Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been looking to hire a part-time assistant to help me get a project off the ground. Considering how many people are out of work, I figured if I posted the position on my social media, I would get a few candidates. I did, and a few people responded, but nobody seemed eager to work hard. For example, when I wrote back to people to set up interviews, it took them days to respond. One woman sounded interesting, but she wasn’t willing to work enough hours. Another man I gave a chance, but he never could show up to our morning meetings on time. I think I may need to go to one of those services that has already vetted people in order to feel confident. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned work ethic? -- Work Ethic

DEAR WORK ETHIC: Amend your job description to include the personality and shared values that you need your assistant to have, including being proactive, timely, well organized, enthusiastic, etc. Using a service may help you with vetting, but know that, either way, it may take a while to find a perfect match. Don’t give up and don’t lower your standards. It’s better for you to be without help for a while than to pay for substandard help. I’d also recommend you stop searching on social media and start looking at dedicated job boards.

DEAR HARRIETTE: After reading your response to When to Give, I need to chime in and suggest you do more research.

While there is incredible unemployment currently, and it appears kind to give money to panhandlers, your suggestion to continue to give is completely off base. Being in an area with significant homelessness -- San Diego -- the challenge with panhandlers, especially aggressive ones, is a daily issue. Providing funds to panhandlers rarely helps them in a productive way; the money goes to their addiction and encourages increasingly aggressive methods. Most advocates encourage that money be given to organizations that actually assist the homeless, such as providing shelter, food and rehab.

Again, most money given to a panhandler generally will go into their arms or to buy alcohol. There have been several articles in this area with interviews from panhandlers; they state the same thing and have suggested a good street corner can net them $50+ an hour, tax free. This has even given rise to fake panhandlers.

Please do not encourage your readers to support panhandlers. Encourage support of organizations that actually contribute to assisting the homeless through programs to either make their lives easier or help them escape the cycle.

I do not work for a nonprofit in this area. I am just a resident of a city with a huge homeless problem that has had to deal with it for 20 years. Panhandler do make it scary to be a woman leaving the house alone, so the reader was very valid in her letter. -- Experienced

DEAR EXPERIENCED: Thank you for your recommendation. I normally follow exactly the advice you have recommended. It has not been my practice to give people money on the street. I admit that seeing so many people in need since the pandemic hit prompted me to feel the urgency to give in the moment.

I will add to your suggestions that I have noticed restaurants in my neighborhood being set up as food kitchens to support the additional need. So, your point is well taken. Giving to establishments and entities that are organized around serving people in need may be more efficient than the one-off gift.

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