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Why Casual Visitors To Houston Area Skip Downtown


pineda

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Midtown Coog said this: "Pineda, I may just have to call BS on this one. Why can't you tell the name of the business? Why rant and rave, but not tell us who it is? I'll be sure to avoid the place."

HeightsGuy said this: "I'll second Midtown on the BS call. I'll grant that I haven't been to every DT restaurant, and one assumes that there are probably more than a few fast-food type places in the tunnels and such that do not have public restrooms. But I will absolutly guarantee that there is no "brand-new million-dollar restaurant" without public facilities in Downtown Houston."

I didn't want to impugn the reputation of this new restaurant because I DO happen to like it and want to see it do well. That being said, I did check with the owners yesterday about the lack of restroom facilities. Their response was that restrooms were not even a consideration due to the site location, and the impossibility of plumbing and sewers. Something tells me that perhaps the homeless congregated in the area might have had a little something to do with the situation as well. Now, for the interesting part of this story: There is (TA-DAH!) an elevator located within the restaurant however, that you can get on and take three or four floors down (!?) to a bathroom within the main building that the restroom is located within. This was NOT told to us at the time of our visit by the waitstaff, who being new, I suppose could be excused for ignorance. I'm sure regular restaurant patrons of downtown Houston will soon be able to uncover the name of the mystery restaurant all on their own accord, without me providing any further clues. :)

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Like I said, Hakeem owns a lot of abandoned building in Houston.

So does the Queen of Mean.

I expect that from a New Yorker, but Hakeem is practically a native.

i remember you posting about hakeem...does he have a corporate name he uses when purchsing these properties? i can't find much with his name.

any help locating these buildings would be greatly appreciated :)

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"Case in point, I wanted to take my daughter to the restroom to wash her hands before eating our meal. I was informed that this brand-new million-dollar restaurant had no public facilities."

"I asked one of the servers at the restaurant why they had no public facilities for us to wash up in since we had just come from outside, and that it didn't seem very sanitary to not have facilities available to do so. He said it had to do with the high cost of real estate (!?) in downtown Houston."

"In my best Law & Order voice:

"I'm not at liberty to divulge that information at this time...""

"Something tells me that this is a common practice not to provide them in downtown Houston, but I don't know why. Is it because of plumbing/sanitary sewer issues?"

"Their response was that restrooms were not even a consideration due to the site location, and the impossibility of plumbing and sewers."

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Sorry, but something seems a little fishy with all of these comments. A new restaurant in downtown Houston would be required to have public restrooms, period. (International Building Code Chapter 29, Table 2902.1 - Minimum Number of Required Plumbing Facilities) No one is allowed to opt out because of the "high cost of real estate" or lack of access to plumbing and sewer. How could it be that a restaurant does not have access to a sanitary sewer? Kitchens must have water. And it has to drain somewhere. If there is access for the sinks and dishwasher in the kitchen then there would be access for restrooms. And if the line is not big enough it is the responsibility of the owner to make it so.

I don't think you are telling the whole story. What really made me suspicious of these comments was the one where you would not name the restaurant. How noble. Of course it keeps anyone from checking your story.

If they really do not have public restrooms, turn them in.

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houston is not a typical tourist city, with a tourist-y downtown.  things may not be "happening," but there is always something to do.

and just because there aren't a gazillion people wandering around or stumbling out of minute maid or toyota center doesn't mean it isn't "alive."

But it can give a grand illusion that it is NOT alive, however. One can tell me how much downtown is alive until they are blue in the face, but as long as I see empty streets and businesses closed, I'm going to draw a natural conclusion from that, and that is downtown isn't alive.

Possibly a more touristy downtown AND city is something we should really think about.

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For days now, I have read all the doom and gloom about downtown not being what it should be or could be. To be complimentary, it shows the imagination of the posters to this board, that there are so many more attractions that downtown could have. It also shows the impatience that downtown hasn't reached its potential to be all things to all people, yet.

To say downtown is empty is dishonest. Wednesday through Saturday will find the bars, clubs and restaurants on Main Street full, with more people walking the street in front of them. The theatre District is also hopping many nights a week, even if the cultured life is not your idea of a party. Monday through Friday, the business side of things is in full stride, with 200,000 workers doing their thing.

The infrastructure has been improved dramatically, with virtually every street repaved, every sidewalk bricked, and every streetlight replaced.

To be sure, there are times when downtown is quiet. But, you must remember what promotes traffic at particular times. Clubs and restaurants only produce traffic at night. Retail will cause daytime traffic during days and early evenings, but that hasn't come in yet. Why? Well, downtown's rebirth is only 6 years old. MMP came online in April 20000. Toyota is only a couple of years old. Rail construction devastated Main St. until January 2004. Plus, the stock crash of 2000, the recession later that year, and 9/11 all had their effect on tourist and convention travel. Say what you like, but no developer or retailer is going to throw money where the return is low.

The new GRB park and Buffalo Bayou's renovation are in the planning stages. These developments will bring more daytime and weekend traffic. More residential will also increase traffic flow. But, these projects take time to plan, develop, build and sell. It won't happen overnight. But, it will happen.

I generally see two critiques on this board: the one-time visitor to downtown, who complains that he went downtown on Sunday afternoon in July, and didn't see a crowd, and the other person who complains that he didn't see enough of his preferred style of entertainment, ignoring all of the other things in downtown that draw other patrons. While both may be valid observations, they do not paint an accurate picture of downtown.

In conclusion, downtown WILL be many things to many people. In some ways, it already is. But, it takes time. Most observers didn't even start the clock on downtown until 2004, when the LRT opened. Give it 5 years, and tell me if it failed then.

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I am downtown today, and it is pretty quiet.

But I think back to the mid 80s. We were down here every weekend at Power Tools, Brewery Tap, Warrens, Homage, Cabaret Voltaire, seeing plays, etc.

There has ALWAYS been things to do down here.

But some people may not see what they are looking for, so they discount the entire area.

I think they need to expand their horizions.

And I sound like a broken record, but if it's not in downtown, chances are what you are looking for is not far away.

That's Houston. Learn to love it.

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"And I sound like a broken record, but if it's not in downtown, chances are what you are looking for is not far away.

That's Houston. Learn to love it. "

That may be the problem. Today's American is so used to being spoon fed his entertainment, via Disney, Las Vegas MTV/VH1 and other man-made attractions, that he cannot enjot the thrill of looking for life's hidden jewels. If that is what it takes for downtown to make it, I'd prefer we not go there.

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That may be the problem.  Today's American is so used to being spoon fed his entertainment, via Disney, Las Vegas MTV/VH1 and other man-made attractions, that he cannot enjot the thrill of looking for life's hidden jewels.  If that is what it takes for downtown to make it, I'd prefer we not go there.

i think you have summed it up perfectly :)

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I am downtown today, and it is pretty quiet.

But I think back to the mid 80s.  We were down here every weekend at Power Tools, Brewery Tap, Warrens, Homage, Cabaret Voltaire, seeing plays, etc.

i was at Warrens last night, then we hit up Jones bar (i think). we didn't leave till almost 3am and there were still plenty of people walking the streets, cops, bike rickshaws.

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I don't know about Downtown, i'm beginning to lose all hope for downtown by its slow progress. In the past few months, i've visited New York, Chicago, (NO COMPARISON), Milwaukee, and Denver.

I last visited Denver 9 years ago right before they built the Pavilions but even downtown Denver is doing better than Houston's right now. I was there a month ago. It's prettier, cleaner, and way more vibrant. I think that's a shame that as big as Houston is, we don't really have that many amentities in its city center.

I don't understand why HOUSTON has such a problem getting projects off the ground or why HOUSTON can't seem to afford things and get funding for things or why we can't just do the "build and they will come" method.

For years Central Houston has been trying to bring life back downtown and more residences living in and around Downtown. I wouldn't want to live there. It's dark. has crumby lighting (exept Main St), and just not enough to do. And everything that there is to do is so spread out, it makes a person wonder exactly what downtown has to offer. I would love for downtown to continue to take off but if Houston continues to be afraid of taking risks, it will sadly remain stagnant and even our friendly neighbor to the north will continue to get all the hype and recognition. (Sorry for the rant- i just get frustrated sometimes) :angry:

Word. Anyone who has visited and explored other top 10 cities will come away with a similar outlook when looking at Houston!

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Word.  Anyone who has visited and explored other top 10 cities will come away with a similar outlook when looking at Houston!

Why am I not the least bit surprised that this is your opinion?

Tell, you what, though. I was downtown today for the Astros game, and there isn't a city in the US that is as fired up over their baseball team as this one. And that definitely includes Denver.

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I was downtown today (after visiting the east end with a camera - summer is bad picture time in Houston, diffently will go back in the fall) anyway - there were peole everywhere!!! I almost got out and walked around - but I didnt want to spend anymore money - and I was sweety from milling about.

I think the time for downtowns full revival is either far off or just around the corner. In this town its hard to tell.

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Downtown needs mixed use, mixed use, mixed use.

It has some stengths. It has some decent historic architecture. Not amazing. But not bad. It has some nightlife, as has been mentioned here. It has the stadia, if not the musuems. It's located in the hub of the region from a transportation standpoint. It has the employment centers, obviously. Now it has light rail. And the aquarium.

It also has some weaknesses. I've noticed it's very patchy from a pedestrian-friendly viewpoint: too many vacant lots and so on. New projects need to fill in those gaps. It also has a boatload of homeless people, as has been pointed out here. The folks at the top need to do something about that. Other places have had luck removing the homeless when they've needed to do so. I'm not saying it's the most ethical thing to do. But cleaning up the homeless problem will definitely be key in improving tourism. Downtown also suffers from the existence of nearby centers that specialize in various tourism/entertainment functions: the museum district, the Galleria, the University district, Montrose, etc. So, in a sense, downtown has competition. And these other areas aren't that far away. And now light rail is starting to connect them. So we have to ask the question to ourselves: does Houston really NEED to have its downtown become another tourism/entertainment center? And if the answer is yes, which other center(s) would it replace?

I think an infusion of residential development into downtown will bring along with it continued revitalization. I think downtown's prospects are good.

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Tell, you what, though.  I was downtown today for the Astros game, and there isn't a city in the US that is as fired up over their baseball team as this one.  And that definitely includes Denver.

i've been going to denver off and on for work. i went to a couple rockies games and that was amusing.

last time i was there it was st. patrick's day, i went downtown and it wasn't very happening. it was in the 30's but they should be able to handle that.

from what i heard, my friends had a blast on main in houston, i think they were out drinking in the street that night.

but i do like what they've done with downtown denver, there has been a major improvement over the last few years.

i hope the pavilion happens here, that will change the face of downtown.

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Downtown needs mixed use, mixed use, mixed use.

It also has a boatload of homeless people, as has been pointed out here.  The folks at the top need to do something about that.  Other places have had luck removing the homeless when they've needed to do so.  I'm not saying it's the most ethical thing to do.  But cleaning up the homeless problem will definitely be key in improving tourism. 

This is true. If Houston's homeless population remains as it is, Houston will have trouble as a tourist destination. Just look at New York, Chicago, San Francisisco and Seattle, all of whom have as large, or even larger homeless populations. They all have a terrible time attracting visitors. Upper income Americans worked hard to accumulate their wealth. They shouldn't have to look at these wretched souls while spending it. It is a total downer and it conflicts with their version of the American dream.

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it may conflict with their "american dream," but how does it (problems with homeless people) go away? and ethically? obviously social service programs we currently have in place aren't serving the entire necessary population, or aren't doing it well enough...after that, what else is there?

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i don't have a problem with the homeless in downtown (although the smell at the texaco building (homeless restroom) can give you a headache...heh)

and hell, they help me out when i am trying to go places (danger, etc - they have been in all the empty buildings downtown!)

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This is true.  If Houston's homeless population remains as it is, Houston will have trouble as a tourist destination.  Just look at New York, Chicago, San Francisisco and Seattle, all of whom have as large, or even larger homeless populations.  They all have a terrible time attracting visitors.  Upper income Americans worked hard to accumulate their wealth.  They shouldn't have to look at these wretched souls while spending it.  It is a total downer and it conflicts with their version of the American dream.

I don't mind the homeless people for the most part. There are a couple of regulars I've seen who I don't like because they pull the same scam over and over. Really? Your car broke down again on the same corner as yesterday?

The ones who really bother me are the ones with the new Reeboks and $300 headphones asking for money.

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I think, in some areas of the country, the authorities enact (or start to enforce) anti-loitering laws. So I guess the cops basically send them on their way.

I think some areas around the country have gotten rid of homeless by making architectutal adjustments. For example, I've seen low walls and barriers covered with metal spikes so homeless people can't sleep there.

One of the plazas in downtown Houston with a large water feature (I forget the name of the building) is allegedly designated as a safe haven for the homeless. So the homeless sleep on the benches there every night, it seems. Someone who works downtown probably has more details on this than I do. Getting rid of something like this might make downtown less attractive to the homeless.

As I write this, I can't help but feel a little depressed. It's not the most fun subject to think about, but when people travel to Houston to spend tourist dollars, the last thing they want to come face-to-face with is life's ugly and depressing realities.

I guess the (concentration of) homeless could be encouraged to go to another part of town. But I think they want proximity to passersby so they can panhandle. And they probably need proximity to some basic amenities like public restrooms, maybe public transportation, maybe the city mission, etc. For example, there don't seem to be a lot of homeless in the Galleria area. Or are there? If not, is it because of planning, design, or enforcement? Here's an idea: what if Houston encouraged all the homeless to reside in the Galleria area instead of downtown? Would that be a good, bad, or neutral thing for Houston as a whole?

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I think, in some areas of the country, the authorities enact (or start to enforce) anti-loitering laws.  So I guess the cops basically send them on their way.

I think some areas around the country have gotten rid of homeless by making architectutal adjustments.  For example, I've seen low walls and barriers covered with metal spikes so homeless people can't sleep there.

One of the plazas in downtown Houston with a large water feature (I forget the name of the building) is allegedly designated as a safe haven for the homeless.  So the homeless sleep on the benches there every night, it seems.  Someone who works downtown probably has more details on this than I do.  Getting rid of something like this might make downtown less attractive to the homeless.

As I write this, I can't help but feel a little depressed.  It's not the most fun subject to think about, but when people travel to Houston to spend tourist dollars, the last thing they want to come face-to-face with is life's ugly and depressing realities.

I guess the (concentration of) homeless could be encouraged to go to another part of town.  But I think they want proximity to passersby so they can panhandle.  And they probably need proximity to some basic amenities like public restrooms, maybe public transportation, maybe the city mission, etc.  For example, there don't seem to be a lot of homeless in the Galleria area.  Or are there?  If not, is it because of planning, design, or enforcement?  Here's an idea: what if Houston encouraged all the homeless to reside in the Galleria area instead of downtown?  Would that be a good, bad, or neutral thing for Houston as a whole?

There are no safe havens in Houston, except the shelters. Houston has adopted many of the features you describe to dissuade sleeping, such as armrests in the middle of park benches. Fear not, Houston's approach to dealing with the homeless doesn't involve helping solve the problem, merely trying to hide them so that Americans don't have to actually see what their selfish fiscal policies create. Kind of like not allowing pictures of dead soldiers helps keep us upbeat about war.

Apparently, only a few posters saw my sarcasm. All of the best tourist cities have a homeless problem. Many crummy tourist cities also have one. Many of them attract dreamers, who then find that the city is a little tougher than than the travel channel suggested.

I suppose my depression comes from the utter lack of care about what to do about the homeless, as opposed to the fear that a tourist might actually see one (Oh my God!). Another thread on this forum listed more than half a dozen "megachurches" in Houston, yet I have NEVER seen one of those churches in the news for doing something so Christian as helping the less fortunate among us.

I have always wondered what the attraction about Disney World was, since it is all fake. I guess now I know.

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Unfortunately, dealing with "the homeless" is made complicated because they're as diverse a group as "the suburbanites" or "the gays".

Some are mentally ill, and cannot get the medical help they need. Some are repeat offenders and see no point in establishing themselves when they're resigned to a life spent in a revolving door prison system. Some have discovered the hard way that they were only a paycheck away from homelessness.

Whichever the case, everyone has to be somewhere. If only... if only Houston had people of good will who cared about such things, people with the money and facilities to house the homeless. But jeez, that would require a place the size of a sports stadium!

If only such an oasis of love was possible!

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Apparently, only a few posters saw my sarcasm.  All of the best tourist cities have a homeless problem.

Yeah I spotted your sarcasm right away. I was wondering when you were going to point it out to everyone else. I remember in NY the homeless were a bit of a tourist attraction. Some of the younger guys from small towns never seen one before and ended up posing in pictures with them.

Homelessness is a problem, but it's NOT the main problem keeping downtown from being developed. There are other ways to dealing with them

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I suppose my depression comes from the utter lack of care about what to do about the homeless, as opposed to the fear that a tourist might actually see one (Oh my God!).  Another thread on this forum listed more than half a dozen "megachurches" in Houston, yet I have NEVER seen one of those churches in the news for doing something so Christian as helping the less fortunate among us. 

Just because you don't see it on the news doesn't mean it is not happening. If you

"cared" half as much about the homeless as you pretend, you might be aware of the many missions and programs and efforts that are made by many different groups, including, yes the biggest megachurch of them all, Lakewood.

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Unfortunately, dealing with "the homeless" is made complicated because they're as diverse a group as "the suburbanites" or "the gays".

Some are mentally ill, and cannot get the medical help they need. Some are repeat offenders and see no point in establishing themselves when they're resigned to a life spent in a revolving door prison system. Some have discovered the hard way that they were only a paycheck away from homelessness.

Whichever the case, everyone has to be somewhere. If only... if only Houston had people of good will who cared about such things, people with the money and facilities to house the homeless. But jeez, that would require a place the size of a sports stadium!

If only such an oasis of love was possible!

It is patently ridiculous and ignorant to suggest that Houston does not have people of good will who care about such things. And your rather thinly-veiled stab at Lakewood is equally ignorant. Maybe you should check out some of Lakewood's missions. Here's an idea, you could even help out!

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Just because you don't see it on the news doesn't mean it is not happening.  If you

"cared" half as much about the homeless as you pretend, you might be aware of the many missions and programs and efforts that are made by many different groups, including, yes the biggest megachurch of them all, Lakewood.

Actually, I checked Lakewood's website before I made my post. I see a couple of places where Lakewood's followers can help out a bit, but I saw nothing where Lakewood put any of their millions where their mouth is.

http://www.lakewood.cc/site/PageServer?pag...n_localoutreach

Maybe you could point out where I missed it.

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Oh, and here is Ed Young's website.

http://www.second.org/ministry/ministry_miss_agency.asp

Interesting. They ENCOURAGE and support with VOLUNTEERS. Why doesn't Ed put some of his church's vast sums to good use by helping out as well?

BTW, Star of Hope is a wonderful group, who I have supported with money and time. I just wonder why these well funded churches don't do more to help, since that is their stated purpose. All I see them funding is their ministries that convert more to their church, in other words, fundraising.

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Oh, so now it's all about the money and only the money, is it? In your earlier post, the demand was that the megachurches should be doing something "so Christian as helping the less fortunate among us". And now, when it's pointed out that they are in fact doing such things, their failure to state on their website how much money they spend on these ministries is somehow proof to you that they are doing nothing.

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Oh, so now it's all about the money and only the money, is it?  In your earlier post, the demand was that the megachurches should be doing something "so Christian as helping the less fortunate among us".    And now, when it's pointed out that they are in fact doing such things, their failure to state on their website how much money they spend on these ministries is somehow proof to you that they are doing nothing.

The CHURCHES are not doing a damn thing. Some of their flock helps out, which is commendable for them, but the CHURCH aint doing a thing, certainly not commensurate with their ABILITY to help.

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Some churches used to feed the homeless under Pierce Elevated.

Unfortunately, they let them just throw all the trash on the ground when they leftl

Funny you should mention that.

Yesterday I saw empty brown paper bags and assorted trash strewn at a rail stop. They had stickers which identified whichever church donated these lunches. I threw them in the trash barrel which was all of two feet away.

I like to help out.

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Word.  Anyone who has visited and explored other top 10 cities will come away with a similar outlook when looking at Houston!

Once again I am with you.

I actually had a whole speech typed out but decided to reword it. However, I will say that once again, I am VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY VERY much aware of what Houston has to offer and there is no point in anyone trying to explain to me how great downtown is and how I should just be thankful. There is no point in anyone expressing to me that the Buffalo Bayou Plan is going to take more than 2 weeks to complete. I'm not crazy, nor am I unreasonable. The frustration comes from the bubble we have put ourselves in which has caused us to think higher of ourselves than we should.

713 To 214, I'm sure like myself, you would be the first to defend Houston, but the sad thing is I don't think many on this board can see that. In a sense it's like we are trying to tell Houstonians that Diamonds make a city World Class and it is evident by the fact that all cities in the World Class category have them. But Houstonians will convince themselves, or even worse, allow someone else to convince them, that cement is just as good as Diamonds but cheaper, and think they are World class while the world looks and laughs.

And if it takes Houston having things that are evident to the naked eye, or Houston MTVing it up to keep up with the rest of the world, then heck, that's what we should be doing. Houston is NOT Beaumont and we shouldn't want it to be and definitely shouldn't ACT like it is.

I think I have come to the realization that I just may have larger dreams and ideals for Houston than possibly it has for itself.

*note * I am about to start a seperate thread on how I think Houston could improve itself in terms of tourism, so if anyone is interested in contributing their ideas feel free to do so.

* note # 2* Editor delete this comment if needed, but Everyone on this site should visit another popular website about skyscrapers and go to the two sections where it is asking the forumers their opinions on Houston. Some of the opinions are ridiculous but a lot of people are being quite honest about how they view our city. It's nothing to get defensive on but it is a interesting thread on how a small portion of the world sees us. Read it with a open mind and consider the reason WHY their perceptions, good and bad, are the way they are.

*Note # 3* I attend a fairly larger church in Houston and once a month we take up donations from members in all 3 services, also during the services in the week, for the less fortunate. It is our belief that we do not "advertise" those types of things. We also have 2 free drug rehabilitation facilities (one for men and one for women), as well as have clothing and food drives. This type of thing never gets to the media on purpose. The point is, don't be so quick to point the finger at what churches are NOT doing because in many cases they ARE doing, but the general public just doesn't realize it.

Plus churches like Lakewood and mine help people in so many other ways besides monetary donations. That must be considered as well.

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