What is the most effective way to help homeless people?
This is the article written by Van de Wetering, Schulmeister, Koci, and Murphy about their volunteer experience at the Coquitlam Alliance Church.
A project in our English class directed us to not only discover the cause of discrimination against a minority in society, but to put our research to use through a Human Rights campaign. This campaign should make a difference in the targeted group’s lives, and the public’s perspective of them. We chose to focus on the homeless community.
Through our research, we discovered that the majority of discrimination towards homeless people comes from ignorance. Though it may not be their intention, society unconsciously treats this group of people like outsiders. Labeling a person constantly leads to preconceptions and bias, whether that label is chosen because of their race, gender, or wealth. Learning about people with lesser means as individuals is an important step in alleviating this ignorance and discrimination.
After discovering this, we concluded that solutions like helping at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter are temporary and non-lasting fixes. Despite this, we still wanted to further our research, and attended a soup kitchen called the Cold Wet Weather Mat program. After preparing, cooking, and cleaning, we had the opportunity to speak to the founder of the program, Rob Thiessen. His opinion of the effectiveness of a soup kitchen was quite different them ours. He said that there was proof of homeless people benefiting from programs like the CWWMP – whether from the incentive of seeing people willing to help, the support as a base to continue to change their lives, or simply the comfort of knowing that there is a safe, warm place to sleep.
Through this project, we learned that being exposed to new situations and perspectives can change the way we think. Before speaking with someone about the subject we thought the solution to discrimination against homeless people was to educate others to have an open mind and to better understand the lives of others. After volunteering at the soup kitchen, we discovered that although education is very important, soup kitchens, homeless shelters and other services for those less fortunate are a big help and can create a powerful foundation which one can build off of. Therefore, we believe that the most effective things someone can do are to volunteer, donate or simply show kindness to everyone despite their differences.