Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Wants to Help Homeless Population

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been living in New York City for two years, which has opened my eyes tremendously. The number of homeless people in the city is troubling, and I feel like I should do something about it.

I want to start a nonprofit organization to help get people off the street. I am aware that there are a couple out there already, but nothing has changed. I want to get started, but I don’t know how. I have discussed this idea with a few people, but they have shut me down, saying things like, “If they wanted to get off the street, they would have stayed off drugs.” People don't realize that is not always the case. Any tips on how I can get my nonprofit started? -- Advocating for the Homeless, Manhattan, New York

DEAR ADVOCATING FOR THE HOMELESS: There does seem to be a growing homeless population in New York City at the same time that the government boasts the lowest unemployment in generations. It’s hard to fathom this great divide. Yes, some homeless people are drug addicts, but many are people who lost their jobs, suffer from mental illness or otherwise are experiencing hard times.

Since you are new to the city, you may first want to volunteer at one or more of the nonprofits that focuses on the homeless. There are many. Ask lots of questions to learn about how the organizations run, how they receive funding and what challenges they face. Absorb as much knowledge as you can so that you will be ready to start your own organization successfully.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My dad is 67, and he hasn't been to the doctor in two to three years. I’m worried about his health, but he doesn't seem to care in the slightest. He’s getting older by the day, and I want to make sure he is in tip-top shape for my wedding. It might seem a little selfish, but I care for his well-being, and I want to make sure that he is OK. He said to me one time that he is scared to walk into the doctor’s office because he is afraid he might never come out.

I am already stressed with everything going on for my wedding, and I don't want to rearrange things because my dad might not be healthy enough. How can I convince him to get a checkup? -- Dad Vs. Wedding Stress, Akron, Ohio

DEAR DAD VS. WEDDING STRESS: You are dealing with two major stressors at the same time. Getting married is at the top of the list. Most couples have difficulty managing their wedding plans without a high degree of tension. Adding your father’s possible health concerns only exacerbates things.

Know that you cannot control him. You cannot force him to go to the doctor, so stop obsessing over it. Instead, talk to him about his role in the wedding, and include him in your wedding plans. Stop trying to force him to do anything. Pray that he will remain in good health.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)