It's the little things that make the biggest difference. Those often subtle, involuntary cues can tell someone's whole story. Most of us know in our hearts that the poor and homeless are not so very different from us. Homelessness is an unfortunate fact of life that can happen to anyone, especially in big cities like Houston, Texas.
Many of us don't understand homelessness, which, of course, is far more complex than most can fathom. However, this does not mean that we are to avoid the homeless as outcasts; rather it reminds us that we should treat homeless men, women and children as equals - because that is exactly what they are.
Even if we do not know just how to help them, we can always share a smile and blessing as we pass. This can be done by looking the other person directly in the eye and acknowledging our shared humanness. That simple act of kindness - a silent or spoken blessing - takes very little effort, but has the power to transform lives. Connecting with the homeless means giving them the same respect, courtesy and empathy you would want if you were in their shoes. Making direct eye contact shows you are actively listening; it shows that you are engaging with them. It allows them to be heard, perhaps for the very first time.
The sad truth is that many homeless people do not feel equal to those of us who are fortunate enough to have homes. Perhaps they feel afraid or unworthy, like they are somehow "lesser". They avoid direct eye contact, and often tend to look down or away from others.
Volunteering at Star of Hope has given me a different perspective. Although homeless, the clients here look you directly in the eyes. To me, this shows their self-esteem, confidence and determination. Above all else, the clients at Star of Hope have hope in their eyes - hope for a better tomorrow.
Star of Hope Volunteer