Homeless man sleeping in Central Park, 2003
As people gracefully drop change into the tattered cup, it often seems mechanical, an action without thought.
In densely populated Manhattan, most of us, rich or poor, cross paths in the streets and at public transportation stations. Our city is somewhat unique in this way -- we often see people in need and have to decide what to do about it.
In one instance, I gave a dollar to a young woman who was deaf. She was selling key chains that did not seem valuable to me. I motioned for her to keep the key chain and my money. She seemed surprised, and I realized I might have insulted her.
How to Help
Contributing and volunteering through organizations ensures that our time and money goes to groups that have specialists who assist homeless individuals with complex issues.
Effective organizations include political groups, churches, food banks and other charities. Many of these organizations work together, coordinating resources and services for the poor. They make it easy to get involved. You can find information about such groups in our Homeless Links.
Homeless persons often need counseling and treatment, as well as financial assistance. Social service agencies are the formal social support system for the homeless. These agencies depend on public contributions and government funds to deliver services. Many nonprofit groups do good work and are worthy of your support.
Political advocacy organizations help by voicing concerns to congressmen and other public officials, and lobbying to help provide better resources for the very poor. These groups often work with grassroots action groups and those concerned with poverty issues.
Working together, we can influence our local, state and federal government to help those in need. Some organizations even get the homeless involved in lobbying efforts.
This web page and entire website © Copyright: 1997 - 2015 by Hearts and Minds Network, Inc., Homeless in Central Park photo © 2003 by Tiffany Lopes, photo of woman looking for food courtesy of Flickr user DgPhilli & licensed under Creative Commons. http://www.heartsandminds.org/articles/homeless.htm - latest text changes March 31, 2006