For many of us, panhandlers provide a daily prick to the conscience. Can you spare some change? I’m hungry. Money for food please? What to do?

There are so many options. Feel guilty. Resentful. Or both. Say you’re sorry and rush on. Flash a smile. Duck your head. Think, “There but for the grace of God,” and dig some money out of your pocket, only to find your compassion evaporating a few blocks later, when you come across another hard-luck, cap-in-hand case.

It can be a complex and complicated transaction–on both ends.

So much so, that Ve’ahavta, a Jewish relief organization in Toronto, convened a discussion about it. The moderator was the organization’s founder, Avrum Rosenzweig.

The first voice you’ll hear, though, belongs to Joe Roberts. In 1989, he was a drug addict living on the streets of Vancouver. Ten years later, he was the CEO of a hugely successful multi-media company. Now he heads “Push for Change”, an advocacy group for homeless youth.

Our documentary, “Spare Change” was produced by Frank Faulk, who interviewed people on the streets of Toronto and the Evangel Hall Mission.

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