Sometimes helping can be complicated
I don't do too many personal-type blogs on here but I had an experience today that provides a good opportunity. A lady actually called our new business line which was exciting but then her request thew me for a loop. She was asking for help getting a bus ticket back to her home and she said she'd heard that there was some grant program that provided tickets to homeless people for that purpose. I have no idea how she tracked down our number in looking for this information but it worked out for her.
This lady just needed a bus ride home to get out of a bad family situation. That's not really in NWH's scope so I did not use any NWH resources to help her get what she needed. I won't ever apply your donations to anything they're not specifically contributed for. This has made me think about setting up a "Special Projects" branch of NWH though, which will be able to do whatever's needed for people so long as funds are specifically contributed for that purpose...watch for more developments about that in the future.
One thing that gave me pause in this interaction was my inability to confirm her story but I've gotten used to this feeling so I don't let it stop me from helping out when I can. I figure even if her story was completely fabricated, she must need the ticket pretty bad to go through all the hoops it took to get me to get her a ticket. If I get hornswaggled from time to time because of this attitude, I can accept that gladly for the genuine interactions...though as I write this, part of me suggests that I shouldn't broadcast the fact...
Only after everything was said and done with this lady did a more troubling prospect occur to me. I may have just helped someone receiving care for a mental illness, or maybe even a minor, escape from a safe place. That thought bothers me enough that I don't expect to help anybody in this way again unless I can spend a little more time getting to know their story.
I decided to share this experience on the blog because I think it is a good demonstration of some of the complications that make giving and just being nice harder than it seems it should be. I'd love to read your thoughts in the comments on the blog or on Facebook.
As an aside, I'd love to welcome posts of your experiences, no doubt our audience would appreciate a more diverse voice ;)