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Tales from the ‘hood

January 28, 2010

Some observations from my Inter-action trip, where we worked at the Trenton Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter.

  1. One of the services that the Mission provides is drug and alcohol counseling.  The director noted that very few homeless people do not have drug or alcohol problems of some kind.  On one hand this makes their job harder, since it’s hard to deal with such addictions.  On the other hand, it’s a hopeful sign that it’s not as easy to fall off the economic wagon as many people think – that even low-skilled workers can survive as long as they’re clean and hardworking.
  2. That said, one of the guys there was a Rider graduate (major: philosophy) who had apparently gotten into some drug trouble.
  3. One of the big jobs of the Mission is simply processing all the donations that they received.  A continual job is to sort and hang donated clothes.  The good ones are sold at a discounted price; the bad ones (defined by the whims of the sorter) are sent to China, a stark reminder of the difference between “American poor” and “global poor.”
  4. Two decades later, there are still way too many shoulder pads in the world.
  5. By far most homeless people are men, in line with generally higher variance in male outcomes (more geniuses and titans of industry, but also more homeless and incarcerated.)  Needless to say this is one gender gap that neither the left nor the right is particularly interested in redressing.
  6. Fortunately everyone seemed very nice; I didn’t see much good deed for the day effect.
  7. The director actually made a similar point as I did in my prior post.  If you want to make a difference after you graduate, she said, don’t come down to Trenton to do manual labor.  Rather, work an extra hour and donate the proceeds.
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