The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Don’t be afraid to help those in need

It’s really easy to avert my gaze when he’s standing on the corner of Lovers and Highway 75. He’s holding his sign, walking around to cars and trying his best to see whose window is open. So I roll up my window and pretend to text so I don’t have to interact with him. I feel bad for a minute, and then I drive away.

I’m sure many of you share my experience.

I don’t know why it’s so hard to talk to the man standing on the side of the road now. I used to do it all the time. I felt comfortable striking up a conversation, and I often had great talks with those out on the streets searching for some kind of break.

But now I realize I’ve grown afraid, and this really bothers me.

Interacting with homeless people can be a huge step out of one’s comfort zone, especially when we rarely encounter such individuals in Highland Park or around SMU’s campus.

I’ve worked with the homeless several times in Houston and Los Angeles, and there are many reasons we should all be interacting with the homeless, and there are safe ways to provide them resources without handing over a fiver.

First, you really don’t have to feel uncomfortable around homeless people. To begin, they’re individuals too who just live a little differently than you. Many of them went to school, they’ve had jobs and they have a family. Of course, there have been times when someone leans into my car or approaches me on an empty street at night and that’s just not cool no matter who is coming up to you.

Second, I really discourage people giving others cash on the street. First, you don’t want to flaunt your wallet around town. That’s also dangerous no matter the situation. But also you don’t know how that money will be used. There are many alternatives to giving cash like:

1) Buying someone dinner. My friend and I were at Eatzi’s the other day and we had the great opportunity to just buy a guy dinner and a couple of bottles of water for the road.

2) Giving them a gift card. I used to keep gift cards to local fast food joints in my car to hand out. People really liked those because they could pick what they want, and you know your money is going to food.

3) Offer them another service if they need it, and you have the means to provide it. There are many people who may need access to a homeless shelter but do not know where one is. Keep a list of local shelters in your car that you can give out to those searching for one. Or even familiarize yourself with local business who will provide food and water to the homeless on certain days or occasions (yes, this really happens).

Finally, when you encounter a homeless person, remember that they are not lesser than you. It takes a great deal of courage to stand on the street and ask for money or food. Each of these individuals holds just as much sacred worth as you and me, they may just have a different set of needs, and means to meet those needs.

So start stepping out of that comfort zone, give a guy or girl a meal when you can and work with them to enhance their lives. You’ll be surprised at the conversations you will have and the friends you will make.

Graves is a senior majoring in communications and religious studies.

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