By giving your time, money and other important things, you can make a difference in the life of a homeless person. Here’s how:
- Educate yourself. There are countless reasons why a person lives in homelessness: lack of accessible housing, loss of a job, divorce, illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, and so on. The first steps you can take to help people living in a street situation is trying to understand how they got there.
- Show a little respect. Do not treat a person who lives in homelessness as if he were invisible. Say “good morning” when you pass or start a conversation at a park bench. Many people who experience living in the homeless say that the loss of dignity that accompanies their situation is more difficult to bear than the actual loss of physical things.
- Donate. Clothes are a great help, as are shoes and food. Non-perishable items are always scarce in food pantries and in shelters for people living in homelessness. Other items that may be necessary include blankets, coats, books and small kitchen items, such as cups and utensils. If you donate to a shelter for people living in a street situation or another organization that helps them, consider donating office supplies, electronic products, accessories, phone cards or other items that can help those who help people who live in street situation. If you see someone who lives in a street situation in winter, offer blankets, food or tarps (if you can’t convince him to go to a shelter).
- Voluntary. Answer phones, sort emails, serve food, wash dishes, distribute clothes, take care of children, clean floors, fix a leaking toilet. Discover what they need and how you can help.
- Teach. Make the most of your skills by sharing them with people living in homelessness. Organize classes through the local shelter to teach typing, accounting, plumbing, carpentry, child care, nutrition or even a new language. These skills can help a person living in a street situation find a job and maybe a better life.
- Come closer. Invite a person living in homelessness to your church or an event in the local community. Organize an outing to take children living in a street situation to the movies or an ice skating rink. Offer moral support when you can.
Promotes Call local shelters for people living in the street to find out what items they need, and contact local volunteer groups or civic organizations to organize food collection campaigns or fundraising events to collect those items. Follow local policy and talk at city council meetings on issues of people living in street situations and programs for people living in street situations. Write editorial letters in your local newspaper about the problem of people living in a street situation in your community and what people can do to help them.