Showing kindness and support toward the homeless is something that we frequently focus on at The Infinite Smile Project. Kim and I have weekly conversations about how we can make a difference for those who are in need and the amazing people around the world doing their part to help.
While every act of kindness towards the homeless makes a difference in their lives, usually the best way to share kindness is by being kind! Of course, food and clothing donations are a great way to give back. However, most people who are homeless benefit most from human connection, someone to listen to them, and show them a simple kind act. I live in Portland, OR and we have a large homeless population here. A recent OPB (Oregon’s NPR station) story on the homeless population in Portland shared that the homeless that Portlanders see on the streets are just 30% of the total homeless population here. It pained me to hear that and made me think about how I can make a difference for all of the homeless in Portland. While I may not be able to help every single person, provide them all with food for life, or take them on a shopping spree; I can be kind.
Recently, while walking out of the corner store, I held a door open for a homeless man named John (name changed for privacy). As I was holding the door, a nearby police officer, who clearly knew John, said to him, “Hi John! What happened to your walker? Did somebody steal it again?” I drove home thinking about John. How did those two simple interactions of me holding the door for him and the officer asking a caring question effect John’s day? Were those the only kind interactions he had with someone that day? How will he get a new walker? I’m sharing this story because it made me think about how one act of kindness leads to another and how that has a direct effect on the well-being of a person. It made me think about human connection and how that makes a difference in people’s lives and our communities. I notice around Portland that a lot of people walk by the homeless as if they aren’t there, they don’t smile at them or say hi and that can be a very lonely way to live. There is a stigma that all homeless people are dangerous or did something illegal to end up on the streets, but usually, that’s not the case. I encourage you to let go of that stigma and show kindness and compassion whenever and however you can to the homeless in your community. Whether that’s holding a door open, picking up some donuts and coffee and having a chat, or simply giving an authentic smile and saying, “Hi, how are you today?” Every act of kindness makes a difference in their lives, makes them feel connected to the community, and shows them that we care.
Food and clothing donations are great too and of course, greatly needed, but the next time you make a donation to your homeless shelter think about John and his need for a walker. Do you have an old pair of crutches lying around the house from when you broke your foot eight years ago? Donate them! There is someone who could use them! Medical supplies are expensive and often overlooked when making donations. Children are often overlooked when making donations too! While 30% of the homeless population in Portland live on the streets, I have never seen a child on the streets here. That other 70% is largely made up of families who are homeless living in cars, with friends, in shelters or hotels. One organization that aims to comfort homeless children is Project Night Night. We’ve done a campaign focused on Project Night Night before, but I encourage you to read it again and participate in their cause if that is how you would like to show kindness this month!
This month, there are no items needed or how to participate in sections. Locate organizations in your area that work to connect and rehabilitate the homeless in your city. Do kind deeds and support those who need it most in whatever way you are able.
What are you waiting for? Do something kind today!
Kim wrote this month’s blog post and shares her story of a tour she took in London this summer. The tour was led by Pete, a homeless man in London, through Unseen Tours. Pete gave Kim and her family a unique history and perspective of the neighborhood he calls home. Kim also shares about the amazing ways people in London are coming together to support their homeless population. There are wonderful ideas and resources throughout her post that may inspire you for this month’s campaign. Click here to read her blog post!
What are other ways you can be kind to the homeless in your community?
How can one kind act make a difference?
Share with us on Instagram @infinitesmileproject or Facebook! We would love to hear about your ideas for being kind toward the homeless!