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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Ann

Kindness to the Homeless

Updated: Jul 23, 2023

On a morning jaunt to snag a matcha latte, I learned that my local Starbucks was running a "Kindness Week" campaign - and, while I read an abundance of kind messages on post-it notes decorating the drive thru window, I wondered about ways we can show kindness to people in homelessness. I had a few ideas but wanted to know the opinions of those around me, so I asked a few work pals, friends, contacts, and people in homelessness to answer "What is one way we can show kindness to people in homelessness?"

Most answers received involved micro levels of interaction; person to person exchanges. While these interactions are impactful, my social worker heart yearns for increased community involvement and knows that participating in macro and mezzo levels demonstrates multi-faceted kindness, so after a few days of reflection, the following list is an amalgamation of responses I received combined with my own thoughts on the topic.

I present to you,

How To Treat People in Homelessness with Kindness:

Through Personal Exchanges:

  • Offer a friendly greeting while walking past. Homeless people are stigmatized horribly, and most are represented inaccurately in the media. Most people in homelessness I know are caring, friendly, funny, bursting with skills, wise, and eager for connection. So smile, say hello, & see the human you're walking past

  • If a more involved interaction is possible, engage in judgment free conversation; every person in homelessness has a story that will expand your heart, inform you of broken social systems, increase your empathy, and teach you about the Divine. Listen more than you speak

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Colossians 3:12

Through Acts of Charity:

  • If you decide to give money directly to a person in homelessness, what happens to that money is not your call nor is it your business

  • Bless those in homelessness with basic supplies such as food & water. Those in homelessness that talked with me about kindness they've experienced shared stories of community members dropping off sandwiches, fruit, & water to people in need

  • Donate your time and/or dollars to organizations already doing the work of supporting & advocating for people in poverty and homelessness

A side note of sorts - anytime I see a misinformed comment on social media, I want the commenter to immerse themselves in the humbling work on the front lines in whatever capacity they will learn in because oh, are we a society in need of education and compassion building.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done. Proverbs 19:17

Through Increased Awareness:

  • Increase your knowledge about the ripple effects of trauma. I was once asked at a board meeting what I thought my community needed in regards to supporting people in homelessness. My dream is that entire communities understand the complexities of trauma, and connect with & advocate for one another with awareness, support and compassion. The internet is full of information, courses and certifications on trauma informed care so you can choose the route that makes the most sense to you

  • Learn about harm reduction. The debate about safe consumption vs. abstinence is complex. While the dust from arguing about the issue settles, addiction continues to be an illness, and humans experiencing that illness have a right to as much safety as possible

  • Have an honest conversation with yourself about your beliefs, attitudes and bias to people in poverty, and if needs be, break up with NIMBYism. Homelessness and poverty are features of capitalism; while we live in capitalistic societies, homelessness will exist in our neighborhoods, and people in homelessness are, just like you & me, humans doing the very best they can with the circumstances our societal norms have given them. Support housing projects and community developments that are inclusive of all community members & create robust, thriving neighborhoods

"The holiest place on earth is where an ancient hatred has become a present love" Dr. Helen Schucman

Through Advocating for Social Justice:

  • Vote for politicians in municipal, provincial, and federal governments that will prioritize health care, recovery services, affordable housing, community development, and social programming that supports people in poverty and homelessness to achieve wellness through sustainable living & community connection

  • Regardless of which politicians are elected, continue advocating for the above mentioned social determinants to your elected representatives. Take breaks when you need, but remain diligent in caring for our brothers and sisters whose voices are not listened to

"We have to hold each other's hands or otherwise we're not going to make a difference. Each of us is too tiny, addressing a tiny piece of this giant problem and until we join hands we're not going to begin to address it. But if we join hands we can totally surround it" Dr. Vandaya Shiva

I would love to know if you have additional points to add to this list so should you be inspired to, please leave your ideas in the comments below.

But remember - keep it kind.

I love you, and I love me, and I love life, as brutal as she can be,

Blessings, E

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