Taken from the book Every Monday Matters: 52 Ways To Make A Difference by Matthew Emerzian and Kelly Bozza
TREAT THE HOMELESS WITH DIGNITY
-2.5 and 3.5 million people are homeless at some point each year.
-750,000 people sleep on the streets every night.
-30% of the homeless are families with children, and 71% are single-parent families
-44% of the homeless has part- or full-time employment.
1. Don’t judge people based on their outward appearances or life circumstances.
2. Better understand who the homeless are by talking to them on the street or by volunteering to serve food at a mission, shelter, or soup kitchen. You’ll be surprised by what you learn.
3. Look a homeless person in the eye, show consideration, be polite, and smile.
4. Instead of money, offer bottled water, ready-to-eat food, or toiletries.
5. If a homeless person asks for help and you are not able to, rather than treating them with indifference or ignoring them, simply state, “I’m sorry. I’m not able to help today.”
Before I became a mom, I was the supervisor of a homeless shelter for women and children. When I started that position, my eyes were certainly opened to the struggles of families right in my own community. As the supervisor, my job was to keep the shelter running (budget, stats, grant writing, maintenance, staffing, speaking engagements, etc) and I lost touch with the human side of homelessness. Admittedly, I became a little cynical and frustrated and eventually left this position. I have recently been exposed to this issue again through my sister-in-law who is on the board and volunteers at a place called Mission of Hope, check out their website here… http://www.missionofhopecr.org/. Anyone who walks in the door can be fed a meal, have a cup of coffee and a pastry, get some food from the food pantry, or sit and talk with a volunteer. This has been an amazing organization to the community and it has reached out to so many in need. I know that they have been serving as many as 120+ for lunch on a regular basis. Maybe once my schedule opens up, I can start getting back into volunteering in this area.
People don’t want to be homeless. Yet millions of people may only be one missed paycheck, one health crisis, or one unpaid bill away from becoming homeless. How many paychecks could you miss and still afford to pay your rent or mortgage? Call your local homeless shelter and see what is on their wish list…toiletries, canned food items, diapers, socks, or your time…and give what you can.