How to help
I attended a meeting last evening with a handful of pastors, church members and community members. This was interesting because each of these people heads a
program, or assists in a program to help the homeless and humanity.
I got to meet several new people and learn of the programs they have formed, as well as learned about the various programs themselves. It is heartening to see the efforts being applied and the volunteerism associated with these programs.
If you have a desire to help the homeless in your community but are stuck without new ideas, here are a few I learned about.
1) Form a group and collect socks for the less fortunate people. This can be done via boxes in your church, boxes placed in shops around town, and via monetary donations. This time of year is a great incentive to start a sock program. The homeless typically have very limited resources, and the cold weather can really affect their health as well as comfort. A new pair of warm socks can make a world of difference.
2) Start a night walk program. Have several people join you and walk through the areas of town that are most frequented by the homeless, and or are the most likely areas for violence against the homeless. It is unfortunate that so many “citizens” look upon the homeless as criminals and lowlife types. This attitude leads to violence against these less fortunate folks, and a simple presence of your group can alleviate any chance of incidents happening. Another benefit of this program will be an increased awareness of the life situations of these folks.
3) Form a morning “coffee club.” Have members of your church donate cash, paper cups, sugar, creamers etc. and host a morning coffee serving at the church. Put up notices in local churches, on bulletin boards, and anywhere else you can, and give the homeless a warm start to their day.
4) Create a community shelter group. Gather 7 local churches (one for each night), church volunteers, and set up one or two “monitors” to facilitate the daily operation. With even a small amount of funding from each church, you can purchase mats, pillows, blankets, sleeping bags etc. and set up a daily program. Have the guests “homeless” folks that you have interviewed and identified as the most needy, drug free and alcohol free and have them arrive at the church for that night at 5PM.
The guests meet with the monitor and set up the dinner meal with donated foods, or volunteers from the church can arrive and bring a dinner for the group. Then the guests clean up the area and set up the mats and sleeping items. The guests learn to work as a community and how to successfully associate with each other this way. In the morning coffee and breakfast rolls or breads can be served, and then again the guests clean up the area and depart for the day.
This process repeats each day at the next church on the list. This takes a bit of co-ordination, but is a great way to offer a warm place to spend the nights for the needy people. If the group is kept small (20 or so), the community aspect works well.
5) Create a community garden project. Invite the local homeless to come by and work the garden for a couple hours each and in return receive some of the produce of the garden. This can grow into a program that grows enough food to sell in a local market, or shop. The program could also grow into a training program that teaches valuable skill and work ethic to the attendees.
These are just a few ideas of how you can help the homeless community in your area, and do something valuable for humanity in general.