Being without shelter is never easy, but the current state of emergency in our community presents particular challenges for people experiencing homelessness. Many of us are compelled to make an effort to help when we find out that a family or individual is experiencing homelessness. But it can be difficult to know how to make the greatest impact.
There are many more ways to help people experiencing homelessness beyond giving money on the street, steps that you can take to empower the organizations working to help people living on the streets long-term. Here are some of the most practical ones.
1. Provide information.
Calloway County is full of organizations and agencies who are able to provide assistance to people experiencing homelessness. Find out who those agencies are, then make small cards with their contact info and offer them to people you meet who are living without shelter. Some ideas to get started are Gentry House, MCC Homeless Coalition, and Soup for the Soul.
2.Volunteer your time.
Gentry House and MCC Homeless Coalition have partnered together to create volunteer teams. There are numerous options for how you can get involved; whether it is mentoring families, welcoming new residents, or helping with grounds and maintenance. Contact us to find out how you can be part of helping people get back on their feet and into a safe and stable home.
3. Donate and fundraise.
Collectively, Gentry House and MCC Homeless Coalition have provided transitional housing and emergency assistance to nearly 400 people in the last year. It takes a lot of resources to provide the services people need. With so many people experiencing financial instability due to the current shutdowns, requests for emergency assistance have increased tremendously. If you are in a position to help provide financially, we need support now more than ever.
4. Remember youth homelessness.
Unaccompanied teens experience homelessness much differently than adults do, and a different network of services addresses their specific needs. Take the time to learn about the youth services and see what kinds of donations and volunteer efforts they need as well. There are opportunities for highly-qualified individuals to mentor and support homeless youth and young adults.
5. Research your local candidates.
Gentry House has been very fortunate to have the support of both the City of Murray and Calloway County government. Politicians can dictate your community or city’s policies and funding levels for homeless services and affordable housing. Take the time to learn candidates’ proposals on homelessness and the issues that lead to it, and support those who echo your values.
6. Show love.
Oftentimes, the best support you can give to someone is compassion and kindness. Homeless people are just people. Treat them with the same kindness and consideration you would want someone to give you.