by Richard Kiefer
Volunteer opportunities are available in the homeless community. If you feel like experiencing community service first-hand, don’t be scared. A homeless shelter can, in truth, be one of the most boring places on earth. A few hours spent volunteering at a soup kitchen can really make a difference.
Don’t worry, you can feel like you are acting out your faith. Homeless people are shunned in public and often brighten considerably when someone finds time for them and treats them with decency. No one can solve the problem of homelessness, but if people get involved in their neighborhood they can change a little corner of the world.
Remember not to have any preconceived assumptions about homeless people. Don’t push your faith. Don’t throw money at the problem. Do take time to hear a story and try to be a patient listener. Do dress in less expensive clothes.
Some homeless shelters attract street criminals who will waste your time. They are not really looking for help just a hand-out. Nevertheless volunteering is still all right for youngsters if they are accompanied by an adult. The world is an imperfect world.
Expect to do volunteer work which is practical. If you have skills such as dishwasher, truck driver, cook - you can make a difference. (Medical skills and art teachers are also needed). A homeless shelter is a business and volunteer labor is needed to run it.
If you are interested in volunteer opportunities in the homeless community, please call NEOCH at 241 - 1104. Get involved!
Editor’s Note: Kiefer is a long time volunteer for the Coalition for the Homeless, and wrote this to advise potential volunteers in shelters or meal sites.
Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published 1998 Issue 25