Have you ever had an engagement or an encounter with a homeless person before if yes, how did it make you feel? Anxious, put on the spot, or perhaps happy and ready to serve them and see what they need? In high school, I once read a story that talked about this specific topic and the many qualms that people have with homeless people. Whether they are good or bad and what effects the experience eventually has on people. It depicted if being a good Samaritan and throwing money at the problem was the answer or was there justification in helping the homeless by buying them what you feel they need versus what they want. Which is the right option?
I bring all of this to say that over this weekend I had signed up to help this organization to help count the homeless. When first seeing or hearing the phrase “counting the homeless” a lot of people gave me a funny look because it may seem like a weird phrasing or something that isn’t typically heard. The experience was very eventful and was held by Eventbrite: Salvation Army Peachcrest on Sherrydale Lane Decatur, Georgia. This event provided a team that utilized the collaboration of four members consisting of a driver: the one who drove the team around, a navigator: the one who supported the driver and helped them get around with ease to pick the best route that wasn’t industrialized or residential, a surveyor: a person who would survey the homeless, and the recorder: who recorded the data on an app online to input what the surveyor got from questions; such as age, race, ethnicity, and other demographics and finally the most important part the location of where the homeless were at to be able for the coordinators of this group to get a census of how many homeless were situated in Dekalb County.
The weather influences how many homeless are out and about, we soon learned that because this event ran from 9 up until 2 a.m. and usually how cold is it outside would be a factor of how many homeless were outside. The goal was to drive around and use the set of four eyes in the group to scope out any homeless. At first we didn’t find many people, in fact we only found them towards the end. This experience will remain with me because it taught me that people shouldn’t be so apprehensive when meeting the homeless. In the training we all received before departing, we learned that approaching the homeless in a calm and friendly manner would create less stress as opposed to running up on them and to treat them as you would anyone else. It was an eye opening experience that showed how the homeless can be helped through volunteer work and the process is really what counts, as it gives back to them. I enjoy volunteer based projects and would definitely like to do this again if possible. The volunteer process benefits both the volunteer and the recipient, it can be an enjoyable experience!