeless in Main Street Garden

  1. One of the things I love most about living downtown is that my neighborhood makes room for the homeless to dwell with some dignity, as opposed to the “family-friendly” “Christian” neighborhoods of Dallas where they would have cops rounding them up or chasing them off immediately if they chose to sit with their belongings in a local park.

    That said, giving them food and money is obviously bad for them. The equivalent of injecting drugs into the arms of a drug addict. They know they have free food, shelter, clothing, etc. available a few blocks away. They seek food and money from people on the streets in order to bypass the basic rules (which are good for them) that come with receiving food and shelter at The Bridge and other homeless shelters.

    Most downtown residents realize this. It’s the suburbanites, tourists, and day workers passing through that give money and food to the downtown homeless. Not because they care at all about the homeless… but simply because it’s a very easy thing to do on their way back to their homeless-banning enclaves.

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Krista.

    For your readers who encounter homeless folks at Main Street Garden or other parts of downtown, it’s important to note that The Bridge, the city’s homeless assistance center, is just a few blocks away at the corner of St. Paul and Corsicana Streets.

    The best thing anyone can do for these disadvantaged people is direct them to The Bridge. It’s a tremendous facility that not only provides meals, shelter and health care to the homeless, but it also helps them find jobs and transition into housing.

  3. @Rangers100 – “Not because they care at all about the homeless… but simply because it’s a very easy thing to do on their way back to their homeless-banning enclaves”

    Do you survey them to determine that they don’t care about the homeless or are you just being a cynical a-hole that generalizes everything in life?

  4. That it meant something to the man, that he asked permission first and the thought that the simple act of giving a dog a bit of food may have allowed for a moment of normalcy or evoked memories of a more pleasant time in the man’s life struck a chord and I’m on the hard-hearted end of the scale.

    As Mr. Merten said, thank for sharing the story.

  5. thanks Krista. That’s a very humane and sensitive act you described, yours and the man’s. thank you.

  6. That’s a helluva nice story. If that won’t make you think, then you need your brain checked. Not to mention your heart.

  7. @Ranger 100 – A homeless man in our neighborhood recently raped and stabbed a 17 year old girl that was waiting for the bus to go to school at 7:30 in the morning. It is a “family-friendly” “Christian” neighborhood.
    The farther the homeless are from the downtown shelter the more dangerous they may be. Also, I would imagine that The Bridge would not exist without the help and drive of those nasty “Christians.”
    @Krista – It is nice to have a caring heart but don’t let your guard down.

  8. so are you know going to go back to carrying cash and crackers for the homeless? are you going to take them to Starbucks again?

  9. @Peterk: I plan on giving to the StreetZine people, and sponsoring one of them. Also, I’ve been thinking about doing Back on My Feet or getting involved with the Stewpot. We’ll see which one I choose. (5:30 a.m. seems early.) Honestly, I probably will take one or two to Subway or Starbucks.

  10. @Dubious Brother — What an amazing leap of logic you have tried to make. I hope that you did not sprain anything doing it. “The farther the homeless are from the downtown shelter the more dangerous they may be”? That is just an incredible statement, I mean, literally, as in, not to be believed. Where could you possibly come up with this?

  11. Krista, I have friends at Back on their Feet, who love it. let me know if you want an intro to some of them

  12. @Bob – At the downtown shelter the homeless are provided with food, shelter and services to help them get back to being self sufficient. The problem for some of the homeless at The Bridge, no drugs or alcohol. The homeless that don’t want to go to The Bridge don’t want the rules. That is why they are not downtown and it is the drugs and alcohol that can make them a danger. No sprain on my part, I see them everyday. I am old enough to have buried enough people due to drugs and alcohol to know.

  13. @Krista thank you for this touching reminder of the humanity in all of us. We’d love to have you at Back on My Feet’s Team Bridge! We start at 5:45 a.m., not 5:30 – huge difference! ;)

    A few things:
    I also try to buy a Street Zine whenever I can. I think its a great cause.

    Sam’s right- The Bridge is a wonderful establishment and has helped decrease crime by 38% in the Central Business District since it opened.

    You should always be aware of your surroundings and think of safety/street smarts no matter where you are or who you are around.

    In reading the comments, I’m saddened by characterizations of entire groups of people. It’s not accurate to judge all individuals currently experiencing homelessness as criminals, just as it’s inaccurate to characterize all Christians as uncaring or any group of people based on a few.

    At Back on My Feet, I’ve met people from all walks of life who are currently homeless. Some are recovering addicts, some may have mental or physical illness issues, some are survivors of abuse, some have felonies, some are military veterans and have college degrees. Different stories for different people. As they say at BoMF, while there are so many differences between us, there are many more similarities.

    -Megan, BoMF volunteer and Team Leader at Team Bridge

  14. Krista – fantastic article! Thanks so much for sharing.

    You should absolutely come out and give Back on My Feet a try! In fact, you’ve probably seen us running the streets in the morning. 5:45 may seem early, but I assure you that it’s easy to do once you’ve met the resident members and realize not only the impact you will have on them, but the impact they will have on you. I’ve been running with Team Bridge for over a year, and now have formed friendships with many of the res members. Many of these members have now moved out, have jobs, attend college, and are bettering not only themselves, but others who have been in their same situation.

    Hope to see you out there soon!