You can make a difference in someone’s life!
The homeless often face contempt and resentment just for being in this predicament. People are people, regardless of their circumstances. Be kind to them. Homelessness can create a sense of isolation that diminishes a person’s self-worth. A smile from you or a word of kindness can make a big difference.
Ask their names and talk to them. When you take time to hear someone’s story, you may be surprised how well you can relate to the hardships they’ve faced.
Don’t judge. Avoid stereotyping or stigmatizing those facing hardships. There are many paths that lead to homelessness, and each person has a different story.
- Get involved
Collect food or clothing and donate it. Gather a group of friends to volunteer together at the Panama City Rescue Mission. Want to volunteer? Click here.
- Share what you’ve learned
Learn about the causes of homelessness. Share what you learn with your friends, family and colleagues. If you volunteer and tell others about your experience with enthusiasm, you can help eliminate misconceptions and stereotypes.
- Be Prepared to Help
Even a mild winter season here in Florida feels extra-cold if you are sleeping outside. Check your closet for winter gear you don’t use. Instead of letting a scarf, hat or gloves go unused, carry them with you and give them away if you see someone who needs them.
Summer heat can be just as uncomfortable. Give away a clean t-shirt and a bottle of water to someone living outside in the sweltering heat.
Carry granola bars, bottled water, trolley passes and gift cards for fast food or grocery stores that you can hand out if you encounter someone who needs one of these items.
Next time you stay in a hotel remember to grab the complimentary shampoo and hand lotion to give to someone who needs it.
- Steer them in the right direction
Homelessness can be a vicious cycle that is hard to break. You can suggest they get help at The Panama City Rescue Mission, where we can offer food, shelter, showers, recovery and work programs and other resources to assist them. You may want to give them a trolley pass so that they can get here. They may not accept your suggestion right away, but it is good for them to know they have the option when they are ready. Learn more about our programs here.
Pray for your homeless neighbors. You can pray with someone in need or by yourself, or with your friends and family. Pray that their physical needs are met. But also pray for their emotional and spiritual needs. Pray that they find the motivation to join a recovery program and seek the help they need.
- Don’t give up
Not everyone will accept help. Many of your neighbors in need will be grateful for your offer of food or water, but you may also encounter someone who is having a really rough day and may be unable to appreciate your help. Please, don’t be discouraged. Just smile and keep on your way. You may find someone else to help.