The column "Welfare and the Impulse of Charity" by William Raspberry (Op-Ed Page, Oct. 1) makes a very good point. Excessive intervention by the government in communities through welfare erodes those communities' spirit to help their less fortunate members as well as depriving them of considerable satisfaction in helping those in need. Welfare also takes away any self-esteem and often any ambition from the recipients.
I am involved in one of the many organizations in the San Diego area that regularly help the truly poor in the slums of Tijuana where there is no welfare. It is a very satisfying experience for us, and we are always amazed at how much these people help each other with what little they have. When we give them food, we charge a small amount for it, then give the proceeds to the colonia to improve the community. When we build a house for them, we insist that they help if they can; then they must pay us the principal on a zero-interest loan for the materials, about $10 a month. This maintains their self-respect and sure beats a welfare handout.
Similarly, there are many private efforts to help the homeless in our cities, most of whom also receive no welfare. The Joan Kroc/St. Vincent dePaul Center in San Diego is a good example. Many times all these people need is a shot in the arm to get going again.