What You Can Do to Help

Angelique Seth
participant grocery shopping

It may be Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, but hunger and homelessness are issues that require support year round. 

There are many things that you can do to make a direct impact on our community and help people who are experiencing homelessness and food insecurity: 

Acknowledge Them: If you see someone who is experiencing homelessness, talk to them. They're people who should be treated with the same respect and dignity we give to others we interact with. Asking someone for help is hard, and doing it while those people ignore you and make you feel less than human is harder. A simple nod, smile, or word of encouragement is all it takes to share kindness. If you’d like to take it a step further, learn about local emergency shelter and resources and ask them if they’d like to be connected to those services. In extreme temperatures, reach out to your local homeless outreach team to let them know the person’s location (in Philadelphia, that number is 215-232-1984). 

 Raise Awareness: Learn about the structural issues that cause people to experience homelessness and create food insecurity in communities. Learn about harm reduction, and then look for and support harm reduction practices in medicine, community support services, and policy.  Go to town halls and become active in your community. Learn more about food deserts. Be sure to share with your friends and family what you’re learning! 

Check Your Language: Think about how you talk about people who are experiencing homelessness: does your language reinforce any negative stereotypes or stigmatize? Language is continually evolving, and being aware of the importance and impact of language is a way for you to help shift public perception. Using person first language is critical! Val, our Vice President of Advancement and Special Projects, wrote an article about this topic. It’s directed to those who are in the nonprofit field, but the message still applies in your day to day life. Read it here

Purchase an Item for Our Pantry: Help stock our emergency food pantry easily through our Amazon Wishlist. This pantry is used for emergencies when participants don't have the means to purchase food, our participants have struggled more noticeably because of rising costs and continuing supply chain issues. We stock the basics and hand them out to participants in dire need, while simultaneously working with them to find ongoing resources. When you send something through our Amazon Wishlist, be sure to add your contact information in the notes section so we can properly acknowledge your gift and provide a tax receipt.  

Volunteer at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank: If you have a spare morning or afternoon, give the Philadelphia Furniture Bank a call to schedule time to volunteer to help build furniture, act as a personal shopper for people choosing their furniture, or help with transporting furniture in the warehouse or on/off of our truck. When you volunteer at the Philadelphia Furniture Bank, you're helping your community directly by getting items ready for their new owners. Volunteering with us is an excellent team building activity for community groups and staff in-service days!  

Volunteer at a Local Food Bank: Find out where your local food bank is and learn more about volunteering to pack packages there either solo or with a group of friends. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, Philabundance , Share Food Program, and Manna are some of the great organizations to visit for volunteering virtual and in-person opportunities.  

Safe Place to Park: Encourage your church or community center to set up a safe place to park program. Not every person who is experiencing homelessness stays on the street; some people stay in their cars. A safe place to park program allows people the ability to safely sleep in their vehicles overnight while also receiving information about resources in their area to get back on their feet. To learn more about this type of program, click here.  

Host a Fundraiser: Host a fundraiser for Pathways to Housing PA! It can be as simple as a dinner to fundraise money or even a collection drive for new household and food items. For more information, click here.  

Employment Opportunities: Support local businesses that offer transitional employment opportunities. Having an employer who understands where you are and is willing to provide a little additional support when needed is often the key to obtaining and retaining employment for those who have experienced homelessness. If you own a company or can influence the creation of positions in your own organization, work to create these opportunities for your community.   

 Donate: The easiest way to help end homelessness is to support organizations that are actively implementing the Housing First model and is applying harm reduction practices in their actions. Donate to Pathways to Housing PA today to help us provide homes, restore health, and reclaim lives.  

Vote: Make sure you, your family, and your friends are all registered to vote. When elections come around, even local ones, make sure you get out and vote. If you can, bring other voters with you that may not have a ride to and from the polling centers. Let your elected officials know that you want to see an end to homelessness and want to see action being taken in your community. Click here to see if you're registered to vote, and to find more information about voting. 

Together as a community we can work to end homelessness and hunger in Philadelphia and the greater communities.