Monday, September 20, 2010


We’re counting down 10 weeks to World Homeless Action Day on October 10th.

This week’s big idea: Plan Ahead

  1. 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. 

  2. 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.

  3. 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.)

  4. 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.

  5. Offer A Care Kit
    Keep care packages in your vehicle that include essentials.  See our list of 10 ITEMS A HOMELESS PERSON COULD USE.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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?

    1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Give a can opener--a can of chili or stew is a meal that costs less than $1 as compared to a cheeseburger that can cost $3 to $6.

    Give a tarp and/or am emergency blanket (the silver ones).

    Socks, they wear out fast.

    A backpack, so they can carry their food, water, and bedding with them if they are told to move.

    A way to filter or purify water. (See sporting goods stores.)