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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Week #5 "10 Week Countdown to World Homeless Action Day"


(Send Media Release August 22nd/ Post September 5th)

This week’s Big Idea: Volunteer for a Homeless Services Organization

Have you ever volunteered at a homeless day or night shelter? Take the time to do so this week. Be sure to call ahead to make arrangements with shelter staff. See Week #4 for a list of local Homeless Services Agencies.

1. Introductions

Treat the person as you would anyone else. Introduce yourself and learn his/her name.

2. Does the person want information about local resources?

If they are new to the area, you might be able to give them helpful information about resources they could use, especially resources that shelters might not typically mention, such as various Houses of Worship or a list of free social activities in the area (book clubs, knitting groups, concerts in the park, etc.)

3. What Do They Most Need Right Now?

The best way to help is to find the point of greatest need and that might be as simple as having you listening to their story.

4. Can You Share a Meal with Them?

Offer to have a meal with them. A meal can ease the flow of conversation. You could also invite them to attend your House of Worship or a community activity.

5. Would They Like to Share Their Story?

The answer to how they became homeless will vary widely. Be prepared to hear some painful stories.

6. How Do They Survive?

You might be surprised to find out where people sleep, how they make money, and where they get food.

7. What Would They Want Other People To Know About Them?

Questions about this give the opportunity to go deeper.

8. What Do They Hope For Their Future?

People, who are experiencing homelessness, are often short on hope. You might be able to help them envision a brighter future for themselves.

9. If They Could Have Three Wishes, What Would They Be?

This is a classic question used by Mark Horvath in his InvisiblePeople.tv interviews. Watch a few of his videos to see how easy it is to talk to someone, who is un-housed.

10. Is the person actually experiencing homelessness?

In reference to people you may come across on the street versus at a shelter, don't automatically assume that a panhandler or person sitting on the sidewalk is homeless. They may have a place to stay, but choose to panhandle due to lack of finances. Even if they're not homeless, they could have a significant need.

(credit: Portland Homeless Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon USA - http://www.1010pdx.org/search/label/Top%2010)

Note: When interacting with strangers in general, use common sense and always keep your safety in mind.

Blog Question: There are plenty of other good questions and conversation starters out there. What ones would you add?

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