Homeless event at Weston Park goes viral

Facebook comment thread reveals public’s true thoughts on local charity

■ Chronicle News Staff

Editor’s note: Because an upcoming event was submitted for publication by a reader – but it didn’t make the week’s newspaper prior to the event – The Valley Chronicle’s Christopher Smith, the paper’s Advisory Editor, placed the following on the newspaper’s Facebook page and also on the page of “Hemet Eye News.” Below is an edited comment thread from the public in response to those posts.

Feed-the-homeless event, Weston Park, Saturday, Dec. 29
If you’ve thought about helping the homeless but weren’t sure what to do, come on down to Weston Park, 700 E. Florida Ave., from 1-4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 29, and meet the folks who are feeding the homeless: Punx in the Park.
The group is a local offshoot of Food Not Bombs, which is an international organization working to change people’s focus from war to feeding the hungry.
The group will be accepting donations of food and clothing and helping to redistribute them to the local homeless community. The group’s motto is, “Let’s work for nonviolent social change.”
Several local bands will be present including Koala and the Kholes, Standard Issue Acoustic, and Juanii from Raztecali.

Mary Ann Morris
Reply to Christopher Smith: Hope it’s permitted. If not you are contributing to the problem.

Christopher Smith
Reply to Mary Ann Morris: Frankly, I think the local homeless “problem” is far beyond the point where it will be either enabled or extinguished by giving out a free meal in the park or withholding same. This is a growing national issue. There need to be real solutions – as many other cities today are realizing. Please see my three-part series on the homeless in The Valley Chronicle this past fall for a rundown on cities implementing innovative solutions.

Mary Ann Morris
Reply to Christopher Smith: Perhaps the newspaper’s efforts might be better spent on the root cause — mental illness and drug addiction. That is much more pressing than the tweakers and degenerates (whom I’m sure are just misunderstood) who hang out at Weston Park. Even the true homeless stay as far away from that place as possible. Just two weeks ago, I watched one of the bicycle backpack brigade spray painting bicycles. Do you think he just wanted to switch out his ride for a different color or do you think he was painting stolen bikes?

Marianne Derouin
Who’s going to pick up the trash?

Mary Ann Morris
Reply to Marianne Derouin: I’m sure it won’t be them. They believe “rent is theft” according to the organizer’s Facebook page.

Marianne Derouin
Reply to Mary Ann Morris: So who should pay? I’m so confused. If no one paid for anything and we grew our own food and we lived by the light of the sun and we had a creek to get our water from and cut down trees for our shelter then why are they advertising on social media? Who pays for that? How are they getting the money to buy the food from the store that people work at to pay rent, so they are not homeless! Sheesh.

Christopher Smith
There were five police cars surrounding the park while the shift commander and another officer had a conversation with the half dozen idealistic young people who would like to help the homeless by giving them a free meal. Due to the warnings the night before from a police commander, who called one of the organizers at home, they brought no food Saturday, just a sign that read: “Food is a Right, Not a Privilege” while they sang songs and played guitar. Meanwhile, a contingent of soccer moms was parked across the street while one of them approached and lambasted the group for allegedly “endangering children.” (Obviously, the homeless are quite a sore point in Hemet!) Meanwhile, why has no one heard anything lately from “the Hot (Homeless Outreach) Team” that was supposed to be addressing the homeless issue with creative new solutions?

Judith McPherson
Yeah I haven’t seen much visibility with regards to the HOT team lately myself. The half dozen or so young idealists should be encouraged to volunteer with The Community Pantry, help at Valley Restart or the Salvation Army, or at a church of their choosing. As Mary Ann pointed out, this valley is flooded with nonprofit organizations. What has happened to Project Hope in Hemet? I heard they are no longer open for business. Is that true? And, by the way, I am no soccer mom just a “disgruntled old broad” as described by these wonderfully young idealists, and by their account, same depiction by HPD. Hmm.

John Santos
Sounds like a party for the junkies and bums…feed the real homeless!

Becky Adams
If it does take place, police need to shut it down and issue fines. Permits are required.

Denise Galeener
I don’t understand how people don’t understand that this is just feeding the problem here in Hemet and San Jacinto.

Michelle Cavin
I just don’t get what all the fuss is about. Weston Park has been called “Hobo Park” since I’ve been here. It’s already the park where many homeless spend their days. It’s not like the “good” citizens of Hemet will be put off from visiting their beloved park when they never go there anyway. There are other parks to visit tomorrow, “good” citizens of Hemet.

Mary Ann Morris
Reply to Michelle Cavin: No there are not other parks to go to because the druggies have infested everything. The real homeless stay away from Weston Park. It’s all druggies and thieves. The good citizens of Hemet would LOVE to be able to take their kids to the public parks. But they can’t. Unless of course you have a metal detector to sweep for needles.

Michelle Cavin
Reply to Mary Ann Morris: Give it a rest. Your personal witch hunt is more than obvious. They are basically young people who want to do something good. Why don’t you let them, for crying out loud. If you don’t want to see people hand out some warm clothes in 30 degree weather and offer a small bit of food for a day, then stay away from the event. Maybe go to Mary Henley Park which is close to my home and still “safe” for you and your children.

Samantha J. Brown
Why do people have to be so awful? Those poor people are hungry! Not all of them are drug addicts. Some homeless people are mentally ill and have nobody to help him. It’s so sad how people think it’s a bad idea to help them. If they had help, there would be less homeless people.

Mary Ann Morris
Reply to Samantha J. Brown: There is PLENTY of help and existing nonprofits for those who truly want help. How about concentrating your efforts with one of the existing organizations? Valley Restart, Community Pantry, United Way, Salvation Army are just a few right here in town.
I for one am tired of offering people food when they just throw it out when you turn your back.

Nicholas Orlandos Sr.
Did you notice the sentence in the post that read, “If you’ve thought about helping the homeless but weren’t sure what to do, come on down to Weston Park…?” Really? Why wouldn’t they list the many places that take donations already? Why instead of undermining a process or system that already exists and do this? The police have been busting their butts trying to make the parks less of a magnet for the homeless because the public has demanded it. Now you have an organization that is attracting them back as if it were a new feeding ground. I just think it’s not necessary and only certified or sanctioned locations allowed by the city for donations should be the way to go.

Jennifer Araby
It’s a meal for someone who needs it, not a free pair of Nike’s. I think it’s called humanity; that’s when you do something nice. Whatever they chose to do with it, is on them. Just my thoughts.

Judith McPherson
Reply to Jennifer Araby: According to the post made by the Valley Chronicle staff, this is an EVENT. When we hold special events on OUR OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY downtown, we apply for and pay for: temporary use permit, liability insurance for special event, private security, extra trash pick-up, and more. Why do we do all of the aforementioned? Because the Municipal Code of the City of Hemet REQUIRES it. The City of Hemet has local laws, as delineated with its Municipal Code that address such events put on within the public properties of the City of Hemet.

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