People crack me up. Really, when I see some people, my skin starts to crack up. Well, not really. But for the love of all the things in this world that I couldn't care less about — fancy furniture, quitting smoking, keeping a spotless house, who has the best nachos, whether there are billboards in Germantown, anything that comes out of John McCain's mouth, riding a unicycle, doing yard work, shopping, Zydeco music, sending Christmas cards, ever setting foot again in the Atlanta airport (well, I do care about that because I'd rather be forced to look at naked photos of John McCain), other people's dreams, people's photos of their kids and vacations, video games, action movies, donuts, Lady Gaga, those people on Duck Dynasty, any reality television show, gun rights, exercise, and a whole slew of other things the thought of which makes me yawn — there are just some people who defy explanation.
I just read about Trinity United Methodist Church in Midtown getting a citation for allowing six homeless people to spend the night there because the church doesn't occupy at least five acres, and I am fairly baffled. I'm baffled as to why a church needs to sit on five acres of land to allow a handful of homeless people to have a hot meal and a good night's sleep. Who came up with that ordinance and why five acres? It's not like they are going to be out there farming or horseback riding. They are just inside, where it's warm, resting, and not bothering anyone. I think I'm even more baffled by the people who don't think homeless people should be helped in residential neighborhoods. Personally, I don't think SUVs with private school stickers should be allowed in residential neighborhoods. But that's just me.
I have an idea for helping the homeless that has been keeping me up at night. I'll never have the money to make this idea happen, so I'm going to toss it out there. I'm sure there will be plenty of comments posted later telling me that I have the IQ of an eggplant, but I couldn't care less about them either.
I think someone needs to buy the old French Quarter Inn in Overton Square and turn it into a really chic, contemporary boutique hotel and have it all operated by homeless men and women, only they wouldn't be homeless anymore because they would live there too. At least for a time until they saved enough money from their new jobs to get their own houses or apartments.
The hotel would be named SHELTER. Formerly homeless employees would move in and start going through a training program. Counseling and other services would be available. All employees would be provided with uniforms just like any other hotel, only they would be very stylish, and they would have access to free dry cleaning and laundry services. Of course, some of them would work in dry cleaning and laundry services, just like any other hotel.
SHELTER would have a warm but modern restaurant named the Soup Kitchen, and the menu would focus on seasonal gourmet soups, maybe eight different ones a day and some mainstays, and they would be served with various crostini, salads, and small plates. There couldn't be a bar because alcohol and homelessness don't mesh too well in lots of cases. But it would be a really nice restaurant, and who wouldn't want to go to a restaurant that specialized in soups? I wish there was one of those, in any case. All of the hotel staff would have breakfast together every morning and discuss the plans for the day. Guests would be treated like they would at any ritzy hotel, down to the last detail.
The marketing plans for SHELTER would be geared toward socially conscious travelers who, I think, would love to stay in a hotel like this and would pay above-average rates knowing they were helping support this cause. And it would be, after all, right there in Overton Square, where there is so much to do and so many places to eat and drink. But the hotel would also offer live entertainment for its guests and for regulars. Memphis can't seem to get it together and have one club dedicated to just jazz, so maybe it could become known for its live jazz.
As new employees came on board, the seasoned, formerly homeless employees would mentor and train them. In essence, they would feel a sense of ownership in the hotel. Of course, all of this would have to be a nonprofit entity and operate through grants and other funding sources for some time until the hotel became self-sustaining, like many nonprofit organizations. It could collaborate with other for-profit hotels. There would be a board of directors to oversee and guide the project, but essentially the staff would make most of the important decisions and definitely run the day-to-day operations without much oversight after a while.
Think about it. If you were traveling to another city and making your plans and you ran across a high-quality website that showed a beautiful hotel in the middle of a vibrant entertaining and dining district and you saw that it was a nonprofit operated by formerly homeless people, wouldn't you want to stay there? I know I would.
Now, someone with some loot make this happen and make it a model for other cities and let this be one more good thing for which Memphis is known. As far as I can tell, no one has done this yet.