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Letter: Aggressive panhandlers are a real problem

In response to Barbara Keshen’s comment regarding panhandlers in Concord, “Is this a real problem, or is it a solution in search of a problem?” (“City may curtail begging,” Monitor front page, Jan. 22): Yes this is a real problem, Ms. Keshen.

The panhandling community in Concord has grown significantly in the past few years, and the panhandlers are getting more aggressive. I regularly use Exit 14 and I shop at the Fort Eddy Road Shaw’s supermarket. Panhandlers now stand at the end of the exit. They come right up to the edge of the road and hold their signs up to the cars. Yes, it is an uncomfortable feeling, but when my children are with me, it makes them feel unsafe to the point that they lock the doors.

Recently I was on Fort Eddy Road waiting in line to turn right onto Bridge Street. There was a panhandler on the sidewalk. As I started to move, he chased my car, holding his sign as close as he could to my passenger window. Did I feel uncomfortable? You bet! It scared me, and I’m glad my children were not with me.

We contribute regularly to organizations in the Concord area that help families who need assistance. I question whether what we see as the professional panhandlers are truly looking for that kind of help. There needs to be an ordinance regarding panhandling in Concord and it needs to be enacted now!

KAREN ROUILLARD BARRY

Concord

The Salvation Army year after year gets top star ratings from charity watchdog groups. Those ratings are based on how much money they bring in, expenses, etc. And how much of the money donated % wise actually goes to funding programs etc. Also includes CEO pay. If you really want to know which charities are the ones to give to, do your homework. I prefer to give my money to charities that actually work.

In a different city, Laconia and Tilton, when I went to Walmart (Tilton) I was greeted by a convicted junky ringing the Salvation Army bell taking collections of money for Christmas. That person has been ordered by the courts to do community service and this is where she was placed. In Laconia the bell-ringer near the stop sign where you enter the rotary/main street saw me and angrily started to ring his bell hard as he knew that I knew who the bell ringing dirt-bag was. I'm sure this pillar of the community was also court ordered for community service gathering money for the Salvation Army. I wonder how much of these donated funds actually were collected, how much actually got back to the Salvation Army, and how much went to their drug habit?

Hey Jonstah ! Wow. Is this normal salvation Army policy to use court ordered people to collect money? BTW Hope you are well !!!!

Hi Driver and Rabbit, I believe court ordered community service comes in many venues. These folks that I speak of have committed crimes and have been ordered to community service as part of their sentence. It sounds like a good thing for them to do unless you're the victim of their mis-deeds which all result in funding their addiction, something that grates on my consciousness. I know the Salvation Army does it's best to keep their ranks drug free and honest but these folks will not go into treatment unless court ordered and taxpayer funded. There is no good answer for any cure for addicts until the government wants to get tough on drugs. Their "war" on drugs doesn't work and putting these petty thieves and users in front of busy stores, street corners, their victims, et al, will not decrease or diminish their drug use. All is well Driver as I had my last treatment for my cancer. A 2 1/2 year ordeal is now over and things are getting better already, Thanks for asking!

Hey Jonstah. The Salvation Army has a Prisoner Release Program that they sponsor. That Program includes job training, looking for places that will hire ex felons, getting housing etc. The Salvation Army pays bell ringers when they do not have enough folks volunteer. The idea being, the more bell ringers, the more donations collected. They are paid minimum wage, and are temporary employees. They do allow felons who are in their Prisoner Release program to ring bells, based on what crime they were committed of. The Salvation Army sees this program as preventing future crime. The paid bell ringers are for the most part non felons. The United Way also hires felons by the way, as does some of the military. The govt also has a program that gives companys that hire felons bond backing in case the ex felon rips them off. Nobody wants to hire an ex felon. Salvation Army sees their ex felon program as a way to help them get back into society.

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