City Link Letters - March 3, 1999

City Link Letters

March 3, 1999

These letters are the result of the continuing interest in the Arnold Abbott and "Out of site, out of luck" articles written by Jane Musgrave on February 10 and February 24 respectively, and the letters to the editor that followed on the weeks of February 17 and February 24.

Taking the moral low ground

The professional apologists for the homeless assert that it is they who hold the moral high ground. Nothing could be further from the truth [Letters to the editor and "Out of site,out of luck," Feb. 24].

Amongst people of goodwill, the means of exchange are goods and services, not needs and wounds. Virtually without exception, Commissioner Tim Smith's working-class, tax-paying constituents reject the principle that to the degree that a person is competent, productive and responsive to them goes the unrewarded burden, and to the degree that a person is incompetent, lazy and irresponsible to them goes the unearned reward. The arguments and comments of Arnold Abbott,Robert Semak and their gang reek with guilt and envy, and as such fail to persuade truly moral people.

Michael Ferber
Neighborhood Advisory Commission for the Broward Partnership for the Homeless
Fort Lauderdale

May you drown in chopped liver

This old man with a nick nack paddy whack give your dog a bone,but don't feed the homeless!

"The homeless need many things, food is not one of them." To the person who wrote this and claimed to work with the homeless in an anonymous letter to the editor on Feb. 17: You must have pit bull blood in your veins. I am truly sorry for any homeless person who comes in contact with you and your vicious nature. So what's in it for your ego?

Your insensitive and stupid statement reprinted above makes me pray God will bury you in chopped liver heavy on the onions. Scary to think I might have stood next to you while serving food at Tent City. I have had the privilege of working with Arnold Abbott for many years. We have touched the lives of many in a kind, loving, nonjudgmental way. We have served the sick, the elderly, the maimed and forgotten Vietnam veterans. Together, we schlep, bake, broil, slice and dice cuisine for God's children.

Our favorite and most self-serving task is cleaning up the church kitchen, washing and scrubbing 30-plus jumbo pots and pans. You can't imagine how much we look forward to this each week.

Arnold is one of the kindest and most compassionate men I have ever known, as he serves our God in heaven. Lifting all that food gives him tremendous muscles and undying strength to carry on. I wish we could clone Arnold, then this homeless travesty would be no more, not here, not there, not anywhere.

S.A. Weiss
Member of the board of directors
Love Thy Neighbor

A caring twosome

Why do you print all that crap about Arnold Abbott [anonymous letter to the editor, Feb 17]? He is the only person with Marti Forman that gives a f___[coitus] about us, not like that stupid a______[rectum] Mayor Naugle and Steve Werthman [Broward County liaison to the homeless.]

Mark Lewis
Fort Lauderdale

An ego to match his heart

Arnold Abbott has such a big ego that he spent hours looking for me along Broward Boulevard. When he found me actually hiding behind a Dumpster, he put me in his car and drove me to the bus station where he put me on a shuttle bus - he paid for - and took me to the beach where I had the best dinner in a week. Before he shuttled me back, his people gave me enough sandwiches and cake for the rest of the week at day labor jobs. I'm saving up for a real place to live. Arnold said his people would help me find one. Now that is the kind of ego I thank God for.

Billy Jacks
Fort Lauderdale

In praise and defense of Arnold

I would like to respond to the unknown author of the letter sent to City Link re: the homeless in the Feb. 17 issue, signed "Name withheld by request."

First of all, if you want to trash and criticize people you should have the courage to sign your name. You sound like a paid bureaucrat who is probably a hypocrite.

Second, who are you to "judge" these human beings. You don't really know why Richard Courtney did not choose to go to the Homeless Assistance Center. For many of those who resided at Tent City, the $9.4 million building more resembles a prison than a help. The majority of the 200-400 homeless who stayed at Tent City have problems which make it impossible for them to abide by the HAC's stringent rules and many will not be accepted, as you well know.

Thirdly, you must not know Arnold Abbott very well. The impudence of calling him "an old man whose main reason for living is to feed the homeless" is sad. Your attitude is certainly not that of a volunteer. Having been volunteers for over five years with Love Thy Neighbor, founded by Arnold Abbott, we find him to be one of the most dedicated, caring, gentle, loving, generous persons we have ever met. His personal sacrifices for the betterment of the downtrodden could fill many books, yet he does it all humbly and unknowingly. You, withheld name person, should be half the person he is and you would be great. You probably get paid for working with the homeless and never forget to take your breaks. Arnold Abbott gets no pay, no city, state, or federal funds, provides much from his own pocket and never takes a break.

You evidently don't know the real plight of the homeless. You have all the answers to rehabilitate these folks, but come down to reality. In order to help an alcoholic, he must first "want" to be rid of the demons controlling him. You will not cure him by putting him into a bus to the HAC, telling him what to do with your attitude, and then releasing him in 60 days, as is the current program. You know that the secondary housing is not there for these people. His presence will help your numbers at the HAC, but if you are to help these people in any positive manner, your heart and attitudes must change.

Saying "What else can a 74-year-old man do to feel important" is a slap in the face to every senior citizen. My 95-year-old mother still volunteers in a nursing home, cheering people up. Shame on you!

The "volunteers" of Love Thy Neighbor feed the homeless because regardless of all the facilities you say are out there, they aren't there for the numbers who need it. But you should know this, if as you say, you work with the homeless.

You question Arnold Abbott's motives. It is very simple. The second commandment states, "Love thy neighbor as thyself." This is his motive. We seek no fanfare, get no public funds and no pay except for the love of God and these people. We supply food, clothing, toiletries, etc. but the greatest gifts we give these folks is the human touch - true love, a kind word and greeting, a smile, respect and genuine caring.

As we fed almost 200 people on the beach Wednesday, the beauty of God's gifts to all of us and the gratitude of these hungry people who were smiling made me realize that God too must be smiling. This is the greatest reward of all.

For now,we feed in a very unpopulated area of the beach around sunset, very quietly. Visitors pitched in and helped. They probably realize better than you, phantom writer, that when a person's stomach is full, he is less dangerous. Why can't you see this?

Arnold Abbott has begged the mayor, commissioners, etc., to proclaim another "safe zone" where his group could feed these people. When will you realize that he is the biggest helper you have and it doesn't cost a penny of taxpayers' money for his help? When people are hungry, their natural instinct is to eat and stay alive. If the crimes of these people escalate, it will be thanks to people with attitudes such as yours.

A moron knows there aren't enough city and nonprofit facilities to feed and house all the Broward County homeless. They will not just disappear. Hiring more people to tell them to find a shelter when there aren't any, isn't logical. Filling the jails with them is not practical and wrong. You know there isn't enough jail space available. You just don't seem to get it. It's time you started using your common sense and joined hands with those you criticize, to advocate a "safe zone" for the homeless you will probably never be able to rehabilitate or until there are shelters for all who need them, including the mentally retarded.

Withheld name,face it. The problem is far greater than your mind can comprehend. Attacking those who help the truly needy and abandoned is not the answer. We all need to work together. We cannot abandon those who cannot help themselves. Nor can we put all 6,000 in available shelters.

Joan Fitzpatrick

Spineless and nameless

This letter is in response to the "Name withheld by request." The writer did a great job of trashing three people, namely Richard Courtney, Arnold Abbott and Janet Riley, and did it quite safely by acting the role of coward in withholding his/her name.

Briefly, taking each of the attacked individuals, let's consider: No. 1, Richard Courtney. As a private individual, it would appear that he is still a U.S. citizen, he retains the right to choose whether or not he will enter a particular program and no one has the right to fault him for not choosing to enter the Homeless Assistance Center.

The second individual, Arnold Abbott, spends a great deal of his retirement time feeding the homeless. You say that the homeless need many things, but not food. Wrong! Food is the No. 3 priority behind air and water. There are, of course, other priorities, all of which come in sad fourths, fifths, etc. You ask, "What will the homeless do after they eat? Who will stop the fighting,drinking,drug activity,etc." Let's ask, "What will the homeless do if they do not eat?" Won't it be the same activities on an expanded scale?

You mention a number of programs the homeless need such as housing,jobs,etc., and it's all true. Admitting these needs, however, does not mean that they do not need food. Without food programs, the homeless would hardly be physically capable of taking advantage of other programs. Arnold Abbott's food program, servicing 400-to-600-plus homeless on a given night, while not meeting all of the food service needs of the approximately 6,000 homeless in Broward County,at least,makes sure that some of these homeless have received nourishing meals.

If the new HAC were filled to capacity (200 beds) only from Tent City, it would accomodate no more than 35 to 50 percent of those fed regularly by Arnold Abbott. Arnold Abbott should be commended and roundly applauded for his selfless efforts on behalf of the homeless rather than being viciously attacked and insulted by a cowardly individual hiding behind "Name withheld."

Janet Riley has also suffered from your vicious, unwarranted attack. Your suggestions as to her desires such as "homeless urinating on streets, drug activities, scaring visitors" is a sick presentation, obviously the product of your own mind rather than Janet Riley's whose efforts are intended to help the homeless.

In conclusion, we definitely need the new HAC and based on the number of homeless in Broward County, we need more of them. We also need citizens like Arnold Abbott and Janet Riley whose selfless efforts on behalf of the homeless fill the gap until enough shelters and beds are available. We could use less in the way of mouthy cowards attacking those who are accomplishing a difficult, but necessary service.

William Fitzpatrick

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