announcements by Alden J. Curnutt on April 24, 2017

Lars Spring Appeal

When someone on the street asks you for help... how do you respond?

Give a dollar?... Buy them a meal?... Avoid eye contact and walk a little faster?

Earlier this month, LARS received this e-mail from a community member:

"Last night, while I was at Rita's, I ran into a mother and a very young son (age 2 or 3) who asked me for some money. She said they were staying across the street at a nearby hotel, but was having problems getting by. I asked her if she knew about LARS, to which she said no; so I pulled up your website on my smartphone and gave her your phone number. She said she was going to contact you. She seemed encouraged when I said LARS can help you get back on your feet. What information can I give to these people which can provide them what they need to contact you/other organizations and get some real help? I really want to help them beyond providing them a dollar or a granola bar or a bottle of water."

You can use these helpful resource cards as an answer to a call for assistance

We all find ourselves confronted with these situations, and it can be uncomfortable because we don't know the right thing to do or say. Homelessness is easy to ignore as we go about our daily routines, but coming face to face with someone on the street is a gut-wrenching reminder that 29,670 people don't have a safe place to sleep at night, right here in our nation's wealthiest state.

There's no one right way to respond when a homeless person asks you for help. Whether you help them meet an immediate need or just take a moment to listen to their story, change starts with you caring enough to not simply walk away.

Many homeless people will tell you that it's not food or money that they need the most. What they need is to feel human again, to feel normal again. Buying someone a meal gives them strength to get through the day physically, but a conversation along with that meal can give someone the strength to not give up on themselves.

Being homeless is an extremely isolating and overwhelming experience. Each piece of the puzzle that someone is missing (an ID, an address, or medical care) makes obtaining all the rest of the pieces more difficult. LARS' mission is to help assemble all of these pieces, starting with the "corners," or the basic necessities, then connecting the more central pieces (like housing and employment) that hold everything in place.

Solving the puzzle of homelessness requires the compassion and support of our entire community, not just LARS. So the next time you pass someone on the street or pull up to a stoplight where someone is asking for money, take a moment to help them put those first two pieces together. Use these resource cards as a way to start a conversation. No matter how far someone has fallen, remember that they are someone's son or daughter, mother or father, brother or sister, or friend. Keep these cards in your wallet, or put them inside a "care kit" with a toothbrush, toothpaste, comb, and other basics. Don't worry about saying the exact right thing. Let them know that you see them and that you care.

Alden J. Curnutt April 24, 2017