We had a surprise inspection of our ministry kitchen because someone complained that “they got a soggy sandwich.” The inspection went well. We just have to keep the kitchen locked when someone certified is not present. It is increasingly difficult to do simple hospitality here in the US. One woman called to rant about how awful it is that all we offer are sandwiches at lunch. She was very adamant that people need a full hot meal and that we were the ones to do it. Never mind that there are two other lunch sites in downtown, our sandwiches are just wrong!
If they’re so wrong than why do people keep asking for them? Why is there a need for them? Truthfully, local kitchens are run Monday through Friday, as is the hotline to call if you need shelter.
But there is real pressure to become “professionalized” or shut down. Doctors won’t donate their services for fear of being sued, and yet we are accused of harming the mentally ill by offering services without a doctor. We’ve never claimed to be a social service agency, that expectation has been thrust on us by hospitals and other agencies. “She threw a fit last night at our place and we had to put her out, can you take her in?”
Mother Teresa was accused by Christopher Hitchens of being anything but saintly because she didn’t offer professional care. The poor who she took in who were cast aside to die needed better services than she gave. This was proof that all she cared about was the glory and the donations. Whatever.
I’m all for the hospitals doing their job. I’m all for them not dumping people without insurance at our door. I’m also all for those critics getting their hands dirty. “Get a job!” should be followed up with “Here’s one right here.” And while you’re at it, offer a full 40 hours and a fair wage! How about the glorious median hourly income in MO of $14.78 an hour. That would be plenty to allow anyone in our shelter an apartment, transportation and food. Can someone tell me where they’re hiring for 40 hours a week at just under $15 an hour? I’ve got lots of skilled people here going through employment services (the best in the state) and yet they keep getting low wage, temporary jobs.