Through small but impactful ways, you can care for people experiencing homelessness, hunger, and other crises. Here are five tips that can make a difference for a neighbor in need. 

Tip #1 – Acknowledge & Engage

Be sure to acknowledge the people you encounter in the street or subway. Say a simple hello. Talk to them and engage in a simple conversation. 

Above all, avoid stereotyping or stigmatizing anyone who is homeless. There are many paths that lead to homelessness, and each person has a different story.

Tip #2 – Be Ready to Help Today

Sometimes, people in crisis just need help to get through the day. In general, it is better not to give cash away. 

-Carry gift cards from fast food or grocery store chains in your wallet. This way, you will be helping your neighbor get something to eat, as well as the opportunity to get out of the street and rest inside a store or restaurant.

-Also, granola bars are easy to keep in your pockets or bag and provide energy and nutrition.

-Besides food, a small bottle of water helps prevent dehydration, a common health concern among those living unsheltered.

-Give a TICKET of HOPE (shelter, meals, education, healthcare)

Tip #3 – Help During Any Season

Check your closet for simple winter gear that you are not using anymore. 

A clean t-shirt does a lot for someone’s spirits when you are outside in the sweltering heat. Being able to change to clean, fresh clothes helps lighten your day.

If you travel often, next time you stay in a hotel remember to grab the complimentary hand lotion and keep it in your pocket or bag. This lotion can help more than you think! Spending all day in the harsh winter cold can severely damage and dry out your skin.

Tip #4 – Invite & Pray

If you want to help someone experiencing homelessness get back on their feet, you can point them to Union Gospel Mission. 

Finally, you can pray by yourself, or with friends and family. Pray for their physical needs to be met, as well as their mental, emotional and spiritual needs. Pray that they find the motivation and support they need to receive care and begin a path toward recovery.

Tip #5 – Don’t Get Discouraged

Always offer help first, rather than giving someone something they may not actually want or need. Many in need will be grateful for your offer of food or water. But you may also encounter someone who is having a really rough time 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.

Learn more about Union Gospel Mission