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| People do want to help in some way; they just dont know where to
begin. The first step is to make the decision to act, to do something to help. After that,
its just a matter of focusing your energies, strengths, and resources. Begin by
reading newspaper and magazine articles about the homeless, listening to the news, and
contacting organizations and request their brochures, pamphlets, and volunteer needs.
Knowledgeable people are better equipped to make informed choices. A great deal of
information can be found in the library, bookstores, as well as online.
Advocacy, working to change policies and programs at the local,
state, and federal levels is critical to ending homelessness. Individual advocacy is a
commitment of ones time and resources to help a specific homeless person.
How a Homeless Person Might React
One of the most emotionally
damaging aspects of homelessness is the lack of respect experienced by homeless people in
their dealings with individuals and agencies. Trust is a very important issue to the
homeless because they typically have lead lives that have been characterized by letdowns
|The essence of trust is that one can be
counted on to keep their commitments. Trust also develops when the homeless person feels
like you accept their uniqueness, respect their ability to make decisions, and you
communicate genuine concern for them.|
|Simply listening empathetically and
intently to the individual can make a huge difference in how the individual perceives
|Treating the homeless nonjudgmental and
with respect is a good place to begin building a relationship. If they see that you still
have hope in them, they will begin to have hope in themselves.|
It takes time for a relationship based on trust to develop.
Respect each persons boundaries and ways of relating. When you have developed
rapport with a homeless individual, you can decide to what extent you want to and are able
to help them. Explain to them that you would like to offer your assistance, but it is
ultimately up to them. Your assistance may be as simple as offering to get them some clean
clothes, or it may entail setting up a job interview for them.
|Homeless people react differently to someones help.
Sometimes a homeless person may respond defensively because they feel powerless, and may
overreact to try to maintain some control over their situation by being angry and hostile
before the other person could. Or they may have repressed their emotions so that when
someone helps them, they just accept it numbly without showing appreciation.
homeless person just wants to be recognized, not ignored. Just making eye contact, smiling
or saying hello makes such a difference. Acknowledging ones humanity is one small
yet easy way to help the homeless.
STEPS TO INDIVIDUAL ADVOCACY
"Have a Great One! A Homeless Man's Story" by Laurie Anthony