Because I care. Because I am compassionate. Because I love people. Because naturally, I am a giver. And I love serving the homeless humans.
It is my goal to transition my two tiny humans into caring, loving, considerate, humble, and thoughtful adult humans by showing them how to love unconditionally.
My first encounter with a homeless person unfortunately happened in my early 20s on a trip to Washington, DC to visit a friend who would eventually become my wife. I was so excited to see all the attractions from history books and explore downtown DC. As we drove through the tunnel, I noticed a crowd of people, and to my surprise, they were ALL homeless. Homeless, like television homeless. Dirty clothes, unclean hair, baskets filled with their little belongings, and laying or sleeping on the concrete. Instant heartbreak. Immediately, I pulled out money, but the cloud of guilt knowing I didn’t have enough money to help them ALL remained over my head the duration of the night.
I could not believe this. I wanted to know their story. How could this happen? How does one become homeless? Was it drugs? Was it money? I needed to know. My friend noticed the look of sadness on my face and reassured me of the one person I was able to help was appreciated by him. Her words served as a temporary band aid. Now, I was on a mission. I needed to find out more about the homeless population and how I could help. Over some years, I would volunteer to serve these humans, collect food to provide them, adopt families, and send cards.
Fast forward to my move to New Orleans.
Now my friend is my wife and we have two children. One afternoon after school pickup, I noticed a man standing on the corner begging for food while holding a sign that read “I’m not on drugs, I lost my job, then my car and my home.” Was this really his story? Did it even matter? No!!! How could I question this human on his “why” if my intentions were pure with wanting to help him regardless if he was being genuine or not? One thing I did notice were those two tiny humans in my back seat looking at a man begging for food while they ate their after-school car snack. The turning point of “We have to serve this man” happened as we were driving past him, and our youngest was mimicking the man’s motions of begging. Day after day, the same routine, we would see him and his make shift home (a tent) begging. It took only one week for me to decide how we would at least allow this human to be part of our afternoon routine. HELLO COSTCO! We included him in our weekly grocery haul. Our friend under the bridge would now have afternoon snack with us and sometimes dinner too. Dinner?
Maybe you are wondering how?
One night while cleaning my fridge, I was prepared to discard half a pan of spaghetti when I noticed our under the bridge friend’s afternoon snack on the counter. DUH!!!! AHA MOMENT!!! Another way to help without giving money. Pack up dinner and give it to our friend along with this snack. One special day, we packed up Chicken Marsala to bring to our friend, and when we handed it to him, he screamed for all his friends, “Y’all hot dog, we have some dinner tonight” with the biggest grin. I was helping this homeless man, but most of all my tiny humans were part of this celebration. Hold on to your seats … the story gets better. Same routine, another day, just one thing was missing, our under the bridge friend. We were prepared with snacks and dinner when we approached this lady standing in his usual spot instead of him. She informed us that he and his wife got approved for housing and he found a job.
I’m not crying. Yes, I am. Tears of joy, happiness, and tears of hope. My tiny humans watched me selflessly help someone without judgment or second thought. Now on our new routine, we have a friend named Chris. We do the exact same thing for Chris as we did for our under the bridge friend except now we add a note of love and hope.
Ways you can help the homeless without giving money
- Give them respect. They are human. Respond with kindness. Lend a smile or say hello.
- Grab some containers from the Dollar Store and pack up your leftovers (eating out, dinner, party) before throwing them in the trash.
- Write a note of hope.
- Bring them the extra toothbrush kit you receive at your 6 month cleaning.
- Give a $5 gift card to a place nearby their location.
- Purge your closet and give them an outfit
- If you see a family, give an old toy (look under the seat, I’m sure there are a few hidden)
- Give them time. Have a quick conversation (that is how I know Chris’ name).