As real estate professionals, we are very much aware of the importance of having a home to call your own. With the problem of homelessness on the increase and the homeless population consisting of more and more women and children, it is incredibly important to give back and help where we can.
We were very happy to learn more about the Mission and the different ways they are able to serve the homeless population in the L.A. area.
There are several homeless shelters in the Los Angeles area, but Union Rescue Mission is rather unique. Many other service providers are able to concentrate on only one type of service, but Union Rescue Mission is able to provide a comprehensive range of programs and services under one roof. In addition to emergency shelter and food, they also provide recovery programs for men, women, and families — including counseling, education, physical fitness, job training, and transitional housing.
Many other shelters are only able to operate during certain hours, but Union Rescue Mission is the only emergency shelter for women and children in central Los Angeles that is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. They are also the only Mission in L.A. to offer services for fathers with children.
See their FAQ page to learn how you can help. Sadly, homelessness affects people all across this country. Whether you live in the Los Angeles area or not, here are some ways you can you help the homeless no matter where you live.
1. Educate yourself about the homeless – A homeless person may be someone who lost their job, a runaway child, or someone with a mental illness. Help dispel the stereotypes about the homeless. Learn about the different reasons for homelessness, and remember that every situation is unique.
2. Respect the homeless as individuals – Give the homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord anyone else. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance. Respond with kindness. A kind word and a smile can go a long way.
3. Research shelters in your area – Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless.
4. Give food instead of money – When you encounter someone who asks for change, offer them something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave. Granola bars, water bottles, and other items that have a long “shelf life” can be kept in your vehicle, ready to hand out to those in need.
5. Give money to organizations that help the homeless – Donations to nonprofit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way as they strive to stretch every dollar as far as they can.
6. Donate clothing, food and toys – Donate articles of clothing that you no longer wear to organizations that provide housing for the homeless. Load up a bag full of nonperishable groceries, and donate it to a food bank in your area. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and ask what kind of food donations they would like. Donate toys, books, and games to family shelters to distribute to homeless children. During the holidays, ask your friends and co-workers to buy and wrap gifts for homeless children.
7. Volunteer at a shelter – Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services.
8. Volunteer your professional services or skills – No matter what you do for a living, you can help the homeless with your on-the-job talents and skills. Those with clerical skills can train those with little skills. Doctors, psychiatrists, counselors, and dentists can treat the homeless in clinics. Lawyers can help with legal concerns. Tutor children, help with repairs at the facilities. No matter what your skill set, your time and talent won’t be wasted.
9. Sign up your company/school – Ask your company or school to host fund-raising events, such as raffles or craft sales and donate the proceeds to nonprofit organizations that aid the homeless. You can also ask your company or school to match whatever funds you and your co-workers or friends can raise to help the homeless. Call the organizations in your community that aid the homeless and ask them what supplies they need on a regular basis.
10. Educate your children about the homeless – This might be one of the most important things you can do. Help your children to see the homeless as people. If you do volunteer work, take your sons and daughters along so they can meet with homeless people and see what can be done to help them. Volunteer as a family in a soup kitchen or shelter. Suggest that they sort through the toys, books, and clothes they no longer use and donate them to organizations that assist the poor.
Spending time as a volunteer is a necessity for any non-profit organization’s operations, but on a personal level, you’ll find it an incredibly rewarding experience.