A lot of this is really doable, actually!
Thanksgiving is tomorrow and I bet that a lot of you are planning to volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen this holiday season! That’s a great way to do some community service, but it’s not where your giving should end this season. The formerly (or currently) homeless people of Reddit have come together to share the most important ways to help immediately and to help foster change in your community in the long run!
The Little Things
My boyfriend was homeless for a period of his life because of an abusive parent. He was lucky enough to have friends and family that helped to pull him out of his situation, but it obviously had a huge impact on how he lives his life.
He always carries a few pre-made packs with toothpaste and a toothbrush, deodorant, disposable razors and shaving cream, socks, hand/feet warmers, etc. When he sees someone who needs help he gives them a pack and cash if he has it on him.
But the best and most truly invaluable thing he does for the homeless people he meets is he stops and has a real conversation with them. He listens and shares stories and treats them with respect and dignity. He’s even spent a few of his nights out at a bar speaking with the people busking outside and then spent the rest of the night partying with them. Bought them drinks, snacks, hung out at clubs; just shows them a good time. Took their mind off their troubles for one night.
He always tells me that it’s not the money people need, it’s normalcy. A daily routine and normal social interaction. Brushing your teeth, combing your hair, saying hello to your neighbor, and spending your day doing normal things and feeling normal. Too many cannot find this normalcy and so they turn to drugs and alcohol to escape their reality. Because they think they’ll never feel normal again.
Too Much Time
There needs to be more opportunities for homeless or otherwise desperate people to do community oriented work. Where I live there used to be a program that had street people volunteering to pick up trash and hang holiday decorarions and such. It was only for an hour or two at a time and in exchange they got access to laundry and showers and such, in addition to a daily meal available for all.