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March 31st, 2014 at 10:20:09 PM permalink
(This is a reprint of a post made on another site. If you are a member of both sites, I apologize for the repetition, but this incident really hit me hard and I wanted to share it.)

I volunteer a few hours one morning each week at a youth homeless shelter here in Vegas, where I do laundry. This morning when I arrived, I learned that one of the young guys that had been staying there committed suicide over the weekend. He was 19. This was the second death of an under 21 male at the shelter this month as earlier, a 20 year old (accidentally) overdosed on some street drugs.

I generally don't interact to much with the people staying at the shelter. If I see them, they are heading out for the day, doing whatever they do, about the time I arrive. Occasionally I have a short conversation and will give someone a few bucks. I spent a few minutes a couple weeks ago, talking with the fellow that committed suicide over the weekend. He grew up in Florida as I did, and came to Las Vegas, last fall with his pregnant girlfriend. At some point she was able to return to her family in Florida, but he didn't.

As much as I would like to take many in, like a stray puppy, I know I can't. I can't save the world. Many are on the streets because of bad choices they have made. Many are on drugs. Some have just been dealt a bad hand. But it truly breaks my heart to see young folks like this pass, so early in life, before they have really had a chance to get going.

These stories don't make the news. It's not the side of Vegas, they want to show you, but boy is it out there. I don't know if the casino's are the draw, or being a warm weather city or exactly what it is, but Vegas has more than it's share of homeless, related to the population, many of them hardcore street homeless and unfortunately many of them young people. It really is heart-breaking.
Joined: Jul 10, 2012
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March 31st, 2014 at 11:43:18 PM permalink
That's really shitty man, sorry to hear that :( Stuff like that breaks my heart too. It also makes me realize how unbelievably blessed the overwhelming majority of us really are to live the lives that we do. Thanks for sharing that.
casino's money disappears the execs worry when the wizard is near He turns tears into joy Everyone's happy when the wizard walks by
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April 1st, 2014 at 1:19:08 AM permalink
I agree with you kewlj. I have seen it first hand too. I always volunteer at Three Square and the people I see coming through there......It breaks the heart man. Makes you realize how well we are off and what we have to be thankful for.

Sorry about the dude you knew.........
“There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.” - Winston Churchill
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April 1st, 2014 at 3:45:16 AM permalink
I have to say this, the world and this forum are such a better place with you in and on it. It is very easy to tell that you are the kind of person the world needs more of. Just by posting this you made me, and I believe others, stop for a minute and think about all we have and how others don't. I have a set of principals I believe in from a personal responsibility standpoint but I should not always be so quick to make general assumptions about someone's situation. Stories like this show that behind the glitz and glitter of the casinos, LV is just another town with the same problems as so much of America. But it is nice to know there are people like you that care about those who haven't found the American Dream.
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April 1st, 2014 at 4:21:52 AM permalink
Some time back I was walking on the bridge between Bills and Ballys. There was a young man holding a sign that said, I just want to go home. He looked like my son and it bothers me to this day. I wish I had stopped and asked his story. Did every one else give up on him? I thought, just call your parents surely they would be happy to have him back. If I had it to do over again I would ask and if need be personally take him to the airport and buy him a ticket home. It would be money better spent than in the casino. It is very sad to see anyone like this but especially someone so young. I have run this scenario over and over again in my mind and I cannot validate my decision to just keep walking. Maybe he did not have a phone to reach out to home? I know we see the professional pan handlers in Vegas and everywhere. We also see the older drunks and money goes right to booze but I just had a feeling this kid was different.
It is not like the midget (little person) in the wheelchair that always sits between the Bellagio and Ceasars. Hell I always give him money because he was dealt such a lousy hand in life. He probably makes more a week than me.
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April 1st, 2014 at 4:33:47 AM permalink
Sometimes a dealer living in a trailer park will lose her kids and have to go into work smiling all night long.

Some guy who just wants to go home may not be welcome there at all... and he may know it.
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April 1st, 2014 at 5:34:16 AM permalink
I can't speak to homeless families as I have no experience in that area. But I know a lot about homeless single men.

As one who lived it I didn't think Vegas was all that bad for a homeless person. St. Vincent's served lunch everyday at noon. The Salvation Army served a meal at 3 PM. The Las Vegas Rescue Mission served a meal at 5 PM. So you had a lot of choices. One certainly didn't have to go hungry. This is something the public may not know but when a homeless person files for food stamps it is expedited. The homeless person will get the stamps within five days anywhere in the country whereas the non-homeless have to wait for up to 30 days. And there was always the cheap meal deals like the $1 one pound hot dog at Westward Ho---which you had to put a ton of condiments on to kill the taste of the hot dog.

I drew food stamps in Las Vegas. Once a month I picked them up at a check cashing place on Eastern. In those days a single person got $120 a month. There was always someone standing outside offering cash for the food stamps. Usually 50 cents on the dollar. The person buying them then sold them to a Mom and Pop convenience store for 75 cents on the dollar. Food stamps have always been a racket.

The Salvation Army on Owens has a day shelter where people can stay out of the heat and take free showers. Sometimes I took showers there but mostly I took showers at the Municipal Swimming Pool on Bonanza because it only cost $1.25 and was convenient to downtown. Clothes were cheap enough in the thrift stores. I worked day labor some in Las Vegas until the credit hustling started paying as much as stacking boxes.

My best campsite was behind the Carpet Barn on Industrial, right along the railroad tracks. I built a nice little condo out of pallets and carpet remnants. After I burned out on the bum bingo at the Western I walked the strip everyday hustling credits. I never went hungry or dirty. And I was as free as a bird.

Here's a dirty little secret about a lot of homeless men. We weren't there because we were down on our luck or whatever. We never had to be homeless. We were there by choice.

And I never had a "Woe is me" attitude about it.
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm
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April 1st, 2014 at 6:13:02 AM permalink
I jumped off a westbound UP in Cheyenne, Wyoming. It was another R & R stop on the tramp trail. You got three days every six months in the shelter there. Three squares a day, shower, laundry and a clean rack to sleep in. But three days later you got the boot. But this time in Cheyenne something different was going on. There was some kind of homeless commission out of Washington, D.C., going around the country and interviewing the homeless. A group of these Washington bureaucrats happened to be in Cheyenne when I showed up.

They came to the shelter and all us tramps were required to go to the meeting. I was sitting towards the back and they started interviewing us one at a time in front of everybody.

"What is the cause of your homelessness?"
"What can we do to improve homeless services."

These were the kind of questions they were asking. And they got the usual responses from the tramps:

"The economy sucks."
"Housing is too expensive. We need cheap housing."
"There are only minimum wage jobs. F--- that!"
"The government hates poor people. It's too hard to qualify for welfare."
"Blah, Blah, Blah."

They got to me.

"Sir, what is the cause of your homelessness?
"Me." The boos from the other tramps start.
"So it's your fault? I don't think we've ever gotten a response like that before." More boos from the other tramps.
"Yes, that's right. It's all my fault." More boos from the other tramps.
"Sir, what can we do to improve homeless services?"
"I think the people in these towns are already doing enough." Now the tramps are really booing.
"In what way, Sir?"
"There's soup lines and shelters everywhere you go."
"And that's good enough?
"Sure it is. What more do you want?" More booing.
"And that's all you need?"
"Well, if you want to give me a free apartment and a welfare check I probably won't turn it down." The place got silent.
"Sir, we are here on serious business."
"I'll tell you what. Just give me the check. To hell with the apartment. Who in the hell wants to stare at four walls?" Laughter.
"Sir, would you please be serious."
"Okay, I'll be serious. You can't help someone up and out that doesn't want to go up and out." The boos start again.
"What does that mean?"
"It means that you feds can spend all the money you want hanging carrots in front of donkeys. You'll get plenty of bites. But don't expect any results."
"And what does that mean, Sir?"
"It means that you can spend yourself blind, but there is only one person in the world that can cure my problem."
"And who is that?"
"Me." The boos get louder
"That's right. My problem will be solved by me and me alone. There's nothing the government can do." The boos rise to a crescendo
"Thank you for that input, Sir."

Needless to say, I didn't exactly get a standing ovation from the other tramps.
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm
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April 1st, 2014 at 6:51:49 AM permalink
I nominate above post as post of the year.
Joined: Jul 13, 2013
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April 1st, 2014 at 7:01:49 AM permalink
Quote: bw

I nominate above post as post of the year.

Thanks, bw. When my three days in Cheyenne were up I jumped on a westbound Union Pacific. It was 1996 and one of my last train rides. Somewhere between Laramie and Rocks Springs the train hit a side track and came to a stop. That basically means there is a train up ahead that has the right of way. I leaned over the rail to see what was coming. It was the Amtrak train carrying the Olympic Torch for the 96 games.
"Quit trying your luck and start trying your skill." Mickey Crimm

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