Helping the Homeless in the Community
When you’re in a public area, it’s possible you may be approached by or otherwise encounter a homeless person.
You may choose, as many do, to ignore this person. But there are some very real things you can do to help a fellow human being under these circumstances.
Engage the person and ask questions
Homeless people are people. Smile and say hello. Acknowledging them shows respect and gives dignity. Learn where they are from. Ask their name. Inquire about what they need most.
Don’t give money to an individual
In most cases, meeting the person’s actual immediate need for food or clothing might be better than giving cash. The most efficient way to donate funds is to give it to your local Rescue Mission and allow the Mission to provide needed services.
Offer public transit tickets
The WRTA is a convenient way for homeless men and women to get to appointments and resources. Consider buying tickets in advance to keep with you should you run into someone needing transportation or donate them to the Rescue Mission of Mahoning Valley. (You can purchase tickets and receive additional free tickets if you use the coupons found in the phone book.)
Offer food gift cards/certificates or tell them about the Mission’s free meals
Food is the most common need panhandlers request money for. If approached, be ready to offer gift certificates to restaurants in the area. Offer to sit and eat a meal with the person as a way to get to know them. And you can always point an individual in need to the Mission. We serve three full meals every day of the week at our Emergency Shelter on Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
Point them to resources
Our community has a wide variety of services available to homeless men and women that they may not know about. The Rescue Mission works with dozens of partnering agencies who are here to provide assistance. Encourage individuals in need to call 211, Help Hotline’s Information hotline.
Offer to pray
If you’re inclined, offer to pray for the person. Ask what they would like you to pray for. Your prayers will be most appreciated if you’ve taken the time to listen to the person and have offered tangible help.