Asking for help on a street corner

Posted Nov. 08, 2012, at 3:08 p.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — Asking for help is never easy, but for Brian Adams, it beats the alternative.

“You know when people have tough times people will go out and take things that don’t belong to them,” said Adams, 42, an unemployed mason who lives on Munjoy Hill with his fiancee and three of his five children. So rather than break the law, he exercises his right to free speech and asks for help by occasionally holding a sign on the corner of Park Avenue and State Street.

“After I lost my job I went and filled out all the applications that I could everywhere [for work] and it just got to the point where I had to supplement my searching for a job with actually bringing in some money, so this is the only way that I could do it without feeling like I’m hurting anybody or violating anybody’s space,” he said.

He’s not alone. The number of people holding signs in Maine’s largest city seems to grow every day.

“I don’t look at this as panhandling, I look at this as asking for help. I choose the nonaggressive approach. I like to stand here, just asking for Christian help. Nowhere on my sign does it say ‘give me money,’ it just says ‘need help’ and it’s up to that individual person on whether they want to stop and give me any money or not,” said Adams.

“You have to be able to walk up to that car and look that person in the eye and say, ‘Yes, it’s true [I do have kids]. Thank you very much, my family appreciates it.’”