Helping The Homeless Help Themselves

Lura Zerick

Many cities around the United States are now publishing “street newspapers”. These publications focus on the homeless and provide a unique way for them to rise slowly out of their desperate situation. The newspapers are available to the homeless for a fraction of the cost and are sold for $1.00 each. Each vendor signs a contract and is assigned a certain location to sell his or her newspapers. They wear a badge or some ID showing that they are legal. Other areas might have different plans for helping a vendor sell the newspapers. Several States have these newspapers available to help the homeless or those who live in poverty.

There are non-profit newspaper organizations that will help to start a street newspaper, such as NASNA and INSP. These might provide the new publisher any information their readers need. Some of the newspapers accept short articles written BY the homeless. All the newspapers carry ads which yield a lot of information that the homeless need and about items that are often free.

Many might not have the money to get started. The vendors who are chosen vow that they will not ‘panhandle’ or ask for money. Hopefully, there might be a program that the broke vendor might ‘pay back’ for the newspapers. Some would be grateful and honor this while others might not.

Few of the general public realize the hopelessness and despair of being homeless. They have absolutely no idea of the pain of not having a hot meal in their own kitchen or a warm bed on a cold night. They also don’t know that this terrible state can happen to anyone or any family. It doesn’t have to be only to those too lazy to take care of their families. Many who now look for free meals or a place to sleep were previously housed and fed very well in their own homes.

The bad economy, lack of jobs, illness, foreclosure, divorce or other things can contribute to the downslide of a person or a family. It is sad to see anyone who is hungry or homeless. It seems even worse to see an ex-serviceman or woman in the line of the hungry. This is not only heartbreaking but can cause more anger. Yes, drugs and/or booze are often involved but why aren’t these men and women in a place so that our government can provide help and health to them…AS PROMISED? At least to those who WANT help?

They, like many others, probably have lost total confidence in our now-sorry ‘government’, which seems to ‘provide’ only for the fatcats in Washington.

This brings on another question: WHY aren’t we taking care of our own instead of sending billions of dollars to other countries who hate us and want to destroy us? Because of the stupidity in Washington and among other State politicians, we have homeless, hungry, jobless people surrounding us. Some cities are using the ‘street newspapers’ to make a way for these to provide for themselves or their families.

These street newspapers tell where hot meals are available. Others offer free clothes in all sizes for various family members. Some organizations, such as Rock the Silence in Palm Bay, Florida hold an annual picnic for the homeless at a local park. They offer food, clothes, encouragement, inspiration and sometimes jobs to those who attend. Various groups provide toilet articles such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, washcloths as well as information where showers are available.

Very few have any idea of the pain/hopelessness of the homeless. It isn’t always a matter of being lazy or having no ambition. People have no control over many situations that contribute to the state of being homeless. Most of us can’t even imagine what it is like. This is where our compassion has an opportunity to kick in. A simple philosophy of life can make a huge difference, not only in our lives but in the lives of others: we are here to love and help one another. Under certain circumstances, it could be any of US standing in that line!


Lura Zerick is an 80-year-old great grandmother. I enjoy learning new things. Give me an Elvis song with a good beat and watch me go! My favorite things are reading, listening to music, singing, cooking/baking, birds and words. I enjoy my 12 great grandchildren and 6 great grand children; love to encourage them o cook, write and sing, as well as use their other abilities. I can be reached at






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