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4 Great Ways to Help the Homeless in Your City

How to help the homeless in your city.

As of January 2016 in America, the number of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness was 564,000 people.  In Nebraska, over 10,000.  Fortunately, over the course of the last 3 years, homelessness in Nebraska has decreased roughly 9%.  While that number seems minimal in the scheme of things, that number speaks great volumes as to how the Midwest is taking charge to help the homeless in their communities.

More often than not a homeless person is only thought of as the people living on the street.  The reality is that there are homeless here, and everywhere, that look just like everyone else.  The single mom in the grocery store.  The man sitting in his car in the parking lot.  The young kid with a job, but still can’t afford to pay rent.  No matter their situation and no matter what “spectrum” of homelessness they live on, their situation is not defining of their character.

But what do we do with the homeless men, women, and children within our communities?  How can we personally, and realistically help the homeless that we encounter in our day-to-day lives?

1. Smile

Most homeless feel invisible.  Left behind.  Don’t be afraid to offer a smile.  At the end of the day a person is a person no matter where they live and a genuine smile never hurts.  Kindness, simply put, goes a long way.

2. Say Hello

To empathize with someone is finding common ground and understanding what a person is going through.  Homelessness is isolating and a simple “hello” with a smile can be the slightest bit of encouragement that they need for the day.  Introduce yourself and take a minute to ask questions and genuinely listen.  Use this time to understand their needs if you have the opportunity to help.  Making a person feel valued, human, and cared for is a simple act that could linger with them throughout their journey.  Use and trust your instincts to be safe and smart.

”Empathy goes a long way into understanding the many reasons why people become homeless. Sudden life events such as unemployment, lack of affordable housing, or a medical condition can all force people into homelessness.”

- Meghan Murphy of HandUp.org

3.  Be Friendly

Offer tangible items.  Keep “Blessing Bags” in your car filled with good socks and gloves, beef jerky, breakfast bars, mints, lip balm, feminine products, water, and perhaps even a little bus fare.  If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, consider donating to your local shelter as they know how to help our homeless in the best way.  But most of all offer hope, love, and encouragement.

“You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.”

― John Bunyan

4.  Connect

Spend time where it counts.  Volunteer your time by serving meals at a homeless shelter or offering tutoring homeless youth in your community.  Donate to a local nonprofit that serves the homeless, abused, or addicted.  Engage with Paramount and Pure Flix to see and show the new movie Same Kind of Difference As Me that comes out in October 2017.  Expose yourself to those that need help and use your talents and gifts to help them and encourage others to do the same.

We have the resources available to help our homeless community and we should take the opportunity to use them.  What are you doing in your lives, homes, schools, workplaces to help combat homelessness?  Are there nonprofit organizations benefiting the homeless that you love donating to?  Are you going to see the Same Kind of Difference As Me when it comes out?  We’d love to hear from you!

 

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