Writer’s Name: Allison Martin
Title: Ways to Assist the Homeless
With the rate of homelessness increasing due to the economic downturn, assistance needed is greater than ever. Listed below are ways you can pitch in to help out:
1. Education is essential: Prior to working with any homeless individual or family, you must have an open-mind and understand that they are normal human beings just like the rest of us. In addition, it’s important to know that some have stories that will surprise you and sometimes, those who are extremely intelligent are homeless due to an unfortunate set of circumstances.
2. Donate Professional Services: Since a vast majority of homeless individuals do not have the wherewithal to pay for professional services, it’s never a bad idea to donate your time if you are skilled in a particular craft. For example, there may be a member of the homeless community who was employed at some point in the prior year and needs tax preparation assistance. In this case, an accountant, CPA, or Registered Tax Return Preparer could donate this service.
3. Host continuing education courses (and tutor young children): Just like in any population, some members may not have a high school diploma (or GED) and lack basic skills needed to secure and maintain employment. To assist, you could host free continuing education seminars that provide GED prep resources and general employment information. Bear in mind that many children are also homeless so it wouldn’t hurt to incorporate a tutoring program for them as well.
4. Assist homeless with securing employment: If you are well connected in your community, encourage employers to hire the homeless. To prepare them for employment, provide educational resources that will help them excel on the job (i.e. interviewing tips, how to dress for success, conduct in the workplace, etc.).
5. Volunteer Your Time at Homeless Shelters: You never know whose life you may touch just by volunteering. Remember that all homeless individuals have a unique story to tell and your listening ear and interactions with them may leave a lasting impression.
6. Generate a list of shelters: This list can be distributed to those individuals you see who are homeless and may not know which way to turn for help. Some do not have access to a computer to research shelters and/or organizations that can assist them.
7. Food Banks: If you belong to a local church or community organization(s), start a food bank and set a schedule to distribute non-perishable items to the homeless. For those who are not affiliated with any group but want to help, create a mini-food bank in your home instead.
8. Clothing closet: Either find a location where the homeless can come to retrieve clothing or donate the items to a shelter. For many homeless people, the winter time is quite harsh due to the lack of adequate clothing to keep them warm. Therefore, a coat drive is also a great idea.
9. Donate funds: If you do not have any items, services, or time to give, the homeless can always use money. I am not suggesting that you hand out massive amounts of cash to pan-handlers. Instead, find a 501(c)(3) (Not-For-Profit) organization whose values and beliefs align with yours to donate to.
10. Prayer: For those who are Christian, you know that prayer is one of the most powerful gifts you can give anyone. You can pray for comfort, peace, and that the needs of the homeless are met. In Matthew 6:31-34, we are encouraged not to worry about food, drink, or clothing. Instead, we should fix our thoughts on the kingdom of God and righteousness and these things will follow. Use that encouraging scripture to lift the spirits of those who are distressed.