This week’s big idea: Plan Ahead
10 WAYS TO HELP A HOMELESS PERSON
- Be Prepared
There's many ways to help a homeless man or woman. Often, we fail to act simply because we're caught off guard. In most cases, you'll have better success if you've planned ahead and are ready to meet the need.
- Engage The Person
Homeless people are people. Smile and say hello. Go out of your way to approach them. Acknowledging them shows respect and gives dignity.
- Ask Questions
Start a conversation by asking questions. Learn where they are from. Ask their name. Inquire about what they need most. (Look for our 10 QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK A HOMELESS PERSON coming on the final week of this countdown.)
- Think Before Giving Money
Opinions vary on whether it is best to give money to a panhandler. Some have experimented with giving pre-paid credit cards. In most cases, meeting the person's actual immediate need for food or clothing might be better than giving cash.
- Offer A Care Kit
Keep care packages in your vehicle that include essentials. See our list of 10 ITEMS A HOMELESS PERSON COULD USE.
- Offer Public Transit Tickets
In Portland, Oregon, the TriMet public transit system can be a convenient way for homeless men and women to get to appointments and resources. Consider buying tickets in advance to keep with you. Hand the person an address list of the organizations where they can get help.
- Offer Food Gift Cards / Certificates
Food is the most common need panhandlers request money for. Be ready to offer gift certificates to restaurants in the area. Offer to sit and eat a meal with the person as a way to get to know them.
- Offer A Meal Voucher
Portland Rescue Mission offers free breakfast and dinner to all comers 7 days a week. Download our meal vouchers (PDF) as a handy way for a homeless man or woman to remember our meal locations and times. If you're not from Portland, research the free meal options available in your city.
- Point Them To Resources
Portland has a wide variety of services available to homeless men and women that they may not know about. You can request copies of the "Rose City Resource Guide" to hand out. If you're in another city, do some research if a similar guide is available.
- Offer To Pray
If you're inclined, offer to pray for the person. Ask what they would like you to pray for. Your prayers will be most appreciated if you've taken the time to listen to the person and have offered tangible help.
What items would you add to this list?