How can I help combat homelessness?
It is easy for homeless people to fall through the cracks. As a result, they spend so much of their time trying to meet their basic, physical needs that their need for friendship, intellectual stimulation, and camaraderie can often fall by the wayside. One of the ways you might be able to help out at a homeless helter is to spend time with the clients, teaching and sharing your hobbies, and finding out about and learning from their interests.
Ask the shelter about planning an evening program such as a board game night, an open mike poetry reading, a musical performance, or a holiday party. These kinds of interactions and events can help reestablish some of the creature comforts of life, and will help build self-esteem. Don't underestimate how helpful it can be to just treat people like people: it will make them more able to face the world without shame, to seek and gain employment, and escape poverty and homelessness.
Homelessness and other housing issues are, in large part, a question of the quantity, quality, and accessibility of available homes. You can improve all three of these factors by helping to build or fix up affordable housing or shelters in your community.
Check with your local public housing authority, or find the nearest chapter of Habitat for Humanity (http://www.habitat.org) to find opportunities for you to really put your back into combating homelessness.
The ability to find and maintain a home is directly affected by a person's ability to find and keep a job. You can help people lay the foundation for breaking the cycle of under- and unemployment, poverty, and homelessness by offering to help with job training.
Talk with local direct service agencies to find out how you could use your skills and knowledge to help their clients build their own skill sets. You could also ask whether you could volunteer your time and skills to fulfill any of the needs of the agency itself, freeing up its staff and funds for job training.
Volunteering your time to work directly with people experiencing homelessness is one of the best ways to learn about homelessness and while meeting immediate needs at the same time. However, if you are more interested in donating to the cause, consider gifts-in-kind, such as food, blankets, clothing, games, books, or other items that will help make a shelter or direct service agency a war, welcoming, effective and safe place. Or, give money. Talk with people at your local homeless shelter and ask what they most need.
Remember to be patient, as many service providers are under-funded and understaffed, and staff members are focused on meeting people's basic needs or coping with emergencies. Let them know how you can help, when, and for how long, and give them time to figure out how to work you in. Also, remember that service providers need help at all times of year-not just holidays.
Charity Frequently Asked Questions
What services do animal charities provide?
What are modern animal shelters like?
What is the ASPCA's mission?
What services does the American Humane Society offer?
What should I consider before adopting or rescuing a pet?
What does the World Wildlife Fund do?
What are the dimensions of charity?
How does the charitable market differ by nation?
Why should I donate my money, time or goods?
How should I go about deciding which charities to support?
What do breast cancer charities do?
What are some high-profile breast cancer charities in the United States?
How can I support the fight against cancer?
How can I help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS?
What are some international service agencies I can support?
Why do nonprofit organizations have so many fundraising campaigns?
What do my donations to annual campaigns fund?
What is a capital campaign?
What is an endowment campaign?
What role do special events play in charities' fundraising activities?
Should I buy these new charity wristbands?
Are there objective bodies that report on charities' activities?
Do charities have to disclose their operating records?
Where can I find out more about how a charity operates?
How can I support children in the United States and around the world?
What are some organizations that provide services to children and families?
What is the digital divide?
Why does the digital divide matter?
Does the digital divide only affect people and the countries in which they live?
How can I help bridge the digital divide?
What is disaster relief?
Who participates in disaster relief and recovery efforts?
What are the phases of disaster relief and recovery?
What kind of disasters need relief?
What are the different ways to donate money to charitable organizations?
Do I have to give a large gift to make a difference?
Why should I donate blood?
Why should I become an organ donor?
How can I help sick kids?
Is my old cell phone something I can donate?
Can my old computer be used by schools or charitable organizations?
What is the best way to donate a computer?
What should I do when donating a computer?
What do environmental charities do?
What organizations promote conservation and environmental protection?
Are homeless charities meeting current needs or helping homeless people become self-sufficient?
What does the National Coalition for the Homeless focus on?
How does America's Second Harvest address hunger and homelessness in the United States?
How does the Enterprise Foundation support community development and fight homelessness?
How can I help combat homelessness?
What are some organizations that are involved in international relief programs and efforts?
What does the term "nonprofit organization" refer to?
How can I plan to support my favorite causes through a bequest?
What are the tax implications of making a bequest?
Where can I get more information about planned giving?
How can corporations contribute to charitable causes?
What are the tax benefits of corporate giving?
Why should companies donate to charity and community causes?
What should I look out for when deciding to which charities to give?
What can I give to charitable causes?
How can I get involved without spending a lot of money?
How to I get to know the organizations I am considering supporting?
How to I teach philanthropy to my children?
What is philanthropy?
What are some smart things to do as I plan my charitable giving?
What is substance abuse?
How can we help prevent and reduce substance abuse in our communities?
How do charitable organizations help people with dependency issues and their families?
What are some organizations that provide substance abuse prevention and treatment services?
How can I help people with substance abuse issues?
What are missionaries?
How do I find a volunteer opportunity?
Are there volunteer opportunities that are not "in person" opportunities?
What role can online volunteers play?
How can I find an online volunteer opportunity?
Can I volunteer my technology skills?
What do I need to do to be a good volunteer?
What skills could I offer an organization?
How can I help charitable causes if I don't have a lot of money to donate?