Earlier this month ABC News published a story about James Brown, who, after spending three days in a psychiatric hospital in Nevada, was given a one-way bus ticket to California. In their story, ABC calls this practice “patient dumping,” a way for cities or states to rid themselves of homeless and/or the mentally ill by giving them one-way tickets to other cities. And though ABC recently released this story, the practice is not a new one. An Internet search for something along the lines of “shipping/sending homeless people away” will bring up stories and locations ranging from Hawaii to California to Texas.
Such a practice does nothing to end homelessness to help those with mental illnesses. It is a practice that solves nothing. We don’t believe that such a practice occurs in DC, though we do help people buy one-way bus tickets to places as far away as California, but only after verifying that they have a place to live there. Most of the time, they are returning to their families, and we speak with them on the phone to make sure that they are willing to reunite with and house our client. We hope that the practice of sending people away to other cities or states in order to be rid of them ends; helping the homeless is everyone’s responsibility.
There has been much anger toward Michael Jeffries, CEO of clothing chain Abercrombie and Fitch, who issued the following statement about A&F’s clothing: ”In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids. Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong (in our clothes), and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.” (source)
In an attempt of activism, Greg Karber came up with what he surely thought was a clever way to readjust the Abercrombie and Fitch brand: by giving away Abercrombie and Fitch clothes to the homeless, which he has dubbed “Fitch the Homeless.” Karber hopes that by giving A&F clothes to the “not-so-cool,” the brand will lose it’s reputation as a clothing line for popular people.
I find Karber’s plan insensitive and poorly thought out, however well-intentioned it may be. Why is it such a big deal if he’s encouraging people to give clothes to the homeless?
Because in Karber’s plan, the homeless are being used to help his cause. The homeless already lack a platform to be heard and have difficulty accessing resources that they need. They are ostracized by the community, passed by hundreds of people on the street who don’t even glance in their direction. If Karber wants to make Abercrombie lose its reputation for being a clothing line for popular people by associating the brand with the homeless, what is he saying about homeless people? That they are dirty, un-cool, and unpopular.
Giving clothing, toiletries, food, and other needed items to the homeless is a wonderful activity and a great way to help them and organizations like Georgetown Ministry Center. We are so lucky to have friends who help stock our clothing closet in order to help our homeless friends because they want to help. Karber, though, is simply using homeless people in his plan. This is not how we should be treating the homeless or any other human being.
–Stephanie Chan, GMC Program Manager
It’s almost time for our favorite event of the year!
Come sample Georgetown’s finest restaurants on Saturday, June 1, 2013 from 11am-4pm along Wisconsin Ave below M Street.
Delectable dishes, beer and wine tastings, and live music come together to make this event one you shouldn’t miss. Organized by the Georgetown Business Improvement District and Grace Church, the Taste of Georgetown raises money to help support GMC. Last year, the Taste raised $25,000 for us and has raised over $100,000 since 2004! Let’s keep that going; buy your tickets in advance and skip the lines at the event.
If you are interested in volunteering at the Taste, please contact Jordan Culberson at the Georgetown BID at (202) 298-9222 x204.
GMC will be closed on June 1 for the Taste of Georgetown.
Our Spring 2013 Newsletter and FY 11-12 Annual Report just went to press! Click on the front page to start reading, or find it on our Media page. We hope you enjoy this newsletter, which covers some fantastic things happening at GMC, a recap of the holiday and winter seasons, and our Executive Director’s op-ed about mental illness.
This past Saturday, Holy Trinity Catholic Church held a day of community service for its parishioners called the Power of One. We were lucky enough to have six wonderful and enthusiastic volunteers from Holy Trinity bring snacks to GMC and spend the afternoon playing bingo and singing karaoke with our members!
Our guests munched on cookies and strawberries as they played bingo for prizes ranging from shoe inserts to candy. Marty from Holy Trinity set up his karaoke machine, and everyone had such a blast! People were amazed by the pipes some of our members have been keeping a secret. Everyone also got up and did the YMCA at one point. It was such a fun time, and everyone is already asking us when we’re going to do it again.