10 WAYS TO HELP A PERSON WHO IS UN-HOUSED
(Send Media Release August 29th/Post September 12th)
This week’s Big Idea: Plan Ahead
1. Be Prepared
There are many ways to help a person who is un-housed. Often, we fail to act simply because we're caught off guard. In most cases, you'll have better success if you've planned ahead and are ready to meet the need.
2. Engage the Person
Homeless people are people. Smile and say hello. Acknowledging a person shows respect and gives dignity. (Note: Use the same caution that you would with any stranger. Also, remember that just because you may think that a person "looks" homeless, that does not mean that they are. Be careful of what you "assume.")
3. Ask Questions
Start a conversation by asking questions. Inquire about what they need most. (Refer to the note in #2 concerning strangers)
4. Think Before Giving Money
Opinions vary on whether it is best to give money to a panhandler. Some have experimented with giving pre-paid credit cards. In most cases, meeting the person's actual immediate need for food or clothing might be better than giving cash.
5. Offer a Care Kit
Keep care packages in your vehicle that include essentials. See our list of 10 ITEMS A HOMELESS PERSON COULD USE (Week # 8 tips)
6. Offer Public Transit Tickets
The local public transit system can be a convenient way for homeless men and women to get to appointments and resources. Consider buying tickets in advance to keep with you. Hand the person an address list of the organizations where they can get help. (Note: print out the list of “Organizations Serving the Homeless in SLO County” from week #4).
7. Offer Food Gift Cards / Certificates
Panhandlers often request money for food. Be ready to offer gift certificates to restaurants in the area. Offer to sit and eat a meal with the person.
8. Offer Free Meal Location Information
Download a list of locations, dates, and times throughout San Luis Obispo County, where free food is available: http://www.slocounty.ca.gov/Assets/DSS/Groceries+and+Meals+-+Countywide.pdf
9. Point Them to Resources
See Countdown Week #4 for a list of local San Luis Obispo County organizations that assist folks who are un-housed and Week #10 for nationwide resources for the homeless.
10. Offer to Pray
If you're inclined, offer to pray for the person. Ask what they would like you to pray for. Your prayers will be most appreciated if you've taken the time to listen to the person and have offered tangible help.
(credit: Portland Homeless Rescue Mission, Portland, Oregon USA - http://www.1010pdx.org/search/label/Top%2010 )
Blog Question: What items would you add to this list?