Though this may seem like a reasonable alternative, there are numerous opportunities for people living on the streets to eat multiple times per day, at no cost. Between the Poverello House and Rescue Mission alone, an individual can receive 4 - 6 hearty meals per day; this number increases when outside groups serve additional meals. One Saturday in January, there were twelve different opportunities for homeless individuals to eat within the G Street area in downtown Fresno.
It is not recommended to give any type of handout to someone on the street. All items, including clothing, blankets, tents, sleeping bags, shoes, etc., are barterable and can be exchanged just as money can. If you have items you would like to donate to the homeless, contact one of the organizations on our community organizations page and donate your goods to them. These organizations work with the homeless (and others in need) on a daily basis and not only understand the physical needs of each individual and their situation, they are also building relationships that will lead to healing someone’s emotional and spiritual needs over time. By donating your items to organizations, you are providing them with the means to offer real life change as they strengthen these relationships and continue interacting with those on the streets.
It is true we cannot control other people's behavior, but we can take responsibility for any part we may play in enabling or empowering others. Though some people panhandling on the streets do have immediate needs, there is no guarantee what someone will use your kind-hearted gift towards. When someone asks for money, we simply do not have all the facts about their situation in order to make an informed choice about what this individual actually needs in their situation.
Yes! There are a number of organizations, both religious and secular, that provide services and help to the homeless and others in need. Check out our community organizations page for a small list of organizations in our community and find one that you feel confident partnering with.
While it may not seem as though your few dollars make that large of a difference, over time and combined with others’ “few dollars,” this money adds up and allows panhandlers to make anywhere from $50 - $200+ of tax free income per day. Giving money straight to people on the street perpetuates the cycle of homelessness instead of empowering individuals to break the cycle of poverty they are living in and make different life choices.
There are multiple ways to look at every situation. Though it may feel as though you are turning a blind eye to someone in need, another question you can ask is,”Will what I am about to give this person empower them to break out of poverty, or stay where they are at?” If your gift causes them to stay where they are at, are you really helping?
There are a number of organizations that specifically help homeless individuals find housing, both short term and long term. The important thing to realize is that both short term and long term options are available to anyone in the city, and open beds often remain unoccupied at these organizations in Fresno.
Taking the pledge is a personal commitment to stop giving in ways that may meet a momentary need, but do not actually lead to long-term change in an individual’s life. Your pledge may be to stop handing out food or money to people on the street and start volunteering at the Poverello House. Or it may mean scheduling a meeting with someone at another organization to find out their specific needs and how you can help. Taking the pledge will look different for everyone, but as a city we can move towards Real Change if we all commit to stop giving in ways that hurt and start giving in ways that help.
Yes! Homelessness is an issue in many cities across the United States, and it will not be solved through giving a few dollars to people panhandling. Taking the pledge to give in a way that empowers people in your community to help themselves and make real change can be done anywhere. Contact us for more information on starting a campaign in your city.
You can support Reach Change Fresno in many ways! Take the pledge, share with your friends and family and on social media, participate in Tour Day, and invite others to participate in Tour Day,