It’s summer in Arizona and the sun is bearing heat down like it’s throwing fire. Luckily you’re in your car with the AC on full blast, feeling the cool breeze brush past you and fill your car with a refreshing coldness. The stoplight ahead turns red and you have to wait for your next chance to go when you notice the person on the corner with a cardboard sign.
First you read the sign, “Need $ to feed my kids.” Then, you notice the solemn look on their face as they wipe away the dripping sweat on their forehead and try not to make anyone feel uncomfortable by making eye contact.
Some people would be tempted to hand this person a few dollars, because, “Anything helps.” What many may not know is that this could be hurting people instead of helping and not all panhandlers are homeless.
While we can’t tell you exactly what to do, we can give you some points to consider:
If you do give money to someone on the street, it’s like giving someone a gift. After you give a gift, you can’t tell an individual how you think it should be used, you will have to let go of any expectation of how it will be spent.
Food and drinks can be more beneficial than giving cash. If you see someone outside of a store and want to help, you could ask if water, a sandwich, or other food item would be helpful.
You may not be able to make someone buy what you’d like with the money you have given them, but you can give to nonprofits and programs dedicated to solving issues related to homelessness and hunger. This way you will know your money is going to help in a positive manner.
There are organizations in your community that are built to rehabilitate and sustain a higher quality of life. We partner with organizations to collect data and identify the specific problems related to homelessness and the best interventions for long-term solutions. This blog explains more about how United Way works to make an impact.
With all this said, it’s important to remember there is no one face to homelessness, and there is no one thing that affects a person’s housing situation. One fifth of Arizonans live in poverty, and losing housing can happen to anyone.
With your decision to invest in the community, we can make change happen together. United, we fight to break the cycle of poverty for every child, individual and family in our community.
To help hands on, volunteer at Project Connect this Wednesday, July 26 at the Salvation Army in Surprise!