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Sign of the times?

Original post made on May 6, 2010

David Phelps, 50, stood for several hours on Sunol Boulevard in front of Raley's yesterday holding a cardboard sign reading, "Will work for food or $." People are generous, he said, giving him food and money. Sometimes they offer yard work and cleanup jobs. He said he was inspired by the book, "Will Work for Food or $: A Memoir from the Roadside," by Bruce Moody. Photo by Dolores Fox Ciardelli.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, May 6, 2010, 10:22 AM

Comments (38)

Posted by Chris
a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Wonder how many of the "real housewife of Ruby Hills" stopped to help...instead looked the other way, thought about where that next granite slab should go, when will I get my hair done in between all these trips to the mall" oh my my....

Posted by Kelly
a resident of Canyon Meadows
on May 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

This guy is a professional panhandler/beggar. Most pros make an average of $150-$300 a day and pay NO taxes. So he's basically taking free money from hardworking American communities in which he does not reside and not paying taxes in. Great trade-off for the Pleasanton schools and Police services!

So Chris, your a woman hater.. You made a personal attack on Pleasanton moms that get haircuts and grocery shop? What did your mom do to you Chris? Obviously you need some serious psychological help. Why don't you go down to this professional panhandler and offer this professional panhandler your bed tonight?

This guy does not have to sleep in his car.
Additionally he can eat for free three times a day at the Christian Health Center in Vallejo. They are also a homeless shelter where he can sleep. They have intake everyday.

Christian Health Center
2166 Sacramento Street
Vallejo CA.
707- 553-8192
1. Head south on Main St toward Division St 0.5 mi
2. Turn right at Bernal Ave 1.3 mi
3. Turn right to merge onto I-680 N toward Sacramento (Go over Martinez Bridge) 31.6 mi
4. Take exit 58A on the left to merge onto I-780 W toward Benicia/Vallejo 6.8 mi
5. Continue onto Curtola Pkwy 0.2 mi
6. Turn left at Lemon St 0.6 mi
7. Turn right at Sonoma Blvd 1.5 mi
8. Turn left at Florida St 0.2 mi
9. Take the 2nd right onto Sacramento St (Christian Health Center
2166 Sacramento Street, Vallejo CA. 707- 553-8192 Destination will be on the right)

He can also visit Mission Solano 707-384-2410
Fathers House Monte Vista Store House for daily showers and daily food: 1130 B East Monte Vista Vacaville Ca open 9-12 and Sat. 9-1pm

Posted by Jose
a resident of Downtown
on May 6, 2010 at 5:10 pm

So let's hear more about Mr Phelps! What is his expertise? Why doesn't he have a job? Has he applied at any of the places near him? How about Raleys? They're always looking for sack monkeys.

Did Mr Phelps take anyone up on their offers of odd jobs?

Posted by Big Poppa
a resident of Del Prado
on May 6, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Obamanomics at its finest.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 6, 2010 at 7:12 pm

Just sick of the Ruby Hill women comments. Pleasanton is a wealthy community. Look at Golden Eagle, Laguna Oaks, Kottinger Ranch, the Preserve. According to Chris, it's only the Ruby Hill women that get their haircut or go to the mall. Actually it's quite a drive from Ruby Hill to the mall, so it doesn't happen very often. Just stop.

Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on May 6, 2010 at 11:32 pm

From the photo, this fellow doesn't seem to be in very good physical health. Would you hire him to work for you(even odd jobs)without him having workers comp. If he injures himself while in your employment, you just might be the one on the street corner asking for food or $$...

We all might feel sorry for people in this situtation and wish to help in some way but just be careful of what could be around the corner...

Posted by drdoug
a resident of Birdland
on May 7, 2010 at 8:18 am

We will hit over 20 million unemployed people within the next few months. Many more will no longer qualify for loans or credit. Stress issues have already risen exponentially and these matters cause many people to go off the deep end having no means of recovery and stability. Traveling over 50 miles to a shelter could take a homeless person weeks. I have worked in a few churches and met and listened to stories of over 120 homeless people. Some of them too came from high and mighty living situations, Doctors, Chefs, Armed Forces, widows, widowers, abused men and women, writers, etc..I would certainly reconsider how any of us treat these folks and offer anyway we can to help them without judgement as we pass by towards the worlds we have, knowing full well they do not have one right now.

Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on May 7, 2010 at 8:47 am

Hopefully, Obama's health care plan will fix this guy right up, free of charge.
Since this guy looks pretty heavy in his picture, missing a few meals might help with his unhealthy weight. Meeshell Obama would be so happy she's indirectly helping, since she is so concerned about obesity.

Posted by John
a resident of Ruby Hill
on May 7, 2010 at 9:02 am

Well it's a tough emotional issue on how to respond to the Ruby Hill Mom by Chris comment on so many levels. So I'll just take my personal approach and respond that while I have been blessed many times after a lifetime of hard work to be able to afford to live in Ruby Hill, I also have contributed well over 10% of my income, each and every year, to help support those less fortunate, both here at home and in many desparately poor areas around the globe.

Chris' uninformed and broad attack on those that have been successful needs a moree educated and thoughtful response that his off the cuff remark.

Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Country Fair
on May 7, 2010 at 9:47 am

All you people are should be ashamed of yourselves...dont be judgemental.. people who are in need may do things you may not agree with... keep your comments to yourslef...people who are fortunate and do things they want to do...keep it to yourself...I would just make sure that you can do what you can do to help those in need without asking for a pat on the back...if you feel that someone is spending to much money on their haircuts... be thankful its not your money they are spending.. keep it to yourself...

bottom line... focus on yourself rather judge others for what they do.. at the end of the day does it really matter to you?

Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2010 at 9:52 am

Chris -- Jealousy is an ugly trait...

On another note, I remember a guy who used to stand near the Orchard Supply Hardware store in San Leandro. He had a brand new tool belt and hammer + a sign that said "Will Work For Food". Many of us who frequented that shopping center owned our own businesses and offered him a job. He NEVER showed up for any of us. The sad truth is that he really didn't want to work, beyond his couple of hours a day near the parking lot exit. I am generous, but hate to be taken advantage of. Now, I only donate to the Salvation Army, or other charitable groups, and I let them sort out those in need from the grifters.

Posted by Jose
a resident of Downtown
on May 7, 2010 at 10:48 am

Hey Disgusted - OK, you're disgusted by people who make judgements about others. How do you feel about hypocrites? Why is it not OK for some of these posters to make judgements about this guy, but it is perfectly OK for you to make judgements about the posters? Why is it that you say these people should keep their comments to themselves, yet it is perfectly OK for you to state your own?

Hypocrites suck. Holier than thou hypocrites suck even more.

Posted by Sue
a resident of Valley Trails
on May 7, 2010 at 11:07 am

I too have offered food to the so called, "homeless" and "hungry" only to be rejected. I have even offered to go buy them something of their choice and they rejected that offer as well. I have offered to let them cut my lawn or pull weeds for money, they rejected that offer as well. They "ONLY" want M-O-N-E-Y...FREE Money and they don't want to do anything for it except stand with a sign that reads, 'Will work for food or $" I have attempted to give them blankets I crochet, they are brand new, but that again isn't money so they refuse it.
I have a job and feel very fortunate. I work hard for a living and am struggling just like everyone else. I have even worked 2 jobs when times get tough and I am 57.

I have no problem honestly helping someone in need, but I refuse to be taken advantage of and watch someone collect money that they do not pay tax on, I pay taxes, so should they.

Posted by Disgusted
a resident of Country Fair
on May 7, 2010 at 11:08 am

Mr. Jose,

Only those offended keep throwing the stones.

Have a good day (:

Posted by Caring Individual
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 7, 2010 at 11:18 am

Those of you who stereotype those with money in Pleasanton are pathetic. My family can afford anything we want and never would have to work another day in our lives but we choose to live in a very modest home and instead keep working to help others. Our kids DID NOT get new cars or all the other latest greats things kids(and some parents) think they must have. Instead we taught them to give and helping others is more important. That said, I encountered this man in Dublin earlier this week. He could barely even get off his chair to walk to his car 5 feet away. I could not take the liability of having a person in this bad of health work at my home. Don't forget about what happened to Elizabeth Smart when her parents had a homeless person do handy work around their home. Unfortunately this is reality. I also do not give money to people on the street - is it going for drugs, alcohol? Instead I offer to purchase a meal, food or a gift certificate that can be used for food. Please think about supporting our local shelters and food pantries!

Posted by reasonable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2010 at 11:45 am

For every person who broadcasts their needs there are many others who would be far too ashamed.... who are heavily into debt not because of frivolous spending but because they took on debt at 5% or 10% to survive a spell of unemployment, and now find themselves unable to pay them at 29% after the credit cards jacked up the rates. Or who are living hand to mouth while parents are un- or under-employed.

The kids can't make it to the sports tournament (too much homework, family event) when it is really the $100 they can't afford but would never ask for a scholarship. They shop at the consignment store (just love the bargains!), stopped going to Starbucks (lattes are too fattening), vacationing at the homes of relatives (family reunion!), not going to Hawaii (summer is just too busy this year). No new car (these Hondas last forever!), no new paint (we're waiting to remodel the whole house), selling the house and downsizing (we never liked this neighborhood and wanted a one-story anyway), moms going back to work (the kids are older now and it was time!), dads around school more (I have a lot more flexibility in my new 'consulting' job). Do you recognize these stories? Some of these people are hurting way worse than you know, but would never admit it.

Posted by PleasantonMom
a resident of Ironwood
on May 7, 2010 at 11:53 am

Hey Obama hater, did u check the job numbers today??

Posted by reasonable
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2010 at 11:55 am

None of this is Obama's fault... the seeds for the downturn were sown long ago under Bush / Greenspan.

Posted by JR
a resident of Danbury Park
on May 7, 2010 at 2:13 pm

The Obama blame just shows there were not problems before he obtained office. I would much rather teach my children how to get along and resolve issues than play the blame game.
As for the Ruby Hills bashing...why such hate for people you do not even know. I am far, far from that economic level but do not have anything against them for havng money. Wow, did some of you get short changed on human kindness when you were young...???

Posted by another mom
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 7, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Hey - leave the Laguna Oaks mom's out of this - we don't deserve it. Oh and by the way - AXIS Health and Valley Care Hospital sure benefited from the RUBY HILL CHARITY BALLS - but you wouldn't know that would you.
10's of thousands of dollars donated to various places in Pleasanton do give an entire neighborhood a bad reputation for the few that deserve it. There are many plain ol' soccer moms at Ruby.
I personally know a mom (I've seen her do it on several occasions) that buys meals for homeless people whenever she encounters them. One time she bought the guy (San Jose) 2 meals and 1 for the cat and 1 for his dog too! So there are MANY kind and generous (let's not even talk about the hours they volunteer for in the schools) women and men out at Ruby HILL.

Posted by Big Poppa
a resident of Del Prado
on May 7, 2010 at 6:52 pm


According the Associated News the private sector as added approximately 66,000 jobs this year with the government adding the rest. The gov't jobs are temporary Census workers. So where is the good news for job seekers?

Posted by local resident
a resident of Del Prado
on May 7, 2010 at 7:51 pm

In addition to the shelters, etc. in Vallejo, there are certainly organizations out there to help individuals who want to gain job skills & even get help finding a job - e.g. Opportunity Junction in Antioch provides office skills training (e.g. computer skills, accounting, etc), so spread the word...

Posted by resident/Autumn Glen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Kelly, I share your opinion. And, if panhandlers are successful here in Pleasanton, we will see more and more of them! Stop giving to these people and give to legitimate charities instead! By the way, I was/am an Obama supporter.

Posted by resident/Autumn Glen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I want to add to my earlier post that my heart goes out to "reasonable". These are the people who need our help, not the panhandlers. I hope they can getting some help through contributions to school and community programs.

Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on May 8, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Is the gent in the US legally? Have the police checked his papers? Does he look like an "illegal". Does anybody know if he slipped across our northern or southern border?

I was taught to be kind to strangers but now days, unless a stranger has his/her their papers in order, FORGET IT!

I'm surprised that I'm the only person asking if he is an "illegal". Well mes petites, is he in the US legally...just sayin...

omg omg...I wonder if Sharon knows anything about this...she is rilly gung-ho about reporting to ICE anybody that looks suspicious.

Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on May 8, 2010 at 3:35 pm

Correction: omit the word "their" in the third line...gracias!

Posted by Qwerty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm

It is interesting to note how many people panhandling will turn down an offer for a free meal. I'm not referring to the guy in the story necessarily, but there are plenty of panhandlers in big cities who ask for money because they are "hungry" when in reality all they want is money for booze or cigarettes (or even drugs). Tell them you would be happy to buy them a meal and it's surprising how many try to poo-poo the idea.

Posted by Asdfg
a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on May 9, 2010 at 5:32 pm

Qwerty - You shouldn't say 'poo poo' on Mother's Day. Go to your room!

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 9, 2010 at 7:42 pm

I work hard. I am 51, older than the "down and out guy".
I lost my parents as a young child.
Put myself through school and I have not missed a days work since I was 16.
I never asked for a handout.
If an individual has the where-with-all and intelligence to read a book and be inspired by it, then I do not see why he isn't writing up a resume and getting to work.
Was he inspired by the book enough to beg? I just don't get it.
Jose, I agree with you, we all make judgments every moment of our lives, they are called priorities and choices.
And as for criticizing people for their blessings, I don't get that either.

Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on May 10, 2010 at 5:14 pm

lisa..don't ever give up your dreams to be more than what you are...fake!

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

Makes alot of sense, Cholo.
Glad you're in Livermore. Stay there.

Posted by Granny
a resident of Ironwood
on May 10, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Things ARE tough people. I am almost 70 and NEED to find job. I wish I could stand someplace...anyplace...for long enough to get a handout, yet alone a "bagger" job. Give the guy the benefit of the doubt. If you have a job whoopdee do!! Some of us don't.

Posted by Lisa
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 10, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Granny, maybe you don't have a job because of the resentment you emanate toward others .
"If you have a job whoopdee do!! Some of us don't. "
That kind of hostility isn't attractive at all.
Try a smile and kind word.
"If life gives you lemons make lemonade."
Those are the kind of people we all like to be around.
Not people harboring negative emotions and full of ill-will.
Good luck in your search.
Maybe you should read the inspiring beggar book too.

Posted by Em age 20
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm

Ive been working since i was 15 and i currently have a job, I live with my mom and brother right now, my father passed 2003. My mom is a single parent whos supporting myself and my younger brother who has ADHD and many other problems. I help my mom as much as possible with house work, taking care of my younger brother and going to work. (training to be a martial arts instructor). My mom has a job too and some government help but its just not enough. We struggle for money and live day by day as far as food. We dont have cable tv or tv because we just simply cant afford it. I do panhandle a bit to try and help put food on the table, but some days im not as lucky. Im just glad i have a place to live. I could have it worse and i thank my lucky stars i have my mom and family to come home to cuz not everyone has that. Anyways the point of this post was i hope i can open the eyes of the more fortunate people and i hope u know not all beggers are junkies or alchoholics. I feed my family and myself with the money i recieve and im so thankful to those who give.

Posted by To Big Poppa
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2010 at 2:13 pm

You show ignorance at its best. We're living the Bush legacy. BUSH's policies with all the de-regulation craze created the financial disaster we are living in. No one can fix this mess in a couple of years, not even Obama. Keep the blame game if this makes you feel better, but the real responsible for this is the BUSH Administration.

Posted by Grandma
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 30, 2010 at 3:34 pm

I see this was posted in May...MY 50 yr old son was still employed at that time.....BUT, several weeks ago his med-sized company employer folded....lack of funds !! Little white guy manufacturing/engineering companies to NOT get Obamabucks ! And their employees do NOT get retraining!. The opportunities for his college=age sons will not be available, as college plans have been
changed for them.

Posted by Em
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 31, 2010 at 9:20 am

Thats not right, who cares. Its my story on how i live and how greatful i am to have a place to live however it sucks we are always broke..but what can you do.. just try your hardest at work and college and try to make a living. I went for a year but had to stop cuz i had a lot of family issues. Im planning on going to business college as soon as im done with my job training.

I wasnt rude so theres no reason for you to be.

Posted by em
a resident of Livermore
on Aug 31, 2010 at 9:24 am

oops sry tobigpoppa...i thought ur post to me...i didnt see the "to" :P *blush*

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