EDITORíS DESK: The campers: A business solution
This issue includes a story about a hotel ownership that is making a concerted effort to help homeless people better themselves. I find this interesting because we hear
all the time about numerous government agencies, non-profit groups and volunteers with similar aims, but a for-profit business?
Well, why not? In the current situation, what the Express Inn/ C-C Boarding Home Annex is doing makes perfect sense. The entity is taking efficient advantage of a strong giving sentiment in the community. No matter how you or I might feel about the matter, it is an undeniable truth that people by the scores are so moved by the tent-campers along Fountain and Monument creeks that they have been almost burying those folks in donations. This includes four tons of food, cheerfully brought to the creek by well-meaning people over the holidays, which the well-fed campers never needed and which had to be thrown out after being dumped by the creek through repeated freeze/thaw weather changes, according to police. But as Barry Tiggemann of the Express Inn pointed out when we talked last week, "nothing gets wasted here."
And that's the whole point. Unlike earnest volunteers or social workers who might just cluck sadly when their generosity or programs fall flat, the Express Inn has no room for failure in its efforts to attract people from the creeks and into its rooms. It's a business, after all. If it doesn't make money, it fails. So what we're seeing at the hotel is not some pie-in-the-sky program drawn up in Washington, D.C., but good, old-fashioned, quick-reacting, small-business free enterprise at work.
True, the Express Inn model might be unique because of its location (pretty much ground zero for the campers, who like that area because of the creeks, access trails and proximity to freebies at various agencies downtown), but it would seem that similar ideas could work elsewhere. Other hotels or motels, hurting from the economy, could also tie in with churches and other helpful souls, the way the Express Inn has. This could be really big news: capitalism on the forefront of compassion.