Usually it is as simple as a google search to discover the programs in your area.  Spending a few hours a week or even just a few hours a month serving the homeless is tremendously beneficial.  It is very powerful not only for those whom you are helping, but yourself, too. It is hard to describe the type of gratification that comes from being compassionate — it taps into a part of ourselves that many of us have lost touch with.

There are more ways to get involved, including many that you can do on your own schedule.  Here are a few:

  1. When you see someone on the side of the road holding a sign, put yourself in their shoes for a moment.  Honor how difficult it is to wave that sign and be living meal-to-meal, day-to-day. If you have the means, put aside your skepticism and give them a dollar or some left-over food.  It goes a long way.
  2. Spend an afternoon giving out peanut butter sandwiches or hot chocolate to the local homeless population. On a cold day, a warm beverage is a nice surprise. It reminds people that they are cared about.  It reminds us how privileged we are.
  3.  Converse with them — ask about their lives, their stories.  Humans appreciate being cared about, and for a population who has spent so much time living in the shadows, a little humanization goes a long way.