Minutes of the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership Giving Kiosk Task Force Meeting

Thursday, September 14, 2006  8:00  a.m.

Bill Cherry Board Room, Bank of America Center,  Downtown Chapel Hill, NC


Committee Members Present: Lex Alexander; Lynn Blanchard; Emily Cameron; Chris Moran; Missy Julian-Fox; Tatiana Hodapp;

Kate Flory, Barbie Schalmo;  Karen Currrent;  Liz Parham, Executive Director


Committee Member Absent: Andrea Rohrbacher; Luke Smith; Mark Farrell; Sally Greene


Others Present:  DTH Reporter; UNC Journalism Student


The meeting was called to order by Liz Parham, Executive Director.  She asked everyone to begin by introducing themselves.


Liz Parham began the meeting asking if anyone would be interesting in serving as the Chair for this task force.  Chris Moran recommended that the staff liaison, Liz Parham serve as chair.


Ms. Parham briefly outlined how this project got started and the steps that have been taken up to this point.  She noted that the private donor came up with this idea as one way to address the panhandling issue and at the same time encourage Chapel Hill to help those in need.


Lex Alexander began the discussion by stating that as a board member, he was glad to be having this discussion and was looking forward to a way to get this project moving forward so that we could stop talking and actually do something about the panhandling.  He also added that he felt like the Town Council had some problems with the design because it was a hand-drawn sketch and it didn’t look like it was coming from a professional design firm.


Chris Moran noted that no one should be fooled by thinking that the Giving Kiosk will get rid of panhandling.  He added that we often don’t understand why panhandlers panhandle, but that it is often not for what they say they need, such as food. 


Missy Julian-Fox stated that someone has stepped forward with a gift and that’s great.  We should approach it as a gift and as an opportunity.  She also added that of course we need more than one kiosk, but that everything starts with one and this is an opportunity to do something.


Karen Current added that she had thought that instead of having one Giving Kiosk, that perhaps there could be “Giving Kiosk” envelopes that could be deposited in ATM machines.  This could be less costly and more secure than building a structure and could increase the opportunities that people have to give.


Elizabeth Taylor stated that she was concerned about the disconnect to feel obligated to do this because someone gave us a gift vs. the social issue of addressing panhandling.  In addition, she was concerned about discussing this with a small group of leaders.


Lynn Blanchard asked about other models in other cities and asked if Barbie Schalmo, a student in the Masters degree program for Urban and Community Planning, would be able to help us research what other cities have done.  Liz Parham responded that yes that was what Ms. Schalmo would be helping us with this fall.  In addition, the CHDP staff has done a good bit of research since last fall.

Ms. Parham added that a number of communities have adopted a “Real Change, Not Spare Change” campaign that educates citizens on why they shouldn’t give money to panhandlers, but why they should give to agencies that can provide help to those in need.  She noted that communities like Seattle, Portland, Raleigh, and many others have campaigns, some with variations on the name, but generally, that name is becoming a common name for the program. 


Lex Alexander felt like the idea of the “giving envelopes” with the banks was the best idea yet and he was already getting excited by the possibilities. 


Chris Moran added that the panhandling problem as a social problem is not understood.  Often panhandlers are not homeless.  The educational campaign should include literature that might include how you talk to panhandlers and what businesses can do to help their patrons understand how they should respond.  Helping the public understand it better may help soften the fears around panhandling.


Kate Flory recommended taking art out of it completely if that is a stumbling block to addressing the concern.


Lynn Blanchard added that she likes that we are talking about education and giving envelopes – that we are talking about several different approaches.  This potentially allows people to give more than just money; perhaps this will open up ways that people can also give time.


 Mr. Alexander noted that we still need something on the street to publicize this – perhaps public art in the form of moves that are active and attention getting.  He can envision using mimes to help publicize the campaign.


Elizabeth Taylor added that perhaps it could be like the campaigns often seen in the grocery stores – when you are checking out they ask you if you would like to give a dollar for children.  She would like to know how successful those campaigns are and how much do they typically raise. Perhaps that could be an approach for raising money for services.


Missy Julian-Fox said that the education has to connect directly into the action.  There has to be a way to redirect the panhandlers and that involves knowing their individual stories. 


Liz Parham noted that the purpose of the committee has now changed and the purpose is now to educate the community.  Chris Moran added that the purpose is to not give to individuals but to educate the community to give to agencies, but how do we do that in a fair and equitable way?  He added that we have to help people understand that they have to ask themselves, am I the right person to help this individual and that answer is probably no.  He feels like we could use churches and campus forums to help get this message out to the public.


Tatiana Hodapp added that a lot of students don’t know that they shouldn’t give to panhandlers.  Liz Parham noted that a government document on panhandling that their office ran across last fall reports that 10-60% of all people give to panhandlers, but 50-60% of all students give to panhandlers, and she said that not to point fingers, but to make the point that from a panhandlers perspective, Franklin Street is a good place to do business.  In order to reduce or eliminate panhandlers, we as a community were going to have to reduce or eliminate the market, and that was the premise across the country of the Real Change Not Spare Change Campaigns.


Chris Moran added that he has been discussing with a number of people, the need to have social workers on the streets everyday that get to know the people, what their stories are, and what they need.  Liz Parham added that she was in Burlington Vermont last fall and that is how they are addressing the problem.


Mr. Moran also added that panhandling should also be included in the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.  He felt like anything that we felt that was outside of our scope should be a recommendation back to that committee to encourage that the resources be provided.


Ms. Julian-Fox noted that maybe we need to get behind raising the money to hire the social workers if that’s what we need.  Lynn Blanchard reiterated that she feels like this goes back to learning about some things that have worked in other places.


Elizabeth Taylor added that we should incorporate the knowledge and work that IFC and other agencies have already done into building the campaign.  It should be one message that is presented in multiple ways and that there should be an evaluation of the educational process. 


Emily Cameron noted that the giving envelopes should be printed with an account number already on it so that it is easy for someone to participate.


Missy Julian-Fox stated that there could be a community committee that meets somewhat regularly to look at this or that could be responsible for distributing funds, maybe through a grant process,.  Karen Current added that there is already a grant process for the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, Orange County and United Way, and continuing in the history of soliciting grants for various purposes through one application would reduce the administrative time that agencies need to spend applying.  From the agency perspective, that would be preferable.  She also wondered if this would be a more attractive collaboration or funding opportunity if the name of the donor financial institution were included in the title of the project.  Chris Moran added that the IFC banks with SunTrust and he would be happy to talk with them about it.  He also added that SunTrust has a foundation that might also put some money into the campaign.


Lynn Blanchard notes that if we raised a lot of money through this effort that we should probably have a short list of our top five things that we would like to do with that money.  She also noted that it should be a message sent out every week, and that perhaps The Daily Tarheel or the School of Journalism could help to educate students on the why it is important not to give to panhandlers.


The committee asked Liz Parham how the private donor would respond to this and what the next steps are.  She reported that she felt like the intent of the donor was to address the concern and to encourage Chapel Hillians to give, so she felt like he would be responsive to this, but that she would talk to him and if he pulled out then that would be part of the report back to the CHDP board and the Town Council.


Ms. Parham also noted that regarding the next steps, they were charged with reporting back to the Town Council about the discussion with this committee and what they were recommending.  She would write up a report and send it back to the committee for review before taking that back to the CHDP board and to the Town Council.  There was a discussion of meeting the week of September 18th but a common date could not be found.



There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.




Respectfully submitted by,
Liz Parham, Executive Director