Long time Voice contributor Peter Garrison and I have been discussing the more frequent appearance of street panhandlers in B'game. He has noticed them in front of churches, then on the Avenue and lately in front of Lunardi's. We also notice a similarity between the signs they hold which may point to a coalition. Pete knows Terri Boesch, the Exec Director at CALL Primrose, who provided this bit of advice for B'gamers
With the long, warm days of summer comes a noticeable increase in the number of panhandlers, especially at busy intersections and in front of heavy traffic areas such as storefronts, churches and gas stations.
While it may feel good to provide spare change or a few dollars to “help” those who appear to be homeless or hungry, those dollars often go to buy alcohol or drugs, which may be the very vices that led to the homelessness in the first place. In addition, there are a number of large scale scammers, who employ vulnerable women with young children (often infants) to beg for money, with a promise of part of the proceeds for their efforts. Providing money in these instances only perpetuates the problem.
For those who are genuinely hungry or homeless, there are many resources in the area that offer legitimate assistance. The CALL Primrose center, located in downtown Burlingame, is one of those resources. Founded over 30 years ago as a joint project between the First Presbyterian and United Methodist churches of Burlingame, CALL Primrose is a direct aid and referral agency, offering immediate grocery/food support to individuals and families along the peninsula. Clients may visit weekly to pick up food, grocery and small toiletry items that are tailored to individual living situations. CALL has an array of non-perishable items, along with meat, dairy and fresh produce options, available on a drop in basis. If the need goes beyond that of food, CALL has a wide network of service agencies that can be called upon to help.
The next time you encounter someone asking for help, perhaps instead of a few dollars, you can provide them with information about CALL Primrose. For those truly in need, this may be their first step towards a path of self-sufficiency.
Pete also notes "I carry information cards from our local food pantry that I distribute when I encounter someone asking for money." Good advice from both of them. Terri is at 650 342-2255. They are Gems of Burlingame. I hope this doesn't get to the point of us needing a "Sit - Lie" ordinance.