Do We Feed the Need or the Addiction?

This is something that I have spent some time thinking about and I don’t think this blog will even be able to fully express the ideas that I have.

A hand-full of months ago, I took it upon myself to get some people together to “Feed the Need”. FtN was my attempt at reaching out to the homeless population in the Phoenix Metropolitan area. I have heard multiple stories about how in need the homeless are and how much responsibility I bear to make sure that they are fed and clothed.

What makes the homeless community my responsibility? homeless

Is it because I’m a human and therefore should have some emotional connection to the “need” of other humans? Or, is it simply because I am a Christian, and Christ said that we should care for the widow and the orphan and so I am eternally responsible for the well being of others?

Maybe the answer to this question is both… There is something inherent about how our hearts are connected and it takes a massive amount pain, naivety or manipulation to hate humanity.

I in fact, do not hate humanity, rather I have a deep love for the men and women who aimlessly roam this big blue playground. Daily my heart is broken for the individuals that I see wearing an outfit for the thirty-seventh straight day. My heart is broken due to the decisions that they have made to end up where they are, I don’t say this in a heartless way, however, in my experience there is a very high percentage of homeless people that have made very specific decisions to end up where they are. There are also very special people who have experienced a rough turn of events that leave them with limited options and homelessness is often one of those options. The unnerving thing is that we can not tell simply by looking, we must hear their stories and be willing to shake dirty hands. Hands that have cooked dope, wiped their backside or masturbated without being washed afterwards.

whylie As I mentioned earlier, I had started what I thought was going to turn into a movement of care and support for homeless individuals in Phoenix. We were a group of kids who wanted to “Feed the Need” that we see everyday. I was disheartened at what I found to be true about this community that I was exploring and giving the time, money and resources of twenty something twenty-somethings.We discovered that the shelters which have been built and designed to benefit those who are homeless were not full!

What?! You mean to tell me that we interacted with hundreds of men and women who appear desperate and are without new clothes, a home or the ability to cook their own dinner and yet they blatantly refuse assistance… Hmmm. That seems somewhat ignorant, right?

And so, the question arises… “how do we know who is on the street because life has turned upside down on them and who can’t free their hands from the pipe/syringe or bottle?” I would say, we know because they are the ones who are taking advantage of the FREE services that are provided for them. C.A.S.S. which stands for Central Arizona Shelter Services offers literally everything that one would need to get back on their feet and begin to provide for themselves or their family. The services available at C.A.S.S. are  drug/alcohol treatment, job training, shelter, clothing, food, shower, mail services, psychological therapy, medication, state issued identification, literally everything that someone would need to reestablish themselves as a functional piece to our dysfunctional society. Once I learned that the homeless can eat at least three free meals a day and have all of these services available to them and yet the shelters are not reaching capacity, I stopped feeding a gluttonous stomach.

I could not let myself facilitate their homelessness, no matter how “good” I felt giving a sandwich to someone willing to take it. Shoot, if someone offered me a sandwich, I’d eat it!


Regretfully, I responded incorrectly.

Everything came to a screeching halt! There was no motivation for me to be taken advantage of by men and women that I have experienced time and time again in my life. I have seen more of my fathers syringes, spoons and arm ties than I’d like to remember, I guess the fact that he was a “functional” addict gave him a little more freedom. Nevertheless, there is still a need that is very apparent and worthy of feeding. We must feed this need with much more than a sandwich rather with rich conversation and faithful prayer. My friend Chris Meisner and I discussed some options to this pursuit and how we as humans can be the most effective while not feeding addictions but rather by feeding the void that has led them to addiction in the first place.

Join me in prayer for our city or rally people to pray for your city. There will be a new movement started a movement of love, active, purposeful, love.

I would really love your thoughts on this topic as it is a touchy one and I do not have all of the answers, nor do you so, hopefully together we can appropriately feed the need while being good stewards of time and resources.




3 thoughts on “Do We Feed the Need or the Addiction?

  1. While there are some homeless who have no desire for a place to stay, most people don’t go to CASS because it’s suuuuper dangerous.

    I agree with you that meeting deeper needs is often more important than giving someone money or a sandwich. Especially for addicts. Another problem with CASS is that residents can’t be on drugs or alcohol. It’s difficult to get out of that lifestyle when a person is still in that environment. There’s a theory for work with the homeless called “hosing first”, which means that people need to get a stable home before getting addiction treatment or finding employment. Almost all shelters require residents to be actively looking for a job and (if necessary) be in drug/alcohol treatment, and a lot of these people have been so used to not being told what to do for so long, that they completely resist that. If they had a stable home first, it might give them hope, and something to be proud of, which could drive them to improve their lives. They can settle into their new environment before having all these rules and regulations dumped on them. Sorry I’m kind of going off on a tangent but it’s important to take these things into consideration.

    It can be frustrating to think that you are helping people who don’t seem to want help. But a lot of these people are just past the point of hope. Maybe if someone can show them that it would be possible for them to get back into society like they used to be, they could get some hope back.

  2. I would have to agree with Amber on a lot of points about CASS…however… is a viable option for some. I don’t know what or how a person on drugs is feeling or going thru but, I do know as a sister of an addict who has seen days of being homeless, it kills you. I find myself opening the car door to these men and women and wanting to “save” them all. I will not give them money but, I will buy them dinner and get them wherever they want to go. Crazy…yea but….I can only pray if my brother was again to need a ride or food….someone would be there for him. I look at these homeless and know they could go to a shelter but…if you really were not and addict and just down and out , your pride may get in the way. It is such a touhg subject to make sense of. Do what your heart tells you and you will be at peace with it. Thats my thought:)

  3. I guess I need to clarify that I am not advocating C.A.S.S., I am simply using it as an example of one of the many shelters in Phoenix that are not at capacity. Ultimately, I don’t care what shelter they go to.
    We are discussing a sub-culture of people who have given the middle finger to responsible and healthy living.
    Amber, I agree with you Amber, many of them are hopeless and we must be their hope, we should be an encouragement to them and their ability to re-join society. I just don’t think that comes in the idea of giving freely, rather, supporting the shelters and the programs they have created.

    Amber and Cristina, thank you for your thoughts, I am so appreciative of them! These conversations help us to effectively help those in need.


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