Friday, February 20, 2009

Marketing Homelessness

Around December, a couple of us at C3 met some guys who were living under an overpass at Highway 6 and I-10 here in Houston. It started with a conversation and some lunch, and has grown to a chance for us to get to know a small group of guys in that area. There's John, Tim, Bobby, Wolf, Billy (who was travelling through),  and several others that our peeps have had short conversations with. 

Over the course of the last few months, we have endeavored to live out the gospel with these guys. Sometimes that has meant hot meals or warm clothes or medicine.Sometimes it has been conversations about Christ's love for them.  Sometimes it has simply been conversations about our love for them. We sure haven't done everything right; we're just trying to learn as we go.

I haven't written about this before now because we don't want accolades or media coverage; we love because Christ loves us. There should never be an "agenda" when you build a relationship with someone- they are a human, not a conquest. Do I share with the hope that the guys who don't already claim Christ as Savior decide at some point that they want to follow Him? Of course. But seriously- I want that for everybody. And yes, we want to help these guys get off the streets, but sometimes that involves them making some difficult choices.

So, why write about it now? Good question. The answer goes back to our friend Tim and a website that is centered around him.

Last week I was talking with Bobby, and he mentioned that some guys had stopped by and asked he and Tim if they would like to help them with an experiment in viral advertising.  These guys are a father and son marketing team, and they wanted the guys to hold up a sign on the street corner advertising a website on which donations could be made to help the guys out. Tim was the first to agree and was promised one hundred dollars from the marketers, plus all the revenue generated by the site. The website's name? I'll let Tim show you:

Yes, it does say "www.pimpthisbum.com."

Actually there's more to it than this. I'm sure you can find the site if you want to take a look.

Alrighty.  So I really want to know what you think about this. I'm all for Tim getting off the street- rock on.  And I love the idea of other organizations getting involved in the lives of these guys- I am getting to know some really awesome folks at the Bridgewater Church that are doing just that. 

This however is really just a very different thing than I've ever experienced. The guys who created the website say they're "Using Internet Marketing to Fight Poverty." So what do you think? Is this a great way to increase awarness and help get these guys off the street? Is it exploitation of people like Tim? 

I really would appreciate hearing your take.

In Him We Live,

Jeff

P.S.- If you want to comment, please remember that a believer's behavior reflects Christ to our world. Thanks! 

43 comments:

katdish said...

I think you know what I think of it, but I'll hold off my opinion -- for now.

Helen said...

I will be back later when I actually have a thought. Right now, I only have feelings, and they are conflicted. I feel terrible that this man needs to compromise his dignity by holding up a sign where he calls himself a bum and asks to be "pimped". I feel that there has to be a better way....I feel like I shouldn't judge this way, since I haven't done anything for any homeless person other than write a check to the "appropriate" organization or hand him small bills from my pocket. I feel that Tim is trying his best to find a job and who am I to judge how he does it. I feel....I should come back later when I have attempted to sort this out.
Just letting you know I didn't ignore Kathy's posts.

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

This is my initial take:

Based on what the Bobby and Tim said, this was first and foremost an experiment in viral advertising.

If it wasn't, would it be named "pimp this bum"?

Having begun to deal with PR people and marketers, I'm noticing that their new goal with viral marketing is to get people to do marketing for them for little to no cost. I've been approached with the "chance" of winning a $25 gift card if I just devote an entire post to their new website. Really? Does this seem uneven to anyone else?

Anyway. I think that ultimately it's exploitative. But just like the mombloggers who end up "pimping" an online toy store or whatever, Bobby and Tim may feel like they're getting a good deal.

Sad. They're being taken advantage of. Yes, they're complicit, but they really don't have the info or tools to see how it denigrates them.

Sorry to be so ambivalent. ;)

WV: upeave
What I suspect Katdish wants to do when she reads about this.

*snort

Jeff said...

Helen- Thanks. I look forward to hearing those thoughts!

Steph- Thanks for reading. Upeave, indeed.

Katdish- Yup. 'Nuf said for now.

♥ Kathy said...

I think it's awful. I don't like it at all. I think it's degrading to men that are already down on their luck. I think it takes advantage of them. And I think it makes the people that run the website look like they are mean and have a warped sense of humor. Like haha look at this bum and look how stupid he looks. I know they say they are fighting poverty but I just don't buy it. If they are giving 100% of the money to Tim then why is Tim still on the street? And why put each thing down to buy for him (cheeseburger, sharpie, etc)? That makes it seem even MORE like a game. I just don't like it. It makes me very uncomfortable and very sad. Sorry for rambling on my first visit.. But thanks for letting me :) Kathy

ps Hi Helen and Kat :D

Annie K said...

So what is the dignity in this?

True story... I shop at a Safeway where the homeless hang out in front. I go there because I like interacting with them. A few weeks ago, I was coming out of the store with my daughter...bags of food in my hand and I made eye contact with one of the homeless. I gave him the nod and a 's'up?' And that started the short conversation. He asked me if I had any pennies for chicken. And then something about if they get enough pennies they can go in at the end of the night and get whatever chicken is left over. I just asked him if he and his friends were hungry. He said yes, so I told Kenz to go get in the car I'd be back. Long story short, I got to buy those 5 people some whole roasted chickens and I was more blessed by the smiles on their faces than they were by the chickens. I have this little thing I now call 'pennies for chickens' and when I go to that store, I buy extra for whoever is out front.

Am I saving the homeless one at a time? No. Is it my way of ministering? I guess so. It's my way of giving them a little bit of hope and maybe it'll open doors.

By the way, I think that website is ridiculous. I don't care if they do give everything to them. It's not ok to market homelessness.

Candace Jean July 16 said...

The word "pimp" says it all. I don't think God is smiling.

Jeff said...

Kathy, Annie, Candace- Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your thoughts- I really appreciated what each of you had to say.

katdish said...

As you know, my heart is just HEAVY. I don't even know how to pray about this.

Koffijah said...

If a black man was homeless and an organization tried to help him by having him hold a sign "helpthisnigger.com" I don't think it would fly even if he got $100,000 from it.

First of all, if we want to help someone why do we have to degrade them or make fun of them? How we view people is half of how we love them.

Secondly, you rarely help people in real poverty just by throwing money at them. Sometimes it could really hurt them.

Someone out there thinks they're cute. Really, they're just a jerk. I pray the people of God help this man in a way that lets him know that God views him as special treasure.

Mike said...

I have to agree with the majority of the people who have responded so far in saying that the usage of the words “pimp” and “bum” is demeaning and ultimately undermines anyone from a mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual standpoint. It is also indicative about how lax we have become in our language that a word derived from the prostitution trade now simply means promotion.

Having had past exposure to marketing and advertising culture, the referral to a “viral advertising experiment” does not convey a sense of genuine altruism but rather cold research. To me, it appears to be a no-risk endeavor designed to gain some traction in the minds of the public. I doubt that the homeless have much access to legal resources and recourse in the event that their agreement with these guys doesn't pan out.

Moreover, faceless donations over the internet may alleviate some of the immediate needs of the homeless, but it may not truly improve the situation for those in need. Even job offers are not guaranteed to work out. Each person should be afforded the dignity and respect as an individual creation of God, and the impersonal nature of the internet and the inherent lack of real accountability therein do not facilitate this. After all, how do we know that the money and resources are reaching the needy?

Asking a homeless man to pimp himself is no better than posting videos of homeless men fighting for entertainment's sake, which sadly do exist on the internet. Engaging and assisting people in meatspace instead of cyberspace is a better way to meet them and Him.

sean said...

Hello,

I absolutely understand the position a lot of you are taking. At first look I might make the same judgement. Understand, the media 'beast' is complex. Designing a concept that is a 'sheep in wolf's' clothing is the key to increasing his exposure. I don't mean this to be rude in any way, but after all some of you have done to help Tim, he's still on the street. So, either you are saying he is 'unhelpable' and we are wasting our time, or you admit that there must be an alternative way to help him. I just ask that you judge the outcome, not the process.
A man leaving for the military just donated a 1998 vehicle to tim, a long lost friend of his saw him on an Oklahoma broadcast and contacted us to help him, 300 eager viewers log in to Tim's nightly chats and give him praise, confidence and support in his effort.
Tim was on the front page of the economics section of Sweden's national newspaper, he was the headline news story for Mexico's national television station, he is taking a limo to Fox & Friends Monday morning, and will be showcased on Rachael Ray with Jeff Foxworthy. We plan to take him to the top: Jay Leno, Saturday Night Live, etc . . .

Can any of you honestly tell me that he would have been better off on the street with zero hope? This isn't rhetorical, I'd love to hear your opinions.

Thanks,

Sean Dolan

jake - aka the comment novelist said...

I like the fact that Tim is getting help. Whether or not he benefits long-term is yet to be decided.

My discomfort comes from what I don't know.

There's the obvious, "They SAY all the money goes to the guy, but..."

More than that though, even though they claim to be fighting poverty, they also admit it is an experiment in viral marketing.

What exactly are they marketing, and to whom?

It appears Tim is getting a job and now a truck. That's great. I sincerely hope it works out for him.

So does the sight now become "Bum of the Month" to these guys? We get an occasional update on Tim and other past focal points, while we focus our attention on the current volunteer.

Who follows through with Tim? Do these guys have a dollar amount they hit with each participant before moving on? Are they trained in social work, or willing to pay someone who is, so that Tim doesn't just GET on his feet, but STAYS on his feet?

For a site with a claim to fame based on marketing, there sure isn't a whole lot of information available.

I hope these guys get whatever they're seeking and fade into the shadows without causing real hurt to real people.

Sorry, I couldn't stop till it all came out.

sherri said...

My heart goes out to this man , and the many who find themselves in his situation.

WHat struck me was how he seemed to be thrilled to have someone to listen to his story. And the hope in his eyes.

If I knew where 10th Street was located, I would go there to listen to him and do what is within my power to truly help him, and I guarantee I won't video tape it!

"Tim" is everywhere though. If we keep our eyes open.
Sadly, someone is always ready to swoop down and take advantage of someone's poor condition.

As the church I think we need to open our eyes to the many needs around us and take this MIGHTY GOSPEL beyond the 4 walls of the sanctuary.

Need meeting requires sacrifice on our part. And moving out beyond our comfort zone.

This made me VERY uncomfortable.

Jeff said...

I find this quite disturbing. This is not helping someone in Jesus' name - it is a publicity stunt. If you see and portray these men and women as "bums" you are not looking at them through Christ's eyes. He never saw a bum, or a prostitute, or whatever label you want to put on someone. He saw people, made in the image of God. This is another sad example of believers trying to make a name for themselves rather than lifting up Christ's name if you ask me.

Scott Fillmer said...

not exactly sure what to think right off the bat but for those who don't like the word "pimp" then you are reading old school and need to hip it up a bit. People talk about pimping up their blog or whatever, which indicates to spruce up and doesn't refer to a hooker relationship.

That said, I love the idea of using technology for God's kingdom in any way it can be used but still have to process this a bit more :)

Steph at The Red Clay Diaries said...

Guys, you know what? I think we're being played.

As I was falling asleep last night, I suddenly wondered, is this an experiment in NEGATIVE viral marketing?

This was after I Tweeted about it. And asked people to click on them.

Of course, all of us have clicked on them. And maybe told others who did so as well.

So if these guys' primary goal is to get traffic for their experiment, we're playing into their hands.

Maybe this site is intentionally offensive in order to learn something about negative viral marketing. Urgh.

What do you think?

Kristen said...

As someone in social media I think it is only a matter of time----until page rank grows and traffic grows, that we will see ads on this page. It is all about the money, not about helping people.

Beth said...

Wow, Jeff. One more reason you make an excellent pastor. Thanks for bringing this issue up.

And Sean, Thanks for commenting...I haven't done enough looking to see how you are connected with this, but I do have a few opinions and concerns that I'd like to share.

First, It was nice to meet Tim and see his story. So many are scared or intimidated by the homeless people they see and I do see the internet as a valuable tool to help overcome fear and ignorance. Despite the negative "pimp" and "bum" words used, Tim comes across a real person, and the homeless are, in fact, very real people like you and I.

However,

I am concerned that this shows a very one dimensional picture of homelessness. Yes, there are many single males who are homeless in our country, but many people do not know that there are millions of women and children who are homeless as well. I want to know the FULL and accurate story of people who are in homelessness.

I am concerned that you are not working with any agencies or ministries that specialize in helping people in homelessness. I know in our area there is a Homeless Coalition that is full of people in agencies, churches, gov't officials, etc. that are all working together to help the homeless. For the most part they are overworked, underpaid or volunteers, and have to fight for the resources they need to do their work. They rarely get the funds to advertise and educate the public that they need. Why not partner with them to put those advertising skills to work in a completely positive way? That helps everybody.

Now, what I am most concerned about...Yes, Tim may be benefitting from this financially and could very well become rich and famous. But I do not necessarily see that as being a way to hope. I see a lot of those who are rich who lack true hope. I think what many of the commenters here are concerned with is making sure Tim and EVERY person on the face of this earth has a source of hope that goes beyond physical needs being met or even being wealthy. This hope comes in the form of Jesus Christ, who made it possible to have hope in every aspect of life, no matter what the circumstances of your life are. As a Christian, I take very seriously my responsibility to help others to make sure their physical needs are met. But it is also very important to meet emotional and spiritual needs.

Thanks for reading everyone. I am very passionate about this because of my previous work with homeless children and families. If anyone wants to discuss my experiences with the homeless in more detail, I'd be glad to talk. Just click on my profile and shoot me an email.

Beth said...

Steph, I think you may be on to something. Just read your last comment. Have I told you lately that you are a smart woman? Cuz you are.

Brad Ruggles said...

Man, I have totally mixed feelings about this. On the one hand I'm all for using current technology to find new ways to help those who are hurting.

The basic concept behind this experiment is intriguing but the execution is a little demeaning as some of your previous commenters have mentioned.

I would love to see a church grab a hold of the concept and find a different way of doing the same thing.

One thing that was cool about this experiment is how it helped put a voice, name and story to the face of homelessness we see every day.

Joni Ruhs said...

How is this different from an organization showing pictures and telling the stories of needy children requiring sponsorship? The exception being the organizations have been around awhile with a track record. This is new. In 20 years will pimpthisbum be well known and lauded as a great organization to help the homeless get off the street that started as an experiment in viral marketing?

Ron said...

what if the site name was blessthisguy.com? would that make a difference? what if it were all about helping Tim and not about just making money? what if it were not about making a name for themselves but pure intentions led them to help the homeless in a really new way?

I think that these questions also should be considered. I am a little concerned that so many assumptions are being turned into realities just on this page of comments...

instead of what if they are just exploiting this guy? why not ask, what if they are really trying to help this guy?

then is it still horrific?

Pastor Tim Burt said...

I would love to hear from experts in the field of mental health issues give us insight into the numbers of people that live homeless such as Tim. What are the percentages of people that are homeless and can't put their life together because they do have mental health issues? To some degree, they look may look normal. They can work through parts of life normally. But in other areas, they just can't connect the dots. They can't meet people's expectations. People have expectations for them to perform like a 'normal' person - "Get a job, will you?" but they are incapable of it because of the mental heath issues they have and there is no one to really help them. Even their own families don't understand them. I think we are severely lacking in education and understanding concerning people suffering from these kinds of issues. I wonder how many of them could be the Tims that are out there that we compassionately want to help, but go about it in the wrong way because we don't understand the root of the problem - mental health. In saying all this, I am not saying Tim has mental health issues, nor could I possibly know that. But I’d love to hear from those that do have insight. PS based on these thoughts, I love that these people are being helped in any way possible. I think if mental health is their problem, they seldom catch a break. God bless you for your compassion.

Dorothea said...

Here's the underlying problem: money gets spent, fame fades, popularity is fleeting, and in our current culture it's on to the next thing once the fad dies. Where are these men and women (these "bums" as it was so eloquently and tenderly put) to go once the spotlight is no longer on them? Some say the internet is forever, but once the flash of site hits fade and the experiment grows dull to the masses, how much do you think something like this will help in the long run?

These are real people with real hurt, real needs, and real lives. There are many things that money fixes, but there is a soul that money cannot. And, at the end of the day, nobody has guaranteed these men and women anything lasting. Even those of us in warm homes with plenty of food know this. Jobs get lost, money goes away, people abandon us. That's life. That's reality.

So what of someone that's been "helped" once he or she is done being part of this little experiment? So someone donates a car. Will that person have somewhere to park it? Will they be able to consistently get gas to drive it? Insure it? Maintain it? Maybe it will end in home ownership. Will he or she be able to keep the home? When the fame dies and he or she needs to get a job after this site has turned him or her into a media celebrity has-been, what then? This "experiment" isn't exactly a resume builder.

These are harsh words, but they come from experience. I've been in marketing. I've been in entertainment. I've seen people used to advance someone else's "cause". In the end, long-term consequences don't typically fall on the experimenter, but rather the test subject.

Perhaps the ill feeling in most people's stomachs comes from an underlying feeling that regardless of the "means" it's not truly going to end "well". The obvious and easy solution is not necessarily the best or most effective one. Just toss a million dollars in a crowd and see how long it takes a fight to break out.

Oh...and I think Steph and Kristen both have very good points about the negative viral marketing thing. My recommendation would be to keep the story but kill all references to the link/site. If so many people are against it, why support it by giving others access? For all we know, this father and son team could be trolling this blog just to drum up hits.

Ron said...

mental health is a huge issue with the homeless (as noted in previous comments), I understand and agree that giving money to help them get mental help would be better (and much more lasting) than giving money to help them get a sandwich, but this is not the trade-off we are discussing (this isn’t reality). we are trading off between getting the guy a sandwich or nothing at all …
while I also agree that this is not a long term solution, should we just dump it all together because of that fact, even if it could help in the short term (much more-so than doing nothing at all)?
I agree that there are a ton of unknowns, but I'm just trying to find some light in this whole deal ...

Jeff said...

Guys, thanks to all for taking the time to share your thoughts- I truly appreciate this conversation.

Sean, I really do want to thank you for sharing your side of the story. The intention of this post is not to start a witch hunt, or a negative campaign against you. I would like to respond to a couple of things you said.

"I don't mean this to be rude in any way, but after all some of you have done to help Tim, he's still on the street. So, either you are saying he is 'unhelpable' and we are wasting our time, or you admit that there must be an alternative way to help him."

I guess I'm not sure how to take this, if you weren't intending to be at least a little rude. ;)
1. I don't think you know what we have offered to Tim.
2. I'm not sure how you determined that any of these comments mean that we think Tim is a waste of our time. I consider our relationship with Tim to be ongoing.
3. None of us who have gotten to know Tim (or any of the guys at 6) would say we've done everything right, but with a few key strokes you have indicated that our contact with Tim was a failure.

It is interesting that you then asked the readers here to "judge the outcome, not the process." That's really tough to do right now, since Tim is, as you pointed out, still on the street. A lot of big promises have been made. Things are going to have to play out over time before any one of us can know what the outcome will be for Tim.

But in making that statement, I think that you did an excellent job in framing the heart of the issue here. This is the reason I wrote my post. It sounds like you are saying "let the end justify the means." This is what I want people to weigh in on.

Sean, I don't know if we'll ever get to meet, but I'd like to. If you want to talk more about this, please send me a note. You can reach me at jeffh@loveliveserve.org

Respectfully,
Jeff

Helen said...

Sean, they are saying no such thing. They are trying to help him in a manner consistent with his human dignity? Are you? I don't doubt that you want to help him by getting him off the street and into a comfortable life. You are concerned with his basic needs, but you have forgotten his need for dignity. Your comment that they are saying he can't be helped and isn't worth helping is uncharitable. They are saying his is worth the time and effort it takes to help him in a manner consistent with human dignity. You describe an old friend who found the site and wants to help him. Couldn't that have happened just as well if you got him on Facebook, and he described himself as between jobs and homes? I don't question that media can be used to help him, but I do believe he is being exploited.

Helen said...

Jeff, as you can see, I am still feeling more than I am thinking. I still feel bad that Tim is in a postition where he is being exploited. I think this campaign could have been done in a dignified manner, and it wasn't. It seems the more I think, the angrier I feel. It also makes me think I should do something. I mean something more than writing a check. I mean something that meets their need to be treated with dignity....

Jeff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jody said...

right now I am awaiting a phone call that I have been accepted to work in the inner city this summer serving urban culture. This includes the homeless and those who are headed that direction.

When I interviewed with them I learned and saw and served the physically and spiritually homeless.

I think the thing that stirs me up about this is that money does not solve poverty and homelessness. And if Tim gets on TV who becomes famous and taken care? Tim or the guys behind Tim who will get the credit?

Giving money to homeless often times allows them to continue an addiction. Because let's face it, live on the streets is not easy. And alcohol (which Tim admitted to drinking and smoking) and smoking and drugs help bandaide the harshness and emotional emptiness that comes from street life.

My personal feeling is that if this father and son want to help Tim and the countless others like him that they need to redirect their focus and objectives. To "save" a homeless man is to give him life skills. It is to give him a bed and shower and teach him how to interview, budget money, and overcome addiction. It is to show him hope through love and connection. Not show him love through his next bottle of bear. Because until we break the cycle of poverty Tim will always be impoverished no matter how many bills are in his pocket.

I'm not sure Jesus threw money at the homeless. I feel like he spent time with them, ate with them, and taught them. So this duo of smart men (because I believe they are smart just not understanding the cycle of homelessness right now) should start a foundation and partner with community members and churches that will use hte money they raise to provide interview and work clothes for these men. To provide monetary support for area homeless showers so they can get a good night's sleep and eat. To help start ministries that focus on getting to know these men and helping them break addictions. To support groups that actively work at getting these men off the streets and reframing their outlook on life to TEACH THEM HOW TO SURVIVE. Money alone solves nothing.

♥ Kathy said...

I wrote about this today and linked back to your site. The post is HERE. If you get the chance I'd love for you to look at it. :)

Anonymous said...

I've read the post, read the comments and am unsure just how to respond. At first glance, the title of the website is offensive on many levels. However, hearing Tim and just a small part of his story was somewhat powerful. Can this site make a difference and if the hearts of this son and father were truly good and in the right place, is it really our place to judge?
I guess time will tell, as for me, I am going to ponder, reflect and pray...sometimes, we do not know how God will work or what his purpose is.

Jeff - Thanks for sharing. This is an interesting topic, from homeless, to media, to "What would Jesus Do."

Laura

Anonymous said...

Ok, I've pondered. I think the reason so many of us are uncomfortable with this is the feeling that somehow Tim is being exploited. Jesus when dealing with difficult situations or people, did not exploite the individual for fame or glory. He loved, served and corrected with love and truth. My feeling of being uncomfortable about the website and content was will this really help Tim? Will this draw the nation to see the face of homelessness by utilizing a new media outlet? Is this really appropriate? Will it make a difference?

I am going to interested in seeing where all this leads. With new technology and media outlets constantly changing and evolving, maybe this is the appropriate stage for highlighting social issues. However, without a loving heart and the right motivation....Tim will still be on the street.

Blessings,
Laura

Schumacher Family said...

I'm finding all of this sad...first for Tim and the rest of those gentleman's situations. To not have a roof over your head...that I cannot fathom. Second, for the hope that Tim may be feeling because of promises made. What if they're not kept? More feelings of despair for Tim? I pray that those men & their website have true, genuine hearts about them. However, I do believe that you need to teach a man to fish, not just give him the fish. I don't want to be too judgmetal, because that is not a Godly attribute...but how sure are we that the father & son won't be like Ananias & Sapphira?

To Jeff, Tam and the rest of the group who has been interacting with these men...just keep following Jesus' command of loving each other. That includes the father & son...they may need a Savior too. Satan truly wants you to fail in this...so I will pray for your perseverence. Just remember Romans 5:3-5 "Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom He has given us."

Keep continuing to love, live & serve!!!!

~Kim

Jeff said...

Laura- Great thoughts. Thanks for taking time to share- that means a lot.

Kim- You got it. EVERYBODY in this story needs the love of Christ, and we are Christ's ambassadors. Thanks for the encouragement- you know we consider you guys long-distance C3-ers!

katdish said...

Which is not to say that we would be opposed to the Shumachers being "short distance C3ers".

(just saying...)

katdish said...

You know, Jeff....

I have a really great comment, but I think I'll just tell you in person. Then you'll tell me to shut up, and Ron will tell me to "be nice", but secretly you'll both being thinking, "That was awesome." And you will be correct.

P.S. - I need some Zekes! There's your reminder.

Mare said...

Wow, so glad you shared this. This is really tough stuff. I'm going to need some more time with it to decide exactly how I feel but as many have already said, it seems that the biggest question is whether or not the end justifies the means. That's a question that a million people and philosophers disagree on so...we can talk ourselves into a circle forever.

Have you read the "About PTB" section? Clearly their intentions are pure hearted...

Adam said...

Here is a link to the foxnews interview with the homeless guy and the two who created the website.

http://www.foxnews.com/video/index.html?playerId=videolandingpage&streamingFormat=FLASH&referralObject=3695882&referralPlaylistId=a9594f0389e4ea58938175cbd26195fbedd640ad

Wondergirley said...

Well, I'm going to definately be in the minority here...I'm ok with that.

I went to the website. I didn't leave any crevice covered. The website was ALL about TIM! I never found anything that showed that the creators of the website were interested in anything EXCEPT helping Tim. Why are we angry for that? Why is there animosity towards others who only want to help a man?

The title of the website? I found it to be a bit silly, and it instantly intrigued me. Good marketing? Yep. Is the world overly PC? Yep. Get over it. It isn't always meant as a negitive thing, and Tim doesn't seem to view it as a derogitory term. Let's move on, shall we?

Jesus was about the people. He hung out with your everyday Joe. I have gathered that many who have left comments go and spend time with the homeless, but what about the rest who have left a comment? I'm not perfect, but my homeless guy's name is Kenny. He washes my window, and his sweet wife sits with him. That doesn't make me any better or worse than anyone else, I'm still a sinner. I still need Jesus.

I digress...I don't see how Tim has lost his dignity. Did you read the questions that "they" the website creators asked him? One of the questions was, "If you could be any animal, what would it be?" Tim's response, "Human." He already lost his dignity. Through this website, people are noticing him. People are talking to him. People are CARING about HIM! He is gaining dignity. He is becoming human.

I learned early on in my life that laughter is the best medicine. I also learned how to laugh at myself, and my situations...good or bad! Tim isn't being exploited, he knows how to laugh at himself. Don't feel sorry for him, he has another opportunity. Instead of pointing out flaws, why not try and help? If you have a concern, email the website creators. They even asked that you do that. Did you all just quickly glance at the website? Did you not watch the videos? Tim also has an opportunity to attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. So, yes, he is getting help...if HE WANTS IT.

The point is, that he is getting an opportunity. Jesus said that there would always be the poor. There is no way that I can help every single homeless person in the world, neither can these guys, but they sure are helping to raise awareness for them. I commend them for it.

So, I don't agree with the majority of the comments here, but like I said...I'm ok with that.

Let's just love. Seems like that is all Tim wants. So do it.

sean said...

Wondergirley . . .you get it ;)

-Sean Dolan

ComfortWriter said...

I know I am really late commenting on this post but I can't leave without giving my 'two cents'.


At first I was concerned by the title rather than offended. It made me curious and as a result I went to the website to judge for myself if this was being done in the same spirit as the "bum fight" videos. That was exploitation! Someone else profitted from their pain.


Before visiting the site I read this post to JT (my partner in life). We watched the videos and read all that we could and still don't understand what all the fuss is about. And based on the posts JT may have a clearer view of the homeless situation than anyone here.


JT spent several years on the streets of Seattle, WA; Sacramento, CA; and the beaches of HA addicted to alcohol and drugs. His drug of choice, where he always ended up, was heroin. We have had countless conversations about what it means and doesn't mean to be homeless.


*Alcohol and drugs are not always the reason the person is homeless, rather it's a result of being hopeless.

*Mental illness IS a huge factor

*Many were failed by the education system and/or were in special education

*Yes, sometimes the money that you hand them is used for the next drink or hit but just as often it's used for food. Either way, it may be an answer to prayer. There were several times when JT cried out to God for just enough money to bring him out of withdrawals and make it possible for him to walk to shelter. (He lost his leg at 11 and the stump would develop sores that would get abscessed and infected) Don't you think he had already lost all his dignity?

*You can only OFFER help and those who truly want to get off the streets and/or get clean & sober will reach for the outstretched hand(s).

*Money is not the answer but it sure goes a long way in providing the solutions.

*The waiting list to get into state sponsored rehab programs is usually so long it takes 6 months or more to get help. Most homeless don't have a phone to call them when there turn has arrived, may not live that long, end up in jail & miss the chance or have left the area.

*30 days of rehab is only the beginning. It took JT 4 years of methadone treatment and outpatient counseling along with my unwavering support and our combined prayers to meet the reality of the hopeful prayer he prayed one night years before we even met.


*"Pimp my Ride" is not a show about sexually exploiting cars or their owners. For free, the shop tricks out, or 'pimps' a persons car. Therefore, in our (mine & JT since this is a joint response) humble opinions they are simply trying to improve the life of a bum.

*Bums call themselves bums. But many tramp are mistaken as bums. The difference - a tramp will work, a bum wants handouts.

*As an educator in a low-income district I see homelessness that not only affects men. Homelessness touches women and children where the cycle is sometimes continued for generations.

*Don't judge a book by its cover because you never know what is written on the pages.


We both believe in Christ and know that ultimately salvation comes only through Him. What if God is able to use this website to reach and give a helping hand to the men and women who feel as though the world has turned its back and no longer cares. Give these guys a chance to prove their intentions are pure.


Like I said, it was 4 years for JT and even though he is now 7 years clean & sober he recognizes that it is by the grace of God and the support system we have built that keeps the demons at bay.


"Judge not lest ye be judged." Matthew 7:1