giving back

Helping the Homeless: Serve Your Community With Love and Time

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Do you know how to help the homeless in your community? A friend emailed me today about a World Hunger initiative she's working on lately. I love to hear how people are getting involved in global and community issues, as well as finding a way to give back.

Downtown, where my friend Nathaniel slept under a bridge, there were hundreds of other homeless men and women roaming the streets. At 6:00 a.m., theses people can find a hot meal at a lot of different locations. In fact, one homeless friend is so good at understanding the feeding schedule that he eats five times a day! When I was fasting one week, he said there was no way he would go without food for more than a few hours!

One day, I brought a friend downtown to serve the homeless with me. I serve in another state where I help a homeless ministry. He said, "I see a lot of obese homeless people in America!" He is right, especially because there's a misconception about what food is available and what's not.

The truth is, homelessness is more about addiction and lack of coping skills than it is about economics. If you're homeless, you can eat really well because there's a lot of giving taking place. Churches, individuals, and various groups give back by providing food, donations, and food banks. But at the core of despair, poverty, and life on the street is a negative cycle of addiction that often stems from the way they were raised, or a lack of coping skills after a tragedy.

One of the best things you can do to alter someone's life radically is give an hour of your time or a kind word. This is a proven truth that I've seen four times in the past year with homeless people who are now off the street living really productive lives. We did not give them food or money. Well, unless you count the popcorn I bought at the movie theatre when we took five homeless guys to see The Book of Eli.

Today I feel like a proud little sister, watching Nathanial publish his first book. On the cover shown below, that he designed himself, is a photograph of the man he once was when he slept on the street and the man he is today, reaching out a helping hand.

If you ask him how he got un-homeless, he will tell you that it all started with a stranger showing him interest, value, and self worth. It all began with a few inspiring words.

People are hungry, people are depressed, people are struggling. I write about this a lot in my own blog and recently wrote a post called addiction nation about the habits even normal people form, like overeating, over spending, drinking too much, or addiction to other things that might fill that empty space. We live in a nation addicted to everything.

After years of service in orphanages, homeless shelters, or food banks, I can honestly say that you don't know what someone is going though until you walk a mile in their shoes. It might be someone in your neighborhood whose struggling with a problem, or an addiction, or it might be someone downtown under a bridge.

How can showing love and giving of your time help those most important in your life? How can love and time help to better those in your community?

Tammy Kling is a life coach, advocate for the homeless, and international author of 29 books including The Compass. Tammy is also the founder of Write it Out, an organization that helps gang members, the homeless, and those living on the street write out their hopes & dreams via writers workshops, free journals and various other resources. She’s also the mom of two boys, an avid trail and mountain runner, blogger, and adventure travel writer.

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I'm a book author, homeschool mom of boys, mountain runner and advocate for the homeless. Founder of Write it Out, a homeless recovery program that teaches writers workshops to the homeless and gang members, in order to focus on using the power of words to restore, recover, and rehabilitate. www.escapesuburbia.wordpress.com

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