Next time you give a handout......


Found this article.....I have always suspected as much of these street panhandlers, this just confirms it. Next time you go to roll down that window, just think of this article: (copied in full text for those of you who might not be able to access the link)

Panhandling $250 to $300 a week

He spent it all on crack, didn't quit until it became too much like work


Reginald Tull was a successful panhandler. Photos, Jennifer Midberry, Daily News

IT'S NOT difficult to see why Reginald Tull was a successful panhandler.

He's a well-spoken, thoughtful and gregarious 36-year-old - somebody you might want to pal around with.

For five years he used those skills to con people into giving him money to support his crack cocaine habit.

But about a month ago, Tull checked himself into the Gateway Service Center, ready to become a "productive member of society" again. Gateway provides a "clean and sober" program along with shelter, treatment and transitional aid for homeless drug addicts and drunks.

As city officials and community leaders grapple with ways to curb panhandling just as the summer tourist season heats up, Tull's personal narrative is instructive.

"You can make a good living panhandling. For somebody who's addicted, why would they want to do anything else?" Tull said.

Last week, City Councilman Jim Kenney introduced legislation to amend the sidewalk behavior ordinance to give police more authority to issue violation notices and make arrests if panhandlers refuse appropriate social services.

Tull said he often took in as much as $250 to $300 a week. (The current minimum wage for a 40-hour week is $206.) Most of the tax-free earnings were used to buy crack, he said.

"No more than five times did I use it for food," he said.

Tull said if people had stopped giving him money, it probably would have helped set him straight much sooner. "But they didn't stop," he sighed.

Tull wasn't always a street hustler looking to score his next rock of crack.

He said he had a "good upbringing" and both his father and mother worked - he at the Naval Yard and she at the old Breyers ice cream plant in West Philadelphia. His parents are now deceased.

Tull graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School, studied computer science at La Salle from 1984-88 (but didn't graduate), even worked briefly as an office clerk at the old Philadelphia Naval Shipyard in the early 1990s.

But he soon lost his job. He was hooked on crack and in and out of jail through much of the 1990s.

Tull said he started panhandling in 1996 or 1997, after he got out of jail for the last time. Most of the busts were for petty theft, shoplifting and the like.

"You know, robbing Rite Aid, simple assault, criminal mischief, those kinds of things," Tull said.

"I just did not want to go to jail any more, but I still had an addiction to feed, so panhandling became the viable option," he said.

Unlike being a jailbird, panhandling was "acceptable," he added.

For a long time, it was profitable and fun, too.

"I kind of turned it into a game for me...I checked you out, kind of sized you up," he said. "I knew who I could follow halfway down the block, or who I could say certain things to. I don't believe I was ever disrespectful."

Tull said most of his donors were urban whites.

He begged mostly in front of a Wawa at 11th and Arch streets, but also along the Avenue of the Arts.

Tull, who was living out of an abandoned car on Ridge Avenue, eventually became burned out begging for drug money and lining up at soup kitchens.

"Panhandling can become like a job, and it just got real stressful. I would think, 'Man, I got to go out and stand back on that corner and bug people and get rejected most of the time just to get some money some of the time,' " he said.

"I got tired of the runaround, the constant cycle of panhandling, going to buy the crack, using the crack..."

When other panhandler-addicts feel the same way, when they get sick and tired of the hustle, only then will panhandling stop, Tull believes.

When Tull walked into Gateway in early May at Hamilton and 9th streets, he said he was just looking for a place to sleep and had "no intention" of giving up crack.

In fact, many panhandlers drop by the shelter for a meal and a shower and then hit the streets again, said Frank Richardson, the shelter's director.

"Some guys just aren't ready yet," he said.

"I love using...I been doing this for 16 years, and it's been, you know, like a pretty nice thing, but I came into this program because I was beat and I was tired of living like that," Tull said. "I wanted something better for my life."

Tull said the support counselors at SELF's Gateway shelter - themselves former street addicts - broke him down. "They made me realize I can't have anything in life if I use," he said.

Tull and others are required to stay off drugs and booze and to take part in various forms of counseling and job training. Random urine testing helps keep them honest. The main work is done through group reinforcement and peer counseling.

Eventually, shelter residents move on to independent living and outpatient services. Richardson said about half return to the streets.

Most residents are men in their late 20s to early 40s, who haven't finished high school but have held jobs and have some skills. Richardson described Tull as "above average" from most residents.

"I have slowly learned, and through this program, I do realize I cannot do anything if I use. But if I use this program, I can't fail," he said.

"When it comes down to it, I want to be my own man."


6,620 Posts

It's probably a lot better to give money to a local charity working to prevent homelessness rather than just handing it out on the streets. They did a news report here a few years ago about rich kids who would dress up like they were poor and make hundreds a week panhandling. I stopped giving after that!


156 Posts

Specializes in critical care. Has 2 years experience.

There was a story on the news in Dallas about a local panhandler who went to Shreveport every weekend to gamble. my FIL says its worth it to him to help anyone in need because even if he only helps one and the others are fakes, at least he helped one.


20,964 Posts

Specializes in Specializes in L/D, newborn, GYN, LTC, Dialysis. Has 26 years experience.

this is why i say voluteering one's TIME is invaluable. to me, when you do so, you give TWICE. just my opinion. and you feel GOOD about it. You know where it goes and whom it benefits. ty for this article!


835 Posts

Well, as you may know, Vegas is probably the pan-handling capitol of the world. "Will Work for Food"... "Please help me get Home"...."Why Lie? I need a damn Drink"..."Money stolen, please help"....."Pregnant and broke, need food"

It just goes on & on. People come here, gamble their lives away and hit the skids.

When I first got here, very green and naive (sp?), a panhandler approached me saying he hadn't eaten for days, could I spare a dollar? I said I was going to Wendy's, I'd be glad to buy him a meal. This guy cursed me out BIG TIME. :eek: So much for hunger - for something other than FOOD.

I volunteer my time for charities. Every year, my daughter goes through her toys and chooses the one's she doesn't play with anymore to donate to other needy children. She goes WITH me to the childrens shelter so she can see that there truly are children who appreciate her giving. That, to me, is one of the most valuable lessons she can learn.


829 Posts

Originally posted by LasVegasRN

a panhandler approached me saying he hadn't eaten for days, could I spare a dollar? I said I was going to Wendy's, I'd be glad to buy him a meal. This guy cursed me out BIG TIME. :eek: So much for hunger - for something other than FOOD.

I've heard that that's happened to a lot of people. :o

Good for all of you for donating time instead of money. And Vegas, as always, you're a great mom for showing your daughter by example.

My sister used to carry a stack of flyers in her car with her that gave locations of shelters, soup kitchens, and agencies to help find permanent housing/funding for people in need. She'd pass those out through her window instead of $$. Made sense to me.


317 Posts

Our area finally made it illegal to panhandle in the streets. I didn't miss them at all and hadn't even thought of them for quite some time now but used to see them at every large intersection and at night under the bridges. Our homeless pop has dwindled since we are no longer panhandle friendly. When I was a kid, it was my mom who taught me that the "bums" were just out for the money to buy booze. In our area the panhandlers were making $100+/day and only working the street for 3-4 hours. Which means they were making more than most of us! Now they buy crack, what a shame. Your county or city could pass the same laws too!

Nurse Ratched, RN

2,149 Posts

Specializes in Geriatrics/Oncology/Psych/College Health.

My cynicism of panhandling comes from seeing the addicts I treat (who always come in with a mess of xanax, lortab, pot and the ever-present cell phone) out on the street asking for money.

What scares me more is that these same people, when their admission is being processed (including lab draws), always mention the vein that the local *paying* blood bank uses WHEN THEY GIVE BLOOD!!!!! Granted - that's another thread, but I am strongly opposed to financial remuneration for blood - too much incentive for some people to lie about their medical hx.


712 Posts

LasVegas, you are a great mom. You have taught your daughter the meaning if what it is to be kind to one another and help those in need. It is no wonder you are a nurse!!!!!! keep up the good work. I nominate thee for mother of the year!!!!!!!:-)


835 Posts

originally posted by teshiee

lasvegas, you are a great mom. you have taught your daughter the meaning if what it is to be kind to one another and help those in need. it is no wonder you are a nurse!!!!!! keep up the good work. i nominate thee for mother of the year!!!!!!!:-)

awwww, you and shay are making me blush over here! thanks, just trying to do my best on my own!

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