Ever feel like you want to help with a cause but don’t know where to start? If you want to make a difference, try helping homeless people in your area. With so many people living on the streets or in shelters, the amount of change needed can feel overwhelming. With that in mind, here are ways you can help and what to keep in mind.
Use Your Skills to Get Involved
Decide what your skill set is and use it to help your community. If you’re a good public speaker, organizer or baker, whatever it may be, figure out how to channel it to draw attention to the needs of homeless people. There is a way for everyone to make change doing what they know.
Don’t Give Up After One Bad Volunteering Experience
Volunteering is a great way to get involved. Whether it’s working at a soup kitchen or collecting donations, there’s an option for everyone. Unfortunately, there are going to be times when your volunteer experience is less than optimal. Some places just don’t have the bandwidth to manage volunteers properly. As a result, you may feel like you weren’t able to contribute. If this happens when you’re starting out, it can be tempting to throw in the towel. Try not to let it cloud your thoughts toward volunteering. Take the time to work with a few organizations to find one that provides a mutually beneficial experience.
When looking for volunteer opportunities, keep in mind that many places require availability for a set amount of time. If you can commit to that, amazing. But if not, keep searching for one-off opportunities. If you can’t find anything online, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your local shelters to see how you can help.
Donations and Other Traditional Ways of Helping
At the end of the day, donating items and money can also make a huge difference. Yes, there are many long-term, big picture changes that need to be made. But, in the short-term, monetary and physical donations can help homeless people in your community.
Donate gently used items to a shelter such as clothing, bras, and blankets. When you can, purchase items like menstrual pads and socks to donate. Give money when you can. Even if it feels like a small contribution, it can make a world of difference.
Encourage those around to sort through their belongings and giveaway items in good condition they no longer need.
Advocate for Affordable Housing
While all these methods are incredibly powerful and important, long-term change is needed, specifically access to affordable housing. In America, there is an affordable housing crisis underway. The price of housing continues to rise with wages not keeping up. Educate people on these issues, petition your lawmakers and fight for fair wages.
Even people that do have homes are investing so much of their income, there’s very little left to live on. This leaves them at risk of becoming homeless. According to Curbed, more than 8 million Americans spend over half their income on housing.
Affordable housing needs to be prioritized by the elected officials in power. As a constituent, make sure your leaders know this is an important cause to you. Come armed with the facts and make your voice heard.
It may feel like you as a person can’t make a difference in the lives of homeless people in your community. But you can. No matter how small or big an action, each one works toward creating a better world. All you must do is start.