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.