The first thing to know about homeless people – is that they are people first, homeless second. They are regular people with laughter, fears, emotions, jokes and sometimes attitudes.
At OurCalling, we have been approaching homeless friends for years. Our Search & Rescue teams visit over 1,000 different locations throughout Dallas. Sometimes we are under bridges, in alleys, deep in wooded encampments, behind retail stores and near abandoned buildings. We don’t ever recommend that you do this alone. We would love for you to schedule a tour of our facility and possible sign up to join one of our teams. However with our teams, we have seen success in approaching homeless friends in the following ways:
- We travel in a crowd. Our volunteers never go alone, in fact we usually take a team of 6-10 individuals so that we can provide the best support.
- We try be very conscious of what’s going on around us. Sometimes our homeless friends live in dangerous areas and we want to help them without putting ourselves at risk. Because of this, we only schedule outreach events during the daylight hours.
- Even though our teams travel to remote areas, we never recommend that they stray beyond public view.
- We introduce ourselves as a Christian ministry and ask if we can help them in any way. Our goal is to serve people, pray for them and support their needs. We don’t assume to have answers for anyone’s problems nor do want them to follow any program on our agenda. We are visiting neighbors and seeking to serve them on their turf.
- We never give out money. With the thousands of homeless friends that we serve, we find that meeting “real” needs is much more effective than “felt” needs. Providing food, water, medical resources, clothes, hygiene items and referral information is much more valuable than trying to make friends with money. As Christians, we are compelled to follow Jesus Christ’s example to serve and meet real needs.