With all the unemployment going on in and around America, I wanted to remind everyone to help those in need keep their pride.
If you help with a charity at your church or community group, remember to keep things private. Many of the people you might help are people who, in other circumstances, would be on the giving end and not the receiving end of your donations. Some families are ashamed that they even have to ask for help but literally have no other option in order to survive.
Some tips that might help your group meet people where they are instead of where they were or could be:
- Your volunteers/ staff should be made aware that the utmost privacy must be upheld. Remind them that this could be them and to think about how they would feel if they were reduced to begging for handouts.
- Many people who need help will not ask for help. Pay attention to those around you, make notice if they lose their job or have other hardships. Offer to help, don’t wait for them to come to you.
- Appointments to receive help, at best, would be held one on one with some time in between each time slot for one family to leave before the other one’s come. If this is not possible, remind folks who come that their privacy is important and ask them to keep the same privacy for others who are in line too. They are all there for the same reason.
- Do not judge those who come to your agency for help. If they meet the criteria you have set up (and yes, you need to have criteria or certain ways to qualify), graciously provide what you can and smile.
- Be ready and able to point out other agencies that might be able to help them with needs you cannot meet. Have brochures or contact lists available at all times.
- If at all possible, have someone there to help with small children. Have an attended play room or something for the kids so mom and dad can concentrate on paperwork. If you don’t have the ability to have a play room and an attendant, keep a few toys and books out and available. Also, offer to hold the baby so they can fill out forms or have a special surprise in your desk for the toddler who doesn’t want to be there.
- If you live in an area that is multi-cultural, do your best to have someone from each culture in your staff. Not only will language no longer be an issue, but the family in need will feel more comfortable knowing/seeing someone like them there. Have multi-lingual forms available too!
- Offer a bulletin board where those in need of work can post their skills and employers can post job openings- or something similar.
- Sometimes, you might have a very reluctant family. They really need help but don’t want a handout. Find out what their skills are and see if you can barter with them (hire them). They can volunteer at your agency in exchange for your donations.
- To me the most important thing is to pray for these families. If you are part of a Christian agency, I encourage you to make this part of your work day. If this is not the case, pray for the families as you drive home or when you sit down at the dinner table. Pray that God will provide for them.