How to properly help a homeless woman

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    How to properly help a homeless woman

    I was driving over a family member home and on the way saw a woman that looked 60ish pushing a bike with all her things on it. Very hot/humid outside. I thought to myself, self, if it wasn't for your family, with you being unwell and not able to work lately, this lady could be you one day. My heart ached for her, kept thinking if she hurt, had aches and pains, I knew she had to be hot and tired. I wanted to help so much. I don't know how or what to do? Are there centers where she could stay in most med size cities?

    To those that maybe are currently or former LE or just anyone that can direct me in what to do in how to help. She didn't have a sign begging for anything like many on the streets of Myrtle Beach, was just walking probably to a wooded area not far. I'm sure the mosquitos were eating her up. Yes, she could have mental problems but she is still a sister in this world. I cannot get this poor soul out of my head, what's a person to do to help, what are their options? Are there places I could have taken her?
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    ...because of mental illness and not knowing if she's armed/dangerous...I'd not put her in the car...I've circled by a store and bought food/water, etc and taken it back...but be careful...some of these folks have been messed with till they're like a nest full of guinea wasps on a hot day...a few dollars given to her so nobody else sees would help some...but you do have to be cautious...
    Quote Originally Posted by Sister View Post
    I was driving over a family member home and on the way saw a woman that looked 60ish pushing a bike with all her things on it. Very hot/humid outside. I thought to myself, self, if it wasn't for your family, with you being unwell and not able to work lately, this lady could be you one day. My heart ached for her, kept thinking if she hurt, had aches and pains, I knew she had to be hot and tired. I wanted to help so much. I don't know how or what to do? Are there centers where she could stay in most med size cities?

    To those that maybe are currently or former LE or just anyone that can direct me in what to do in how to help. She didn't have a sign begging for anything like many on the streets of Myrtle Beach, was just walking probably to a wooded area not far. I'm sure the mosquitos were eating her up. Yes, she could have mental problems but she is still a sister in this world. I cannot get this poor soul out of my head, what's a person to do to help, what are their options? Are there places I could have taken her?

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    It's easy to take pity on people, but it's also important to keep in mind that many homeless people are drunks, druggies, dangerous felons, thieves, etc. It's good to do the right thing and help them, but make sure you don't put yourself at risk, either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sister View Post
    My heart ached for her, kept thinking if she hurt, had aches and pains, I knew she had to be hot and tired. I wanted to help so much. I don't know how or what to do? Are there centers where she could stay in most med size cities? Are there places I could have taken her?
    My heart also aches - both for you because I know the frustration you are feeling at wanting so badly to help, and for the poor homeless soul. However, the first thing to keep in mind is that you personally should never try to take a person anywhere. This is fraught with many dangers. And it is usually not a good idea to hand out money because more than often it will be used for wine or drugs and not for food or lodging.

    The medium size city near us has a homeless shelter and we can phone the police who will come and contact people who are either looking lost and helpless or standing with signs. They know the scammers from the ones who really need help and they will take the ones who need help to the shelter. Whether a person will accept real help or not is another matter.

    I keep a few fruit and nut snack bars (nutrition bars, not candy) in my purse all the time. If you can't go to a store and purchase some food/water for someone you see on the street, a person who is genuinely hungry might appreciate being given just something that small to get them through a few hours.

    For further help, you can phone the churches in your area and ask if they know of a place that can help people like that. Churches should be a good resource for information like that. Also, I volunteer at the desk of our local Habitat for Humanity and we keep a list of places that will help people who do not fall into the category of folks we can help, so phoning organizations can be informative also.

    And, then you can phone the police, or perhaps even stop in a station house, and ask if they have any kind of program to assist homeless people in getting help. They deal with the harshest realities of life every day, so don't be totally discouraged if they say no and aren't too polite about it.

    In the meantime, we can all keep these poor folks in our hearts and prayers if we pray. That's the least we can do.
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    My ex husband was a merchant marine, he was in a bar drunk (that became normal, hence ex husband) and outside the bar was an old sailor drunk and homeless. My drunk ex brought this drunk man home. I took pity (on the man, not the ex) and made a great big dinner and we gave the man the spare room for the night. I've never seen anyone so appreciative in my life.

    It may have been stupid, we were young but again...to see someone without anything and to be able to give, I think was more of a blessing to me than the man. (and someone that actually liked my cooking....that was nice, lol)
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    Having worked with the homeless in the past I'll say this. Homeless people are homeless for a reason.

    I'm not talking about someone who's fallen on hard times and living out of a car. I'm talking about real "lifestyle" homeless people. They are almost always suffering from mental illness and they are almost always armed.

    The way I help them is by buying them food or in winter I might buy them a jacket or a blanket. You still have to be careful though. If you buy them a jacket/blanket/boots that are too nice it could get them killed.

    I usually just buy them food.
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    WWJD?
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    ...He fed 'em, too...
    Quote Originally Posted by Sister View Post
    WWJD?
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    I think He would want us to find a way to help that person. Sometimes I do things to make me feel better but doesn't really help that person. It hard to do when our hearts ache but I think we need to find out what will really be of help and do that. He will help us know how to help.
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    I applaud you for wanting to help, Sister. Us being in the same area, I wouldn't be surprised if we see the same homeless. At the beach, on 501, Hwy 17, etc. - I see them all the time, dressed in layers while it's 100 degrees outside, pushing their carts or bikes, drenched in sweat. I keep around ten 1gal jugs of water in the car and truck that I'll give out if I see them. I've also bought many lunch and dinner.

    I'm sure you noticed the wooded areas that seem to surround the beaches here, many live in the woods and have small communities set up in them. That way they have shelter and quick access to the tourist areas to beg during the day. No doubt, many are drunks and drug addicts and around here heroin and meth are the drugs of choice. But, of course, there's also a good bit of them that aren't drunks or addicts but are suffering from severe mental illnesses. It's a shame how many of them are veterans.

    Myrtle Beach Homeless Shelters and Services - Myrtle Beach SC Homeless Shelters - Myrtle Beach South Carolina Homeless Shelters

    is a good place to start. But above all else, please do maintain your safety as no good deed goes unpunished.
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    Thanks Blitzburg, I'll look at that link. She was in front of wally world on Kings road (across from Tanger off of 17) walking towards the beach near Myrtle Beach travel park. There are quite a bit of woods in that area.

    On a side note, sure wish y'all weren't going on the 11th.....just got a bad feeling about being there at that time.
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    I think you folks from warmer climes have a lot more of this to deal with. Up here, the winters are pretty much lethal to anyone without SOME kind of shelter, or at least very warm clothes, blankets and a fire.

    Of course, it's not like we have piles of frozen bodies on our streets every year, so I guess either the homeless find some place to stay, or they make their way to your areas.
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    I hear ya, maxwell97. When I lived in Pittsburgh, the city's homeless would huddle together with fires going full blaze under the overpasses where their communities were. If it got too cold, they just committed a crime they knew would only get them enough time in jail to ride the winter out.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sister View Post
    I was driving over a family member home and on the way saw a woman that looked 60ish pushing a bike with all her things on it. Very hot/humid outside. I thought to myself, self, if it wasn't for your family, with you being unwell and not able to work lately, this lady could be you one day. My heart ached for her, kept thinking if she hurt, had aches and pains, I knew she had to be hot and tired. I wanted to help so much. I don't know how or what to do? Are there centers where she could stay in most med size cities?

    To those that maybe are currently or former LE or just anyone that can direct me in what to do in how to help. She didn't have a sign begging for anything like many on the streets of Myrtle Beach, was just walking probably to a wooded area not far. I'm sure the mosquitos were eating her up. Yes, she could have mental problems but she is still a sister in this world. I cannot get this poor soul out of my head, what's a person to do to help, what are their options? Are there places I could have taken her?
    I did volunteer work with homeless in NYC - Manhattan - giving them food from vans at stops where they would gather, one van uptown, one downtown, one in the Bronx. "Helping" her is tough - there are homeless shelters but in NYC they are way out in Queens, have strict rules about when residents have to be back if they go out - which sometimes kills a rare chance of a low-level job because of schedule conflicts. They are also very dangerous places, knifings, thefts, rapes etc. Most homeless would rather hang-out with a small group of their own rather than go to one of them. In winter, at a certain temp, police can force them to shelters if it is felt they are in danger of death from the cold. They often are mentally ill and die young and look much older than they might really be: the stress of living outdoors all the time, poor diets, no health care.

    I often gave them change I had in New York City (not the ones I worked with but others on the street) and do where I live now. That might help her the most, so she can buy food. You can tell the Cops but to a shelter unwillingly she will be brought. Sometime, from a distance, ask if she's interested in that. If so, then call Cops or Social Work Agency connected to the City you're in. Homeless are rarely dangerous, but if you get close and they are mentally ill , they may perceive your closeness a threat and may start screaming and carrying on - though they won't hurt you and usually are too weak to anyway, it will scare and upset you.

    They are a pathetic group,too disorganized mentally and socially to function in society, but you'd be surprised that many live lives that are very odd but not as horrible to them as it may seem to you.

    Unfortunately, even at the agency I volunteered at, the oldest in NYC to aid the homeless and with many other areas than just food dispersal - one to try to help them get work and rejoin society - that one is not very successful. Once on the street awhile even the sane ones change and that becomes their life and they are so far behind the curve and so confused by what is now an alien society, they often remain as they are.

    Also, in NYC, some simply can't afford to have a place to live. Say a woman with a husband and 4 kids have lived in an apartment under rent-stabilization (those that the landlord can only raise a certain reasonably small amount per year.) They may have been living there 20 yrs with only a small rent-raise yearly, paying only $900 a month for an apt. that would go for $2000/mo on the open market. Then the husband leaves her and the kids - the woman has never worked before, there is little money and suddenly even $900 rent is impossible. She's on the streets with her kids - and for a new apt she just moves into she would have to pay that $2000 a month. She's stuck, Her and her kids, too confused to know how to even start the bureaucracy of getting food stamps or other poverty help, so gives up on it, and becomes a street person.

    You could discreetly follow her one day and see where she goes to her "home", perhaps a park and see if it's a dangerous place. If so, asking about her shelter feelings you may find she's willing, then call Police or some City Agency to come and get her. If she wants no part of it, give her a buck or two on occasion when you see her - and say a prayer for her - and be glad you and your family have the means and minds to escape that fate. It is usually a No-Exit one.

    Best! It's wonderful you have that much empathy for her plight - but what you can practically do to really help her is severely limited I'm afraid. You have to accept that and make her life a little easier with an occasional donation or some other small thing. She will appreciate that and you for your concern. They feel they are garbage to the rest of society. That you're not like that will make her feel good - even for a fleeting moment. Every human being deserves that.

    You could also do volunteer work at an organization in your area that aids the homeless and help her in spirit. There is nothing to instill gratitude for our often overlooked blessings than such an act of compassion.
    Last edited by detective; September 4th, 2013 at 12:36 AM.
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    Yesterday when I pulled into Dunkin Donuts there was a guy sprawled out on the sidewalk around the corner with a grubby hoodie pulled up over his head. People were walking by like he didn't even exist. It bugged the heck out of me. I didn't know if he was alive or dead. Obviously his life wasn't working by my standards. I bought my cinnamon roll, jumped back in my truck and proceeded to go about my business. After I had finished my grocery shopping I circled back around and saw that he had propped himself up against the wall. His face was still hidden in his filthy coral hoodie.

    At first he didn't respond when I spoke to him. Clearly he was sleeping. When I raised my voice a bit he looked up enough and mumbled thanks for the coffee and bag of donuts I had placed at his side. In retrospect I wish I had approached him when I first time saw him but I didn't. The incident certainly reminded me how fortunate my life has been. Funny I never felt sympathy for the pan handlers that line the street on the way see the Red Wings or the Tigers down in the D. Maybe because this was in my neighborhood. Maybe because he wasn't actually asking for anything, although I certain he chose this location for a strategic reason. I should have gotten cream and sugar for his coffee.
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