The Marina Dock Newsletter June 2003
Dear Marina Dock members
and patrons alike,
Thank you for your continued support. It's hard to believe the
first half of the year is coming to a close. Not that time has
any significance to me these days, beyond how it relates to meeting
the financial obligations of the Marina Dock. We had another very
successful month in May, meaning the rent got paid, we paid most
of our bills, we stayed open every day, people came to meetings
and to socialize, and left feeling better from the experience.
That's really all we can do right now, and I think it's fair to
say that's all people are expecting from us under the circumstances.
The question being asked of us is not so much about how we are
doing but "will you be here next month?"
Do we really need to
remind anyone how bad things are on the economic front? Northern
California has taken a terrible beating over the last 18 months.
We, the Marina Dock, have adapted a Stalingrad-like stance. We
are taking a lot of shots but we are fighting back. The general
consensus seems to be that meetings all over are hurting. In fact,
Tuesday Downtown, which used to be one of the largest AA meetings
in Northern California, recently moved to a smaller location due
to smaller attendance and lack of financial support.
On the one hand we
have major demographic shifts and movements within the recovery
community in San Francisco. Many people are losing jobs and relocating.
The irony is, on the other hand, we have more new people than
ever before showing up at the Marina Dock, desperately in need
of our services.
of Needs and a Battle Royal on the Streets of San Francisco
Almost everyday we hear
of some new approach or idea as to how to deal with San Francisco's
biggest and most persistent social problem: "The Homeless".
A problem that appears to be getting worse and not, better despite
the allocation of millions of dollars in search of a solution
over the last 20 years. Right now, we are informed that the myriad
of existing city services, 83 at the last count, are threatened
by budget cuts and lack of financial support from donors.
A few days ago, I walked from Geary and Powell to Van Ness Avenue
at around 2:30 pm. In that 9 block stretch, I encountered about
12 individuals panhandling, all in various states of inebriation.
Two of them, men in their early forties, were engaged in a drunken
brawl, swinging wildly at each other from their respective wheelchairs.
It got me thinking about Abraham Maslow's humanistic school of
human behavior. Maslow theorized there is a hierarchical nature
to man's motivational structure. He set forth a five stage model
in which the lower, most dominant needs control the actions of
the organism until they are fulfilled, at which time the next
higher needs in the hierarchy become predominant until they are
satisfied, then the next level of needs come into play and so
forth. The five levels in the hierarchy are best represented in
a pyramid structure:
Esteem and Self-esteem
Love and Belonging
Safety and Security
Physiological Needs: air, food, water, etc.
Most of the time, Maslow
claims, behavior is directed towards lower level needs. There
is a marked difference according to Maslow between the behavior
pattern of people motivated by lower needs (deficiency-oriented)
and those motivated by higher needs (growth-oriented).
The person who is still motivated to satisfy lower needs is characterized
by a tendency to be self-centered and concerned with his own needs,
to look for gratifications that are relatively short term and
temporary, to behave on the basis of external cues, and to view
others is terms of how they can satisfy his needs. On the other
hand, the growth-oriented person is likely to be more concerned
with the nature of the world at large and other people than himself,
to be attracted to gratifications that lead to permanent and long-term
change and to view people for what they are, not as potential
subjects he can utilize to satisfy his needs.
How does this relate
to the Marina Dock?
Tonight, David M and
myself decided to do a little random sampling of individuals attending
meetings at the Marina Dock. In a ten-hour period we asked about
40 men and 20 women if they were ever homeless during their drinking
and using time. 60% of the men and 20% of the women said "yes".
Bear in mind that this is the Marina District. If we did citywide
sampling these percentages would increase considerably. If we
sample the Marina Dock staff, of the six people who work behind
the counter, four of us were homeless during our drinking and
David M's Story
"When I first came to the Marina Dock I was homeless and
hopeless. I would come in to the 7:00 am meeting and I would attend
every AA meeting on the schedule until closing time. I was around
so much they started letting me watch the place for an hour or
so, here and there, and then they continued to shoulder me with
more responsibilities. Made me feel good about myself allowing
me to grow in my own time and space. I had five years clean and
sober last January."
What David doesn't tell you here is that he served his country
with valor in Vietnam and was wounded in action. Coming home to
wage his own private war with alcohol and drugs, he spent many
years in the Tenderloin's trenches before he made it in through
our doors. I am sure if you ask David or any of the other former
homeless individuals (myself included) how we got from there to
here, we would all answer in unison:
"We ran out of people to use, to satisfy our need for alcohol
and drugs. Our deficiency-oriented behaviors were denied and we
moved towards growth-oriented ones. We moved from dependency to
independence and optimally functioning individuals when good-natured,
well-intentioned people stopped enabling our self-destruction.
If you want to help, give where it makes a difference, give us
a fishing rod, we don't need fish".
Anthony T. Murray ("Irish