Poverty presents an opportunity to uncover great beauty in other people. For years it's been this beauty and opportunity that has drawn me to be an advocate for the poor! While that desire has been tugging at my heart for a long time, I wasn't always quite sure the best way to help, where to begin, or worse, aware that things I do can potentially hurt the poor in the process of trying to help. In my last story, I recounted one of my most shameful efforts that did indeed, actually hurt the poor. Today, I want to share with you one of my recent experiences that I believe lends itself more to helping!
I recently attended an event hosted by Project Live Love. “Project Live Love is a non-profit organization designed to influence culture through love in action by engaging, networking and mobilizing people who are motivated by love.” Their annual Live Well event takes place to spread the idea of love and fellowship with the homeless in Atlanta. We had the opportunity to serve them food at their tables, interact, ask questions, make each other smile, and my favorite - dance together! Although volunteers provided other services such as: haircuts, foot and nail care, hygiene kits, health screenings, showers and new clothes and shoes, the biggest thing we gave that day was love!
One of my favorite moments was meeting a man by the name of David. David is no-longer homeless and he proudly told me that he has his own house and purchased the clothes on his back. He didn’t necessarily need all the services provided that day, but simply came for fellowship with others. Despite having to use a walker to walk, he danced without his walker all afternoon! We had a blast together, simply sharing in the moment.
The best part about the day was the transformation I witnessed in those we were serving, as well as in myself. Those in need walked in with their heads down and walked out with a smile on their face. I left having fully enjoyed connecting in conversation with those I may otherwise not have interacted with, and I had a feeling of joy knowing their sense of belonging and hope was restored. This was done all in the name of LOVE!
Interacting with those we wish to help more regularly, will teach us to become more comfortable connecting with them and do it in a way that builds their dignity. More importantly, we’ll begin to better understand those in need, allowing us to see their innate beauty!
How can we create space to grow in building relationships with the homeless?
Look for organizations in your local community that don’t just focus on “doing for”, but “being with” the homeless.
Sign-up to join Project Live Love’s THREE-OH-WE-GO program. Each winter night that has freezing temperatures (30 degrees) are “GO-Nights”, in which volunteers “take to the streets with hand warmers, blankets, winter items, warm beverages, and information about local shelters and programs”.
Partner with Project Live Love to create a custom Live Love event in your community! Living love doesn’t just have to take place in Atlanta, and in fact, the organization was created with the intention that love can transcend any barrier, including geographical!
In what ways do you help those in need? Comment below!