St. Charles Herald-Guide

The FACES of unemployment in St. Charles Parish

By Derek Clontz - November 16, 2006

IT SEEMS that everywhere you go in St. Charles Parish there's a "help wanted" sign on a window or door while able-bodied men and women mill around in front of convenience stores begging for money, sometimes wild-eyed and, on occasion, with an icy-cold beer in one hand - and a filter king in the other.

And we're not talking about a handful of people. The numbers are big, with statistics showing that 4.6 percent of parish residents are jobless.

That's 781 men and women on the public dole or living hand to mouth on cash they get from panhandling - or worse.

And the question is, why can't these people find and hold jobs that will provide for their needs and also give them a sense of self-worth and raise their self esteem?

Is it fair to merely chalk them off as bums, drunks or drug addicts, or to say, "They're mentally ill and that's just the way it is"?

And regardless of the "why" of it, what can be done to "turn them around" - to help them find gainful employment that will lift them up and help them feel good about themselves and become solid members of our community?

Good questions. And our experts have the answers. Next week in your St. Charles Herald-Guide.