Homeless deserve compassion
Homelessness is something that we’ve all seen. Sometimes on a daily basis.
Here In Glenwood Springs, the issue of how problems caused by some homeless people is impacting tourism has bubbled to the surface.
Glenwood relies on tourism. But with a social issue like homelessness, there are many other factors that need to be discussed when trying to find answers.
The Tourism Board should be commended for taking on this issue. For the image-based tourism business, homelessness is a huge issue. The economic livelihood of many depend on tourism. The image of Glenwood Springs depends on a healthy and pristine brand.
Even Denver is struggling with this issue as the Democratic National Convention approaches.
The larger question is not about what to do for the sake of tourism; but rather what should be done about the homeless issue from a social and compassionate view.
There is no simple answer.
The troublemakers of a society need to be dealt with but not to a point where others are impacted.
Programs like Feed My Sheep, Catholic Charities and the Extended Table exist to help a growing population of people in need.
For many, there is a stereotypical face of a homeless person, but that’s not the case. There are families in need who visit the Extended Table to help them get by. People who need a little help to get back on their feet during difficult economic times.
Of course, there are homeless people who do cause problems.
Tourism Board Director Peter Tijm has taken the first step in addressing this issue in Glenwood Springs.
He is hoping that bringing this issue into the open will create a dialogue. He says that educational and treatment services would be better than simply providing handouts.
The old adage of teaching a man to fish is better than giving a man a fish to eat is very true.
Exploring education and treatment possibilities is a great start. Getting to that point is the challenge.
We can’t forget that some services are invaluable to a segment of our population, and it wouldn’t be fair to the non-troublemakers to be punished by the actions of a few.
There is not an easy answer. We do believe that compassion needs to be part of the discussion.
There are a number of homeless people who call Glenwood Springs home. Some are troublemakers, others are just trying to get by. Some have problems, some are getting back on their feet.
It’s great to start a dialogue on this subject. But we should never blindly leap into a discussion without looking at the entire issue and the people who will be impacted ” and that includes the tourism industry.
There’s no doubt that the image of homelessness doesn’t help the image of a tourist community; however, the social programs that exist in Glenwood Springs also provide us with shining examples that there are very special, compassionate people who live in our community. And there can be no argument that good people help make for a great community.
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