Wednesday September 28th 2016

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Help for homeless people – How you can help

To give or not to give?

You’ve probably been approached for money before.  Someone either sitting or standing.  Maybe a hand or a cup.  But what have you done?  And what can you do?  In other words, how can Americans react to homeless men and women living on the streets… especially when approached for money?

Words from the streets

We talked about this issue with Larry Huff, President of Samaritan Inns, a D.C. based non-profit that treats homeless men and women for addiction.  Here’s what he says:

I get that question about what to do about being approached by the homeless a lot.  Do you give eye contact or ignore the homeless and keep walking on?  And you probably feel a little guilty.  So then you start to ask yourself, “How do I deal with my own guilt with homeless people I encounter?”

Giving people some change or $1 may help them…or not.  You don’t know what they’re going to do with the money.  It’s not really dealing with the problem.  It’s like putting your finger in a dyke during a flood.  That’s not really doing much.

So, you have to go with your heart.  If you don’t particularly care, but don’t want to do anything…then dismiss it. If you are drawn in, do something about it.  Here are some of the things that I recommend:

• Talk to that person
• Get to know them a bit
• Volunteer with an organization
• Give to an organization

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You’re going to be amazed if you actually spend a minute and talk to a person who is panhandling.  A lot of time, you’ll get into a conversation and pretty soon you can relate to that person.  So, go with it.

Homelessness discussion

I totally agree with you, Larry.  I mean, 100%.  Reactions to homelessness can be deep and stay with us.  But can making turkey sandwiches and taking them downtown really help???  Well, if that’s your capacity, I say that turkey sandwiches are a start.  But what do you all out there think?  Should all citizens be culpable for a society where people are homeless?  And how do you treat or mistreat people living on the streets?  Your comments are welcomed here.

Photo credit: weingart.org

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