“Foxes have dens, and birds have nests. But the Son of Man doesn’t have a place to call his own.” —Jesus

MY UPCOMING ARTICLE FOR THE TECUMSEH TRIBUNE

Mark Boscariol, proprietor of Chanoso’s, Oishii and The Room in downtown Windsor is floating the notion in the local media that we can rid the streets of panhandlers if we simply stop giving them money. He paints a pretty picture of panhandling, suggesting that some of those people who work the streets are making $20 an hour. Mr. Boscariol said that “A few of them say they don’t want to work because they’re making more money doing this, because Windsorites are generous.”  He further says that 80 % of those panhandlers use the money for alcohol and drugs. This reminds me of the story of the man who was walking into the liquor store when approached by beggar looking for cash; “are you kidding? I’m not giving you money. You will just spend it on alcohol.”

Mr. Boscariol has a solution. Donation boxes for the poor, in places like his restaurant presumably, should be made available. The money from those boxes can be used to feed the panhandlers indirectly. The key word here is indirectly. Let’s get honest here. The real concern here is that those who panhandle are ‘unsightly.’ They are a ‘nuisance.’ They get in the way of business. People might be driven to go to the burbs to eat rather than face downtown streets where they have to come into ‘direct’ contact with these ‘undesirables.’ We are happy to help those people as long as we do not have to speak with them or see them.

People have been poor and people have been begging since Jesus walked the earth and even before (Jesus in fact declared, ‘you will always have the poor with you.’)  I would suggest that if Mr. Boscariol does not want his patrons to come in contact with the poor, he should move his business to an exclusive area, perhaps a gated community will do. While I applaud the idea of a collection box for the poor, the homeless, and the destitute, I must say that this just smacks of a culture of excess which again and again wants to remove any sign of poverty, suffering or pain. The truth is we have to face poverty and we have to deal with its root causes. In the meantime I want to float an idea:

I propose that one day a month Mr. Boscariol host a day where he feeds the hungry at his establishments. He can use the funds that he collects at the ‘dropbox’ at say Chanoso’s. He may have to throw in a buck or two as well. One day every month he will open his doors to all the homeless. This will address his concerns; people will not be giving their money directly to the panhandlers, the money gets used for food and not alcohol, and the homeless are given the dignity of a nice meal in a great restaurant. I’ll even come help serve to keep staff costs down. Good idea?