Show some respect will ya? Homelessness sucks. It is dangerous, scary perhaps above all extremely isolating. One of the most common things we hear from people struggling with homelessness is that they feel invisible. A simple smile or “good morning” as you pass by someone living outside can mean a lot and maybe be the most positive interaction that person has all day, or night.
Hire someone: Does your church or community center have work that needs to be done? You like being the boss right? So consider hiring a person struggling with homelessness to paint, clean, rake leaves or any other job that might fit. Many people living outside or in shelters want to work, but can’t find regular employment. Check out how United Way is doing that with our Jobs Connect program.
Volunteer: Homeless shelters and other local nonprofits help provide the basic needs for those who are homeless. Volunteers generally do much of the work, from picking up donations, preparing meals, serving it and cleaning up the facilities. Get off your holiday ham and go volunteer your time.
Educate yourself: People become homeless for lots of reasons, and each and each individual has their own unique story just like any of us. One of the first things you can do to help our community fight homelessness is understanding how people got there in the first place. Read Aeshia’s story to help you get started.
Advocate and educate others: When you do volunteer, you’re going to get hooked on that feeling of making a difference and can motivate others with your enthusiasm. You can write letters to the editors of your neighborhood paper, and by advocating for housing issues at election time with your friends and legislators. Don’t know who your legislators are? We gotcha covered.
Share your hobbies: Whatever your hobbies may be—building, gardening, coding, cooking or photography there’s a way they can help people in need. So stop keeping them to yourself and find a way to put them to good use already!
Donate stuff: Blankets, shoes and clothes are always needed at shelters and other agencies providing services to people living outside, especially in the cold and dripping Seattle winters. But the No. 1 most-needed article of clothing? New socks. Donate a pair now!
Talk to your kids about homelessness: While maybe not the most difficult issue to talk to your kids about, it’s right up there and it’s important to do. The homelessness crisis in Seattle has made the issue painfully visible. Here are some tips to make it easier and more productive. Don’t have kids? Why are you still reading this?