Pay it Forward icon 1Pay It Forward

Terry Jackson

To be able to make change in your community, first you have to educate yourself on the causes of homelessness, then you need to take action. Education combined with action can help people in your community who are experiencing homelessness and will inspire others to help as well.

There are a lot of misunderstandings and negative stigmas surrounding the experience of homelessness that simply are not true. One of the big things people misunderstand is that people are homeless want to be: they don’t want to work, they’re on drugs, or they just made a lot of bad decisions in life and landed there. People are often told that it’s their fault they’re homeless, but the reality is you can become homeless for any number of reasons. Don’t ever assume that someone wants to be homeless — nobody wants to be homeless. Everyone has a different story and there is always something to learn to help prevent people from becoming homeless.

After educating yourself, there are many things you can do to help people experiencing homelessness in your community. You can volunteer at a local food bank or a shelter by serving food. You can donate money to people or organizations, or hand out lunches in places where you know people need it. Many folks also host hygiene and clothing drives at work, school, or church. Whatever you come up with — as long as it’s coming from the heart and is based on an understanding of the experience of homelessness — it helps.

It’s important for you to start the change in your community if you want to see a positive impact. You might not see it at first, but others will notice and you will soon inspire someone else to hand out lunches, donate or volunteer. Your impact can cause a ripple effect, and pretty soon, the whole community will be working together to improve.

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