How many times are you going to pass by the Market Basket complex at Coggeshall Street before you realize that the same three beggars who have been there for a couple of years are not really homeless?


Sitting at the light, watching the arrow go from red to green back to red again, as the guy two cars ahead of me offers up some sage advice and a few greenbacks to the beggar on the side of the road—that's when the irony of the situation hit me. This do-gooder is keeping me from getting to work while handing money to a guy who refuses to work.

I am as compassionate as the next guy but somewhere along the way, it became clear to me that helping folks does not mean enabling them. If you sincerely want to help one of these downtrodden souls, take them for a haircut and a clean shirt. Show them how to fill out a job application and prepare them for a job interview. Help them to achieve and succeed rather than to beg for your handout and a lecture.

The same people report to the same corners every day all week as if they were punching clocks. They are there in the morning when I go to work and again in the evening as I make my way home. Hmmm. Kinda like shift work, no? And many of them have been doing it for a very long time.

The U.S. economy is stronger than it has ever been. There are way more jobs than there are people looking for work. I saw a sign at Dunkin' yesterday offering $12 per hour plus tips. It's a start.

I wonder about people who feel the need to roll down the window and give the beggar a little speech before handing over the cash. I wonder what they say to themselves as they drive away? They probably feel pretty good about themselves, as though they've just done their little part to end homelessness or something. Damn Trump!

Next time you give a beggar a handout, rather than patting yourself on the back, think about whether you have extended their cycle of dependency or whether you may have just given that person the money to buy the dose of drugs that will kill them.

If no one gave to the beggars on the corner,s they would be forced to seek help or maybe find a job and become self-sufficient again.

Now that would be a wonderful way to truly help someone.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420