Photo by PoPville flickr user Ian Livingston
In Response to “Harassment Outside Union Station”
By Korrin L. Bishop, Communications Fellow on behalf of Capitol Hill Group Ministry
No. We’re not all social workers. We’re not all extroverts, we don’t always feel safe, and we don’t always know what to do. However, when most of us see someone in need, we want to help.
So, rightly, a PoPville reader recently posed the question, “What can be done?” What can we do to help the men and women experiencing homelessness at and around Union Station?
There are many changes happening in D.C. lately that unfortunately leave too many of our vulnerable neighbors living on the streets with nowhere to go. When this happens, we see that suffering on our daily commutes. And, we may not all be social workers, but there is always something we can do to help.
Depending on how you want to make an impact, some ways to be involved include:
Give a Simple “Hello”
Noticing people experiencing homelessness is important. When we acknowledge the existence of a person experiencing homelessness as we pass by, we give them that simplest moment of dignity and respect that they, like anyone else, deserve.
If you feel safe and are moved to approach a person in need, do so. Bring them water, ask if they are OK. Human connection and contact are healing forces. However, if the circumstances don’t allow you to approach them, you can still make a note of the person and their location and call D.C.’s 24-hour, toll-free Emergency Shelter Hotline at 1-800-535-7252.
Get Connected & Involved with Local Resources
Capitol Hill Group Ministry (CHGM) offers outreach services to people experiencing homelessness at Union Station, as well as other areas within the Capitol Hill neighborhood, with the goal of connecting people to services via a client-centered approach.
Supporting organizations like CHGM ensures that our community has the resources it needs to compassionately address this social issue. Giving financially keeps these services running. Volunteering time increases organizational capacity to serve our homeless neighbors. If you’re wondering what you can do to help, please consider donating to CHGM, or volunteering on one of its Homeless Assistance Response Teams.
Advocate and Educate
There is a lot of work happening in D.C. to address the homelessness crisis. We encourage you to educate yourself on these developments and use your voice to advocate for positive change. Here are some ways to get started:
• Take a look at Homeward DC, the city’s plan to end homelessness.
• Learn about the Coordinated Entry process being developed so that service providers can better work together to reach the city’s goal of ending homelessness.
• Get connected to The Way Home Campaign, an advocacy effort to end chronic homelessness in the District of Columbia by 2017—visit their website to sign the pledge to join the campaign!
When we see suffering, it is uncomfortable. When we see suffering, we want to help. Sometimes the desire to help makes us uncomfortable because empathy requires that we acknowledge deplorable realities we can’t immediately or single-handedly remedy. But there is always something that we can do. So, let’s come together to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness at Union Station—and beyond.