How To Respond to a Plea for Help

March 12th, 2013

In my travels, I’ve seen many homeless and hungry people and had my own share of adversity. The flood of need in these difficult times dicates a new way to help others. Many of us are only one paycheck away from destitution ourselves. Some people are, unfortunately, so cynical that they literally won’t give you the correct time of day if you’ve lost your watch! Others know they are close to penury themselves and can’t risk sharing what they have because their future needs might go unmet.

An aquaintance of mine in the USA modeled a fantastic idea for individuals who refuse to turn a blind eye to the needs of others despite having little to share. The solution is to provide information as to where help can be found for lasting solutions, where the need is greater than just spare change for a bus token or emergency phone call.

Most of us are afraid to come to the attention of government, feeling it would define us as leeches or worse, place us at the mercy of people empowered to take control of our lives thereafter. The truth one must believe is that assistance exists to promote independence for the maintenance of life and your future contributions to society. If, in return, the ‘help’ demands anything other than respect for the source of aid, it isn’t ‘help’. No one should force you to join a group, a political party or adopt a particular religion.

I urge everyone to carry cards recording the kinds of assistance to be found in your region. Recipients will also want to know if the resource is a municiply funded (public) service. Perhaps it is sponsored by a private business or a non-profit group which has a secular- humanist or religious orientation. Please include:

Homeless shelters for night occupancy; Day centers to deal with inclement weather; Food pantries; Business centers and libraries offering internet and phone access; Urgent medical care centers; 24 hour restaurants and shopping ‘superstores’; Respected brands of mobile phone cards along with numbers for directory assistance, 24 hour transportation, weather and time information; Police emergency numbers and basically anything you’d find essential in a crisis. Remind people that any cell phone can be used to call for help in an emergency even without minutes remaining on a SIM card. This makes donations of old cell phones useful to groups providing them to ‘at risk’ people such as those within abusive domestic relationships.

Hand out some hope if you haven’t the change. Consider it an investment in the future. Everyone’s future.

Categories: Baltimore Sun

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