Interacting with the Homeless

Taking time to talk in a friendly manner helps the homeless avoid being driven into potentially dangerous isolation, depression, or paranoia.

We’ve all been panhandled for change to buy a cup of coffee or get a bite to eat. If you’re like most, you’ve been suspicious from time to time, wondering what the money was really for. The Redwood Gospel Mission offers a wide range of emergency relief and a recovery program. Offer help by (1) talking to the person and letting them see you care, then (2) offer one of our Real Change Certificates* to invite them to have a meal (and a bed) at the Mission and the genuine opportunity to get the help they really need.

The First–and most important–thing to know is that homelessness a complex issue with many causes. Each homeless person is an individual and has individual needs. Most are able or willing to work. They are not the perpetual social problem many people believe they are.

If Jesus were walking the Earth today, He would doubtless spend time with the homeless. He would speak with them, heal them, and help them. Today, Jesus chooses to work through those who believe and follow Him.

Some on the streets are like thirsty sponges looking for love, forgiveness, and compassion. Yet, even those who seem stone cold or apparently happy living on the streets are in great need. Exposure to the elements, disease, dirt, and occasional violence all sap years off a person’s life in a very short time! God can use your prayers and the brutality of the streets to bring many of the broken to Himself.

Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good shape, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless. Most shelters need to have clothing on hand. Anybody can give clothing: union members, church goers, kindergarten kids, and senior citizens. Most of us have closets that need to be cleaned out! New clothing, particularly sock and underclothing can be purchased and donated to shelters. Besides, having something new to wear gives a psychological lift.

As you have already learned, there are many kinds of shelters–for battered women, for the elderly, for children, for drug addicts, for single mothers. As a volunteer, then you have a wide choice. Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain or as much as a step forward to self-sufficiency. People who serve in shelters report that they have found it to be not only a spiritual moment, but also a time when their own burdens are lightened and their personal strength and courage are bolstered. Contact us and we will get you set up (707) 578-1830.

No matter what you do for a living, you can help the homeless with your on-the-job talents and skills. Those with clerical skills can help nonprofit organizations and charities that reach the homeless. Doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and dentists can treat the homeless in clinics. Lawyers can help with legal concerns. The homeless’ needs are bountiful–your time and talent won’t be wasted.

Every one of us has something we can give the homeless. Wherever our interests may lie–cooking, repairing, gardening, photography–we can use them for the homeless. Through our hobbies, we can teach them useful skills, introduce them to new avocations and perhaps point them in a new direction. Volunteer your time at shelters or other organizations reaching the homeless–give demonstrations of what you do, teach classes or even just share your hobby one-on one with a homeless person. Chances are, you will reach many who are interested.