Thursday, June 28, 2007

Soup kitchen troubles

Gah! I just read an article from today's Providence Journal (here) that says the soup kitchen where I volunteer in Pawtucket will be closing. It turns out two woman in the neighborhood complained that they were harassed by men who appeared to have come from the soup kitchen so the city's zoning board denied issuing a new permit to allow the kitchen's continued operation.

Sheesh! Talk about throwing out the baby with the bath-water. First of all, the women weren't even sure the men had come from the soup kitchen, yet this one complaint was enough for the zoning board to deny the permit. Secondly, even if the men had come from the soup kitchen, it seems like a very strange policy to punish all the people being serviced by the kitchen because a couple of the patrons have behavior problems. I guess people want to help the homeless and poor in theory, but they just don't want to have to actually see them in their neighborhood. Yes, some of the people being helped are going to have behavioral problems and/or hygiene problems, but they still need our help. What people have to realize is helping the severely disadvantage in a city is not pretty work, but it's important work. All people deserve help - even ones you might not like.

What I find really odd is the soup kitchen is located downtown in a somewhat industrial neighboorhood, yet people still complained. Of all the possible locations, I would think this location would be the least intrusive. What do people want? A special walled community for the poor and homeless? Then we wouldn't have to see them and we could just live our happy lives not having to confront some of the ugly realities of life. We wouldn't even have to remember the homeless exist.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Where've I been?

A month has gone by since my last post. A few people have asked what's up. I've not had much free time in front of a computer lately, hence the lack of writing here. I've spent most of this month helping a friend renovate a condo she just bought. The place needed a bit of work, so she pretty much gutted it down to the sheetrock walls. Working along with a couple other friends, I've helped replace lights, ceiling fans, electrical outlets, wiring, a sliding glass door, installed new hardwood floors in three rooms, new plumbing, kitchen cabinets, a dishwasher, garbage disposal, etc.

It's been a lot of fun. The construction work is very satisfying when you see the finished product. Plus, I had always wanted to learn how to solder copper pipes and I finally got a chance to do that. Now I know just about all I need to build a house from scratch. The only thing I haven't been able to help with is installing the ceramic tile. I've never done that before. I suppose if I ever do build a house from scratch, I'll have to avoid putting in tile.

The only downside to all this is it can be very tiring, so between this construction work, my day job, and karate at night, I've been feeling pretty worn out. I think missing meals hasn't helped either. I tend to get distracted when working on a project and sometimes won't remember to eat. The construction work is winding down, so I'll probably resume posting a bit more frequently here - and I'll hopefully be eating a bit more regularly.