The Traveling Photo Booth® highlights issues of inequality throughout the year. Our current focus is homelessness. Feel free to contact uscontact us with comments, questions and suggestions. Our last article on the Black Lives Matter Movement can be read HERE
7 Ways You Can Help the Homeless
by Jacob Stewart | Founder, The Traveling Photo Booth®
Homelessness affects everyone regardless of gender, age, race, intelligence and location. Helping feels good, can be easy, and doesn't have to cost a cent. Below are seven ways to help the homeless in your community.
What We Can Do
There are a variety reasons why a person becomes homeless — lack of affordable housing, loss of a job, divorce, illness, substance abuse, domestic abuse, et cetera. One of the first steps you can take toward helping the homeless is suspend judgement and try to understand how they got there in the first place.
2. Show Respect
Don't treat a homeless person as if she were invisible. Say, "good morning," when you pass or strike up a conversation on a park bench. Many people experiencing homelessness say that the loss of dignity that accompanies their situation is harder to bear than the actual loss of physical things.
Clothing is a big one here, as are shoes and food. Non-perishable items are always in short supply at food pantries and homeless shelters. Other items that might be needed include blankets, coats, books and small kitchen items, such as cups and utensils. If you are donating to a homeless shelter or another organization that helps the homeless, consider donating office supplies, electronics, appliances, phone cards or other items that might help those who help the homeless. If you see someone who is homeless in winter, offer blankets, food or tarps (if you can't convince them to go to a shelter).
4. Download an App (we're not kidding)
Use your smartphone to help the homeless. In San Francisco, download the app HandUp to read the stories of homeless people in your area and donate directly to those in need. In New York, the WeShelter app can help you learn how to get involved. And in Atlanta, every post you upload on the Luv4wrd app equals a coat, blanket or pair of gloves to someone living on the streets. Live somewhere else? Use a Google search to find a homeless app to help the people in your community.
Sign up to work an evening shift at your local homeless shelter. Answer phones, sort mail, serve food, wash dishes, distribute clothes, babysit kids, clean floors, fix a leaky toilet. Find out what they need and how you can help.
6. Seek Out Jobs
Encourage your church or community center to hire a homeless person to paint, clean, type, answer phones or any other work that might fit. Many homeless people want to work but can't find regular employment.
7. Stock Your Car
Handing out bottled water, packaged snacks and food, and fruit is a great way to help homeless people you meet while stuck in traffic at a red light.