Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Here is an interesting story regarding the meaning of "charity" and the "charitable purpose." A Los Angeles area nonprofit organization meets its charitable goals by giving homeless people in its community a free one way ticket out of town. According to the LA Times, the Grace Resource center
Since January, the Grace Resource Center has offered to cover transportation expenses for homeless people to return to their home states or wherever they have families or other means of support. So far the group has spent about $2,500 to help more than a dozen people leave Lancaster through the Opportunity Bus Pass Program. "It's to help people get well and start over," said Steve Baker, the center's executive director. Andrea Killgore, 31, said she was grateful for the free bus voucher. "This is a step for us to get back on our feet," Killgore said. Without it, she said, "we'd be on the streets, or stuck here until my next [Social Security] check." Mayor R. Rex Parris is a strong advocate of the bus program, even contributing $10,000 of his own money. He said he is upset by what he believes is an unspoken policy by Los Angeles agencies and others to use his city as a "dumping ground" for the homeless. "The more economically disadvantaged people they can ship to the Antelope Valley, or encourage to go there to live, then they don't have to pay for services for them," he said. Homeless people who have chosen to relocate to Lancaster are putting a strain on local police and social services, Parris said. The city's own needy should come first, he said.
Sounds a little cold hearted at first, but if you believe that charity starts at home, I suppose the best thing a charitable organization can do for a needy beneficiary is to help them get home. According to the organization's website (linked above), it exists to operate a soup kitchen to feed the hungry. I suppose the more people it can help get home, the better able it will be to feed those who are simply stuck on skid row with no home to go to.