More work to do

Thank whomever, the elections are over. Once again, the nation’s eyes turn inward, going from national politics and policies toward home. It’s about time.

We’ve got about two months before the first week of February when state politics start to heat up again. With incumbents reelected virtually across the board in local jurisdictions, readers can basically expect politics as usual to have recommenced on Nov. 8. So kick back, relax for a minute, and instead of talking about our political future, let’s talk about our concrete present.

It’s cold out there. It’s a human peculiarity that many people can only empathize with other human suffering when they can feel a bit of it themselves. For example, a bit of Jack Frost nipping at noses may be enough to inspire some people to help those men, women and children who shiver in their cars and cardboard boxes.

Yes, Reno has a shiny new homeless shelter and some new options for women, but as our population has exploded, as our geographic footprint has grown, as our economy worsens for the poorest among us (but not the richest), so too has our homeless population taken off. Not that you often come downtown with it’s ever-changing labyrinth of impassibility, but when you happen to drive down Fourth Street, doesn’t it seem like you are seeing a lot more people languishing in wheelchairs or flailing arms while carrying on shouted conversations or wearing ill-fitting, patched coats?

But a fire. People can understand a fire, can’t they? Especially the deadliest fire in Reno history. Everyone’s heard about those 70-some people who lost their homes and belongings in the Mizpah fire. Even the most insensitive among us can surely understand that adding six dozen human beings to the roles of the homeless will put a strain even on our massive social safety net.

But look around. As you drive through your perfectly manicured subdivision with its C&Rs and polypasteled color schemes, don’t the trials and tribulations of our community’s less fortunate seem a little remote? When was the last time you saw a homeless and mentally disturbed person pushing a shopping cart through Somersett?

Particularly in the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas, it seems people are a little more generous. This year, though, there’s been a little wrench thrown in the works. Our community, your community, suffered a disaster when that little hotel went up in smoke. People opened up their hearts and their checkbooks to take care of the crisis. But what happens is, since they helped the Mizpah displaced, some folks may feel they’ve done their part to assuage the miseries of the poor in town.

There’s a whole set of needy men, women and children who were in dire straights before the Mizpah was torched. They’re still going to need your help. Maybe you don’t have a lot of money—times are tight all over—but maybe you can see fit to put an extra five bucks in the hands of one of the community support groups who help those in need, like Restart or the Care Chest of Northern Nevada or even the Red Cross.