The Outreach Walk

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Blogpost 3

For the first time, I participated in an outreach walk. Ten volunteers gathered at the Project Homeless Connect (PHC) centre where we received information about how to approach homeless and how to behave. I was surprised by the amount of detail that we had to pay attention to.

We split up in groups of two and practised a conversation of how to ask a homeless person if he/she would like to have some supplies. Afterwards, each one of us received a bag with hygiene products, socks, protein bars, toothbrushes, and business cards of PHC to give away.  

In the beginning, I was a bit nervous since talking to strangers is uncomfortable as it is. The added element of talking to homeless people made it that much more difficult.

Christy and I teamed up and started our outreach walk. Walking through the streets of the Tenderloin, we realized just how many homeless people call the streets of San Francisco home. According to PHC, there are approximately  6,800 homeless on the streets of San Francisco.

Luckily, we were able to help some of them, while meeting some  great people along the way. Some of the individuals we met were very kind; joking with us and striking up a conversation. Often they asked: You are not from here, are you? Through these conversations, we were able to get know their stories better and provide them with supplies. Some of the people we came across were under the influence of drugs, but that did not hinder the conversation. These individuals often did not want food, rather were happy with just socks.

The outreach walk was a great experience. I learned how to behave – how to show respect and dignity to homeless people. Even though, there are 6800 homeless people in San Francisco, PHC is a great initiative that provides help to more than 3000 people on a yearly basis.

The most important thing I learned is that it only takes a smile, a “hello”, or a little chat to make somebody’s day.

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Building Resumes with Homeless

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As a graduate student finding a job after your studies is key. Therefore, Christy and I decided to help homeless people to get back into society by teaching them how to build resumes, make Gmail accounts and LinkedIn profiles.

It was an amazing experience as you get closer to the other person and get to know their stories. Some of them just lost their job and cannot cope with the high rent prices in San Francisco. They try to get jobs, however it is difficult. They appreciate the homeless shelter, but really want to get back to the labour force as soon as possible.

On the other hand, we have met a person who has been 9 years in prison. For him, turning back to the labour force is impossible. Before he went to jail, he loved writing. When he came out of prison he wanted to publish his books. However, his books were gone.

The last story was of an old man that was surprisingly talented in HTML. With pride, he showed his website and explained how it worked. The only thing he needed was some marketing people to let it go viral!

All of them were so kind and happy with all the help they could get for us.

If you also want to become a volunteer, contact me for tips and shelters!

For interesting quotes given by the homeless people we assisted, please visit Christy’s blog: https://storiesfromthestreetblog.wordpress.com/#pd_a_9181945

Homeless and Hungry for Organic

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How to get involved in Volunteer work in San Francisco?

As an international student here in San Francisco, I experience the differences between the US and my home country, the Netherlands. My first impression of San Francisco is the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge, the comfortable California weather, and Pier 39. However, being here for a couple of months, I also noticed the many homeless people on Market street, Mission and in Tenderloin. Therefore, my friend, Christy, and I wanted to do volunteer work in San Francisco.

But where to start?

My experience is that the process of applying for volunteer work in San Francisco is easy. Google different homeless shelters in the area and sign up. You get a login code and you can select your own schedule. There are many things to do, examples are: cleaning, food services and building resumes.

After applying you will receive an email with the details and rules you have to follow. These rules vary from how to approach people, what you can and can’t ask, and general rules from the facility.

My first volunteer experience in San Francisco.

So, after going through  the application process, Christy and I started with our first volunteer work in San Francisco. The food looked really good. Different types of pasta, vegetables, fruit and as desert chocolate cake because it was Halloween.

I never expected homeless people to request for organic and vegan food or that they would not finish their meal. Some of them were very demanding, almost arrogant. Luckily, others were sweet, kind, thankful and asked: how is your day sweetheart? Thank you for volunteering and helping the community.

 Thank you for reading my first blog. Please feel free to leave a comment or share your experience! Stay tuned for the next one!

Interested in doing volunteer work in San Francisco: please email me: knechtenveerle@gmail.com