Atheists Helping the Homeless (#18) November 23, 2010

Atheists Helping the Homeless (#18)

Joe Zamecki and fellow atheists in Austin, Texas have been helping the homeless frequently over the past couple years.

They just did another food giveaway and here’s how it went:

As I’ve said before, this is a great program for everyone involved. It’s a win-win situation regardless of your religious beliefs. There’s no proselytization taking place. No homeless person has to give up their faith to get some food. This is people helping people.

You don’t need a god to do that.

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  • AM

    I’m curious to know if anyone has shown the bare-faced cheek to either refuse food, or slam the group for what they’re doing simply because they’re Atheists?

  • Damn you Atheists helping people! You’re supposed to be out eating babies and pushing elderly women into oncoming traffic so we can effectively caricature you for the glory of our zombie lord.

  • AM – If anyone doesn’t want our stuff, they can easily not get into line to get it. I don’t know of anyone giving us a hard time for who we are or what we’re doing. I’m sure some folks have avoided us after seeing our sign or our t-shirts, but they didn’t tell us about it.

    About the only opposition to our group and what we do has come from a few Freethinkers who feel that we’re acting like we’re part of a religion. I don’t worry about those Freethinkers. Religion doesn’t have a monopoly on good works, and that’s part of the reason we do this. I do like their skepticism however! :o)

  • Robert W.

    Good work Joe. We need more people helping out others regardless of their religious beliefs.

  • Claudia

    I’m sure some folks have avoided us after seeing our sign or our t-shirts, but they didn’t tell us about it.

    If they avoided you after reading your sign or t-shirts, they weren’t really hungry, so I wouldn’t worry about them.

    I know poverty can affect anyone, but it breaks my heart when I see elderly people in those lines. It just seems profoundly wrong to see older men and women having to struggle with hunger on top of everything else at that time of their lives. Massive kudos for everything you do.

  • Just to clarify something, we rarely give out food. It’s usually toiletries and bags to carry them in. We’ve recently added reading material that isn’t preachy, re-usable water bottles, tiny first-aid kits, dental floss, and gloves.

    Now sometimes we’ve given out food items like granola bars, donuts and coffee. We also gave out a case of MREs once, which turned out to be too expensive. (Meals Ready to Eat)

    At the next giveaway, set for December 19, I’m going to try to have a bar-b-que for the homeless. Hot dogs and chicken legs and things like that. That’s in addition to the toiletries table, and the band. Not bad, eh?

    Many thanks again to Hemant for posting this! :o)

  • Accusations of atheists attacking traditional charity in 3…2…1…

  • Keep up the good work. I wish I had a couple of bucks to toss your way but my pension’s been being underpaid (just worked all that out and should be getting it raised soon) and I’m barely making it where it should be so this month my daughter is having to help me out.

    The bar-b-que is a great idea and I’m glad you’re doing well enough to hold one. The real, hot food there will be priceless to those who are going hungry. I remember Dad taking us to a church picnic when I was a kid and we were so hungry we made embarrassing pigs of ourselves. We didn’t care but I think Dad did (he shouldn’t have, he’s the one who left birth control up to god and had more kids than he could afford to feed) and we got a lot of stares. Be cool to see some hungry people get their bellies filled without that kind of judgmentality and the sermon. (I think you’re right to just hold it without trying to tell people there is no god.) Just people happy to see them eating.

    it breaks my heart when I see elderly people in those lines. It just seems profoundly wrong to see older men and women having to struggle with hunger on top of everything else at that time of their lives.

    Tell me about it. Even with adequate money, you struggle with health issues and inability to do what you used to when you were younger as you age. My new specialist found an underlying cause of all my chronic pain (Crystal Deposition Disease aka Pseudogout Syndrome) which also causes arthritis. I have to call because the script he wanted to put me on, my insurance won’t cover. He had two but he wanted to start them one at a time to make sure I wasn’t adversely affected. Won’t cure anything but will keep it from progressing.

    Because of being underpaid on my pension (which I barely squeak by on) I’ve used up what little savings I had and my daughter will be paying my way this month because all I had after my half of the rent was a few bucks. If not for having my daughter and having had the meager savings I did, I don’t know what I’d be doing while I’m waiting for them to calculate my full pension (they do advance low-ball park figures but they were paying a couple of hundred less in that than they should have been which I found out by calling to complain when I used the last of the savings why is it so much lower than the estimate that I based being able to retire on). If I didn’t have my daughter, I’m not sure what I’d be doing this month. I’ve also applied for Social Security Disability but I don’t expect to see that without a long, arduous fight — one I’m not at all sure I’m up to. I am lucky to have what resources I do and all too many don’t have even that.

    Good luck with continuing this, Joe. It is so cool.

  • good job TX freethinkers! bravo!

    if i may suggest: for the Dec BBQ, go with more veggies, and fewer meats. i’ve been cooking on a small budget for a while, and the less meat i buy means more food that lasts longer. if you’re feeding a crowd, BBQ veggies are just as filling as meat, and often more nutritious. BBQ sauce makes everything taste good, including onions, pineapple, zucchini. i’m not say don’t offer any meat, only that if you’ve got a limited budget, you can feed more people buying cheaper veggies than more pricey meats.

    if this is a repeat comment my apologies, the first one didn’t seem to take.

  • Ben

    ok…who gives a shit if Atheists feed the homeless? Why are Atheists feeding the homeless? Are they doing it because they the think “hey, we’re atheists. We can do the same things that Christians do! Just look!” If there are people who are doing a charitable act in the name of said act, to me, it cheapens being a human being and just doing an action for the damn sake of doing an action. Why is it so important to announce what you believe in order to help another human? Doesn’t this cheapen morality?

  • Claudia

    @Ben, please tell me you are being tongue in cheek?

  • This is something I think about a lot, simply because as a young religious person, I did a lot more volunteer work than as an adult atheist. But I think that has more to do with free time than a religious affiliation.

    Oddly enough, I randomly fed a “homeless” person the other day and wrote about it.

  • AM

    I’d rather not make public statements of who I represent when I help those who need it, but sadly in many areas of this country, so many Christians think they have a monopoly on “virtue” that it makes many believe it impossible that religion doesn’t have to play a part in having a kind heart.

    Keep up the good work. It’s nice that there are people that can do good without handing out a bible in the process. 🙂

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