What’s your first reaction?
Do you avoid eye contact and turn away?
Hand her a few bucks and move on?
Look down your nose?
Say a silent prayer that it’s not you?
Ask yourself how he ended up in that position?
Do you ever wonder if there are any innovative ways to help the homeless, aside from opening soup kitchens and warming shelters in the winter months?
Depending upon how you answered these questions (I won’t see your answers so it’s not like this is a test or anything), they matter because you’ll either decide to continue ignoring the homeless or you’ll support innovative solutions that help them.
So, let’s assume for the sake of argument that you’re on board with option number two. There are people, organizations, even cities that are actively — and successfully — changing the lives of homeless people by helping them build a path to a better future. From building tiny mobile shelters to free haircuts to pop-up shops that donate clothing for those in need, Americans are finding amazing and truly innovative ways to help the homeless.
If you live on the streets, here’s the stark reality that many men, women, and children face right here in the US every day.
What happens if you’re homeless and need to get to an appointment to sign up for job training so you can get back on your feet ?
What if you need to see a doctor for an upper respiratory infection?
Or travel to a warm shelter on a brutally cold winter night
— and you have no money for a bus pass?
You don’t make it to that job training appointment. Your options for getting back on your feet are a lot more limited.
You can’t get any health care or medication to take care of a relatively common infection. Pneumonia, even death could be in your future .
You hope you can find a corner out of the wind so you don’t freeze to death before morning.
San Francisco decided there had to be a way to address the needs of the homeless population and do it in a cost-effective way. That’s where Project Homeless Connect (PHC) comes in. Think of it as an all-day fair where service providers come together under one roof several times a year. Thousands visit the “one-stop homeless shop” during each fair with over 70,000 people accessing services in the last ten years. Other cities are now reaching out to PHC to learn how to replicate the model.
OK, maybe you’re not part of a non-profit organization like this. And you don’t have a lot of money to donate but you’d like to do something to help at least one homeless person.
Here’s an easy way to make someone’s life a bit easier without spending a dime. It’s a simple way for anyone, kids or adults, to make a difference. And you can do it sitting in your comfy chair watching your favorite TV shows. How? Crochet or knit sleeping mats from plastic grocery bags. Easy-peasy directions here.
Do you know of other innovative ways to help the homeless? Please let us know in the comments section.
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Bonnie Pond is the founder of the 10,000 Butterflies Project and author of The Power of Three: How to be Happy and Get What You Want in Life (Without Doing Anything Illegal, Immoral, or Unethical) and Unlock Your Creativity: 30 Days to a More Creative YOU!