Dare boldly

A blog by Louise Gallagher

it costs me nothing to give.


He sits on the sidewalk, shoulders hunched over, chin tucked into his chest. His body is layered in clothing, his head covered by the hoodie of a dark-coloured jacket that is just visible beneath the blanket that encompasses his still form. In one hand, he holds an upturned ball-cap that slants precariously close to the ground. He doesn’t move as people walk past. He does not stir.

He is there when I walk to my meeting and still there when I walk past an hour later. I have seen him before. In many parts of the downtown core. A silent figure on the edge of the sidewalk. A still life painted black on the streets.

I do not approach. I do not drop coins into his cap. Working at a homeless shelter for several years, I made the personal decision to not give to panhandlers.

I walk past and hear the voice of a friend, a recovering addict, whisper through my mind, ‘I always give to an addict. He really does need that next drink, that next fix. His life depends on it.’

I turn around, walk back and drop a toonie into his upturned cap. He does not look up but I see his head nod slightly. One quick jerk, up, down.

I carry on with my day, leaving him behind.

I do not know if he is an addict. I do not know his story. I do know that I will not miss the toonie. It costs me nothing to give and I’m pretty sure he can use it more than me. And maybe, as my friend said, it is what he needs most because at this moment in time, staying alive is the most important thing he can do today.




Author: Louise Gallagher

I believe in wonder. I believe we are all magnificent beings of divine beauty. I believe we can make a difference in this world, through every act, word, thought. I believe we create ripples with everything we do and say and want to inspire everyone to use their ripple to create a better world for everyone. I'm grateful you're here.

13 thoughts on “it costs me nothing to give.

  1. Thank you for taking us there — with you and him — today, Louise. I always feel warmed by your thoughts.


  2. Love this Louise – this and your big, beautiful heart!
    Diana xo


  3. I remember my father giving money to a panhandler. He told me most people try to elicit a promise from the man that he will buy food, not alcohol with the money. But my Dad would say, “Get yourself a nice, tall one!” He undertook that a drink was more important to this particular man. Not that he approved, but he was realistic about his expectations.


    • Your father is a wise man Ronnie! Like him, I agree – -it isn’t about approval, it’s about acceptance and willingness to stand in the broken to allow connection. Thanks for sharing your father with me!


  4. When I gave in cases as you just described, it touched my daughter (when she was younger) way more than I ever knew. Later when i was going through a horribly disconnected tiime, she shared with me that she had walked to Trader Joes one day and passed a pan handler and then on the way home kind of abruptly turned around and gave away half her groceries trying to feel a part of me because she felt as if she didn’t know me at that particular time in my life and doing something familiar that she remembered me doing would bring me back.
    I know it sounds kind of confusing… but somehow I think maybe you of all people may understand.
    Anyway she said a few blocks later she just sat down on a bench and cried. It is a hard story to hear from your child’s perspective… especially when I was going through a very selfish time in my life. Even though my kids were adults and had moved away from home. I was on a journey that concerned my daughter and months later after everything was pretty much back to normal she shared that story with me and it still brings tears to my eyes. In her memories and all of our acts of giving derived from them.
    Thanks for sharing.
    You always prick my heart!


  5. Touching my heart so gently… xo


  6. I’m awed that you manage to post inspiring words every day. I try not to give money– always afraid that I’ll be robbed by some passer-by in the process of digging out my wallet- but try to give food– half a sandwich, etc. seems unexpected and appreciated.


  7. Sometimes I wonder, when we give, if we’re not getting the better end of the deal.
    It actually feels like we’re making an investment, doesn’t it, into an actual life
    and there is no amount of money that can equal the value of even one of those.
    I don’t think I can hear it enough….thank you, friend:)
    A warm and generous heaping of love to you,


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