“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘ Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers
Wanting to be a helper is human nature. We all see people on the street — homeless and hungry, addicted and impoverished — and we try our best to lend a hand. But these issues are so complex, and these people are so different, that it can be difficult to know how to help.
That’s why we’ve come up with a few ideas for how you might help your neighbors in need.
The next time you find yourself in a conversation with a homeless person, lend an ear and practice active listening. A great way to express care is by having a respectful and heartfelt conversation. We all want to be heard, and letting a person talk about their thoughts and feelings can really make a difference to someone struggling. You might hear something you need that day, or find a way to provide hope and encouragement.
2. Give hope, not cash
Every homeless person has a different story, some of which include struggles with addiction and alcoholism. That makes helping someone on the streets a little more complicated. To avoid enabling self-destructive behaviors, don’t give them cash or pocket change. Instead, look for ways to meet an immediate need: a bottle of water, a snack or a pair of dry socks on a cold day. Then, encourage them to come to the Mission to address their long-term needs and life goals.
3. Help them to the Mission
Rather than give someone money or a ride — both of which could have adverse effects — direct those in need to Springs Rescue Mission. If they’re close, point the way. If not, buy them a bus pass or call them an Uber/Lyft/cab. At the Mission, guests receive a hearty meal, a warm bed, a hot shower and access to a case manager who can help them find work, healthcare and housing.
4. Get involved — donate or volunteer
In recent years, donors have helped expand the Mission’s campus and programs — transforming lives and helping thousands of people overcome homelessness, hunger and addiction. To support our guests and restore hope in their lives, you can give on a monthly basis by becoming a Good Samaritan Sponsor. Another great way to help is by volunteering weekly to help serve meals in Samaritan’s Kitchen or process donated goods and food in our warehouse.
5. Love Bigger
Homeless people are often dehumanized — by traumas, addictions, circumstances and the fears of others. But they are people just like you and me, deserving of kindness and compassion. The simplest and most impactful way to help a homeless person is to make them feel seen, loved and worthwhile. It can be as easy as smiling, making eye contact, shaking someone’s hand or calling them by name. We are all unique humans with complex stories. We are all sometimes in need of grace and a helping hand.
Subscribe to learn more about Springs Rescue Mission and read stories about the population we serve. The best way to help is by signing up today to donate monthly and become a Good Samaritan Sponsor. We also welcome members of the community to volunteer by helping in Samaritan’s Kitchen and working in our donations warehouse.