What do you say to a homeless person?
CATHOLIC NEWS AGENCY [Dec 30, 2016]
Advice from Catholic urban missionaries.
t's a common sight at a city intersection. A man or a woman holds
a cardboard sign: "Homeloess, Hungry. Please Give. Anything Helps."
Most motorists, stopped at the light and eager to move on, just ignore
Bur what should you do before the light changes?
The Denver-based urban ministry Christ in the City offers some advice.
"Ask the person's name," said the group's tip sheet. "One of our friends
on the street told us he went four months without hearing his own name.
Ask the person's name and remember it."
Those with a regular commute should remember that name and say hello the next time.
"You'll be amazed how his or her face will light up that you remembered."
"To love is to know and be known," Christ in the City said. "And so, the chronically homeless become unknow, they become separated, not just from society but from the experience of love itself."
The chronically homeless are the most resistant to social services and other help. They're most likely to have substance abuse or mental health problems.
Erin McCrory, the ministry's managing director, reflected on their situation.
"They've told us that once your reality becomes eating out of garbage cans and you don't hear your name spoken for months at a time, you accept this is your reality." McCrory told the Denver Catholic Register. "Their spirits are broken and they are lacking in hope and faith in people."
There are other ways of making personal contact.
"Reach out and offer a handshake," the group's tip sheet advised. "This simple gesture breaks a barrier and expresses that you recognize their dignity. One moment of awkwardness for you can be the highlight of the day for him or her."