Author Topic: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?  (Read 11957 times)

Gray Matter

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Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« on: December 14, 2013, 08:07:24 AM »
Back story (sorry, this is long):

When I was a 19-year-old college student, I got involved in a big buddy/little buddy program, where I was matched with an eight-year-old boy.  His story was, sadly, pretty typical.  Mom had five children by three or four different men by the time she was 21; he was the only one still living with her (father was not in the picture). She was a serious drug addict, couldnít hold a job, was frequently evicted, often homeless, in and out of unhealthy relationships, etc.  She loved him, but he had very little stability in his life and often not even the basics (food, shelter, electricity).  I loved this little boy and saw such potential in him.  He had a big heart, an infectious laugh, and was so curious about the world. 

Over the five years of our relationship, I saw how life beat him down, how he came to distrust those who were trying to help him (because they took him away from his mom, whom he loved deeply despite everything), and I watched his hope and optimism drain away.  At one point, we were talking about what he wanted to be when he grew up, and he said he wanted to work at McDonaldís, because he wanted to buy a car, but he didnít want to have to clean the toilets.  My boys, at that age, still thought anything was possible (inventor, President, astronaut), but this boy didn't even have the capacity to dream big. 

I donít think anyone in his world had a full-time, stable job.  And he didnít know the value of a dollar, because money came sporadically and went fast, as did everything (food, homes, people).  If his mom scraped enough money together to buy him a Christmas present, the next time I saw him, it was in the pawn shop.  There was absolutely no correlation in his world between hard work and a better life--he simply hadnít seen any examples of this.

I tried to show him there were other paths, but I could tell he didnít identify with me (and rightfully so, little white girl from the suburbs whose parents were paying for college).  And so I just focused on spending time together and having fun, trying to give him some relief in what seemed like a stressful and somewhat dreary life.  I took him to our cabin, on his first boat ride, ice skating for the first time, we flew kites, went on picnics, etc.  Looking back I donít know why I didnít try harder to find role models for him or why I wasnít more resourceful in getting him help, but there you have it.

When he was 13, they moved out of state and he called me a few times after that, but we lost touch (they never kept a phone or stayed at an address for long).

Fast forward 15 years, and he reaches out to me via Facebook.  Predictably, his life was pretty messy:  two kids by different women (wasnít still with either), couldnít hold down a job, dropped out of high school (I think he got his GED), admitted to a problem with pot (hopefully nothing stronger, but Iím not sure heíd tell me).  I was just really grateful that he wasnít dead or in jail.  Over the past three years weíve had some meaningful exchanges by e-mail, talking about memories of each other and how much it mattered to him that I was there for him and how much I learned from him.  He keeps making fresh starts...starting a new job, saying heís going to start school, etc. but it never seems to amount to much.

Last night I got an urgent message from him that he needed help, that he and his girlfriend had moved to another state and had found an apartment, but hadnít been able to scrape together the deposit and were living in their car and they had to have the deposit in by close of business or would lose the apartment and I was their last hope and theyíd pay me back and he has a job lined up but they wouldnít hire him without a permanent address and they had some loan money coming but it wouldnít be there for 30 days...  At first my heart sank and I thought ďhere we go.Ē  But then I reminded myself that weíve been in touch for three years and not once has he asked me for money.  And even though the sob story sounds like a scam, this really is what his life is like.  Without my even asking, he gave me the name of the apartment manager and the address and phone number and suggested I pay them directly.

So I did, and it was only $250, but Iím left with this sick feeling in my stomach.  Not because of the money, but because I so badly want to help him, and I donít  know how.  I know he has debts, because heís talked about needing to dig himself out of a hole, and I hate to say it, but Iím not optimistic that heíll be able to.  Itís so hard to get ahead when youíre so far behind.  Not that he doesnít want to, but Iím just not sure he has the skills.  The skills to earn decent money, to delay gratification, to put together a plan and stick to it.  And I donít want to insert myself where Iím not wanted, and where itís not my business, but I keep thinking of that little boy, and how much I loved him (and still do), and how goddamn unfair life is and how he really didnít stand a chance and itís breaking my heart.

And ironically, yesterday was also the day I get my annual bonus.  Before taxes, and even while being out on some unpaid FMLA this year, my bonus would take someone earning minimum wage two-and-a-half years to earn.  It's just seems so unfair.

So...all of you in your infinite wisdom, what can I do?  I donít want to enable him, but if thereís any way I can help him, I want to.  What would you do if you were me?

Catbert

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2013, 09:55:59 AM »
I think you've done what you can.  You gave him $250 so he could get an apartment which may help him to get on his feet.  As you've described it the story sounds real.  Even if its not you can afford the $250.  Any more financial assistance that he asks for or hints at will quickly turn to enabling him.  Then your good relationship will change to you being viewed as a sucker.

Maybe others can give you better advice about what might help.  I just know that more money is not the answer.

swick

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2013, 02:04:59 PM »
It sounds like what this guy needs is some support and mentorship.You can't get into the habit of bailing him out financially, but you said he has tried several times to turn is life around and hasn't had much success, it might very well be that his intentions are good but he simply doesn't have the skills and knowledge (and confidence) that would allow for real life changes to stick.

Knowing you are there cheering for him and available for advice would be a good start. Yo could say you can't keep helping financially but you believe in him and want to keep in regular contact. Having someone to check in with and share successes and problem solve with would go a long way to keeping him accountable to himself and you. You could set up regular skype or chat times and use it as an opportunity to encourage him and share some of your wisdom.

Good luck, it is a difficult situation for sure.

MoneyCat

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #3 on: December 14, 2013, 08:07:58 PM »
Give him a copy of one of Suze Orman's books (I give people "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke) and tell him to watch her show on CNBC.  That's what got me started on the path to financial success.  Also, encourage him to join the forum at MyFico.com to learn how to repair his credit.  If he can fix his credit, perhaps he could try to get a job with a bank or credit union, which I did for a year to learn about personal finance and credit.  It's hard to break out of poverty, especially when you don't have a reliable social support system like family and friends.


Emg03063

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #4 on: December 14, 2013, 11:01:46 PM »
Tough situation.  I just wanted say I empathize.  I had a little brother through BBBS; similar story; similar situations.  I bailed him out of jail once so he wouldn't lose his job.  I would certainly consider any money you give him a gift and not a loan (at least in your own mind).  $250 as a one time deal doesn't sound like an enabling concern from my perspective, but if it were to become a habit, I would encourage him to look for alternatives first, and not make any commitments.  Ultimately just bear in mind that your role is to provide advice, not financial support, but of course you're free to provide whatever financial assistance you choose to or not.  I would try not to feel bad about it either way (easier said than done, I know).  Best of luck to you both.

Gray Matter

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2014, 05:23:08 AM »
Just wanted to update on this situation.  I sent him the $250 for the deposit on the apartment, plus an extra $100 for incidentals.  They spent the $100 on cleaning supplies for the apartment and fast food.  That was on Thursday.  His new job started on Monday, but he didn't start it because he didn't have gas in his car and couldn't get there.

This is an illustration of the inability to think ahead that has gotten him in so much trouble in the past and will likely continue to.  Are cleaning supplies a bad purchase?  Fast food when you're hungry?  No, but cleaning supplies are a bad purchase when you don't have a tank of gas to get to work and you need to get to work to pay rent.  And fast food is a bad purchase when you're going to be hungry by the next day.

So I sent him a $100 Walmart gift card, just because I hate the thought of his going hungry, but that's all I've done despite the temptation to help him more.  The thing is, I know it won't help him, it'll just kick the can down the road.  They were unable to pay this month's rent after just moving in two weeks ago, so they have been served with an eviction notice.  But if I pay this month's rent, he'll be evicted next month instead.  Also, his car has been repossessed, so this time when he's homeless, I don't know where he'll sleep.

I know how hard it is to dig out from a hole or even start with nothing.  If you can scrape together the deposit for an apartment, and even if you start a new job right away, rent is due at the beginning of the  month but you don't get a paycheck until the end of the month.  If I thought there was any chance he could get a job and keep it, I would provide seed money for the first month so he could use wages from that month to fund the next month and keep his head above water.  But I just don't have that much faith in him right now, and I feel terrible about that, because I keep thinking of that bright little boy and all the potential and how much I loved/love him.

If any of you can think of a way I can help him get on his feet in a meaningful way, please let me know.  My emotions are getting in the way and I just can't think clearly.

Greg

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2014, 08:52:04 AM »
This is an illustration of the inability to think ahead that has gotten him in so much trouble in the past and will likely continue to.  Are cleaning supplies a bad purchase?  Fast food when you're hungry?  No, but cleaning supplies are a bad purchase when you don't have a tank of gas to get to work and you need to get to work to pay rent.  And fast food is a bad purchase when you're going to be hungry by the next day.

I don't have any good suggestions but I have some sympathy and would like to point out you did (and are doing) what you could.  The situation reminds me some neighbors I had when I lived in a larger city, they were on the dole and every end/beginning of the month it was quite a party scene, lots of food, drink and drugs... by the end of the month it was tragic, they had to borrow flour just to make some gravy.

I would suggest a little more communication, and more structured help if you feel like giving it in the future.  Like instead of an extra $100, a prepaid gas card, that sort of thing.  Good luck.

willn

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2014, 09:07:04 AM »
If he's open, my opinion is that the best you can do is tie your help to some obligation on his part.  You'll match his savings to buy a car or get an apartment deposit together.  He has to learn to help himself.

His decisions are really based on emotion, not financial math.  Changing emotion is very hard.  If he doesn't want to change, its probably almost impossible.

And bravo to you:  Having someone believe in you when you are down can be a powerful motivator to help change habits. I hope it works out.

For your own sanity, remember that suffering is the best way we learn to change, he probably has some very hard lessons ahead.  Enabling short term comfort is not going to help him win.  If you continue to do it, you may be harming him, and your own spirit too, as you are let down time and again.   Better to see him crash and burn hard now, than to have him bleed you every quarter for the next two decades.

MandyM

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 10:31:57 AM »
If he's open, my opinion is that the best you can do is tie your help to some obligation on his part. 

I agree with this. Maybe tie some rent assistance/financial aid to him keeping a job. It may be enabling, but these things aren't so black and white. Its hard to deny someone help when you know that life dealt them a shitty hand and you got a full house. I regularly loan money to my roommate and/or let her slide on her rent. Her circumstances are not quite as dire as his, but not terribly far off.

I certainly don't treat her like a charity case (it doesn't sound like you do either), but that is kind of how I categorize the money. Its not much different than regularly dropping money in a donation bucket.

Elaine

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 10:41:24 AM »
Maybe you could do some research on outreach non-profits in the area he lives? There are programs (where I am at least) that help people gain the skills to go to an interview (how to dress, how to present yourself). They teach life skills like budgeting, how to plan groceries, things that most of us learned by watching but that fall totally through the cracks for people in that horrible situation. If you do the groundwork research, find a place that might be able to help, and let him earnestly know that you think it might really help him- that you truly care and that that's what you would wish him to do in that situation. If he still chooses not to go or whatever then unfortunately there isn't much you can do. It's kind of like dealing with an addict, you can tell them to go to AA and let them know how they have affected you, but if they're not ready to change for themselves it doesn't matter. Your compassion is very sweet, and I can imagine this is all easier said than done- best of luck. (hugs from me to you!)

CommonCents

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 10:43:30 AM »
The cleaning supplies over gas for the car is tough because it seems so obvious to all of us that you've got to plan ahead.  It doesn't sound like he's accustomed to doing that, but it's definitely something that can be learned.  Perhaps also work with him on a budget, and then hold him accountable to the budget, down to the penny if you are giving him anything further (but I'd be really wary, it sounds like you just gave him almost $500 so he may be seeing you as an atm now).  Give him a bunch of cheap, healthy recipes and blogs for where to find more, so he learns cooking skills instead of fast food.  Can you help him find cheap housing, such as through an organization that helps people get back on their feet?

beanlady

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2014, 11:02:13 AM »
I agree that tying anything you give him to some responsibility on his part might be the way to go. Maybe having him submit a monthly budget each time along with other things. Assuming you want to help him financially, you should decide upfront the maximum amount of money per month you would be willing to give him and stick to it.

You're in a tough spot. I wish I had ideas for help that would actually lead to a long term improvement.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2014, 11:11:14 AM »
I really understand how much you want to help him, but I think one thing to really ask yourself:

Is he asking for your help in figuring out how to stop mindless spending and getting and keeping a job and being responsible?

Or is he just asking for money?


If he's asked you for actual help, that's one thing. But calling up someone he used to know to hit them up for money is not only a sign of desperation, it is a sign that he hasn't hit that point where he recognizes that his own actions are what is putting him in constant trouble. You can't fix something that he hasn't and won't acknowledge - and throwing more money at it isn't going to make it better. Remember that really old saying "give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day..." well, that's what is happening here. He's still not learned how to fish for himself.

I would not give him more money. I'd as nicely as possible explain that you're tapped out, and that you're very concerned over his situation, but the most you can do is offer advice and guidance. Then hope that he actually wants that from you. Any money requests should be met with a "Oh, hun, I wish I could but I don't have a penny to spare... but I can do some checking to see about churches/charities in your area and let you know about them, or I could make some suggestions if you want to get some budgeting help!"


CommonCents

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #13 on: January 10, 2014, 12:19:35 PM »
I really understand how much you want to help him, but I think one thing to really ask yourself:

Is he asking for your help in figuring out how to stop mindless spending and getting and keeping a job and being responsible?

Or is he just asking for money?


I'd revise my earlier comment, because I agree with this.  It is starting to sound like he's just asking for money, which isn't going to fix this situation long-term.  Here's a sample program in my area (I just did a quick google), perhaps there are some in your area you could direct him to if he's interested: http://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2013/04/09/pine-street-new-program-helps-homeless-find-work/VUNkW2MkLrpoJ38JCarj8M/story.html

lcg377

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2014, 12:30:30 PM »
Can you tell us what state he's living in now? We can possibly recommend services to hook them up with.  If he's in Minnesota, I know some good organizations. 

luigi49

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #15 on: January 10, 2014, 01:43:18 PM »
Just wanted to update on this situation.  I sent him the $250 for the deposit on the apartment, plus an extra $100 for incidentals.  They spent the $100 on cleaning supplies for the apartment and fast food.  That was on Thursday.  His new job started on Monday, but he didn't start it because he didn't have gas in his car and couldn't get there.

This is an illustration of the inability to think ahead that has gotten him in so much trouble in the past and will likely continue to.  Are cleaning supplies a bad purchase?  Fast food when you're hungry?  No, but cleaning supplies are a bad purchase when you don't have a tank of gas to get to work and you need to get to work to pay rent.  And fast food is a bad purchase when you're going to be hungry by the next day.

So I sent him a $100 Walmart gift card, just because I hate the thought of his going hungry, but that's all I've done despite the temptation to help him more.  The thing is, I know it won't help him, it'll just kick the can down the road.  They were unable to pay this month's rent after just moving in two weeks ago, so they have been served with an eviction notice.  But if I pay this month's rent, he'll be evicted next month instead.  Also, his car has been repossessed, so this time when he's homeless, I don't know where he'll sleep.

I know how hard it is to dig out from a hole or even start with nothing.  If you can scrape together the deposit for an apartment, and even if you start a new job right away, rent is due at the beginning of the  month but you don't get a paycheck until the end of the month.  If I thought there was any chance he could get a job and keep it, I would provide seed money for the first month so he could use wages from that month to fund the next month and keep his head above water.  But I just don't have that much faith in him right now, and I feel terrible about that, because I keep thinking of that bright little boy and all the potential and how much I loved/love him.

If any of you can think of a way I can help him get on his feet in a meaningful way, please let me know.  My emotions are getting in the way and I just can't think clearly.

Props and thumbs up to you for being there and patient.  I can't do what you are doing as I will get frustrated with the money issue.   I dealt with under privilege kids and adults but I was paid to do it at one time.   In my experience no matter how much you pour your hearts out they have a certain belief.   If you can capture or vice versa the time you guys spent together and work from there he might have a chance.  Some people needs to be nurtured everyday and some kids takes one encounter to have there life change.  Both are good people just never had a chance or see the other side.  In my experience at my other life  I gave them counseling and gave incentives to this kind of population.   I gave them jobs, money, food , housing you name it courtesy of my Uncle Sam. :)  I did this whenever they need it.  My success rate was 1%.  Good luck and dont give up if you really want to help this person, your situation might be different and more personal.   

An example of extreme case with my experience is a kid (19yo) I develop a close relationship with for 4 months.  I had a great relationship with him even though I new he was involve in a gang.  One friday we were just chit chatting and parted with see you monday.  It was a great friday encounter and he was just a normal kid when I left.  Monday I was looking for him and can't find him.  His neighbor told me that he raped a girl over the weekend and ended up in jail.   Yikes.

iwasjustwondering

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #16 on: January 10, 2014, 02:25:41 PM »
I'm glad you gave him the $250.  I hardly think getting one gift of $250 is going to cripple or enable the guy.  Most middle class people, heck, most mustachians, get a lot more than $250 worth of help in this life.  Think of the people whose parents paid for college and then bought them a suit for their first job interviews (I had neither of these, not that it matters).  Are those people enabled? 

CommonCents

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #17 on: January 10, 2014, 02:47:30 PM »
I'm glad you gave him the $250.  I hardly think getting one gift of $250 is going to cripple or enable the guy.  Most middle class people, heck, most mustachians, get a lot more than $250 worth of help in this life.  Think of the people whose parents paid for college and then bought them a suit for their first job interviews (I had neither of these, not that it matters).  Are those people enabled?

It was more that he needed another $100 after he spent the $250+$100, and still didn't manage to make it to the all crucial first day of the job, which could have made him lose the job.

I can see giving him the $250 - and even the $100 on top of that, but the second $100 is where I start questioning whether he has a plan, purpose to get out of this situation or if he's just milking Grey Matter.

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #18 on: January 10, 2014, 03:58:22 PM »
I would cut any financial aid off. Give advice, find local organizations like others have mentioned, but it's too hard to enforce accountability over long distance.

Heck, as I know from watching my parents deal with my now-deceased (drugs) older sister, it's hard enough to enforce accountability for financial loans when you're just a few minutes away.

Gray Matter

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #19 on: January 11, 2014, 05:31:53 AM »
Thank you all for the excellent advice (and for the compassion you've shown to both me and my "little buddy").  Other than the initial $250 (which he asked for as a loan, though I gave it to him as a gift), he hasn't asked for money, though perhaps some of his comments could be construed as hints.  But we have lengthy e-mail exchanges about all kinds of things, and mentioning that he can't pay rent is just embedded in there somewhere.  I honestly don't think he views me as a gravy train, and I've been sure he knows we're on a budget and are belt-tightening due to my going part-time.  I believe we have a genuine friendship built on our past.  I don't get any sense of entitlement from him.

Offering non-financial help is a great idea.  I've tried to find local organizations that could help him, but haven't had much luck.  He's in TX if anyone can point me in the right direction.  I volunteer at an organization in my city that works with chronically underemployed people like him.  They have often had issues with drugs/alcohol and prior convictions and this organization provides training, resume and interviewing skills, and helps them find livable wages.  About 80% of people who go through their programs are still employed in the same job a year later, which is quite an amazing turn-around.  Unfortunately, we're a 1000 miles away from him. I've reached out to them to see if they know of a similar organization in TX, but haven't heard back yet.

I was on the verge of paying his first month's rent at the time I paid the deposit, when he had a job lined up for that Monday, but I thought I should wait and see and I think that was the right decision, since he didn't go to the job.  I don't think that paying his rent would necessarily enable/harm him (if being homeless isn't rock bottom and motivation enough to work, I don't think paying his rent or not paying it is going to have much influence either way).  But I have uses for that money and am willing to forgo those and give it to him if I thought it would actually help, and it doesn't seem like it would.

I will keep talking to him and trying to be helpful where I can with out being pushy, and if I see any hint of his taking responsibility, I will think very carefully about how I can help him get a leg up without enabling him.  At one point, when he was working and talking about going to school to be a counselor a year or so ago, I had fantasies about providing an anonymous scholarship through the school.  But he never applied to school, and we seem so far away from that right now.

This weighs so heavily on me.  It's like standing by and watching someone drown.  Hearing your objective perspectives has been very helpful.

Emg03063

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2014, 01:02:06 PM »
Thanks for the update, and I'm sorry things didn't work out this time.  For perspective, last time I saw my "little brother" (about 4 years ago), he was unemployed, living in his grandmother's basement, and trying to co-parent his then 2yo son with his then gf (the kid's mom).  He had just gotten out of jail (DUI, I think), and I spent a day trying to help him find a job and and to connect with agencies that could help.  We found a gas station/convenience store that was hiring, and he arranged an interview for himself for the next day, which he missed because he spent the night in the ER after his son fell down a flight of stairs.  I understand he frustration.  Ultimately, I had to recognize the fact that his situation was beyond my capacity to address, and to sever the "emotional ties", just to maintain my own sanity.  He has since found work and made plans to further his education.  It's a hard realization to accept that your situations are so far apart that perhaps your direct involvement isn't the best thing for either of you.  I would suggest that you tell him to get a case manager from his local welfare office, and filter any direct financial assistance through their lens of objectivity.  The US government actually does a halfway decent job of keeping the working poor off the streets, IMO (through section 8 and public housing), and you should be seeing to it that he is exhausting these options before using you for financial assistance.  Obviously that means he'll be a bit less comfortable than he might be if you were to help directly, but it's hard to be objective when you're emotionally involved, and there's no need for you to shoulder this burden alone.  There are 150 million us taxpayers co-funding programs which will help him, and the wealthiest of them have a lot more free cash than you, I'm sure.  He perhaps could have walked to work, ridden a bike, or taken a bus, but none of this occurred o either of you at the appropriate time.  This is what trained social workers are for.  I strongly suggest you tell him to get in touch with one, and go from there.

SwordGuy

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2014, 01:51:25 PM »
Honestly, the only difference between this person in trouble and all the other anti-mustachian hall of shame folks is that they have zero resources to fall back on.  "Bad cause" directly translates into "bad effect" because there is no buffer to draw upon.


Mori

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2014, 11:42:11 AM »
I'd start with the United Way of Texas--if nothing else they usually have a list of places to direct people to.

Secondly, I'd read Ruby Payne's "A Framework for Understanding Poverty". I had it recommended to me and it's a good read so far (not finished with it yet).

I'll also say from personal experience that money doesn't really help, not usually. That's not to say that money won't solve the immediate issues--it's the long-term ones that cause the most problems (lack of employment in the area, lack of access to affordable childcare, lack of learned skills to utilize to get a job, etc.). The thing that I've learned is to give time, thought, and suggestions, not cash.

Gray Matter

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #23 on: April 01, 2015, 07:25:58 AM »
I know it's not cool to resurrect an old thread, but I wanted to provide an update on this one, since more than a year has passed.  My "little buddy" (now over 30 and 6 feet tall) and I have stayed in touch this year, and he faltered a few times, but then found his footing.  He kept a job for over a year with one company, was promoted during that time, and just recently got a new job driving an ambulance, which is pretty cool and something you could feel really good about, I imagine.  It's important work.

He also asked me where he could send a check to pay me back for the money I loaned, but I declined, and told him to keep it as a wedding present.  Yup--he just got married!  She seems like a great match--stable, good mother, etc.  This is his first (and hopefully last) marriage.  I'm so happy for him, it makes me teary just thinking about it.

I sent him some photos recently from way back when we were buddies, and he told me these are the only photos he has of his childhood.  He also told me that when he was a kid, he would stand by the window for hours on the days he knew I was coming, that sometimes I seemed to be the only person who cared about him, and that he always hoped my family would adopt him.  Heartbreaking stuff, but also really gratifying.  If you would have asked me in the intervening 15 years between when we lost touch and found each other again, I would have told you that I'd had little to no impact on his life, other than taking him out once a week to have a little fun, which I thought the kid deserved but didn't think would have any lasting impact.  I always felt like I got more out of our relationship than he did, but this is a good reminder that never know the impact you're having on people, especially kids, and that every kid needs someone who thinks they're awesome.

 

2ndTimer

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #24 on: April 01, 2015, 07:42:30 AM »
Hi Greymatter:

I am thrilled to hear about your little buddy.  Obviously we can't say what all contributed to his life improvement but it may well have been your support and your $350 that was the deciding factor.  Somebody believed in him.  He obviously values you very much to want to pay you back what must seem like a fair chunk of change to him.  Sometimes everything works the way it's supposed to work.  Sniffle.

lil_miss_frugal

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #25 on: April 01, 2015, 07:47:17 AM »
Wow, nice story. I'm glad things are going well for this guy and I hope things continue to get better for him. Gray Matter, you may not have known it at the time but as you can see now you truly had a positive impact on this person's life! Sadly, there are still hundreds or thousands of kids that are going through the exact same thing as your buddy went through as a child. All they need are positive role models in their lives to see that life can be better. Being poor and wanting to work at McDonald's is all he knew because that was all he was exposed to. I wish kids today in similar situations that don't have role models could have people like you in their lives to give them hope that things can and will get better if they are lead down the right path!

olivia

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #26 on: April 01, 2015, 07:52:19 AM »
What a great update. I hope your little buddy continues to do well!

MandalayVA

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #27 on: April 01, 2015, 08:01:49 AM »
It's stories like this that restore my faith in humanity.  Good job, Gray Matter, and good job, (not so little anymore) buddy!

pachnik

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #28 on: April 01, 2015, 08:06:56 AM »
Thanks for the update.  Sounds like the young man is heading in a positive direction.  Kudos to you in taking the time out from your life to have this relationship.  I love reading positive things like this.

Cheers!
Pachnik

aceyou

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2015, 08:14:20 AM »
Thanks so much for posting an update!!!  I'm a math teacher at a large district.  I've been given 3 repeater sections this semester, where I teach the 90 students who just failed Geometry 1st semester.  Often I go home feeling like I work my tail off, and have such a small impact on them, because they don't outwardly seem to want to be helped.  This was very good encouragement. 

Skipper

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2015, 08:34:09 AM »
What an amazing story! This is such a good reminder of how much impact seemingly small things can have on the people who need them, and that our lives are pretty damn amazing. (I'm taking care of my mother who is undergoing cancer treatment and needed a reminder that life could be a hell of a lot worse.) Thank you for sharing. Blessings on you and your buddy :)

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2015, 08:36:21 AM »
Awe, I just got teary-eyed, reading this update :)

What a wonderful progression.

Secretly Saving

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2015, 09:22:28 AM »
The most recent update is awesome!  I am so glad you came back to post, Gray Matter.  It sounds like he has finally found stable ground.  I can't wait to hear what he's accomplished in another year, or two or five!

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #33 on: April 01, 2015, 02:12:54 PM »
Well, I just started crying in my cubicle. Thanks. Thanks a LOT.

Cookie78

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2015, 02:52:21 PM »
Well, I just started crying in my cubicle. Thanks. Thanks a LOT.

+1

What a sweet story. I'm glad his situation is starting to work out better. :)

crispy

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2015, 03:31:50 PM »
Thanks for the great update!  I, too, am teary-eyed reading it.

Argyle

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2015, 04:05:30 PM »
+1!

MsPeacock

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2015, 05:58:29 PM »
I would cut any financial aid off. Give advice, find local organizations like others have mentioned, but it's too hard to enforce accountability over long distance.

Heck, as I know from watching my parents deal with my now-deceased (drugs) older sister, it's hard enough to enforce accountability for financial loans when you're just a few minutes away.

+1.

Similar situation w/ highly dysfunctional family member (in and out of jail, in and out of mental hospital, in and out of homelessness, in and out of misc relationships). It just never stops. My decision for helping was that I would 1) talk to her on the phone anytime and offer support and encouragement and advise 2) I would be glad to talk to anyone she wanted me to talk to (case manager, her doctors, hospital's indigent payment program, patrol officers) 3) I would send her clothing (used, from thrift store) when her stuff got stolen or lost again and 4) I would not send her money  because she was wholly untrustworthy and so lacking in judgment that there was no question that she would get herself into trouble w/ it. Money would not improve her life at all. Her ability to improve her situation rested on her making better choices - something I could not make her do.

I would say you are facing a similar situation - money provides a very temporary "fix' and then you are right back into crisis mode. So, I would agree - cut off the financial help because they are not going to stop having financial problems until their behavior changes. Help them find ways to change their behavior. In the long run it will be much better for them.

caliq

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Re: Dilemma: how to help someone with a poor track record?
« Reply #38 on: April 01, 2015, 06:24:31 PM »
I would cut any financial aid off. Give advice, find local organizations like others have mentioned, but it's too hard to enforce accountability over long distance.

Heck, as I know from watching my parents deal with my now-deceased (drugs) older sister, it's hard enough to enforce accountability for financial loans when you're just a few minutes away.

+1.

Similar situation w/ highly dysfunctional family member (in and out of jail, in and out of mental hospital, in and out of homelessness, in and out of misc relationships). It just never stops. My decision for helping was that I would 1) talk to her on the phone anytime and offer support and encouragement and advise 2) I would be glad to talk to anyone she wanted me to talk to (case manager, her doctors, hospital's indigent payment program, patrol officers) 3) I would send her clothing (used, from thrift store) when her stuff got stolen or lost again and 4) I would not send her money  because she was wholly untrustworthy and so lacking in judgment that there was no question that she would get herself into trouble w/ it. Money would not improve her life at all. Her ability to improve her situation rested on her making better choices - something I could not make her do.

I would say you are facing a similar situation - money provides a very temporary "fix' and then you are right back into crisis mode. So, I would agree - cut off the financial help because they are not going to stop having financial problems until their behavior changes. Help them find ways to change their behavior. In the long run it will be much better for them.

You should really reread the entire thread -- OP posted a lovely update today :)