Local New Bedford businessman offers work to panhandlers
By Ana Bottary
Former panhandlers stand on a busy New Bedford intersection, holding signs, but they’re not asking for help. They’re advertising for a transportation company "Places To Go". Owner, Edward Pacheco, says the idea came to him after city councilors had previously proposed using signs to deter people from giving money to panhandlers.
"Offering people work to hold signs in order to be able to provide for themselves and take the public safety risk out," says Pacheco.
The men- who fill out a job application as well as a tax form-are given $10 an hour / 2 days a week, as well as a lunch, delivered by Pacheco. He says the signs are not just a boost for his company, they also send a message.
"Part of the board is a public safety message in terms of don’t text and drive. Which as drivers we see a tremendous amount everyday," he says.
Speaking with Pacheco’s latest hires, they tell Abc 6 News, this job has given them an opportunity they never thought they’d have.
"I never thought I could work again because I have anxiety and stuff. I never thought I could do anything except nothing. Just being out here for a few hours a day gives me motivation," says John Chalmers, one of Pacheco’s hires.
"My Self esteem has boosted and just responsibility, I have a responsibility now to show up to work and just to have money in my pocket is huge," adds another hire, Douglas R.
New Bedford city Counilor Ian Abreu applauds Pacheco for thinking outside the box with this initiative.
"Giving them a job, giving them a sense of hope and presenting them with some sort of accountability in their lives and hopefully this can help reintegrate many individuals who need that extra step," says Abreau.
Pacheco says he hopes to expand this to more locations in the future, and get more people who are currently panhandling, a paycheck.
©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2016