0719 PV Deborah Paul .jpeg

A lot of conversation is buzzing around the question, “What would you do if you won the Mega Millions lottery?”

Talk is cheap, but my husband and I have discussed this before. We would buy up acres of land in the desert and create a ranch or farm for the jobless/homeless where they could come to learn a skill, work and thrive.

They would be offered the opportunity to live in a modern, air-conditioned facility complete with a medical staff on duty.

Because of my own faith and how it’s helped me through the years, the residents would probably have to withstand attending either church, mosque or synagogue.

People entering our ranch would have to learn a skill or trade whether it be, raising horses, sheep, service animals for the blind or deaf, welding, electrical, cooking, plumbing, farming—basically anything to help run the farm or ranch, or a learn a skill to take with them when they are ready to reenter society.

This definitely sounds Utopian or like the 1937 “Lost Horizon” movie, but it’s about all my finite brain can handle if we won that many dollars.

The reason I would create a place of hope for the jobless/homeless to succeed is that my family and I once lived in destitute conditions, too. To look at me now, no one would ever guess the Salvation Army helped my family one year by taking us shopping to buy coats, galoshes and mittens against the harsh St. Louis winter.

At one time, when my father was busy raising his second family, we lived in an apartment house that was so overrun with rats and mice, we had to throw our shoes down the back steps to frighten the varmints away if we wanted to go down the stairs in the evening.

The rent was only $98 monthly, but my Mom, who worked two jobs, got a few months behind and the landlord put us out on the street. I was only about nine at the time, but was still able to grasp the despair of poverty.

Fortunately, aunts and uncles, who had little themselves, and a few others stepped in to help us.

When I see intentional trash, tents and stench the homeless are leaving around parks and open areas in our own community, downtown Los Angeles and along the highways, I see people who are a blight on our cities, state and country.

Even now, people are being paid to come to our country to demand American charity instead of marching on their own governments, adding to the insurmountable homeless damage to our country.

The homeless who want help to beat their demons, reach out.

I believe rising above poverty starts with myself even if it’s just picking up litter on my street, the golf course, at a park, on a hike, or even in when visiting other countries. It drives me nuts to see a potato chip bag flying around in the middle of beautiful scenery.

I can’t understand other people like paint taggers or lazy litterbugs—who may not be homeless in our communities—but who purposely turn their own apartments, homes and surrounding areas into a slum.

I couldn’t wait to get away from the St. Louis blight of my childhood.

Kids live on trash heaps in places like Egypt, India and Africa as well as most of the war torn areas of the world because they have no choice. Most of our homeless in the US have options.

Yes, if Jim and I had a few Mega Millions to spare, we would endeavor to offer a desert Shangri-la to help homeless folks who want to change their sad plight. For now, we just do what we can, one small project at a time.

Deborah Paul is a freelance writer and contributing journalist to the Peninsula News and Daily Breeze. Her husband, Jim currently helps build houses and welding schools for indigent populations in the US and around the world.

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