In her column on homelessness (Sun Journal, April 25, page 5), onetime journalist Shannon Jones told the story of her adopted son who suffers from learning disabilities and mental illness and who is himself homeless — despite her and her husband’s all-out efforts to help him.

Nevertheless, I take issue with a couple of her statements.

She reproached people who fail to realize that the homeless are “individuals, each with their own story.”  But most people, including myself, are aware of that; unlike them, though, her own concern is intensely personal. Since they’re not personally involved with the homeless, there’s nothing blameworthy in the fact that they don’t share her profound concern.

Jones suggested that people “smile or offer a kind word” when they encounter the homeless. But what are they to say? God bless you? Enjoy your day? Then breeze on past?

To the homeless, they’re just empty, facile words. For the most part, what they need passersby can’t provide because that would mean getting personally involved; but for the vast majority, that’s out of the question.

It’s a suggestion absent from Jones’s piece, but what about an occasional handout of a little cash? Isn’t that more meaningful than a mere word? Some readers will object, not unreasonably, by asking: What if they only want it for drugs? What if they’re on the street through their own fault?

I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt, assume they’re just hungry and leave it at that.
William LaRochelle, Lewiston

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