[Poverty & Hunger]

How to Use Your Talents to Help the Homeless

By: Rian Ervin

Unless you know someone who has been homeless or experienced homelessness yourself, it might be difficult to envision the challenges that come with it.  But more than the loss of stable shelter, homeless people experience the loss of a daily routine. Tasks that for most of us are unremarkable—going to work, eating regularly, exercising—become complicated, if not impossible, for someone dealing with homelessness.

What can we do to help? Take your skills and abilities and put them to use. Here are four ways you can volunteer your talents to help impact homelessness.

1. Your Athletic Abilities

Exercise can seem like superfluous activity when someone is trying to find a home or a job, but Back on My Feet proves otherwise. Back on My Feet recruits individuals at homeless and residential facilities across the country and starts them with a commitment to run three days a week with other community members. After 30 days, individuals with 90 percent attendance earn the opportunity to move into the second phase of the program called Next Steps, which provides access to employment and housing opportunities as well as skills training. Find a running group near you and lace up to help someone take their first steps towards a stable home and career.

2. Your Job Experience

Most people who are homeless and unemployed want to work, they just need someone to give them a chance. There are several organizations like the Doe Fund that help homeless individuals find jobs, learn skills or get credentials like a GED. Dress for Success provides women with professional attire, support and development tools to help secure employment. You can get involved by donating your gently used clothes, or volunteer as a career center specialist or mentor.

3. Your Culinary Skills

Finding a hot meal can be a stressful, all-consuming part of daily life for someone without a kitchen. Help people meet this basic need by cooking at a soup kitchen or shelter.

If you live in the New York City area, contact City Harvest, a food rescue organization that recovers excess food from farms, restaurants, grocers and manufacturers and distributes it to people in need. It’s a vetted cause on our app!

  4. Your Leadership Skills

Change starts with knowledge. Understanding what homeless individuals are going through can spur a greater level of respect and kindness. You can create change in your community by advocating for programs and initiatives that help the homeless at town council meetings or public meetings. Another way: write a letter to your local paper about the issue of homelessness with ideas of what people can do to help, or comment on articles you read online and chime in on conversations on social media to raise awareness about the issue in your area.

One cause that empowers young people to get involved with community service opportunities like serving meals at soup kitchens, working at homeless centers or tutoring kids who need help in school: BuildOn.

Follow them on ThatHelps’ app to stay updated on new opportunities to serve alongside these incredible students. 

Photo: Tomasz Woźniak