In Bucks County, PA, people don’t like to pay attention to the man behind the curtain. Like the Wizard of Oz, who is hiding his real self behind the curtain, there are people want their real self and motives to be hidden, and there are those who don’t want to see what’s behind the curtain to avoid having their pre-conceived notions, particularly of the homeless, overturned.
When you get past the smoke and mirrors created by organizations in Bucks County who are believed to help the homeless, you see they are not what you think they are.
As was the case with the Wizard after the little dog Toto opened Oz’s curtain, people are wising up to the august institutions in Bucks. And it’s more about making a buck and do-gooder image than helping people.
There’s a reason that Saint Mary Medical Center stopped funding the Advocates for the Homeless and Those in Need (AHTN). I for one wonder what AHTN does with the $100,000 plus it takes in each year. I’m not an accountant and don’t know the micro details, but, as Bob Dylan sang “you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”
$100,000 is what AHTN has lost. That being such a large sum, I had that figure in my mind. Before Saint Mary cut funding, AHTN’s budget, according to the article in the Bucks County Courier Times, was $220,000/year! Wow! Where does all that money go? Occasionally they put homeless people up in a motel, occasionally transport people to doctors and such, support a rejuvenation station, and take the homeless and those in need to community meals and code blues (winter). Is there a lot of overhead? Maybe lots of it going to those on salary? I’ve seen reports on the various charitable organizations that show how much of each dollar taken in goes to the recipients – those who are being helped. Some organizations give a greater percentage of money taken in that goes to the needy than others. Wonder what this ratio of funds coming in to AHTN go to the homeless and needy and how much is “pocketed.”
I wonder now that AHTN now expects to take in more that $100,000/year if it will slight the homeless and needy as if so, how much. From the AHTN website: “ALERTS: Beginning Monday July 24th through Monday Sept. 4th, Wheels to Meals will be operating with just ONE BUS. Please be patient as it will take longer for the bus to cover the entire route, including all 4 bus stops. If guests can carpool with a friend, please do. The bus will only make 2 trips maximum each way.”
A few observations over about the past three years: Awhile back, AHTN spent money to have a handicapped assisted bus. One handicapped woman used the handicapped access. It was trumpeted in the media. A reporter came on ATHN’s bus and went to a community meal to interview the woman. Soon after the hype was over, to my knowledge she stopped using the service nor did any other handicapped people. Symbolism over substance.
Speaking of the bus, AHTN labels the transportation to homeless meals “wheels to meals.” Until recently, I thought the service was connected to Meals on Wheels, a program that delivers meals to seniors who have trouble getting out. I could better understand where all the money goes if AHTN was doing Meals on Wheels. Of course, we know that non-profits are not about slick Madison Avenue advertising. Not unless we look behind the curtain.
The curtain was opened in the aftermath of innocent people having their bike locks cut when they were legally parked at the Levittown public library. Because it was believed that some people abandoned their bikes there, all the locks were arbitrarily cut. In this matter AHTN was smoke and mirrors. An “advocate” met with the librarian, who said she made an announcement about the cutting of the bike locks, and that was the end of AHTN involvement in the matter.
It speaks well of the homeless that after this ordeal they didn’t vandalize the library. Behind the curtain you didn’t see the homeless stereotypes! Today in Bucks County, the homeless are treated much like blacks were in the Jim Crow south. Martin Luther King urged his followers not to return wrong for wrong but to engage in passive resistance.
The problem in Bucks County is the caste system, where the distasteful attitude exists where once one is homeless, he can’t become a self-reliant, productive member of society but a ward of the state. Dr. King argued against this mentality: http://www.thecommentator.com/article/4104/martin_luther_king_did_not_argue_for_welfare_dependency
Whereas advocates in other areas have gone to bat when the homeless were wronged, even going to district court and winning, AHTN did nothing when the authorities hustled the homeless from the Veterans memorial only because they were homeless. The district court is right next to the memorial.
Another Bucks institution that doesn’t live up to its reputation is the Levittown Salvation Army Community Center. Back in the day, The Salvation Army ministered to the down and out, largely drunks. They met them where they were, both in location and status in society, as Jesus did with the woman at the well. The booze industry didn’t like the Salvation Army reforming drunks; it cared more about making money than about people. People involved in the booze business attacked The Salvation Army.
Today in Levittown, the Salvation Army does not genuinely care about the homeless. Queen Latifah, who usually hosts the homeless meals, talks down to them, as if they are children or criminals. A volunteer at the center Salvation Army gave her the nick name because she tries to be real hip. He said “she works hard to be black.” Queen Latifah on steroids talks street English (bad English) and makes street gestures. To have the position at the Salvation Army, she had to have at least some education. Author Tom Wolfe called educated, middle to upper class folks who purposely talk and act like the uneducated, lower class as having “a nostalgia for the mud.” But even people in lower stations haven’t always talked that way. Professor of Economics Walter E Williams, who grew up in a Philadelphia project said that his fellow blacks spoke standard English in the projects.
The attitude back then is why Dr. Williams made something of himself.
In Bucks County, the homeless are hustled in a different way. The recently defunded Homeless Outreach Support Transition Program (HOST), is a hustle. To look at the man behind the curtain, AHTN should bring disco lights to Code Blues and play “Do The Hustle” and introduce a mental health hustler. This may no longer be possible, as HOST, the first stop to put the homeless on the taxpayer funded Disoriented Express, was defunded.
I think “Do The Hustle” should be Bucks County’s theme song!