Many of us have suffered a loss in our lifetime. The loss of a job, the loss of a friend, the loss or death of a loved one or maybe the loss of our health. Those living right at or below the poverty level may find such a loss a devastating event. Many low to moderate income families live one event away from financial insecurity. Don't be fooled by someone suddenly in need of financial assistance, in need of groceries or in need of utility assistance. You do need to watch out for the scammer but most people who need help are seriously in need.
There are ways to vet someone asking you for help...Keep in mind two of the most serious needs are those in need of shelter and those in need of food. To vet someone who is asking for assistance, a first step could be to contact the school if the person has a family with children. Let them know the name of the parent and if possible the name of the child. Ask to speak to a counselor or the Family Resource Coordinator. Contacting local authorities for a "wellness" check can be helpful. They may be able to get specific helps through community programs and help get the person to the right place.
If someone is in need of shelter, look for a Salvation Army location, church shelters or local homeless program or shelter for more help. We don't recommend taking someone home. If you have the means and want to try and house them quickly, we suggest you take them to a hotel. Do not give your personal information, phone number or address to anyone who is asking for assistance on the street. Don't give anyone in need cash. Help by purchasing food or water for them. Don't transport anyone in your own car. You can help by contacting a taxi service. Purchasing bus or other transportation tickets for travel across state lines may put you at risk. Calling the local authorities on their non-emergency number can also be the easiest and best resource to get the help someone needs.
Always keep in mind, the person who has experienced loss and is now in need of assistance is not a loser. 9 out of 10 people seeking assistance are in real need. These people are just in need of a helping hand. Loss is trauma. Trauma can be debilitating and for people in this situation it can be hard to go at it alone. Reach out with care and concern. Be realistic with your own abilities to help and seek professional help as soon as possible. Sometimes its enough to have someone showing they care and working to find the help they need..
If you enjoy helping others, join House on the Hill regularly! We have many different opportunities to help the most vulnerable in our community without some of the risks of doing it on your own. Reach out, we'll help you get connected.